Saturday, 11 January 2014

Feeling Spring Like In Birmingham... and a visit from LJ's namesake.

The Christmas Season in Birmingham is finally over. The last of the Frankfurt market debris was cleared away soon after Boxing day and this week the big wheel and ice rink have been dismantled and removed. There is something to be said for mooring in the middle of a city over winter. Aside the convenience of the facilities, I hadn't really appreciated the effect that the extra couple of degrees Celsius would have on the urban sprawl. Tucked down beneath the 'storage heater' effect of the surrounding tower blocks and offices we have yet to have a good hard frost. Reports from as close as Warwick suggest at least a couple of mornings with thickly iced canals. Most evenings we are in short sleeves whilst the Becton Bunny ticks over on a minimum amount of fuel, we have had the diesel central heating on for two hours since the 27th December (just for topping up the hot water) and the winter blanket has yet to fortify the bed. Who knows maybe our fourteen year old boat is just so well insulted eh Tom...(sorry that's a bloggers 'in joke'). In fact when the wind is slight the towpaths feel positively spring like - maybe the polar vortex from America will pass us by.

Going back to New Years Eve we had an early start with a coal delivery organised by our next door neighbours Peter and Heather. We hadn't expected a delivery much before 10.00 but Heather knocked on the door at about 07.30 to let us know that it was time to reverse LJ a few hundred yards to the pick up point. Much later that evening (about fifteen hours later) we partook in the city centre festivities enjoying the atmosphere, fireworks and the odd glimps of the blond locks of the back of the head of a former X-Factor contestant. Keri Roberts sounded good, and was very relaxed. I don't really watch any of the 'reality' TV programs (or much TV at all come to that) but if you followed last years, Keri was one of a trio who had the bust up on live TV as the judges wanted Keri to perform solo rather than in a mediocre group. 

There she is, somewhere in the middle
I wasn't alone in taking photos on my phone, look at all those tiny screens poking above the headline

By the time we had weaved through the hoards of people trying to edge their way out of a grid-locked Birmingham centre the balcony of the flapper was heaving with revelers, who would be at least a couple more hours before they started to move on (the bar was open until 03.00). Peter, Heather, Deb and I took back to LJ to see what booze we could rustle up. Not a lot sadly because we had drunk it all before we had left. Luckily Peter's daughter had provided him with a Christmas gift of a nice bottle of Brandy which he shared with us - most appreciated. By the end of our celebrating and chatting the Flapper had gone quiet and Peter and Heather managed to find their way, all of one boats length, back to their home 'Blackberry Way'

We have had a relaxing few days to start the year, the most strenuous being a couple of miles walk with a fortnights shopping and a couple of walks along the canal to pick up some more petrol for the ever faithful (and fairly frugal) old Honda geni. I wonder how much more 'green' a 100cc petrol engine is over a 2200cc diesel one). The solar panels continue to trickle power into the battery bank and provide us with just over one free power day per week.

We had a lovely visit from Geoff and ('THE' LOIS) Jane Wilson this week the former owners of out Lois Jane and therefore the first ever clients of Sandhills Narrowboats. We had a fantastic couple of hours nattering and are really looking forward to our reciprocated invite at Geoff and Jane's city residence in a few weeks when they are back in the area on business.

At last a pic of 'THE' Lois Jane, Geoff and young Weimarana Coco

Our evening stroll took us past the library last night where I stopped to take a few pics and waited for Deb who had to pop down to the post office.

Panorama across the skyline - LJ is moored between the two tower blocks to the bottom left

Over Symphony Hall towards Broad Street

Towards The Cube (right of centre) Geoff and Jane are at the top somewhere there

One of my favorite inside parts of the library - you've got to time it right to get it this empty!

From the secret gardens


  1. Hi James & Debbie,
    Hope you are both well and enjoying Birmingham.
    I'm coming for the weekend with friends in February and we want to go for a good curry. Can you recommend anywhere apart from Jimmy Spices?

  2. Hi Yvonne, hope you're both well. Jimmy spices of firmly off our list now. Lunch used to be £7 now it's £11, definitely not worth it for what you get. The only other ones we've been to at are in the balti triangle. Both were fairly similar Al Trash and Shabab. They were both heaving when we went so book if time is tight. Neither was fantastic, just good honest balti -they're both unlicensed so don't forget to take a bottle! The balti triangle itself was a bit of a disappointment, not as characterful as Leicester's curry mile. How that helps - J

  3. Hi Debbie and James
    Nice photo's. Who is the photographer out of you two? You obviously have a good eye for composition.
    Hope you enjoyed the launch of our boat on the 27th.
    All the Best
    Steve (Smiffbob)

    1. Hi Steve. Lovely to meet you and your family last Monday, hope you have loads of great times in Smiffbob (in fact I've just finished writing all about our day out)

      I probably do slightly more with the photos than Deb, these ones (and Smiffbob launch) were all done with the camera's phone.

      Hope to meet up with you guys again some time.

      All the best

      James and Deb