I think we both let out a huge sigh when we arrived in Birmingham city centre last Sunday afternoon. We made it before it started bucketing down (which was threatening all day) and it was good to be back in familiar territory. And there are not many city centre locations on the waterways that I can say that about. Though one thing I have learnt about myself since we started boating is as much as I enjoy the delights of the British countryside I am really an urban boy at heart and look forward to mooring in a metropolis.
We took the journey down the Shoppie and up the 21 locks into Wolverhampton at a slow pace. I can now almost function normally now, so can hop off the boat and do gates and paddles, making a bit easier for the First Mate.
|Not far from Autherley and Wolverhampton. Where is everybody?|
But there was no-one around. Last Friday, when we did the Wolverhampton locks, we saw nobody all day – going up or coming down – and then, on the run into Dudley, it was much the same. I think one boat went past. Quite strange really, especially as the weather was dry and bright.
We were going to moor at the Black Country Museum but stopped a bit short of there and stayed in Tipton Green on Friday and Saturday nights on a mooring we used two years ago. One reason was to visit Mad O’Roukes Pie Emporium. On previous visits I have often hankered to visit this place, renowned for their 4lb Desperate Dan Cow Pies. As a bit of self-appointed international pie expert, an opportunity like this could not be ignored and as soon as “Strictly” finished on Saturday night, we were there.
|The Desparate Dan Cow Pie arrives. Down to business|
It was very good – a thick mixture of steak, kidney and vegetables, complete with pastry ears. I must say though, it was a bit of a struggle, even for a greedy bugger like me, but I made it, and got the certificate to prove it. Interestingly, the certificate gives directions to the local A& E at the bottom! I think if you also order a dessert, they have an ambulance standing by too. The music was good and everybody was singing along. The beer wasn’t bad either, though I am still very restrained in the drinking department.
|Mission completed. Now where's my certificate?|
|Ahh there it is. Complete with directions to the nearest A&E and a note to "Get Well Soon"|
We came into Birmingham city centre, via the old line. Birmingham, as many of you non-boaters are probably aware, has a plethora of canals, jutting out in all directions, but arriving from the Black Country you can take two possible routes, that run almost parallel. We took the old line this time, and much preferred it.
We have scheduled a week here. That was always the plan, but has been reinforced by the weather. Like most of the country we have had a lot of rain and wind and it’s no fun boating in those conditions if you can avoid it. It seems that it’s going to be much of the same for the next few days so I would rather be in a city where we can do “stuff” than be moored by a muddy towpath, miles from anywhere, but I know that’s paradise for a lot of my boating pals.
|Hubert joins us to fill up with water at Cambrian Wharf|
An old John Lewis pal of mine visited us on Tuesday and stayed over until yesterday. I’m not sure what Hubert made of it all. We were able to travel down to Cambrian Wharf to fill up with water, during a break in the rain, and then I made an almighty mess of winding there (turning around). The wind got up, my bow thrusters ran out of battery, and it all got a bit messy. Still it was good to see him and catch up with his news.
We have a long list to things we do here in Birmingham. Pat has a blockage in one of her ears that needs sorting out and she has been going into the drop-in clinic in the city centre. She is there this morning.
|Clutching a temporary library card I prepare my assault on the new City of Birmingham Library|
Meanwhile I have decamped into the new multi-million City Library for the day, to do this blog (free Wi-Fi) and start printing out car hire, hotel and other travel receipts, as we start to crank up our plans for this winters’ excursion. I love it in here – there is a huge music library in the basement and I am considering spending the rest of the day here. It’s pouring down outside, so I might as well stay put.
Unfortunately I am going to miss the Moseley Ukulele Group (Mosele), They are one of the finest clubs in the country, and if you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I have visited a few over the last couple of years. They meet twice a month and the meeting is next Wednesday. I was looking forward to bashing out a bit of “Slade” and “ELO”.
Next Monday we leave the city, rain or shine. On Tuesday we are picking up an old pal Bob, in Shirley, who is staying on for a few days. Looking forward to that.