Toledo

Up early to call the alarm people, they called yesterday and couldn’t fix it, we need a new box, typical when we are going away.
After some frustration and two calls they said they would be with us at 10am, and in fairness they were, after 90 minutes fitting, moving testing still no good, they could not get a signal, so now we have to connect to telephone, which I am sure will be better anyway. Steve has come to the rescue, as they cannot do it until Monday, he will let them in etc. We eventually left the house at 11.30, we are so behind schedule, a breakfast at Sylvio’s set us up for the day, a quick visit to Barry to see how he was doing, after his first week of chemotherapy, actually he looked quite good, and was breathing better than he had been.

We finally left at 1pm, and travelled to Toledo, four hours plus a little detour, as I took the wrong turning, we found our hotel, which is lovely. Toledo is on a hill, and we are probably half way up, reception is on the third floor and you go down to the rooms, which are light and airy.

After unpacking, we went for a walk around town, up a few steps, then into escalators that took us to the top, amazing, we need these for our house. We wondered around, and came to an Irish bar where we decided to watch the match, having made that decision we walked around the narrow streets, and found a tapas bar, where we had a bottle of wine, ordered three different dishes and watched the world go by. We then went back to the Irish bar and watched the game, atmosphere was terrific, and Geoff enjoyed his Guiness.

Lovely evening, Geoff was happy as Wales had won, we walked home, and climbed into bed. Shattered.

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Brewood

Saturday 5th November 2016

Had a lay in today, didn’t wake up very early either, but the weather has turned really cold, so we dressed accordingly, a big bowl of porridge, before we walked into the town.

The day although cold, was a typical crisp Autumn day, we had our thermals on, so not too bad, but we noticed the postman and one other, walking around in shorts, must be mad!

First impressions what a lovely village, everyone very friendly, no big

Village church

Village church

shops, just the local butcher, baker, chemist etc., small co-op, where we managed to get some cash out, no ATM here! We bought some throat lozenges for me, then walked to the local Marina,
Swan hotel

Swan hotel

where we are hoping to stop.

We walked around, and spoke to Bill, who was very helpful, said we could stop, they can do the service, polish the boat, pump out, and fill with diesel, what else can we wish for. We have decided to stop as it is really cold now, and we feel with the shorter days, we would become disenchanted, also I am feeling as if I have a chill.

We walked back through the village to have coffee, this place was heaving too, they had home made cakes, full breakfast etc., we just had a slice of cake, which was very nice. Having found the bakery we wanted some fresh rolls, but they had sold out, so we bought a brown crusty loaf, asked them about Lardy cake, and they are going to make one for Geoff on Tuesday!

Back to the boat, we then moved it to the Wharf where we filled up with water, and settled in again. I heated some chicken and sweet corn soup, and had the fresh bread for lunch.

After lunch we tidied everything up, we struggled to get water to the boat, as we are some way off, but we sorted it, by pinching someone else’s connectors, that done we put extra protection on boat to stop the boat hitting the side, then had a lazy afternoon and evening.

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Tipton Green to Brewood

Friday 4th November 2016

Up quite early, too cold to hang around, we dressed in our wet gear, as the weather forecast was rain, even though it looks as though it was going to be sunny. A quick breakfast, then we were away.

Today we have the Wolverhampton locks, in this flight there are 21, the good news is they are small locks, the bad news is we are going down, so apart from shutting the first lock gate, Geoff is trapped in the boat, as he could not get back on board otherwise, but we managed them well, it took us three and a half hours, which is not bad, considering

My very last lock for a while anyway

My very last lock for a while anyway

they all had to be unlocked and then locked again, and most of them were empty to start with.

I should have made sandwiches before we started, because we were both getting hungry, but a couple of chocolate biscuits saved the day, I then made cheese sandwiches when we finished.

We stopped for diesel, and a little water, then travelled onto Brewood, where we stopped for the night.

After hot showers, we got dressed up and went to the pub The Bridge

Bridge inn

Bridge inn

Inn, it was heaving, and we couldn’t get a drink, let alone a seat, but gradually it emptied out, and we found a table ordered our dinner, sat down and had a couple of drinks, lovely evening.

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Tipton, West Midlands

Thursday 3rd November 2016

We woke up to a bright sunny morning, albeit very chilly so now its time to head up the Shropshire Canal, find a suitable marina, get Foggy serviced, secure her, clean her then pack up and leave.  Dave and Leisha will then collect Foggy’s Notion after their return from Spain later in November.

After an early breakfast we set off, heading up the “Birmingham Level, Main Line Canal” this is quite a canal, the widest we had been on, the straightest we had been on, the most weed free we had been on and strangest of all, the loneliest we had been on.  This canal was presumably the main “highway” heading north/south in and out of Birmingham.   There were a number of smaller canal junctions heading off in various directions from this mainline, no doubt in their heyday these canals went into factory wharfs collecting and delivering goods.  The other strange sight we thought was though this is a very wide canal, every mile or so the canal narrowed to just the width of a narrow boat.  Presumably the canal operators of long ago were scared somebody would use a wide beam boats rather than two narrow boats and therefore half their dues!!!

We left the Gas Street Basin and luckily today we only had 3 locks to do, these locks were a flight just before we arrived at the junction of the Dudley canal running through Tipton, so an easy day at last!!!

We turned off the Birmingham Level canal at the junction and headed into Tipton, as we wanted to visit the Black Country Museum.   However, we were getting a little nervous as we were cruising towards the Museum because there is a rather long tunnel ahead and we didn’t want to go through it, so at the first turning opportunity we came to we turned and moored.  This turned out to be a very pleasant mooring next to a park where there were mooring rings; excellent.

We had a quick lunch, then we were off to the museum, about 1½ mile further along the canal, but we walked along the roads as they went straight.

When we arrived we were shocked how many coaches there were in the car park, we thought the museum would have been very quiet at this time of the year, obviously not!!!

The Black Country Living Museum is an open-air museum of rebuilt historic buildings in Dudley (West Midlands).  It is located in the centre of the Black Country, 10 miles from Birmingham. The museum boarders the Dudley Canal and it occupies 26 acres of former industrial land, partly reclaimed from a former railway goods yard, disused lime kilns and former coal pits.   The Museum opened to the public in 1978, and has since added numerous period shops, houses and other industrial buildings from around the local area, these buildings were relocated to the Museum from their original sites, and demonstrators portray industrial life spanning over 200 years of history.

Apart from the houses and shops etc., they had a car and motorbike museum with some interesting models not normally seen in National Museums, all manufactured in the West Midlands.  The most interesting car to me was a “Clyno”, I remember my Mother telling me about their Clyno and how reliable it was and in her opinion they went out of business because they were so reliable, not true; they got into a price war with Morris and lost out!!!  They also had a trolley bus service running around the site; funnily we were only talking about bringing Trolley Buses back earlier in the week, maybe they will be back, surely they are greener than normal buses, after all they have re-introduced trams again!!  Whilst we in the Museum we visited their cinema and watched a silent Charlie Chaplin film, I suppose in those early days this would have been entertaining but now, I’m not so sure.  There was also a “Spit and Sawdust” pub where we managed to find time to have a pint!!

We had a quick look around most things to get a feel of the museum knowing that our ticket will last for a year; so perhaps we can re-visit sometime in the future.

We walked back to the boat, locked out the cold weather and enjoyed our dinner followed by TV, yes we had good TV tonight so watched the Apprentice and what turned out to be a very controversial “Question Time”

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Birmingham

Wednesday 2nd November 2016

We didn’t get up very early, but oh boy it’s turning cold. We wrapped

Gas street Basin

Gas street Basin

up warm, and decided to go out for cooked breakfast, we wondered around the Basin, and finally decided on a pub The Brasshouse, imageand what a good choice, good service and excellent food.

Totally satisfied, we then decided to look at computers, I want something, I can keep my photos on, plus doing this website on, trying to get all my photos on one computer, instead of three different ones, and Geoff said he would buy me something for my birthday.image

We wandered around Birmingham, passing Museum, St.Martins in the Bull imageRing, The Bull Ring, and the amazing New street Train station, the frontage was like mirrors, where the reflections of everything that was going on, was on the screen, not sure how it worked, but we could see ourselves, and the trains etc., etc.,fascinating.

We found PC world, and spent sometime looking at what I should get, then we went for a coffee, to think what I wanted, having made the decision, we went back and bought everything, now we have to go and see Martin for him to sort me out. I want to somehow put all my old photos from years back on, we have boxes and boxes in store, especially of Andrew as a baby, then throw the boxes away, have to be ruthless at some stage.

Later we needed Halfords, which was about forty minutes walk, passed Birmingham University and the bus depot, hen into back streets thank goodness for gps on our phones. We can now polish the boat, and hopefully give it a bit of a shine, I started on the brass, and that looks great, but will do it again, before we leave.

imageBack to the boat, a quick cuppa, then off again to buy some groceries, ready for the off tomorrow. On way back we stopped at a little pub on the canal where Geoff sampled the beer again, it was lovely and warm in there.image

Back on board, I prepared dinner, and we had just started eating, when Sharon and Richard turned up, after some persuading they came in and had a glass of red wine, they are off to a show tonight. They did the Hatton locks again today, they met someone else, just as they entered first lock so went down with them, that’s the best way to do them. Nice couple shame we are going in different directions.

After they left, we tidied up, and I had an early night, I am shattered.

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Gas Street Basin Birmingham

Tuesday 1st November

Autumn scene

Autumn scene

s The weather has been amazing up to today, the canal is very shallow, and we have been stuck a couple of times, but managed to stop for water on route.
First thing today we had to open a road bridge, which was great fun, stopping the traffic whilst the nachine lifted the bridge for ageoff to go through, bet at 8.55am a few drivers cursed us.
Today was lock free, accept one at the end of Stratford Canal, which is no longer working, an old fashioned
Guillotine lock

Guillotine lock

guillotine type, we crawled through the narrow gate, and then had to take a sharp right turn onto the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, passed the Bourneville factory.

imageAs we were driving along, we heard this strange noise, I looked behind and saw something disappearing into the water, which was bright orange, we pulled up, and Geoff used the boat hook to see if he could find anything, but No nothing there, so we started again, and I saw it again, so I took the tiller, and Geoff tried to lasso the thing, which he did, very impressed, we pulled up again, and found we had picked up a plastic temporary barrier, it was about four feet long and three foot high, so glad we managed to free it, we left it on the side of the canal, just hoping it doesn’t get thrown in again!

The Worcester and Birmingham canal was very muddy and shallow, and the imageleaves were causing us problems, we had to stop every now and then, and go in reverse just to free prop from the leaves, through another tunnel as we approached Birmingham things improved, and we arrived at lunch time, cold and hungry.

We popped out to get fresh rolls, soup and milk, and had a lovely warm lunch, back on board.

Looking forward to exploring tomorrow, at present it has turned very cold, and we are now making plans to find a Marina and leave the boat.

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