| Doing a canal trip means you cannot avoid coming into contact with lots of different people. Sometimes this is when you're away from the boat. Those we had the longest conversations with though, all had connections to the canal. The Narrowboats enthusiasts were most interesting.
One couple we met when we had moored at Chirk on the way up and had gone to The Hand pub (more of The Hand under Chirk castle entry) while we were all trying to connect to the Internet (sad!!) before eating, we got talking to a German couple. They love the English canals. Or maybe he does and she goes along. (He did all the talking!) They come to England every year for a couple of weeks and had the aim of eventually doing all the English canals. But when they got to the Llangollen canal, (this one) they went no further. Every year they do this one again!
While talking of The Hand; it was full so the place we could have our meal was in the dining room. That seemed OK but when we went in, most of us in clothes we'd worn for two days (would have been worse further down the track!) we saw that others in there were in full dinner suit, one complete with bow tie! Table cloths and napkins were linen, and the silverware sparkled. We ordered the same meal we would have had outside. (Think it may have cost more though!?)
On the canal, because we were so close to boats going the other way, everyone always waved, spoke and gave you pertinent news about traffic heading for tunnels or locks. We also passed moored boats. Some looked like permanent homes, complete with their patch of lawn mowed, clothesline up and generators going. Some of these were decorated like those we had seen in Gloucester. Some were selling decorated items.
At the locks and swing gates there was a lot of cooperation and chit chat between those opening and closing gates. Sometimes there was also advice given probably because early on we looked like rank amateurs. We may still have thought they were teaching us to suck eggs! By the end, the newcomers stood out to us. So early on we were probably just as obviously new at the game.
We had one couple with us for a whole day. They had let us go in front of them into a lock (pulled over to the bank to do this) so we worked together for most of the time thereafter. We had enjoyed looking at boat names. Hire boats were boring. Ours was the 'Elm'. Private boats had a little more imagination. This couples was 'Yes Dear'. He said it was what she had to say to him, and she always did. She said it was to remind him that they were his lines and to remember to say them. NO matter which the stories were always told with a chuckle. They were retired and for 7 months of each year they took to the canals. The other five months were at their house, giving it the once over, and catching up with family and friends. They had got a lot further around the English canals than the German couple. They also took their time. We must have looked like speed merchants to them. They did a lot more exploring of the area they were going through.
The signs in both English and Welsh told us a bit about where we were as we wound along. Welsh at the top, in Wales. English..vice versa. All English we had moved away from the border
As we went along we garnered important news, like what was which with the villages, and once Matt learned there was an icecream place a 5 minute walk from the canal. SO all those awake and not needed right then on the boat, went for a short walk (??)(think it was 5 kilometres not 5 minutes!) we went over turnstiles and around fields, hoping whatever we found at the end was going to be worth it. We finally came to a farm with a lot of activity around the buildings, and a busy road going past a 100 metres away. (we had forgotten such things existed!) The car park was packed, and a line came away from the shop. Somewhat amazed we joined the queue. The wait was worth it. THe most delicious creamy home made icecreams in a wide variety of flavours. WE could have up to three in one big cone.