Arrived at the Black Country Living Museum on Sunday lunch time and we moored up and went straight into the museum and into the Bottle and Glass for a pint and a butty. I've heard my dear old Dad talk about pubs with saw dust on the floor, but I've never been in one until now. Then we had a good stroll around the grounds. There's so much to see you really need a whole day to see and do it all. Well worth the visit. We stayed there overnight and on Monday morning we chugged our way to the centre of Birmingham and moored up outside Symphony Court opposite the NIA only to find the Conservative Party Conference was taking place in the ICC nearby. The whole area was crawling with police and a restriction was in place across the canal. We could go through with the boat but we had to have a police escort to go through. I think the police just want a free ride on a boat so they place a couple of Bobby's on the bow as you go through. We've got all this when we go through tomorrow.The weather has forced us to hole up for today (Tuesday) and we have to move on tomorrow as we will have outstayed our welcome (limited mooring), and the weather for Wednesday looks twice as bad, but we have to take our chance.
Wednesdays weather wasn't so bad in the morning and we had the Police escort to look forward to as we turned the corner towards Gas Street Basin. A barrage of blue floating barrels tied together with rope strung out across the canal meant we had to stop and take on board two policemen to escort us past Gas Street Basin and through the Worcester Bar. Lin was in her element. "Are you River Police?" she asked, "No" came the reply, "We're Riot Squad from Wolverhampton", so this job, as I'm led to understand is a bit of a 'jolly' for them.Excitement over, we turned the corner at the Mail Box and moored up to take on water and empty the cassette (the bog). Then onwards through Wast Hill Tunnel, nearly 2.5 Km long, to Kings Norton Junction where we stopped briefly for some lunch. To Hopwood and the rain was horizontal and so much of it too. By early evening the rain had cleared and we arrived in Alvechurch looking for a place to wind. We had to go all the way down to the winding hole at the Anglo-Welsh boatyard at the top of Tardebigge. Plenty of room to rotate 70ft of length, and Florence turned on a sixpence. A couple of people from the boatyard were watching as we turned, and I think they were impressed, whether it was the boat or my ability to to wind I'm not sure. Then a trip back to Alvechurch where we moored for the night. Then we rounded off the day with pint and a meal in the Weighbridge. We had faggots chips and mushy peas and a sweet all for a fiver each, and it was good. We'll be going back there again when we're on TQ next time.
The long tug deck
Thursday and its back to Birmingham City Centre, but not before watching a boat being craned out of the water right opposite our mooring. Before we left I went into the shop and bought a postcard and some methylated spirit as we were nearly out. (We use this to light the diesel heater on Florence). All the Police were gone by now so it was straight through to the moorings where we found most of them taken up and were lucky to find one left at the far end, and it was just long enough for Florence.Stayed in the City Centre again on Friday and went shopping for this and that, like you do, (or like we do). Tried to get some batteries for our camera but they were £6.99 for two and we needed four! Needless to say we declined. Found some on eBay, eight for £10.66 inc. postage. That's better. Also bought a mop for the decks, some wine glasses and a tin opener as the one on Florence is worse than useless.
Saturday morning and its time to head home. So its along the Main Line to Smethwick where we turn right and go up via three locks to the summit level of the BCN. I went down into the boatmans cabin to pick up the windlass and bumped my head on a cross beam inside the roof of the boat and ended up on the floor like a busted bag of flour. Hey ho! hazards of boating. Three locks later and through a short tunnel, and then through a network of bends and bridges under the M5 Motorway. Not far to go now and we were moored up shortly after Noon. Got unloaded and a quick sprint back down the M5 to home. We enjoyed our time on Florence, and we found out things that we thought we'd like to include on our boat one day but were not sure about. So this holiday has incorporated some research. Holiday over, back to work tomorrow.