And what a busy one it has been. We left the Cannock Extension canal and headed for Sneyd Wharf; facilities there and we thought we would be able to moor overnight. But on arrival the moorings were private only. We had travelled for approx 4 hours and really didn’t want to travel any more. One of the boaters who had a mooring there suggested we spoke to a gentleman who looked after the area, with a view to staying overnight. There was one mooring spot that had been paid for but no one used! A deal was struck and we pulled into the empty space after filling up with water. It was nice and secure.
Tuesday 31st May was our 41st Wedding Anniversary. It didn’t start well. Charlie spilt his morning juice and in his panic to clear up the spill tipped the phone into the washing up water. I had a sense of deja-vu as we lost our last phone into the cut almost a year before. It was quickly fished out and it looked to be working until we went to put on the hotspot for running our navvygator programme. Nothing would connect it and I suspected the port had taken in water. So being a sunny day I placed it on the roof to dry. Luckily it did after we had finished the days cruise. All working well again now. The next thing was Charlie’s cap blew off his head and landed in the canal. I told him not to bother going back for it as he needed a new one anyway. We arrived at Bentley Bridge which seemed nice mooring in a short arm near the leisure complex in the retail park there. I contacted my daughter and it was agreed that she would bring the grandchildren on Wednesday for a few days. The third mishap was when we decided we would go for a meal to celebrate our anniversary. We chose the Fayre and Square pub next to the mooring. We were told it would be a half hour wait. 40 minutes later we were still waiting and were getting hungry; so I asked the waitress and she showed us to our table. The people on the table next to us had come in just before us and had been waiting over half an hour for their food, so we decided to go elsewhere and chose Bella Italia (I joined their club online and got a 40% reduction on the main course, so it worked out cheaper).
On Wednesday I did some shopping in the Aldi there in preparation for the grand-childrens arrival. Cupboards topped up, I then took Izzy for a walk along the towpath at midday. On my return I find that Charlie had been harassed by a group of 6 youths, who were trying to jump on the boat. They came close for a second time to shout at us so he produced his camera, and that seemed to do the trick as they ran away. Next thing a security guard from the car park was asking us what we were doing taking photos of children. The kids had taken a photo of Charlie with the camera alledgedly and reported him to the security guard. We were told we weren’t allowed to take photo’s of the car park (which we hadn’t) as it was private, and something to do with anti-terrorism laws? And we could be seen to be paedophiles by taking photo’s! After explaining he was on his own at the time and felt intimidated, things quietened down and we had a chat with the guard about these sorts of issues. His response was to phone the police. Ok fair enough, but on the news that same evening was a piece about West Midlands police 101 service missing over 1000 calls in 2 years and shop keepers were dismayed at response times (as usually the affray had passed by the time the police got there). The grandchildren came Wednesday afternoon, we had another night on the arm and moved off Thursday morning, through Wolverhampton (stopping at the sanitary station there), and stopped after a 4 hour cruise at a semi rural spot near Wallbrook Bridge just after the Coseley tunnel.
Friday we were off again to the Black Country Living museum (of Peaky Blinders fame).
For anyone that hasn’t been it is well worth a visit. A real insight into social history of the Black Country. There is also the Dudley Tunnel and Limestone mines there.
We decided to do the tunnel trip first. A 45 minute trip into one of the oldest canal tunnels in Britain.
We learnt from the guide the history of the area and how the tunnels were dug.
Apparently many functions can be held here including wedding, Halloween celebrations and christmas festivities. After our tunnel trip we headed over to the museum complex. The ticket entry price seems expensive, but if you gift aid it, a yearly pass is then issued which allows free entry.
Charlie took over 100 photo’s on our visit’s, so I have only used a few to show the various exhibits. When the land was purchased for this museum, there were only lime kilns and a mine shaft on the land. Every exhibit seen has been taken from various places around the area including Birmingham; taken down brick by brick, and re-assembled at the museum exactly as it had been originally. The result is a nostalgic look at days gone by. Not necessarily the good old days as life expectancy down the coal mine was around 16-20 years. And many other people died by 38 due to the bad atmosphere produced by the coal fires, mines and factories. Children were expected to work the mines from 6 years of age; and women and girls were eventually replaced by pit ponies; but even then they had to work above ground on the slag heaps.
Some of the shops were selling sweets, cakes, gentleman’s clothing and vegetables.
The volunteers who help at this museum all wear vintage dress and are there to tell stories and anecdotes of the era. There is even a vintage fair.
We went to the museum on Saturday from 10-4. There were magic shows for half term and street games for the kids to play. We went down a coal mine which was very spooky, and experienced what it would have been like in the dark and damp. And the kids watched their first Punch and Judy show, which they really enjoyed.We went again on Sunday and made sure we did all the things we had missed on the previous 2 days. The children really enjoyed it; and we certainly got our money’s worth. We even managed a picnic in the park. The weather has certainly been good this half term which helped in the entertainment of the children. I now have no money left!
Our Explorer cruise starts this coming Friday so we are off to find a boatyard and fill up with diesel and gas; the itinary covers some of what we have done already, but at a quicker pace (a week). We will be travelling longer days that we normally do, so a couple of days rest is the order of the day. Having said that though we have to go through 3 locks to get to the diesel. We have to be at Wolverhampton top lock by Friday.