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Category: UK Canal Trip

The Importance of Bowling Alleys

The Importance of Bowling Alleys

There’a a stall in the market with owls you can pet. They are just as insane as the swans, but more lethargic because they work the night shift. Worcester as a city has not done well at preserving its past. In fact the best preserved old buildings are there mostly because they were on the same street as the city jail for two hundred years, so nobody thought it was worth building something new there. Yesterday I suggested that a…

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Onto the Severn

Onto the Severn

After a week at my brother’s we are on the move again, heading down the River Severn. The Severn was named after the Goddess Sabrina, or perhaps it is the other way round, it’s hard to tell with deities. You may notice that they don’t actually have the same name any more. You can imagine the scene in the Sabrina household. River Sabrina: Mum? Goddess Sabrina: What is it darling? And will you please stop flooding all over my kitchen…

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Black Country

Black Country

In frustration at irregular verbs, I once asked my French teacher if there was any language in which the verb to be was regular. “Yes,” he replied, “Pleck.” Pleck is a working class neighborhood in Walsall. “I’m, you’m, he’m, we’m you’m, they’m.” I got to hear to old familiar conjugation again yesterday, when we visited the Black Country Living Museum. The museum is a collection of buildings from all over the Black Country, reassembled brick by brick, to preserve the…

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Berrington Hall

Berrington Hall

Today we visited Berrington Hall, a Georgian mansion with a garden designed by Lancelot “Capability” Brown. It was Brown’s genius that he could take a piece of undistinguished farmland, and by moving hills, diverting streams, replanting trees, and applying a final layer of sheep, create something that looked exactly like undistinguished farmland, but was in fact much more expensive. Looking at this view you could almost imagine that you were looking at ordinary English countryside, and not a carefully landscaped…

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Puzzle Time

Puzzle Time

We finished the last stretch of the Staffs and Worcs today, winding through narrow sandstone cuttings down to Stourport. We’ll be staying with my brother and his wife for a few days. Meanwhile, here is a puzzle for you. Our boat makes a screeching sound when the engine is going at about 1200 RPM. It starts at 1000 RPM and dies out around 1400 RPM. It happens when the engine is in forward or reverse, but not neutral. It does…

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Stewpony

Stewpony

It was a beautiful sunny day today, and we went through some lovely countryside on the way south on the Staffs and Worcs. There were quite a few locks at irregular intervals, though, so I did not have much time for photography. I couldn’t resist this one, though. The old toll house at Stewpony Lock. Nobody is quite sure where the name Stewpony came from, or even how it is spelled. Apparently “Stewponey” is also acceptable, and there was a…

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New Levels of Pre-Raphaelite Boredom

New Levels of Pre-Raphaelite Boredom

Our regular readers may remember our visit last year to Wightwick (pronunced WIT-ik) Manor, which houses a large collection of terminally boring Pre-Raphaelite paintings. I’m not going to inflict that on you again, so here’s a picture of the great hall there, which had hardly any Pre-Raphaelites visible if you look at it from here. The gardens are nice too, and there is next to no chance of being bored to tears by Pre-Raphaelites there. But oh, dear, since we…

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Brewood

Brewood

We filled the diesel tank today. It cost about £131 ($171), which seems like a lot, but the last time we filled it was May 26th near Leeds, so that means we are spending about £3.45 ($4.50) a day in fuel. In fact our fuel costs are cheaper than the cost of traveling by train to the same places. We also stopped for groceries at Gnosall Heath, a fact which I mention only because it is pronounced NO-zull. The Shroppie…

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Cuttings and Embankments

Cuttings and Embankments

Tyrley (pronounced TUR-lee) Locks must be some of the prettiest in the country. There are five of them, with the lowest cut into sandstone bedrock… … and the upper one with a pretty cottage. They are also difficult to get into because of the vicious side weirs which push you off course, the worst we have seen yet. The first one was particularly nasty, and it was only a couple of locks later that I worked out what I should…

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How Now Brown Cow

How Now Brown Cow

Today was a hard slog up twenty two locks, with a flight of two, a flight of fifteen, and a flight of five. We have climbed from the Cheshire Plain to the Shropshire Plain, over a distance of about ten miles. These were all narrow locks with only room for one boat, and only a few inches clearance on each side. It took both Paula and I a few tries to get our precision steering chops back, especially as most…

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