We breakfasted at the cafe by the Dudley Tunnel excursion boats, although we were very taken with the privately owned tunnel tug 'Sharpness' that was also moored there. We then spent a great few hours at the Black Country Museum in the morning, although afgter a couple of bad experiences we did avoid the costumed roleplayers. We did like the chainmaker, who after doing his formal speil for just us came over for a chat and turned out to be a moonlighting industrial history lecturer - excellent. Also excellent was the old tram - the fussing nimbies of Ealing who have objected wholesale to a tram route as they're worried they won't get their 4x4s past are missing out, although admittedly they wouldn't have got lovely old wooden framed ones, which of course are very boat-like... we also admired various old bits of ironmonghery around the site, boilers & suchlike - it's actually pretty moving, what was built with relatively little technology.
We then headed down to Gas St - a pathetic three locks, and lots of bumbling around under the M5, old canal bridges dwarfed:
We moored in Gas St basin itself, although there seemed to be plenty of other moorings along that stretch of canal, and also just before the junction down to Worcester. Being in the basin was of course in Homage to Cliff Richard in 'Take me High', although he did seem to rebuild a working boat into a bachelor pad with a mezzanine floor in a week (and invent fast food) in that film too. These things take longer, and I've yet to work out how to get the mezzanine floor in successfully.
Both of us were at university in Birmingham, I hadn't been back for a decade or so, so it was a pretty illuminating walk round that evening, working our way up to Aston University itself (some bits new, some bits decidedly old) and back down to Digbeth, both of us trying to find the old FoE building on Meriden St - we think we found it, but no longer the FoE. ;-( Selfridges & all that very dramatic, of course, but a big moment to consumerism, yet with the church in the middle, as ever. We then wound our way back to the basin via the Mailbox shopping centre, had a reasonable successful 'oriental tapas' meal and crashed.
My sleep was disturbed at around 3am by someone on the back deck - I looked out of the window to see him going round to the front deck. Thankfully my first 'p*ss off' from inside the boat sent him off, by the time I was out of the front doors he was on his way, a solitary pissed bloke who I assume was after a bike to aid his trip home. They were locked up, and anyway the upper one was the leek car boot sale one that wouldn't lock unfolded. A bit of a negative experience, but one of a random pissed guy trying his luck (at albeit theft) rather than anything nastier. City centres are strange places to have a boat in, though.
Norton Canes on test - The December Canal Boat contains my boat test on the latest offering from Norton Canes Boat Services.
3 days ago