Still in Birmingham

We moved from our 48 hour mooring on Thursday, to a 14 day mooring round by the Mailbox area, next to the Cube. It was ok but a little dark, and alot more pedestrian traffic. One of our fellow explorers was moored on a 14 day mooring by the Barclaycard arena, so we made arrangements to breast alongside on Friday evening as they were departing on Saturday morning. Which is what we did. There were alot of people around as a concert by Jeff Lynn’s ELO was on at the arena. £56 being the cheapest ticket!

A social evening followed with a good chat over a few bevvies., and no mention of the referendum result thank goodness.

Barclacard arena at night

Barclaycard arena at night

On Saturday our friends departed and we slipped into their space along the towpath. Job done. We had a walk into the city centre to The Bullring shopping centre and markets. A large area of indoor and outdoor markets selling all sorts of goods., and a large indoor retail area with all the usual shops. Too much to take in all at once.

Bullring shopping area architecture

Bullring shopping area architecture

St Martins in the Bullring church

St Martins in the Bullring church

The modern Grand Central station is along the way, which has only recently been opened, and it really is an impressive sight

Grand Central station

Grand Central station

close up view of the station

close up view of the station

We purchased a few items of fruit and veg in the market and then decided we had had enough sight seeing for one day. Sunday I changed the bed and made use of the launderette at Sherborne Wharf as the machine there could take my 7kg load; also managing to get it dry in the drier. The weather has certainly changed and isn’t condusive to drying clothes as there has been very little sunshine and heat. We have had to put the central heating on a couple of times, which in June is a bit sad.

I made an appointment to see the Back to Backs on Tuesday afternoon. Like the Black Country Living museum, is a lovely portrait of social history. The Back to Backs are in fact houses that have a dividing wall between them (one house at the front and one at the back), with no access through the middle. This meant that many houses could be built on small spaces of land. They are unique to Birmingham and other places in the North of the UK, and were built to solve the housing crisis of the day. The houses were given to the National Trust in the 1970’s, and show how people lived from the mid 1800’s to the 1970’s. They have been tastefully restored., and are the only ones remaining in Birmingham. A  guide takes the tour around the houses explaining  about the people and the history. As many as 60 people lived in the houses we saw, sharing 3 toilets (well buckets actually). It was the daughter of the family’s job to empty the chamber pots daily and also the buckets into larger containers in the yard. These were then taken by the night soil men for disposal. The houses were served by a well that frequently was contaminated with the above mentioned waste, so many people succombed to illness and died. Windows couldn’t be opened to let in fresh air as the stench of the waste was so strong. The families living along the courtyard paid less rent because of it. Children shared bedrooms with their parents, and they even took in lodgers to help make ends meet. These lodgers sharing bedrooms with many children! So much for the good old days! The last family moved out in 1966, but by that time the outside loo was a flushing one, water was piped in to the houses, and they had electricity. These houses managed to survive because there were a row of shops within them; the last (a tailor’s shop) ceased trading in the early 1970’s.

Back to Back houses from the side

Back to Back houses from the side

Old fashioned sweet shop

Old fashioned sweet shop

Tailors premises on the left

Tailors premises on the left

There wouldn't have been cars in the old days!

There wouldn’t have been cars in the old days!

This area is next to the Chinese quarter and we haven’t seen so many Chinese eating establishments in one place for  long time. By the time the tour had finished (2 hours) it had started raining, so we headed home. A really interesting visit.

Today the weather is really hammering it down, which is typical when waiting for our sofa bed delivery. It arrived at 12.30 and erected by the driver, and must say is much more comfortable than our old one. We filled up with diesel after taking delivery by the wharf. We obviously had to leave our 14 day mooring and by the time we had turned and come back it had been taken; never mind weather permitting we will be travelling again tomorrow; heading toward Stratford-on-Avon.

I really must blog more often (or write a diary) as I forget what we have done and when we have done it!

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