Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chocolate Feast and Aladdin’s Cave

This week we have done …. back up the Birmingham & Worcester canal from Worcester itself  and carried straight on at Kings Norton to Gas Street in Birmingham, then onto Merry Hill “Waterside Complex” where we are moored today.   Of course we had to go up the 30 locks at Tardebigge this week !  

Had a lot of glorious weather this week - sunny and hot most of the time..... so Foxxie decided to take a dip while we were slugging up Tardebigge - I think she must have been trying to get a piece of wood out of the canal and toppled over - plop!    I was raising the paddle on the other side which was really really stiff and because it was only a couple of rachets up it wouldn't drop - so there I was, trying to drop the paddle to then get over the gate to pull her out.    Dai balling at me to rescue her - but I needed to drop the paddle as there was the danger of Foxxie being sucked under the gate sluice with the paddle open.    Foxxie was trying her upmost to heave herself out but with her coat heavy with water and the side being blue brick, was struggling.  Anyway,  she had just managed it when I got over the gate.    Obviously next thing to happen is she shakes ... and shakes .... all over me and then started barking furiously and jumping up at me as though it was me who had pushed her in !     Drama over for the day.    Foxxie none the worse for her dunking and, yes, she carried on working the rest of Tardebigge locks with me.

I enjoyed a wander round Worcester which is a lovely town with lots of pedestrianised shopping streets.    Big blow though was that the Italian restaurant we ate at when last in Worcester (on a hireboat in May 2006) is currently closed for renovation.    The food was some of the best Italian we have had.   Nevermind, we can go there next time we are in Worcester.

On Saturday we moored up at Stoke Works on the Birm & Worcs, then started hearing gunshots and country music ….. yes, there was a Country & Western Weekend happening in the field next to the canal so before I could even count the number of Confederate Flags, Dai had upsticks and off we suddenly were!   He didn’t want to play cowboys or jig around to the music !    So we ended up for the evening at the bottom of Tardebigge flight and went to the Queens Head again for dinner.    I only had a starter so thought - yes, I can have dessert.    “The Chocolate Plate” came and, oh boy - 12 different chocolate delights!    Heavenly choc feast !    Dai had to help me out though after he’d eaten his summer pudding !  

I have finished my first crochet project this week - a different sized squares blanket to go as a cover for our bed.     I am quite proud of it - Dai says he will look out for American tourists strolling down the towpath  and see how many dollars he can get for it !!

We arrived in Gas Street, Birmingham on Monday and stayed there until this morning.    I went on a mission to find more wool for all the projects now lined up.    So I went to the Rag Market expecting an Aladdin’s Cave of goodies.    But no - only one stall selling wool and that was the “cheap and nasty”.    So much for the Rag Market living up to my expectations.    The fruit/veg/meat/fish market is excellent though.
Luckily I spotted a House of Fraser whilst wandering and they had loads of wool in a 50% off sale.    I had found my Aladdin’s Cave afterall.     Four shopping bags later I thought I’d better head back to the boat.   I then had to find holes in cupboards and under the bed to stash it all !!  

I think Gas Street is a great place but Dai prefers the area before it was all re-developed, when (in his words) it was all dark and dingy with the blue brick walls.   In his eyes they have robbed a big piece of canal history.     Now it’s a hugely popular place with lots of life with all the bars and restaurants.

Tuesday evening we had a private guided tour of Birmingham City Centre by Glyn (Dai’s brother) and Linda who are very proud of their city.    It IS a lovely city with so much going for it these days.    I have a list of places I must visit next time we are in Gas Street.  We had a lovely evening with Glyn and Linda and it was great to see them again.

As I am writing this, I can hear all the drama of the England v Slovenia World Cup match from the Wetherspoons pub on the other side of Merry Hill basin!    Dai has gone on a hunt for boatie things like distilled water, polish and T-cut.    Football is the wrong shaped ball as far as he is concerned (being a Welsh rugby fan !)

Since last blog we have done …  41 miles and 59 locks. 
This makes total since Setting Off ….. 522 miles and  563 locks.

night sky on June 20 at mooring just above Tardebigge Top Lock

canal diversion while new aqueduct being built near Birmingham on Birm & Worcs Canal

This one's especially for Mandie !

Yes Mandie - you could smell the chocolate !

just in case you can't read it, the sign in Gas Street, Birmingham says "Welcome to the Heart of Britain's Canal Network"

Gas Street, Birmingham

we've seen loads of honeysuckle around the BCN (Birmingham Canal Navigation)

M5 motorway from the canal - no, don't want to swap our mode of transport thank you !

fancy bridge in middle of Birmingham

one of the "toll islands" on the BCN - where the tolls were collected for use of the Birmingham Main Line on the BCN

oh no !   which way mum?  which way dad?  Oh no!   Don't squash us !

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