Monday, September 21, 2015

Great time in Birmingham.

We've had a busy few days since our last post, so I'll try and keep it pretty brief. We left Netherwich Basin in the centre of Droitwich on Friday morning in beautiful sunshine. We were soon passing under the busy M5 with plenty of room to spare !!

Then into the very deep staircase locks towards Hanbury Junction. The restoration of this canal is tremendous and we will certainly return sooner rather than later.

We turned left at the junction with the Worcester and Birmingham Canal and were soon at the Astwood flight of six locks, followed by another six at the Stoke flight. All very pleasant and we ended up mooring below Stoke Top Lock as we fancied a quiet evening away from the noise of the pub above the lock. 
Astwood Locks
Saturday was locks all the way as we ascended the Tardebigge flight, the largest flight of locks in the UK, totalling 30 in all. We  didn't set off until about 10am and the mist soon lifted to give a lovely sunny day. 

We took it in turns to steer and operate the locks, and met several boats coming down the flight, so only had to turn 4 or 5 locks as there was a boat a few locks ahead. 

One pound was very low of water between pounds 48-49. Infact later in the day we heard it was actually empty, so there must be a leak from somewhere??

We eventually reached the penultimate lock adjacent to the Engine House, a magnificent looking building dating back to around 1800 and originally used to pump water back up the flight to ensure sufficient water for all. It is now a block of four luxury flats, one of which is a holiday let. It has also been used as a nightclub. The information board was made a very interesting read indeed.

Yesterday (Sunday) we popped up Tardeigge Top Lock onto the service area for water whilst waiting for our good friends Fiona & Rob to join us from their home in Stourbridge. We finally found them at the Anglo Welsh yard at the other side of Tardebigge Tunnel !! and then we were away heading for Birmingham. They both love coming out with us as they know the area well and are always interested to see it from a boaters eye. It was slow going as the pound was down by several inches and a couple of visits down the weed hatch were necessary, but we eventually arrived and moored on Oozells  Street loop a couple of boats behind nb Chance
Primary Colours - Louise, Rob & Fiona
Not a moments rest and we were soon joining Doug & James together with Russell and Julie from nb Nauti Lass for drinks and a meal in The Malt House. It was lovely to catch up again as boaters do, but  to our surprise, we had an unplanned meeting around the corner. 

Good old social media told us that Amanda and David (you may know them as the 'boat sharers' from nb What a Lark) were also in town and enjoying a meal in a nearby establishment, having deposited their youngest son at Birmingham University. So a quick message and hey presto we meet up for drinks and another catch up, followed by a guided tour of Ploddin' Along. There just isn't enough time in the day for all this social activity !!
Amanda & David
Today we woke to heavy rain and a poor forecast (actually accurate for a change) so decided to stay put in Birmingham. Doug & James came round for coffee and cake this morning and a good old natter.
Doug, Louise & James
No sooner had they gone that we got a message to say that there were strange goings on outside. James May of Top Gear fame was driving his amphibious car around the 'roundabout' at Old Turn Junction with a film crew recording the goings on. Now I have to say at this point I'm not a Top Gear fan at all and was quite hoping for a hire boat (or any other boat for that matter) to do its best and make contact, but it wasn't to be. 

We then welcomed our friend Lisa on board for a brief visit during her lunch hour form her job in 'The Cube' before we set off to explore the sights of Birmingham in the sunshine. We went for a look around the re-vamped New Street Station. £750 million pounds !! You're having a laugh !! TV cameras all over the place. Its a bloody railway station for goodness sake. Can you tell we weren't that excited by it all. 

We then passed the Birmingham museum and art gallery which was far more impressive and then onto the new library building, another example of modern architecture !! The interior of the building was magnificent. We eventually found our way to the 'Secret Garden' on level 7 and enjoyed a good look out over the Birmingham skyline which was very impressive. 
Museum and Art Gallery
New Library

So our brief stay in Birmingham is nearly over. We've enjoyed it and, as always, have felt very safe here. Tomorrow we will start the descent home by tackling Farmers Bridge and Aston Locks.

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