Outside, the view was autumnal, but opening the doors, it didn’t feel too cold. It’s good news for us, but even better for Paul, who was taking a 2 bus journey to be with us for the day. Paul lives in canal central, but wanted to see other parts. The meeting point of bus route and canal was established, but we weren’t quite making it to his target of the Black country. To some people this includes Wolverhampton, to others it excludes it. Today we skirted Wolverhampton.
We left the “Shroppy” and moved in to the Staffs and Worcester. We were in a lot of pretty canal and rural land, not industrial backwater.
As we passed one boat, the owner, waving to us (as is usual) studied the name on the side (also quite common) and shouted, “I made your covers!” (No, never heard that before!) There is only one Bartimaeus registered, so it was obviously a memorable commission. He had a smart boat called Perch, I expect you don’t get many of those either. We thanked him. We have found the pram cover especially useful! Perhaps as winter comes in, we might employ the front cover again.
We moored up beside an agreed bridge, the “Old Bridge” to wait for Paul. We knew we would get there faster than him. The house opposite had gone to turn with their Halloween decorating, for the benefit of canal users!
Paul announced his arrival with a knock on the window. He had had some confusion finding us but had been carefully directed by a scooter rider. He had been taken with the idea of a transport museum and a disused railway station nearby called Cupcake Lane. He took us to see them.
Unfortunately, both these attractions were closed today, so we had to go elsewhere to search for lunch. The transport heritage centre is only open weekends, but it is free!
We went in search of lunch on the main street and there were more than Shane had found on line. He had found The New Bridge and it was certainly the most impressive looking building of all the places we could see. There chimneys are like candy twists. It had some original timbers inside too.
We had time to go for a short trip, in the afternoon, but there were no winding holes so we had to end up somewhere that had a nearby connecting bus service. As usual Shane had researched possibilities for the time we had, and said there were 3 miles and 3 locks to the next suitable bus route. Last time we met Paul there was a heatwave and keeping cool sitting still was hard enough, without having to walk and push heavy gates. As it turned out, these locks are easier to work as well as the weather better for physical exertion. So Paul and I worked the locks together, and after a few pointers at the first couple, he was obviously getting the hang of the routine and has a good understanding of how it worked, so once told, didn’t need reminding of what needs done and in what order. There’s certainly less running around when there is someone in each side of the lock. Just as well as Shane had misremembered and there were 6 locks, not 3.
We didn’t have time for the next complex semi- staircase locks today as the sun was setting, but we took a look at them and that will be our first job tomorrow. Some more internet searching by Shane found bus times for Paul and then researching meeting points and messaging our next visitors in 2 days time. Apologies to Paul … October visitors are like buses, none all month then 3 close together!
We walked Paul to his bus, which arrived bang on time. It was more of an adventure in the dark than walking city streets. Torches were essential as it was pitch black on the towpath. We will be back in Paul’s neck of the woods in a few weeks, so it’s au revoir, not good-bye.