4th September 2016
The gods were looking kindly upon us once again for our four hour trip into Birmingham today. After some catch up sleep after our long day yesterday we set the boat up for our guests for the day. Di and Toque were a little slow off the mark as you can see. Neither of the dogs sleep on the bed with us but Toque does scratch on the inside of her cage door in the morning to be let out for a cuddle on the bed. The only thing is that she has learnt that if she scratches long and loud enough we will tire of telling her to go back to sleep and let her on the bed. She has also deduced that often we do not check our watches and has started scratching shortly after we have fallen asleep – little bugger!!!
Our crew from Tipton arrived at 11.30am in time for the famous nb Lucy scones with clotted cream. After bloating ourselves with scones we headed off towards our destination of Birmingham.
As mentioned in the previous blog, Doreen has lived her entire life in the region but never seen it from the advantage of a canal boat so for her not only is it re-living her childhood but seeing the canal from a different perspective. Even she found it difficult at times to locate where she was.
We set her up on a comfortable chair with cushioins on the bow (front to non-nautical ones) for her birdseye view. Di spent a lot of time with her also so that she could learn about the area and her childhood. It really was more than magical to see it through the eyes of a local and one with a long history. Doreen told us of the bombing of Birmingham during both world wars. The first world war they used Zeppelins which was interesting history to us. There were munition factories in Birmingham which explains why the area was bombed in both wars. Odd that they didn’t move the munitions factory during the second world war. She also said that the girls were locked inside the factories and when the air raid sirens went off they were not allowed out, so if there was a direct hit, they were all gone. Oh, and that is the good old days that they talk about.
Doreen also mentioned that they had a bomb shelter in their back yard but the family opted for a surface shelter rather than an underground shelter called an Andersen like their neighbours had. They were made of concrete and after the war were all demolished.
One question we did ask Doreen was whether she could remember as a young girl having those pesky Canadian geese around of which she said that they were recent interlopers. Recent meaning about the last 20 years. It would be interesting to find out what it is that brought them here. It is not as though the weather is much better here than in Canada. One thing is that they do not have any natural predators here so they are free to proliferate at a great rate of knots.
As we knew it would be, the scenery was industrial as remember that this like Manchester was the working heart of the country. The difference between Manchester and Birmingham though is the amount of canals here. It was not unusual for us to pass by canal entrances that were not marked on our guide book. Some of the bridges that we either went over or under were very elaborate.
We took the Old Canal into Birmingham as this is a Brindley Canal so more likely to be windy and more intertesting canal to go along than the Telford rip-roar and bust, straight through the middle canal. Also the windy canals tend to be narrower and a little harder to negotiate which makes for more fun.
We had three locks to navigate today so this is where Di and Doreen moved down to the stern (bum end of boat for non-nauticals) of nb Lucy to administer the lock slaves at work.
Fras was the supervisor for the lock slaves and had them working effectively by the end of the three locks. If they are lucky they will get some faggot and paes with pork scratching and a Bank’s for their days work.
So into Birmingham after a quick three hours to the central round-about. The pommes, they just love their round-abouts. What blows us away is the round-abouts that have traffic lights on them!! Thought round-abouts were meant to keep the traffic moving.
Found a mooring in the Gas Street basin and then popped out for a farewell drink with the Waterhouse Clan and a sad but fond farewell. Thanks for the loan of your family Ian for the last few days. We have had a wonderful time with them. Hope to be repeated!!!