Our annual offer to members of Ken Whitcombe’s Visually Impaired People Group and Bryan Heaven’s Macular Support Group to take a trip with us on the Montgomery Canal out of & around Welshpool using Heulwen Trust Canal Boats was well subscribed this year. We had to withdraw an offer we made to take a few “clients” from Wellington Cottage Care with us to make up previous year’s falling numbers because the afore-mentioned Groups unusually promised to fill the two boats this year. Just as well because, as it turned out Cottage Care ceased operations before our scheduled date. So, the 20 VIPs were invited to Wellington Bus Station for 9.30am to join President Peter and me for our coach ride to Heulwen Wharf. Val & Dan Scollard-Kerr were to meet us at the Wharf enabling Val to bring her wonderful Lemon Drizzle, Blueberry Muffin & Double Chocolate Brownie cakes safely to the boats by car. Sadly, on the morning of the trip, I received 4 cancellations due to illness reducing the 20 VIPs to 16 and it was too late to invite replacements, either VIPs or Rotarians.
Nonetheless, it was a beautiful, sunny morning and the remaining 16 gathered round President Peter & me at 9.30am wondering where the coach was! A quick phone call to A.T.Brown’s (how did we ever cope without mobile/cell phones?) uncovered a muddle and the coach would be with us at 9.45am. In the meantime, The Heulwen Trust telephoned to advise of a traffic accident on the A458 which had blocked the road and we should come another way! This information was imparted to the driver of the belated coach who re-programmed her SatNav and disappointingly advised an additional 15 minutes on journey time but at least we were able to quickly board and get under way as there were no wheelchairs or, unusually, guide dogs this year. (Last year we had a guide dog who refused to board the boat using the hydraulic lift so had to be lifted & man-handled on board. Subsequently, she was a little distressed on the boat so was “rested” this year.)
Our re-routed journey took us past the Welshpool Road A458, up the A5 to Knockin where the coach cut through to find the Oswestry to Welshpool Road A483. I’d always wondered if there really was one and now all 18 of us plus our lady driver (Karen) can attest that, yes, there really is a Knockin Shop!
Eventually, we re-joined the A458 but missed our turning for the Wharf so, after a small detour, we doubled back, found the turning & single track, made our way over the tiny narrow bridge which had caused last year’s driver so much grief (and A.T.Brown to allocate us this year a smaller 23-seater) to finally arrive alongside our boats Heulwen II & Heulwen III at 11 am, some 30 minutes behind schedule. Interestingly, Val & Dan who did NOT get the message about the road blockage came down the A458 and arrived promptly at 10.30am, unhindered. Grrr……
Still glorious weather, 16 passengers, 4 Rotarians, 2 boatmen (Brian & Brian), tea/coffee/milk/biscuits & cakes were soon loaded, engines started and propellers were quickly spinning us on our way. A mobile phone call to Andrew’s Fish Shop in Welshpool confirmed numbers, deferred delivery time by half an hour and agreed the rendezvous/delivery point as “the wharf by Morrisons”.