Sunday, 20 March 2016

Caravan in Chirk

At last our caravan season has begun, and we’re in Lady Margaret’s Park in Chirk, near Wrexham.

We didn’t get off to a smooth start. We had the caravan serviced last month, and if I’d troubled to look inside, after the service, I’d have noticed how the radio and other electrical things had been left on. We knew we had a problem as soon as I fired up the motor mover to get the ‘van off the front garden, because the motor mover didn’t so much as fire up, as just flicker, with the power of a birthday candle, then die. So, job number one, after rushing home from work and as the Friday evening light faded to gloom, was to swap out the leisure battery for an old one we keep in the back of the garage, ‘just in case’, and hope the spare had enough charge.
Success! On our way.

We arrived in the dark. I set about doing the 'man jobs' outside while Sarah did the girly work, getting the inside of the ‘van organised.

I use two Aquarolls, so that we can rotate them and avoid shower catastrophes, and after I’d filled the first and got the pump running to fill the hot tank, I went back to the tap to fill the second. By the time I returned, the pump was dancing about making funny noises. Had there been light I’d have noticed all the water around the caravan. But it was dark and I didn’t. So I spent ages checking for all the less obvious problems, like splits in the pipe and bad seals between the pipe and the outlet, and half an hour of fiddling passed by before I noticed that the Aquaroll was empty.

There is a bright yellow switch under the bunk that has to be opened to drain the hot water tank when leaving a site, and it has to be closed before switching on the pump, or your water goes straight from the Aquaroll to the floor. Ha! Back to the tap.
This isn’t the first time I’ve performed this little pumping-onto-the floor ritual. Or the second. One day I’ll learn.

Saturday, we walked to Chirk Castle. It’s only about forty minutes’ cross country from the caravan site. There’s a bit of a hill, because, well, it’s a castle and hills are were they tended to build them. I’d like to tell you all about the history of the castle and the Myddleton family who lived there, but here’s what stayed in my head: Minted Pea and lettuce soup with thick crusty bread. We had it for lunch. Gorgeous. Inside the castle there are paintings and tapestries and furniture and stuff, but I remember the soup. I know, call me shallow. I could have looked up some history and facts and sounded all learned, like I know what I’m talking about, but I haven’t got much internet out here so here’s a link instead.

If you visit this caravan site you must make time to see the Chirk Aqueduct, built by Thomas Telford in 1801. The walk over the aqueduct has wonderful views down the Ceirog Valley, and through the arches of the railway viaduct that stands close by and high above on one side. There is also a walk you could try through the Chirk canal tunnel, but take a torch; the tunnel is unlit and is 420 metres in length.
If you’re new to the area and enjoyed the walk over the Chirk Aqueduct, then you should also visit the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a little further along the canal in the Llangollen direction. Pontcysyllte’s only for the brave, though. It is high and narrow and very exposed. Not one for a windy day, I promise.

Here’s an interesting thing. On one side of the aqueduct there is a sign, Welcome to Wales. Walking over the bridge there is another sign, Welcome to England. So who own's the aqueduct?
Welcome to Wales
Welcome to England

Imagine, now, that your parents are Scottish. A couple with a love for canal boats. Suppose they were on a canal tour of the Marches at the time you were born, on the boat, just as they were crossing the Chirk Aqueduct.

What are you? Welsh, English, Scottish? Do you get to choose? You might choose Scottish and grab a free university education. You might, instead, value Welsh citizenship and hold out for a few more years to claim your pensioner's bus pass that can you can use in Wales and England. Or then again, you might choose to be English, so that… let me think about this for a moment. Yes, I know, you can wear that single star on your England football shirt that says how you won the World Cup Forty-seven years ago.

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