Sunday, 22 September 2013

Birmingham left behind

Thursday 19th September to Saturday 21st September 2013

Do we believe the weather report and stay put based on the prospect of heavy showers or do we risk it and cruise out of Birmingham just a bit?

The skies weren’t too clouded over – certainly not dark laden with rain about to come, so we decided to risk it – afterall, how bad could it get – just a bit wet – well, maybe soaked.

As it was predominantly cruising and just the three locks, it would only mean that one of us would get wet.

for some reason the "6" in 2600 KG was reversed
We were heading to the Black Country Museum and the mooring just outside.

The Birmingham New Main Line is almost as boring as you can get, although we have been told the cruise from Lincoln to Boston is mind numbing (we will have to wait for that one).

Despite the forecast we remained relatively dry and moored up without any fuss in the last available spot – after winding.

We hadn’t been to the museum for 13 years and quickly noticed the changes – a whole street of new buildings – Diane was keen to sample the chips and also the sweets but this being a normal week day, the place had been infiltrated with school kids by the busloads.

Black Country museum

This whole row of shops had been added since our last visit
13 years ago
Each time she was about to enter one of the shops she was beaten by firstly the little nippers and then after that by the teenage variety – but we have to say that they were all very well behaved and each a credit to their school.

she wasn't allowed to go on the Helter Skelter
We wandered up to the entrance to pay our fee – we needed to use the card  - the pub down the bottom couldn’t take it as credit cards hadn’t existed at that point in time.

A lovely chap from one of the cottages called us in to the house he was responsible for and in the warm sitting room of the era gave a rundown on the museum and the history of the house we were in as well as explaining the changes since our last visit.

After this and a stroll back down to the bottom area, the school kids were all chipped up and we managed to get a couple of serves – they were very nice indeed.

Lime kilns in the background

an old trolley bus - now in use at the museum
Onto the sweet shop and this time we had gone to the other extreme – three much older ladies had engaged the shopkeeper and so there was a little wait whilst we listened and enjoyed the chatter going on.

Finally by about the proper closing time, we had managed to see most of the exhibits; enjoyed the chips and sweets; had an afternoon tea and escaped the rain for the day, and so it was back to the boat to escape the cold although inside the boat it was still quite warm.

a few of the old working boats moored in the museum, including
We had a very pleasant night there – no problems whatsoever.

Friday was expected to be a much better day and if initial prospects were to be followed we weren’t in for a great day – grey and overcast – but fortunately the cruise down to Wolverhampton cleared the clouds and the sun appeared.

We watered up at the services just up from the top locks and then commenced the journey down.

This was our third trip through this flight and we have enjoyed every single one of them – the locks are a pleasure to work and we have not had any problems at all.

It is a pity that the isolated incidents, as serious as they were, might have put some off this flight, but we do love the journey through here.

There were a couple of boats in front of us and Diane saw one of them on one occasion, and apart for a spate of 3 boats in 3 locks coming up the locks were in general against us.

No matter we got into a rhythm and the time went quickly as did the locks and just after lunch we were down and cruising northwards.

Mind the Gap !!
We didn’t want to spend all day cruising as we were feeling a bit tired after the flight and so it was at Cross Green we moored up in a lovely cutting just after the pub and plonked ourselves down for the evening – to recover.

these wonderful plane trees at the stat of the Staffs and Worcester

an odd assortment here - just take your pick
Our main reason for this trip had been the stove being installed and we carried on around the Leicester branch and onto where we were as a bonus – we are keen to get back to the marina to prepare for our next venture to the US and to also catch up with Elaine and Paul – to see how they both are – so we have been travelling a bit longer during the days than we would usually expect to do.

Diane had earmarked the possibility being in Penkridge on Saturday to go to the market that is there, so we left earlyish and knew that it should not take us any longer than 4 hours to get there – it turned out to be right on the mark.

There were a couple of boats in front of us at the lock at Gailey, which took a bit of time and thereafter we had at one boat either going down in the lock or about to leave; with a couple of boats coming at these locks the time to pass through lengthened but it was a half decent morning and we really didn’t have any need to be rushing, so we enjoyed a pleasant morning of cruising.

Plenty of moorings were available and we found a lovely quiet one before the first of the two Penkridge locks and then wandered down to the market to pick up some supplies – just to replenish what was missing.

If you visit Penkridge, make sure that you visit Jaspers (the bakery) – the queues out of the door validated it – Diane enjoyed the chicken and mushroom pasty and the rock cake was delicious.

Later in the day, whilst I got on with the engine jobs, Diane was busy polishing the port side and it came up a treat – after we finished, we just relaxed on the towpath and talked to passers-by, most of who seemed to out walking dogs.

28 Miles, 29 Locks, 4 Tunnels

Totals: 2166 Miles, 1619 Locks, 74 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 145 Swing Bridges

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