Author Archives: pipandmick

About pipandmick

We discovered our mutual love of canals early on in our relationship when on a canal holiday on the Leeds and Liverpool. Since then we enjoyed four years being part owners of a share boat and have now progressed up to owning NB Lillyanne. Mick is a Telephone Engineer and Pip is a Theatre Designer. We have both taken time off work to explore the waterways, meet up with old friends, make new ones and watch the seasons change around us.

Vienna Postcard 1. 9th January

As there have been a few comments looking forward to postcards from Vienna, I felt a little under pressure. So I thought today I’d share my breakfast with you.

Viennesse breakfast

A different cooked breakfast to one of Mick’s and sorry that the photo isn’t the best, but to my phone enables me to post.

I had some scrambled egg, tomatoes with melted cheese on top, the thinnest crispiest bacon I’ve ever come across and some sautéed veg, which included aubergine peppers and courgettes. I avoided the sausages as they were guaranteed to have gluten in them and didn’t look that appetising.

I did also have a bowl of fruit. I suspect for the next few days breakfast will end up being my main meal of the day, it’s also free!

German word of the day Prickelnd. This was on a bottle of water, my phones translated it as Tingly.

Kicking Heels And Packing. 5th 6th January

Oozells Street Loop to Cambrian Wharf to Oozells Street Loop

A bit of old amongst the new office blocks

Sunday we decided to go for a little bit of a pootle, we needed water and to dispose of our waste. The original plan was to cruise round the Icknield Loop and then the Soho Loop stopping at the services at Hockley Port, before returning.

A new fender!

But by the time we’d walked to Sainsburys for a few things for a roast in the evening and emptied the yellow water tank and pooh bucket, time had run away with us.

Paul’s boat

So instead we continued round the Oozells Street Loop, past NB Waterways Routes and turned left. Turning right isn’t an option here as you would be turning about 300 degrees without sufficient width. So we continued on to near Monument Road Bridge where you can wind at a short stubby arm.

No right turn here

We then cruised back into town and pulled up at the Cambrian Wharf Services. Here we knew the tap would be slow, but with a wash load in the machine and no moving boaters it didn’t bother us, so we stayed, had some late lunch, until the tank was full. The bins here were overflowing so not the right place to dispose of our waste.

Back into town to the services

There was one space left at Cambrian Wharf quite close to the pub, The Flapper. Normally this would have put us off pulling in, but the pub closed it’s doors for the final time on Saturday night. However the thought of being hemmed in on a pontoon wasn’t that appealing, so we returned to Oozells Street Loop.

Oh BUMingham!!!

Tilly requested to go out. We told her it was just the same, but she insisted. Each alcove into the car park had to be checked just incase there was anything interesting. There wasn’t so she returned tail hung low.

This is one very stubbornly boring outside

Then there was the horrible job of returning everything to the Christmas hamper. The tree was allowed one more night inside before it was returned to the cratch and normal temperatures.

Naked again

Monday morning and it was time to sort myself out. The back steps were lifted and my paint brush bag brought out from storage. A small selection of brushes and a nice natural sponge were put to one side before the bag was returned to it’s hidey hole.

These don’t get worn that often

The big black bag came out from storage along with my red winter boots. Some thermals, something I would consider smart, but others maybe not.

Tilly has been caught several times today trying to get into the big bag, but I’m afraid it isn’t her way out of Birmingham. Mick will do that soon.

Nothing! Not me!!

Schedules, tickets and euros are packed. I’ve checked in for my outbound flights and now have boarding passes on my phone. So tomorrow I will jet off to Austria to work. I’m hoping it will be fun and that I’ll get chance to have a bit of a look round Vienna before I come home. Mick will please Tilly no doubt and find her an outside that appeals more than here.

Money and guide

Mick may post about what they get upto whilst I’m away and I may post a Viennese postcard or two if there is time. But for now, we’ll see you soon.

0 locks, 1 mileish, 2 lefts, 1 wind, 1 straight on, 1 too familiar mooring, 1 roast chicken, 2019 Christmas packed up, 1 big black bag, 105 euros, 15A window, 1 cat with cabin fever, 1 eye test, 2 boaters kicking heels.

Oozells To Look At. 4th January

Oozells Street Loop

The chap across the way had been running his engine until 11pm both nights we’d been moored opposite the giraffe. The first night we considered going over to see if everyone was alright on board, but it’s quite a long way round. So on the second evening we were relieved to hear the engine going, but not for the length of time it ran for! So this morning we decided to move.

NB Sola Gatia had been round on the Oozells Loop along with another boat, both had moved off. So we decided to move round the corner and see if it would be any quieter, less foot fall for certain.

Oozells Street Loop

There was plenty of room for us, so we chose to tie up in the middle, leaving room for boats infront and behind, but we’d be away from both bridges.

In the afternoon we headed into town. Should we walk down into the Jewellery Quarter to look at museums? Go to the Art Gallery? Or go to the top of the Library?

There’s Lillian down there, lovely and yellow

Back in October 2014 Mick had discovered the wonderful gardens and views from the library whilst I was working. He even managed to get a photo of NB Lillyanne (Lillian) moored at Cambrian Wharf. When I had free time we tried again, but high winds meant we could only stay indoors as the gardens were closed.

Going up
and up

Today we went to the top, to the viewing gallery and the Shakespeare Library. Then we walked down the 90 steps to the garden. From here we could see for miles. If we hadn’t moved Oleanna this morning we’d have got a photo of her too from up here, but now she was tucked away behind the Sealife Centre.

No Lillian today
The boat with the noisy engine on the right

Below was busy and the new trams came and went from the station.

New trams

It was a touch late in the afternoon by now to pay to go into a museum, so we opted for the Art Gallery and headed straight for the Pre-Raphelites and Burne Jones. Mick said we’d been before, but neither of us could remember when. It turns out that after we’d been to see Dippy the dinosaur we had a little look round, that was only 18 months ago!

She is meant to be asleep

The same paintings caught my eye. One study for Burne Jones painting Briar Rose is my favourite, I prefer it to the final painting.

A study in perpsective

But this time we also got to see a bit more of the display. Superduperspective by Patrick Hughes could not be ignored. It’s first view should be straight on, an image of paintings from the gallery in two corridors. But then as you move round you realise the whole thing is 3D and painted in such away to trick your eye. When fooled the furthest parts of the painting are actually the closest to you. Very clever use of shading, but a touch nauseating too.

But the wrong way round

0 locks, the same 0.14 miles mentioned yesterday, 150 yards from engines running, 1 library, 1 art gallery, 100 Euros, 1 adaptor, 1 bored asleep cat, 1 sock finished.

Very pretty

BUMingham! 4th January

The Giraffe to Ooozells

Guide Dog Oakley-Retired calls this outside Bumingham. I feel it needs a touch more BUM in it’s name than he gave it.

I’ve been patient with this outside, but it just hasn’t improved. So this morning Tom suggested changing it to an Oozells one. Well that sounded better, Ooooozells better, anywhere would be better.

Whilst She sat mumbling under her breath at the computer Tom got us ready to let the outside go. Unusually he decided this one needed backing away from, carefully. It didn’t take him long to pull in and catch one again, the usual conversation of ‘Inny……Straight……Outie’ went on between the two of them, then She came inside and gave me the rules.

That side looked interesting

She said I wouldn’t like it. What did she know!

Well….

This side didn’t

Where are the sideways trees?

Brick!!!

Brick walls can’t be climbed.

Oooo! What’s in there?

Interesting bits blocked off.

Well I won’t get to find out!

She was right! This outside is Oooozles more BUMingham!

My tail hasn’t got the message yet about BUMingham!

I came back inside, pulled my best sad face and got some REALLY good ‘Thank you for coming home’ treats. The rest of the day became one very long cat nap.

0 locks, 0.14 miles most backwards, 1 left, 1 big wall, 0 trees, 0 sideways trees, 0 friends, 0 point!

Back To Work. 3rd January

The Giraffe, Birmingham

Tilly has resigned herself to being in Birmingham. This morning she didn’t even stir from her sleep to play pen before we got up. Then she took to her day bed without even a look at the back door, There’s just no point!

There are now four award winning Damascena Coffee Houses in Birmingham

At lunchtime I put my designers head on and walked into town for a meeting with a new director. Amy had suggested meeting up at Damascena, she’d arrived before me and secured a table in the back room. Just as well as the place got very full. Serving Middle Eastern food, hummus, falafels, flat breads etc, it all looked very tasty.

The picture doesn’t do it justice, it was yummy

We quickly ordered, Amy a falafal wrap with haloumi, myself crispy falafels with gluten free flatbreads and avocado hummus. All very tasty, I just wished I’d eaten my flat breads a bit quicker as they soon became brittle, but that tends to be the nature of such things.

A wonderful room

Amy is the Artistic Lead at Dark Horse Theatre Company in Huddersfield. A few years ago they started to run AcT a course for people with learning disabilities to train to become professional actors. This summer the first of their students will graduate by putting on a performance at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield and I have been asked to be their designer.

Bowie down by the Bullring

Work has already started on the piece with much of the physical movement already having been blocked. Set in a garden, based on a poem we will need to work our way through the seasons. We talked practicalities and then moved on to more arty stuff. Captioning of the script on the set and wheelchair access along with giving the audience the best sight lines will take a bit of working out.

Dusk

We chatted away for a couple of hours, worked out a time scale for the design deadlines. Working with Dark Horse means everything needs to be ready far earlier so that the actors can rehearse with the set and props for as long as possible. A very good first meeting with lots to think about.

I didn’t fancy Mask or Neck

A walk down to the Bullring Markets to see what took my fancy for our evening meal. Plenty on offer, maybe the fish with red dots? But nothing really took my fancy, so in the end I opted for a stir fry from M&S.

Moon’s up

Back at Oleanna Tilly had ventured out and Mick had had the opportunity to chat to a man setting bait in rat boxes. These have always worried us as Tilly so likes to stick her arm down holes. But the man assured Mick that they were safe as she wouldn’t be able to reach the poison and was too big to get inside to where it lurks.

Kingfisher with Turmeric toe

The first pair of new year socks are coming along nicely. I’ve started off with the Kingfisher yarn and a matching colour for the toes and heel. It’s knitting up quite stripy as you can see. By the end of the evening I’d turned the heel and was working up the leg. I hope I can find the right place in the yarn to start knitting the second sock so that the orange meets with the heel like it has done with the first one.

0 locks, 0 miles, 6 crispy falafel, 1 brand new director, 8 actors, 1 wheel chair, 4 seasons, 9 foot head height, 0 fish, 40 minutes shore leave, 1 old friend found again, 1 underwhelming video, 0.75 of a sock, 8pm you should stop your engine matey across the way!!!

White's. 2nd January 2020

The Giraffe, Birmingham

This years daffs are starting to show their heads already
The ideal ash can

The two of us have spent a bit of time trying to hunt out where or how we could get a new ash can. Getting one delivered to a Post Office or Amazon Locker would have been great, except they are too big according to Amazon! So instead we’ve been concentrating on trying to find a hardware shop that might just have one.

Farmers Bridge flight

This morning we walked down the Farmers Bridge flight. We like this flight but have realised we’ve only ever been down it, never up. The BT Tower sits high above as the locks work their way under buildings, roads and the railway.

White’s

Once off the canal we followed a dirty rubbish strewn road to our destination, White’s Ironmongery. Sitting on the corner of Lower Loveday Street and Summer Lane the 1930’s building melded in with it’s background.

Hinges and numbers

The window displays of hinges, brushes, bolts on boards totally filled the windows. We opened the doors and went in.

Shelves and shelves and shelves, older than the RSJ’s above them

I was immediately taken back to when I was four, with my Dad going into Stubbs in York for some screws. Shelves lined the walls, each opening once filled with boxes of screws, nuts and bolts, all manner of things. The wooden drawers covered in decades maybe centuries of patina. Labels for many an imperial sized object still in place. As a kid I used to imagine the shop assistants sliding along the shelves on their ladders to reach the top boxes, pushing from one end of the shop to the other.

1″ what’s?

Today in White’s the shelves were not so full, but still the atmosphere. There were a few displays in the middle of the room, more boards advertising their wares, a few gaps where the last hinge of its type had been removed. Hanging from the ceiling were mop buckets and two galvanised buckets. A lady appeared a touch like Mr Ben bringing with her some warm air.

50p a pair

Unfortunately the suspended buckets were all they had, none with lids. A bucket however would do us for the time being. It would give us somewhere for hot ashes to cool off before being disposed of with our rubbish and mean the ash pan could stay in the stove rather than sit on the towpath. If we were going to get anything else nicked, we’d rather it was a bucket than the ash pan from our corner stove which would be hard to replace without ordering one from Yorkshire.

Whilst here we had a routle through boxes of bolts. Back in the summer Mick had wanted one for our batteries. A good look round and he may have found just the one. When asking of its price the lady said 10p! When our hand written bill was finished she said call it £7, the bolt now 5p.

Bucket

What a wonderful shop, with just about everything, except an ash can with a lid. How do they stay trading in this modern world? Hopefully local builders and joiners give them plenty of business.

The old and the new

A walk back through town to get some food for this evening. The trams now run into the centre and many of the hoardings we’d got used to seeing 18 months ago have now gone. Old buildings surrounded by new glazed towers.

Skating and a big wheel

Then it was time for me to do a touch of work. A script was printed out, read, notes made, photo references added to Pinterest. Then my tickets for my flight to Vienna were printed out. These are all in German, so I spent a while trying to translate them in case there was something I needed to know other than the obvious times and flight numbers. It’s a long long time since I did German at school and only the bare minimum has remained with me.

12

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 flight walked, 1 bucket, 12, 1 bolt, 1 time warp, 8 page script, 105 images, 4 flights, 22 letters in a word, 2 many consonants!

A Funny Sort Of Burger. 1st January 2020

Earlswood Motor Club to Birmingham City Centre, BCN

Mick checked the weedhatch using his new pair of pond gloves. His original pair (now five years old) had sprung a few too many leaks to do their job properly. Despite being able to have a good feel around the prop there was nothing there. Our slow progress must be more to do with our depth and the canals depth.

Lots of cutting back along this stretch

Not that much later than normal we pushed off to make our way into Birmingham, well we tend not to be early risers. Estimates reckoned we’d reach our chosen destination in around 4 and a half hours, a longer cruise than normal at this time of year. We wanted to make the centre of Birmingham today so had to push on.

Extensions and upgrade to the service mooring

The club house at Earlswood is having major building work, extensions on both sides. What looks like a new Pump out machine and new blue pipes stick up out of the ground along the cut.

The mooring round the corner was occupied, the view not as good as we’d had last night, so we’d stopped in the right place. Dickens Heath looked as it always does, incongruous. The water feature no longer flowing and just turning green instead. Here the number of towpath walkers increased.

Washing was on our minds, the drawer overflowing. A good long cruise into Birmingham would be useful to charge the batteries as we washed two loads and ran the dishwasher.

Key of power lifting

Shirley Drawbridge was our first obstacle. The control pedestal is hidden behind the barrier box, so took some finding, even though I’ve had this problem before. Once the bridge was clear I pressed the open button wondering how many vehicles I’d get to hold up. Only 1! Two others turned away just at the last minute. Oh well.

We avoided a fisherman just after Bridge 5 who had plonked himself on the bollards for the waterpoint. But there was still plenty of space for us so we topped up the tank as a second load of washing went through the machine.

Kings Norton Guillotine Lock

Cups of tea in our thermos mugs and snacks taken out the back we continued onwards, through Brandwood Tunnel and Kings Norton guillotine lock. Here much of the graffiti has been cleaned away. A homeless man had made himself and his dog comfortable under the bridge, a good place to keep dry.

Kings Norton Toll House all wrapped up

Kings Norton Junction Toll House is swathed in scaffolding. Back in February last year ( it’s odd saying that) the building was set alight, arson was suspected. Fire crews had limited access so had to carry much of their equipment to the scene with them. Hopefully the building will be restored.

The nearest we’ll get to Worcester for a while

Here we turned right up towards Birmingham. Shortly before Lifford Lane Bridge, Oleanna reared up, listed and eventually rode over a submerged obstacle. Looking behind us into the murky depths I thought I could see a wing mirror of a red car. Up ahead there was a wide enough opening and ramp down onto the towpath for someone to have brought a car for disposal. Were we the first to come this way this year? I sent a facebook message to Canal and River Trust, but so far have heard nothing back, well it is New Years day.

Not the most romantic of roving bridges, but it would do the job if horses were still in use today

On we pootled in the chilly grey afternoon air. At Bournville there was a space we could have pulled into, but we decided to carry on. The new Sainsburys at Selly Oak is right by the canal and looks huge. Wonder if mooring rings will be put in for passing boaters?

The new big Sainsburys

At Edgbaston Tunnel the handrail and lighting reminded me of my panto design.

Panto memories

By now it was dusk, so our lights on the roof stood out twinkling in the gloom, we got lots of smiles and comments from those on the towpath.

Worcester Bar

We turned left at The Mailbox and carried on to Worcester Bar. Should we moor on the visitor mooring there or carry on to a more familiar mooring? We carried on under the buildings into the big lights of the city.

The big lights of the city

Mick waved at a familiar boat down the Ouzels Loop, but the occupants were a touch busy to notice, hopefully we’ll catch up with them whilst we are in the area.

Once moored up there was the matter of what to do with the ash from the stove? MIck lifted the ash pan out and left it on the towpath, hoping that it would cool down enough before we headed to bed to be able to go into a bag, sadly this wasn’t the case. Tomorrow we’ll be hunting round for an ash can.

With our loyalty card in hand we made our way to The Handmade Burger Company, just around the corner. Today we’d get a free drink. Well that’s what we thought until we got to the doors to see a sign saying that they were closing at 5pm!

GF dough balls

What to eat instead? We’d both really fancied a burger. Other places seemed quite empty, many had no lights on at all. Pizza Express however was open so we opted for the usual in there. Gluten free dough balls and Pollo Ad Astra each. Mick’s pizza being nearly twice the size of mine!

Funny looking burger

Returning to the boat we sat down to watch the first episode of the new series of Dr Who. Verdict, we think it’s got potential to be better than the last series. The monsters might just be worth pulling the sofa out for!

1 stop lock on the flat, 12.41 miles, 1 lift bridge, 1 car, 2 tunnels, 1 right, 2 lefts, 0 other boats moving today, 1 resigned cat, 1 wave to Tim, 0 burgers, 2 pizzas, 3 glasses wine each, 1 baddy Lenny.