The Welsh Marches: border country, the edge of civilization and the start of Wales. From where we are moored tonight you could fire a longbow across the border, which probably explains why there is no frigging mobile service for the second night in a row. The locals are too busy baking soda bread and molesting sheep to care about decent 4G service.
It’s not that I hate the Welsh, I’m just bitter. They used to have a town named after me, and they don’t any more. Well, it wasn’t actually named after me personally, but there was a town called Conway (pronounced Conway) and now thanks to the Welsh Nationalists, it is called Conwy (pronounced Con-oo-ee). I have to say I take that personally. Conway is can be pronounced on sight by people the world over, but using w as a vowel is a perversion known only to the Welsh and rabid Scrabble players. Yes, “cwm” can be very useful if you don’t have any vowels in your rack, but it’s not enough to justify leaving the “a” out of Conway.
The Welsh only voted for Brexit because they didn’t think the English were coming too.
The last time I posted, we were in Nantwich. That evening we wandered around town. More Tudor buildings…
a mounting block showing signs of wear…
a church with an octagonal tower…
and a new approach to fusion cuisine.
Sunday morning we said farewell to the Shropshire Union Canal, and turned onto the Llangollen Canal. OK, I can’t put it off any longer. I’m going to have to tell you about the Welsh double L. This is unlike any sound that English speakers are used to, as you have to do something asymmetrical with your tongue. Are you ready for this? OK, here we go. Curl the tip of your tongue up, put it behind your teeth on the left hand side of your mouth open your lips a little, blow, and make a “thl” sound.
Is your keyboard covered in spittle? Yes? Then you are probably doing it right.
Now, see if you can manage Thlan-gothl-en, with the tongue on one side (twice) and the blowing and the spittle. Got it? No? Didn’t think so. OK, Just say Thlan-goth-len. Most English people won’t know the difference and will appreciate not being sprayed with saliva. Next up, Pontcysyllte, but we’ll save that for later.
We had heard horror stories about how busy the Llangollen canal was, and how long the waits at the locks were, but it really hasn’t been so bad this far. The first flight of locks getting onto the canal, there were two boats ahead of us, and the staircase of three locks today we had to wait for three boats to come in the other direction, but the Canal and River Trust staff and volunteers kept everything running smoothly. I think the terrible weather so far this summer has kept a lot of boaters at home, or booking cheap package holidays to the Med instead of a week on the cut. Things may get worse as we approach Llangollen, though, as this is International Eisteddfod week. We are all looking forward to some hot buttered Eisteddfod on toast.
The Church is Witchurch is dedicated to St. Alkmund, but there are enough church pictures on this blog already, so I’m only going to post one bit of carving, because pirates.
The town is famous for church clock making, and the Joyce family has been making clocks there since 1690. One of these days someone is going to drag them kicking and screaming into the Nineteenth Century and introduce them to the concept of pocket watches.
In Whitchurch, there is a street called Chemistry. Not Chemistry Street, or Chemistry Road, or Chemistry Avenue, just Chemistry.
On this street, there is a house called Chemistry House.
and a bridge over the canal to Chemistry Farm.
I have no idea why as this is the Welsh Marches and I have no Internet connection to research it. Feel free to make up your own story, so long as it involves a mad scientist, a boatload of Swedish tourists, and a hot buttered Eisteddfod.