Duchess

“If I could travel wherever I might”,

A Globe travel writer wondered and proceeded to write -

One choice he made was China’s Great Wall,

Surely a wondrous, amazing exotic great site.



But one choice of the five he made electrified me,

Far less exciting , but perfect for us

Was a self guided canal boat from Engalnd to Wales,

At four miles an hour, to relax was a plus.


Anglophiles as we are, we’d the urge to explore

The Llangollen Canal was the best, so he told.

Our narrowboat, Duchess, 37 feet long,

Blue and white, with home’s comforts, one look, we were sold.


A trip of a lifetime, it turned out to be,

Far away from the noise, crowds and telephone wires.

We’d no wardrobe to enter this magical place,

But this “Wind and the Willows” land met all our desires.


Just us three, two parents, a fifteen year old son

Climbed aboard Duchess at Maestermyns’s dock.

Mark soon became Captain, he thought it was fun

To manage “lift bridges” and open the locks.


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That first eve, as we packed clothes and food all away,

David came calling from his canal home,

Asked of Oliver North, told tales of young Colin Thatcher.

He cruised all summer, what a life, just to roam.



Mark brought his guitar, at his leisure to play

Lying atop our “dreamboat” at the close of each day.

Swans, coots and mallards followed looking for treats,

We saw Ratty, missed Mole as he scurried away.


One heron would follow us, then fly far ahead,

To meet us again as we turned the next bend.

This continued for hours, a surprise, such a treat.

Till he flew away and our “friendship” would end.


We would travel our way, stop for food at a pub,

Or a farmhouse, canal side, a grocery store.

Cooking at “home”, while wild flowers passed by

Was a luxury, four starred, who could ask for much more?


The food was so different from our usual meals,

Cornish pasties, shepherd’s pies, then we thought we would dare

To try their lasagna, bought fresh from a farm,

Ugh! Never again! Tasteless rubber, foul fare!







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The Black Lion Inn, a very short walk

Full of atmosphere,and Rum, their purring black cat.

A red and gold room with dark pine, cozy seats,

Eating Chicken Kiev, chips, while patting Rum’s back.


Open meadows of poppies, shady glades and tow paths,

Chirk tunnel ahead, four boats coming our way,

Will we ever get through the tight squeeze we are in?

We’ve gone aground twice, let’s not do it today.



Over the river Dee to Llangollen ahead,

On a one way narrow aqueduct, “Be careful! Look down!”

On the river, a dizzying 120 feet below,

Then the view beyond, the trees and the town.



Moor at Langollen, steep descent from the hill,

Busy shops selling love spoons, woolen sweaters that will

Keep us warm back at home , against winter’s deep chill,

A Welsh tapestry blanket, that I have with me still.



Trefor Bridge still decorated for Eisteddfod week,

Bright banners, multicolored , to welcome and greet

International poets, writers and bards,

An annual festival, competition to meet





3





Far above, Castle Dinas Bran’s ruins we see ,

Perched high on a more than a 1,000 foot hill,

Eleven centuries it’s stood there, a magical sight!

Mark climbed to the top with a mountain goat’s skill.



Turning Duchess around the “winding hole” there

Was a feat needing daring to circle this site.

Mark steered us around with such skill and such flair

That folks watching were surprised an applause filled the air!



At Bryn Howell bridge, an artist painting in oils

Dinas Bran Castle, high and far,far away,

Bridges and locks as canal boats passed by.

We bought four tiny paintings to remember these days.


He spoke of a man from far Switzerland,

Whose country’s beauty is lauded so much,

Saying, “Your deciduous trees are cathedrals to me,

Look at them closely and regard them as such.”


Ellesmere, perfect lake land, shady dell full of peace,

Let’s stay here forever, where time matters not

Glacier formed haven for kingfishers, moorhens,

And folk searching for magic, or fair Camelot.





4





We left our dear Duchess at Maestermyn’s dock

Back to cars, noisy trucks, and telephones poles.

I wept as I left her, I’ll never forget

That respite from “Hurry!”, so good for our souls.