We were pondering over our Easter trip being constrained by the imminent arrival of our daughter Terri from her work in Germany and her plans for the holiday and the restrictions placed on the waterways by the lack of water. We settled on a trip to the Black Country and the Black Country Museum. We were last there with Pickles number one sixteen years ago. I've got to say that I was looking forward to going through Brum, Lisa possibly less so.
|Farmers up to Brum|
The best laid plans never survive first contact so I was not expecting great success from all this.
|Isn't industrial architecture fascinating (well I think so)|
|A couple of actors being arrested for, well, being actors|
The return trip involved the new line which was faster but very boring as the whole thing is dead straight and very wide. Good, if time is money but not necessarily for leisure boating (no plastic bags thought). Not a single stone throwing yuff was encountered during the whole trip although I can't imagine why I would be expecting any. In fact, we hardly saw anyone.
On the return trip we decided to try Soho, Icknield Port and Oozels Street loops (use 'em or lose 'em). Soho was a breeze and very pleasant although Lisa had just put on the washing machine so engine revs had to be increased to 1100 and it was done at a bit of a lick.
Icknield Port Loop proved a bit of a nightmare as this is where BW and other contractors leave their dumb barges to sink, rot and where they are abandoned and parked for free. About a third of the way round we found that several had parted from their moorings and had blocked the canal.
The loop has no tow path and my crew of one (as we were rid of the others) were unwilling to clamber over rusting hulks to place them in some sort of order and tie them up by what remained of their blue plastic string. It would have been a messy, dangerous job and I wouldn't have fancied it myself but I can't imagine why Lisa wasn't interested, so (on health and safety grounds) we reluctantly cut our losses and reversed back out of the loop. It was rather shallow and I was churning up mud but eventually we backed out onto the main line again. I think I'll email BW about this as this should really be clear for through traffic even though there's really nothing on the loop (but that's not the point is it).
I would love to have tried the Engine Branch and the Titford Canal but we left those for another day. I couldn't work out if there was a winding 'ole at the end of the Engine branch and we didn't have time for the Titford locks and again couldn'd work out if I could wind at Titford Pools.
From what we saw of the BCN we were very impressed with its general navigability. With the exception of the rubbish in the water on the Farmers flight (normal) we had few problems. It's a little different from the Oxford and Stratford canals we had completed on previous years but fascinating in its own way.
Part 2 later