Monday 31 January 2011

"Whoops! You have run out of space."

Evidently I have used 100% of my 1 GB quota and cannot upload any more photos! Mmmmmm...

Animals at Bumblehole

 There's nothing like a snooze on the shelf behind the chimney - it's also where we put the wine to warm when Daisy isn't occupying it.

 Dylan is so tiny that he's quite happy to flop out on the stool when he comes to visit - I love the way that he warms my slippers for me.
 Our boys look on with incredulity that anyone, except Daisy, could fit on such a small space.
 The 3 of them have had a bit too much to drink and a few too many porky scratchings before crashing out, in a blur, on the pub floor.
 It's not just greyhounds that do sheepskins!
 Daisy sharpens her weapons
 and then does her, "help, I'm stuck" routine. I ignore it now and leave her too it - she soon catches me up when she realises I'm not swallowing it.

Sunday 30 January 2011

Boating community in Bumblehole Branch

It being a beautiful sunny Sunday morning, the world and his dogs were doing their best to peer through our windows so, after responding with our gorilla impressions (puts off all but the most hard-faced nosy parkers), we toddled off to walk the Bumblehole loop.
They only have a tiny piece of land to compliment their moorings and every square inch has been made use of - could this be the windmill from,'Windmill End' -  I'd love to know the story behind the name?

The water here is virtually clear of ice, but not so a few kilometres further South where it has reached a depth of about 7mm and starting to make cruising difficult/impossible again. We shall be sitting tight until we have an update from Lyons boatyard re our mounting/vibration problem - tomorrow hopefully.

Saturday 29 January 2011

My wish was granted and I was up at dawn.

Friday a.m. I thought I detected a little brighter light through the bedroom mushroom than I had seen for a day or 6 - our bedroom is pitch black until the daylight creeps through the mushroom vent. So I hopped (OK crawled) out of bed and waited for the sun to rise over the embankment and hit the bark on the copse of Silver Birch trees   adjacent - it is such a pretty spot and the photos hadn't done it justice due to the grot weather.
 A beautiful golden glow made this a lovely start to the day.
 In view of the predicted cold snap, we moved across to the visitor centre for water and a cuppa/natter. I off-loaded some books and unwanted china and enquired about the fallen oak that we had spotted. They had no-one with a chainsaw to sort it so, being helpful people, we offered to clear it from the path for them and tidy it up! (Much more wood on this roof and we'll be re-naming the boat 'Rock'n Roll - sorry Carol).
 "I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK," - even got the shirt to prove it.
 I got a bit bored being elf and safety person (not to mention cold) so snapped a few pics whilst waiting to dial 999 for an ambulance - fortunately my services were not required.
 Cobbs Engine house looking majestic in the clear blue skies

 Definitely getting bored - I'd much rather be doing.

 Walked the dogs (3 today as we had Dylan) and then rewarded his hard work and my (im)patience with a pint at the Weatsheaf.
 By the time we left we were greeted to a beautiful setting sun.

Fish & chip supper and 'The Hustle' on the telly. Perfick.

Ma Pardoe's (The Olde Swan), Netherton.

Going back in time doesn't need a time machine, a 15 min walk from the canal at the Bumble Hole will see you going back 120 years.
Ma Pardoe's as its affectionately known is a wonderful example of what a pub should be; four bitters on tap, which are brewed on the premises, would put this in the category of home brewing at its best.

This is the ceiling, and dates back to the late 1800s, reputed to be one of the oldest suspended ceilings in the country, the only other surviving one of it's era is said to live in Australia.

This old sign says it all, in fact the beer I took to was 3rd in the Great British Beer Festival last year and was probably one of the best real ales I have ever tasted Old Swan Entire, however, Jill decided that The Bumble Hole was her favourite.

Ma Pardoe herself who only handed over the reigns about 30 years ago
The Olde Swan has only recently re-opened under new ownership, Tim is the landlord and front of house, and the brewer is also a  partner. With this type of partnership this excellent establishment  should carry on for years.
The architecture of the building is amazing - a myriad of rooms and corridors, one of the former housing a mighty organ which, we were told, is Tim's pet and gets played fairly regularly with only the smallest of twists to his arm.
You can eat almost anywhere (room wise) and the upper floor is a dedicated restaurant - the menu looks excellent and the prices reasonable for good food. We are coming up to our 3rd anniversary afloat and would love to have eaten here for our celebration but, unfortunately, the timing is wrong.

Friday 28 January 2011

Bumble Hole....or Windmill End ....or Netherton

Whichever name you call this mooring it is simply fabulous (despite the wind, rain and poor visibility) and steeped in history. I would love to get some pics in the sun before we leave and it is definitely a place we would go out of our way to return to. Our precise location is the Dudley No. 2 Canal by the South portal of Netherton Tunnel and I'm a little reluctant to tell you this in case we cause a rush - however, the local volunteer enthusiasts deserve more recognition for thier hard work and ...well...... enthusiasm.
Above is where MR and Jacala are moored - plenty of space both sides and nobody else around. Daisy heard me call the boys on the way back from our walk and came trotting out to meet us (with her tail all puffed up in case any geese had some big ideas).

 This is the Southern Portal of the Netherton Tunnel. The Tunnel is 3,027 yds long and has a five ft wide towpath each side, so you can walk it with a torch and wet weather gear - I declined preferring the countryside over the top. It was built to relieve the congestion at Dudley Tunnel (not accessible to 'combustion engined' craft) and was the height of luxury with it's twin towing paths and gas lighting. The work was started on 31st December 1855 and was opened 20th August 1858 - the last major tunnel to be built on the British canal system. Even back in 1855 it's construction had to be cost justified - a 'traffic survey' on the Dudley Tunnel in 1841 monitored 41,704 boats passing through in the year.

Sorry. I'm banging on, but can you imagine the difference this must have made to profits.

 Then, of course, there's the Windmill End pumping station (now known as Cobbs Engine House) to keep the coal, ironstone and clay mines free of water. So I'll just put the info board up (for those of you with good enough eyesight to read it) and get on with the pics.

 One of the two beautiful roving bridges which allow the towing horses to cross the canal without their towing lines being removed or snagged - no more history, I promise.

A rare sight - another boater, just passing by us on the far side.
 Lots and lots of  hills to climb and wide open spaces for rummaging.
Muttley always wanting to be one bridge ahead.

Thursday 27 January 2011

Gosty Hill Tunnel's ghost

This is the approach to the western portal of the Gosty Hill Tunnel on the Dudley No. 2 Canal,

It's 577yds long with no towpath and very low in places; requiring re-arrangement of our, not inconsiderable, wood stash on the roof before we continued.

This crazy picture shows a ghostly head with the caption, "Hawne Basin 1 mile". All the lights are from the tunnel light on the boat behind - I think some of the light is reflecting back off of our smoke.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Can't get it right all the time

We left the Museum moorings yesterday and went up to Tipton through the 3 Factory Locks on the 'new' main line. We had to queue behind another boat going down (outrageous) and another boat was waiting to come up - oh look it's our mates (Rupert & Dylan on NB Jacala), so they didn't bother with the locks, but winded and followed us. Shortly after we passed Brian & Ghost on NB Kyle venturing in the opposite direction.

We turned right off the main line down the Netherton Tunnel Branch and, once clear of the tunnel I walked the 3 dogs down to the very low and very narrow Gosty Hill Tunnel, heading down to the terminus of Dudley no. 2 Canal at Hawne Basin. There were, however, no visitor moorings and it was nearly dark, so we were forced to moor by the road on the inbdustrial estate. Oh well.

 The view from the other side was OK and just a hop over the bridge onto Monarch's Way for dog walking
 but it was very muddy.....
 ...and far from ideal as I (not himself, of course, who can sleep through anything) was woken at 4.00am by people driving into the yard to pick up their lorries for the day's work. Not helped by a loose manhole cover - kerchunk each time it was driven over.
 Needless to say, we moved on today and it didn't stop raining.