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SWMBO learns that finding wifi in England and Wales is very challenging indeed.

As we putter along the Shropshire Union and Llangollen canals, we pass many picturesque villages and towns. Although the landscape is rural, there is a lot of pedestrian traffic around here. The Brits love walking and this great isle is criss-crossed with footpaths. An ancient right-of-way system here means great walking. You can take your dog and your muddy boots pretty much anywhere in England and Wales and the locals sure take advantage of that. Rain or shine or rain or rain or rain, you will see people and dogs rambling along for hours on end, stopping into a pub or teashop to enjoy a meat pie or eccles cake before continuing on.  Many pubs have signs like “Muddy boots and dogs welcome throughout” for those who would feel guilty. Think of t.v. documentaries of Queen Elizabeth striding through her many palaces followed by about 30 muddy dogs and you see who set the precedent.

Picture postcards or pictures of postcards?

Picture postcards or pictures of postcards?

The only feasible place for a non-resident to get internet access around here is in a pub promoting “free wifi”. Unfortunately, these are a bit tricky to find. Even more unfortunately, the wifi comes and goes like a Karma Chameleon. We have wifi for five minutes, then none for ten. Or we can check email but can’t load any webpages. If this is frustrating for the parents, it is unbearable for the kids.

Last week I read the surprising statistic in the newspaper that 14% of British adults had never used the internet. I know it is blatant ageism but I immediately assumed the 14% would be comprised of the old folks. Now, I am starting to think that it is the rural folk who make up most of that group.  Pub staff will invariably tell us that the village is in a bit of a dip and that all the villagers have the same problem and that internet is a nightmare and that the phones are just as bad.

Going through the locks on Llangollen Canal

Going through the locks on Llangollen Canal

Something for me to remember when I inwardly sigh and think how wonderful it would be to live right here – just walking all day with my muddy boots.   I’m not much of a dog person…

But enough about that. I only bring it up to explain why I am so behind in blog posting, emailing and paying my bills online.  Let’s talk about something truly noteworthy instead – like the Pontcysyllte Aquaduct.

What? You’ve never heard of it so how noteworthy could it really be? Well, it is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site so you know it’s got to be pretty special. Also, it is so awe-inspiring and stressful that we don’t really have any pictures of us crossing so that gives you another clue that it offers a pretty wild ride. Luckily, I bought a pack of 10 postcards that show this part of the Llangollen Canal (including Pontcysyllte) and photos of the postcards will have to suffice to get my point across. If you want to see actual pictures of us crossing the aquaduct, you will have to go to Japan and look up some of the tour group members who took about 50 million pictures of us crossing the heavens in a rickety old boat. If you do, could you please ask a few of them to email some of those pictures to us? Thanks.

Thomas Telford's aquaduct

Thomas Telford’s aquaduct

To get a better idea of how unbelievable the aquaduct is, type Pontcysyllte Aquaduct in a Google search and then select “images” up on top. Believe me, you won’t regret it. Then, digest the information that this feat of engineering was built in 1805!!! Yes, it is over 200 years old and still working just fine. Thomas Telford (engineer), you were amazing. In fact, the whole canal is over 200 years old – all the bridges, all the locks, all the crazy-long, dark, spooky tunnels.

Okay – this is a short blog post. I guess the aquaduct has left me speechless. Hmm, I suspect that Fahbio and the kids would be willing to move here and get a muddy dog for that reason alone…

It seemed like a good idea back in Canada...

It seemed like a good idea back in Canada…

Note: And as an aside, the pub that I am currently writing this in, dates from the early 1500s.  Beautifully half-timbered, Shakespeare could have had a pint here (if he ever came to Shropshire which I have no idea if he ever did) so I guess it is kind of a miracle that I can sit here now and enjoy central heating and intermittent weefee.

Note: I have just received an email from my mother that the REAL Amazing Race guys were also in Wales, also crossing the aquaduct!  What a coincidence.  I honestly had no idea!  They got off easy though.  They didn’t have to make fancy food in a barge galley – they only had to learn a poem in Welsh!