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Saturday, 9 October 2010

A stay in Birmingham

Monday 27th Sept to Friday 1st Oct we were tied up in Cambrian Wharf at the top of Farmers Bridge flight & close to the National Indoor Arena, and also Birmingham's Symphony Hall.

We looked to see if there was anything being performed that we wanted to see, there was but it was a bit pricey, and then from the middle of the week it was taken over, along with the area outside it and The Rep, by the Conservative Party Conference. It was amazing just what they moved in to stop anyone from crashing in with a vehicle. Even if terrorists don't get in to do something dramatic, they have almost won anyway by getting all this precautionary work done. I didn't take a photo of it all lest anyone thought I was taking them for nerfarious purposes!

We didn't waste our time there, we went to see things. The Barber Institute ( ) at the University is a wonderful art gallery, not a vast number of pictures, but what quality. Just a bit further up the road from the Barber is Winterbourn House (, except we didn't know about it when we visited the gallery, so we made a separate trip.

Built by a Mr Nettlefold (of GKN) in an Arts & Crafts style the ground floor has only just been restored and is interesting, but the special bit is the lovely garden, so if you go, go on a good day. You could possibly moor up alongside the hydrogen powered boat, but we caught a bus from Corporation Street.

We also went to Aston Hall ( , alongside Aston Villa's ground. Part of the Birmingham Museums service so shut on Mondays, it is a lovely Jacobean house. Nicely restored but they need to see how the National Trust shows off places, but is worth a look & I reckon it should be possible to access it from a canal near Spaghetti Junction.

As far as I was concerned the best house visit I made was to Soho House (, extended by Matthew Boulton, his "manufactory" was close by, he held meetings of his Lunar Society here. Another museum, but much better than Aston Hall. I have to read a book about the Lunar Society, they were the brains of their age, and met on the nights when there was full moon so they could see their way home.

We did other things too, like an "Orange Wednesday" film, quite good, some shopping and generally having good time. We intended to set off on Friday for the Black Country Museum (, I'd bought the tickets on-line with Gift Aid, so they are valid for a year, and a good job. Weather on Friday was terrible, rained all day, so we stayed put!

Saturday 2nd Oct a lovely day, we flled with water at he Cambrian Wharf tap which must be about the slowest one on the system and then filled with fuel and gas at the floating services block outside Sea Life in the centre before a gentle cruise to the museum. Very impressed by some of the buildings on the way, Mo in his blog the other day ( was moaning about new uses for old chimneys, perhaps he would approve of this.

Under this scaffolding canopy is the remains of Matthew Boulton's Soho Foundry, I guess that English Heritage have insufficient funds to repair the building and this protects it, but the trees growing around it will be a threat.

The canal engineers created some fabulous structures, such as this glorious aqueduct,

and then this tremendous bridge.

As well as these lovely bridges.

We moored outside the museum and made a short visit, intending to view the remainder on the Sunday when our family visited, except that on Sunday it poured all day and though the family joined us we ate well and played board games, the visit to the wonderful museum has been delayed.

This was inside the re-constructed chainmaker's house, the lady hostess was a fount of Black Country knowledge.

President & Kildare were at their moorings.

Sorry for late posting, had signal problems..  Ian

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