Sunday, 12 March 2017

Moving when we want – as simple as that!

Wednesday 8th March to Saturday 11th March 2017

We did, in fact, moor up for a couple of days in the environs of the Black Country Museum.
For anyone who has not been here, then do yourself a favour and get your backsides along to it and see how things were 100 years ago – it certainly wasn’t “the good ol’ days”.

The following day we were off again – but only after I had finished my work for the day – off to where? – to Stafford to catch with some dear friends – Lynn and Phil (nb Valentine).
Phil has been a bit unwell lately – so much so that he had a stay in hospital (at the pleasure of the NHS), but is well on the mend now.
having seen plenty of Stafford over the years we have come to
love the town and this alleyway shows off some of the older

There is no doubt that when we see these two we do have some great laughs and it was no exception this time.
We all met at The Soup Kitchen in Stafford – a well known eating place – excellent for lunches and afternoon teas.
Lynn and Phil - so glad that we have been lucky to have them as friends

We caught up on how everyone was, all of us and the family, saw photos of Lynn and Phil’s new grandson, George, what we would all be doing this year and beyond, and generally had a great time. Oh and the food was pretty good as well.
Just on 3pm we had to say our goodbyes – we had a train to catch back, but it was another lovely day – this week has been full of nice times already.

Wednesday night was 2 for 1 at Mad O’Rourke’s Pie Factory, so not only were we able to sample the wares there, but it was at a reduced rate as well.
Diane had the forethought to ring and book a table, which turned out to be a wise thing to do – we arrived about 6:20 (for 6:30) and whilst it wasn’t full, all of the empty tables were booked, so we might have been hard-pressed to find somewhere to sit.
A local institution 
We got some drinks, ordered the pies – she had the 100% Bullocks and I had the Bear Grylls – now good friend Andy (nb Festina Lente) would have rejected them as pies as there was only a pie crust on top and not all of the way around – but we enjoyed them both very much.
The Menu...

For us it was sufficient and we briefly entertained the idea of dessert, but then declined.
Would we return? – yes, I think we would – it is a place with plenty of atmosphere and the food was excellent.
...the Fayre - 100% Bullocks...

...and Bear Grylls

It had been a day jam-packed with being on the go and enjoy it all.

We decided that we should move on again on Thursday – we would head down to Merryhill for a few days, and as after moving across the canal to use the services one last time at the museum, we untied and slowly edged our way out of the arm – this time we turned right onto the Wolverhampton Level towards the Gower Arm instead of towards the Tipton Locks.
The locks at Bradeshall, including the staircase, were so easy to use. It is difficult to think that they would get much use, but they are in very good working order – maybe it is because not many use them and therefore less likely to be abused that they are so good.

Anyway it was a bit circuitous to end up on the Netherton Tunnel branch, but we made it – with the sun shining and a bit of warmth in the air, it was definitely the day to be cruising.
The Netherton Branch - that is the Wolverhampton Level
Aqueduct that we have just gone under, after having gone
over it less than an hour before

Netherton Tunnel is straight as an arrow - this is the north protal
where we entered....

...Diane has taken the helm and that light is the very same north portal
in the previous photo

The contrast with the coldness of the Netherton tunnel was stark – and a bit wet as well – most tunnels do have that seepage factor so we expect it.
This is not a short tunnel by any means – at 2768m – and I steered the first half and Diane did the other half – this is by far the longest section of tunnel that she has done and I maintain the stance that she is as good as anyone in controlling a boat.
Eventually heading back into daylight, we were out into some lovely peaceful and quiet countryside before encountering surburbia again – we may moor up here on the way back.
and now we see daylight and in this case sunshine
The section along to the junction at Blowers Green is, for us, a bit on the slow side – our base is a bit too close to the bottom (as indeed is the top of the water), but it is such a lovely cruise and on such a lovely day, who really cared.

Coming into the basin at Merryhill, there was only one other boat here and a huge choice of places to moor – we chose the one that had the most light and on the opposite side to the the two pubs.
It really is so open here and without any worries at all – the last time we were here was the night of the England v Germany football match in 2014 and although the Sports Bar (now no longer there) was full, there had been no problems, so felt safe in mooring here again.
There we are moored up on the right in the basin, but it was a glorious day
The location afforded us the chance to do a bit of stocking up on things that we needed to – a nearby Aldi as well as the Merryhill shopping centre saw to all of that.

We have just simply enjoyed the few days that we have spent here without doing anything special at all – we have taken the time to spruce the boat up a little – a wash and clean was needed anyway.
We have just relaxed and stayed put.

9 Miles, 4 Locks, 1 Tunnel
YTD:  112 miles (180 km),80 Locks, 7 Tunnels, 3 Lift Bridges, 2 Swing Bridges

Total: 4744 Miles (7635 km), 3231 Locks, 131 Tunnels, 69 Lift Bridges, 174 Swing Bridges

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