Sunday, 5 April 2015

Birmingham, Merry Hill, Tipton Catchup

Going back to Monday 23rd March we met Jess at New Street Station and headed into China Town as it happened to be lunchtime. After a lovely lunch we had a quick wander through the shops, unfortunately the markets were all closed on Monday so we bought a few supplies at the Tesco Metro in New Street. In the evening we met up with Kirsty in the Prince of Wales where we also met a couple of the resident boaters at Sherbourne Wharf, 

We headed off early on Tuesday morning as the forecast was dry in the morning with rain later, the destination was Bumble Hole/Windmill End and to get there we had to go through Netherton Tunnel again, now Jess hates tunnels even small little ones that aren't much more than a bridge so she was not too impressed with Netherton and to say she was really pleased to get out the other end is a bit of an understatement. We moored up shortly after just before the forecast rain came down.

On Wednesday we negotiated the only lock of Jess' trip this time and that was the one at Blowers Green, Jess and I worked the lock and we continued on our journey to Merry Hill. We went off for a mega trip around the shops and retail parks there and got all our supplies ready for our new arrival. Quite funny really that the supplies for Dudley were bought in Dudley.

Jess feeling a little chilly working the lock
Thursday came all too soon and it was time for Jess to head back to the South Coast. We walked the mile and a half to Cradley Heath Station where we all got the train back to Birmingham, a quick bit of lunch and back to New Street Station for Jess to get the train direct to Bournemouth, luckily the works on the landslide near Banbury had been completed the week before so she didn't have to faff around getting the replacement bus to by-pass it. James and I got the train back to Cradley Heath and then cheated and got on a bus to Merry Hill as there was a massive hill to walk up to get back to LJ.

We stayed at Merry Hill for a couple more days sitting out horrible wet windy weather before heading back to Bumble Hole for the day and then onto Tipton ready for the Friends of Tipton Cut Easter Gathering where we have just completed our first weekend of trading on The Pen Maker's Boat.

Saturday started out 'not as planned', I went to the Post Office to collect a package that James had arranged to be sent there Post Restante, when I got there I was told the package was delivered about 15 minutes before I had arrived but they had refused it as they didn't know who it was for, even though James had phoned to ask if it was OK and he had been in on Thursday to check if it had arrived. I then tried to get in touch with the Tipton Delivery Office on the phone, but no luck, we didn't want the package returned to sender as there were vital pen components inside. Instead I walked the couple of miles to the Delivery Office, knowing the package would still be out with the postman but was desperate for it not to be returned. I spoke to the most helpful guy possible in Royal Mail, unfortunately I didn't get his name, but later that afternoon we had the package delivered direct to us on the boat. I was most impressed and truly thankful.

A few of the old working boats turned up for the gathering and the music was playing at The Founatain Inn. It was fairly quite on the towpath for trading, there were only two trading boats, us and Sparks a lovely couple selling mainly plants and seeds, along with handmade bead jewellery, hats and mittens. We made a few sales and were fairly pleased with our first days trading. A photographer from the local paper turned up and James had his own photoshoot, would be great if it makes in into the paper.

All set up

The local paper took an interest

Today most of the gathered boats went off on their various ways and we thought trading would be non existant and even thought about not setting up, but the sun came out a few people were strolling past so we had nothing to lose and set up. We ended up being pleased with the result having more than doubled our unit sales from the Saturday. We even had a visit from Richard Parry, the head of CRT, who seemed geniuingly interested in what we were doing.

21 miles and 5 locks

Total 110 miles and 119 locks

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