Category Archives: Architecture

Hole In The Wall. 27th February

Walsall Town Basin

The nearest building to us was the first to be built in the basin regeneration. At first it looks like a Costa, well it is, but if you walk just a little bit round the building you find that it is a whole lot more. The New Art Gallery Walsall with it’s four floors of artworks and activities.

Designed by Peter St John and Adam Caruso the building opened it’s doors in February 2000. Built from concrete with exposed joists, clad with pale terracotta tiles and blocks of stainless steel. Douglas Fir clads many walls inside and leather wraps itself around handrails, a reference to the leather trade of the area, all leads to a very warm welcoming building.

Garman Ryan Collection

It was built to house the Garman Ryan Collection which takes up the first and second floors in small rooms replicating a house. The feel of these rooms reminded me very much of my family home in York, designed and built by my Dad. Wood and large windows, exposed brick and render. I felt at home here. The other exhibition spaces tower above the viewer with much larger rooms in every direction.

Garman and Ryan both by Epstein

The Garman Ryan Collection was put together by Lady Kathleen Epstein (nee Garman), widow of sculptor Jacob Epstein, and her very close friend Sally Ryan a sculpture in her own right. After Epsteins death in 1959 the two ladies collected 365 works of art. Some by friends and family (Lucian Freud, Epstein, Theo Garman) others in the collection by renowned artists such as Constable, Degas, Picasso, Matisse and Monet, which all sit alongside artefacts from around the world. The collection, donated in 1973 to the Borough of Walsall, is laid out thematically in rooms.

Children, Trees, Occupations, each room a selection through art history.

Nathaniel

Many of Epstein’s sculptures sit on wooden plinths and watch you as you peruse the art works, but I have to say I preferred Sally Ryan’s pieces, my favourite of a young lad Nathaniel with his head slightly bowed.

Men with Mice and Birds

Epstein’s Men with Mice and Birds had a somewhat comic feel to it.

Renoir

Elaborate frames twice the size of a Renoir landscape was just as interesting as the painting.

Theo Garman

Thoedore Garman’s flower paintings reminded me somewhat of a certain boater, Kath from NB Herbie, and her watercolours and embroidery.

Guides were on hand to talk to you about the collection and the family connections that hung around the rooms. They were very enthusiastic and knowledgeable.

Epstein Archiev gallery

One room was being a touch noisy in the calm of the collection. This was Bob and Roberta Smith‘s Epstein Archive Gallery. Between 2009 and 2011 the two artists worked their way through the Epstein archive which had laid hidden away in the basement and they breathed new life into it. It holds papers of Epstein’s life, about his two wives and three children, two (Theo and Ester) who both died in their 20’s in 1954. Short films have been made about the stories uncovered in the archive which shout out across the gallery along with visual shouts of painted quotes. A fun room to spend sometime in ad I think Epstein was partial to jam.

On the top floor is an exhibition, Too Rich a Soil bringing three photographers together exploring cultural identity.

Top floor gallery

The other exhibition marks the twentieth anniversary of the gallery with a collection of works from the last two decades. Those that stood out were drawings by Andrew Tift who’s detailed drawings astound in their detail.

Andrew Tift

Jungle Queen II by Hew Locke, made from toys, feather marabou, all sorts.

A fluffy Queen

Then my particular favourite Hole in the Wall by Mark Power. This photograph of a Walsall urban landscape has texture, painting, human interest, nature, decay and a mural which blurs into the building it was painted on. The mural is now hidden behind a new building.

My favourite

Back at the boat for lunch I was looking out charity shops in the area. on the map I came across Hole in the Wall a haberdashery fabric shop. So on my way round town I made a beeline to see what they might have to offer.

What colour would you like?

Walking in through the door there were ribbons, yarn, buttons all sorts, then a room of dress fabrics. Nothing hugely exciting but I did find some fabric that might be useful in my costume for a Jay, as in the bird.

Perfect for a Jay costume

An arrow pointed upstairs to Upholstery fabric. A long corridor of a room where you coud select fabric and have made to measure curtains led to another room. Here plain upholstery fabric rolls stood by the walls along with about 30 different types of leatherette. Another doorway led through to a room filled with tassles and tie backs. Now hang on what was in the next room? Hundreds of rolls all in colour order!

I was asked if I needed any help. Maybe a chair to sit down, I hadn’t expected so much fabric in one place, it’s a long time since I’ve seen so much all in one building, or should I say buildings as it seems to me that they’ve knocked shops together and created a block of a shop.

Blues

The Garden set could most probably do with some of this fabric, but right now without having coloured my model up I’m not sure what I would want.

How much braid?

Linings and braid filled two more rooms and another lady asked if she could help. All she did was add to my astoundedness and point me in the direction of their bargain basement! Here the walls were lined with racks full of fabric. Piles four, five, six foot high filled the floor. Just what did I need? I walked round in a textile daze.

Blimey!

The lady upstairs gave me a card and their website address so that I could look on line. But it may well be worth a return visit when I know what I’m after. All this from going to the art gallery and looking at one photograph, I like it even more now.

One major fabric shop

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 art gallery, 0 time for the museum, 1 homely house, 1 giant fluffy queen, 1 dribbling tattoo, 1 jolly lift, 1 bored cat, 1 photograph, 1 block of textiles, 245673543 fabrics, 1 charity shop visited, 0 costumes as yet.

What A Load Of Cr*p! 26th February

Ocker Hill to Walsall Town Basin

Opening up the side hatch Mick exclaimed, ‘What a load of crap!’ The gunnel was covered in white splatterings. Something hadn’t agreed with one of our feathered friends last night. It would get sorted the next time we could reach that side.

Blimey!

Oleanna had obviously been a good target as when we came outside the roof was covered in it too. We both looked over head, not an obvious tree branch or cable to shit from! The roof got a scrub down with canal water, well as much as I could reach. This would do for now.

Just as we untied ready to push off a lady from the nearby offices decided that it was a good time to come and have a chat. Mick had just got rid of his rope, luckily it wasn’t too windy! But when it started to sleet she headed back inside to leave us to get on with things.

Oh s….t!

Back out on the canal we pulled in at the services at the junction to top up the water tank. The tap took a bit of finding hidden away behind fencing. But one thing wasn’t so hard to find, more sh*t on the port side. More scrubbing down as the possible offender watched from on high.

Bet it was him!

Straight on to new water again and the Walsall Canal. Not the most pleasant day for cruising as sleet wind and rain managed to come and go in between the odd bit of sunshine.

We’d been warned that the Walsall Canal is the least respected in the country with the most amount of rubbish. So we were prepared for our two hour cruise to be a long one.

Nearer Ocker Hill
Nearer Walsall

Plenty of graffiti to look at, not much artistic flair in most, just tags. We were definitely in the area of Ghost EA though. A few weeks ago I’d taken a photo of his tag on a bridge on the Tame Valley Canal, just white spray paint. Today we’d see his progression through the years to silver, then a touch of orange, followed by an array of colours and far more intricate designs the closer we got to Walsall.

Holyhead and Darlaston Road Bridges

The rubbish in the most part clung to the edges in amongst the reeds. Plastic bottles, aerosol cans, beer cans. At most bridge holes the banks were covered with unwanted items just dropped over the wall and out of view. Every now and then a fire extinguisher would bob along. Why, where had they come from? Today the fire extinguishers way outnumbered the coconuts. Most probably stolen, set off and then thrown into the cut once the fun was over.

Two more

A chap walking his dog warned us that there were trees down ahead. Not unusual at the moment after all the storms. But he said that it had been kids chopping them down, right across the canal.

Would this impeded our progress? Was the chaps version of ‘right across the canal’ the same as ours would have been, we could only find out.

Ahh trees

A few miles on through Porket’s Bridge we knew this is where he’d meant, plenty of branches in the water, but it didn’t look too bad. Under the surface however lurked numerous shopping trolleys. Mick put the engine into neutral and with the wind behind us we coasted through very slowly.

Poor trees

The branches weren’t too bad, coasting meant they didn’t entangle themselves around the prop. A little bit of engine was needed at one point to realign Oleanna to avoid the next felled tree, then we could coast again. Those poor trees. Splintered stumps standing to three four foot the rest pushed into the cut.

Pes planus

A double take as two flat feet drifted past with jewels on their fallen arches. A doll no doubt.

More coasting to be done here

Where the canal narrowed crap would have collected, one such place with a steel overhanging edge and wind. Was the overhang such that it would get the cabin sides as we coasted through? The wind certainly didn’t help! But we managed it in the end.

Here we go!

By one bridge a group of four chatted, two lads ran up onto the bridge and hung over. Here we go! Time to be sitting ducks. No chance to say hello before we might have to duck. But then they dashed back off the bridge to join their mates again. Cheery Hellos, Phew!

Cemetery gardens

As we approached Walsall Junction new buildings rose from the ground, the chimney at Majorfax reminding the area of times gone by.

Nearly there

We followed the canal round to the right, the locks can wait for another day, and headed in towards the basin.

Buildings matching the sky

A narrowing with a yellow boom across it to stop the rubbish, as we’d been told the boom just pivoted out of the way and allowed us entrance.

In we go

Two pontoons to choose from, no other boats. We pulled into the one furthest out and then battled against the wind to tie up. What should have been around a 2 hour cruise had turned into 3.5 hours. Time for a late lunch as Tilly quickly realised she preferred to explore the inside of her eye lids once more. Soon we’ll be back in the countryside Tilly, I promise.

Not a Ghost EA

0 locks, 6.1 miles, 1 reverse, 2 straights, 1 right, 1 boom, 2 lemons (no longer needed after Shrove Tuesday), 3 coconuts, 18 fire extinguishers, 6 broken trees, 5682 trolleys, etc, 1 near miss, 1 huge splattering, 1 resigned cat, 2 Walsall schnitzels.

Turkey Schnitzel

Keeping A Handle On The Dead. 13th February

BUMingham

Yoghurt descending Farmers Bridge

A walk down a few of the Farmers Bridge locks this morning and then across the arched footbridge. A familiar cruiser Yoghurt was making it’s way down the flight. We’ve seen the boat in Droitwich before and such a good name cannot be forgotten.

Newman Brothers

Just a couple of doors up the hill is Newman Brothers, a place more commonly known as The Coffin Works. This is another museum based around a factory where the workers laid down their equipment on the last day of employment and today it still lies there for visitors to see, a time capsule.

Ornate handles

Alfred and Edwin Newman established the works in 1882, originally brass founders they predominantly made cabinet furniture. In 1894 they moved to Fleet Street and started to specialise in the production of coffin furniture, there was more money in dead people than furniture. Edwin left the company leaving Alfred to be the sole owner in 1895. The company was doing well, the fashionable dead liked having ornately decorated coffins, even the poor would do their best for the deceased.

Stamped out
A stamp

Alfred left the business to his two sons, George and Horace. Shares were sold and handed out to employees. When Horace, the last surviving son died in 1952 the last direct link to the Newman family was cut. The company was then run by a small group of shareholder directors.

Wrapped and ready to go

Joyce Green started work as a secretary in 1949, she rose quickly to company secretary during the 50’s. As employees left or died she would buy up their shares until in 1989 she became the major shareholder of the company. Her association with the company had been for 50 years and when it was finally dissolved in 1999 she turned her attentions to saving the building with the hope that one day it would become a museum.

The office

The prime location was held onto for five years by Joyce, tower blocks now surrounding the three story building. In 2003 she sold the premises on the basis that the building would not be used for residential use for five years, hopefully giving enough time for funds to be raised for it to become a museum. Birmingham Conservation Trust then came on board, it took some time to raise the £1.5 million needed to transform the building, things were looking up.

David demonstrating one of the four stamps

Birmingham City Council put money into the kitty and by 2012 a new professional team were brought on board to manage the project. During 2013 and 2014 teams of conservationists moved in, photographed the collection and the building was restored and made safe for visitors. On the 24th October 2014, launch day, Joyce’s dream finally became a reality.

Locking up after us
Flywheel press

The old foundry no longer stands in the courtyard, a newer building takes it’s place, this now houses businesses that lease parts of the old factory taking advantage of a rather good address ‘The Coffin Works, Fleet Street’. David our guide showed us into the Stamp Room, here decorative panels where stamped out of tin. Then flywheel presses, bigger than those at the Jewelry Museum would cut out the shapes. These would then be polished up and passed up to the packing room ready for orders from Funeral Directors.

Shelves of handles and embelishments

The demise of the company was partly down to foreign imports, but also more people were getting cremated. Cremation brought with it a ban on using metal, wooden handles or plastic were used instead. Newman Brothers invested in machinery to be able to make plastic versions of all it’s metal coffin furniture, but they couldn’t compete with prices from abroad.

Boxes of plastic

The office was revamped in the 1950’s, a cupboard high up held the beer and cigars to help woo the funeral directors into placing large orders. Then David took us up more steep stairs to the Shroud room.

Worthington E or a sherry with your Castella?

Here 14 sewing machines were kept busy creating shrouds for people to be buried in. There was a big market in such things until it became the fashion to be buried or burnt in your best suit or favourite dress.

The Shroud Room

When we’d arrived we clocked in and as we left we were encouraged to clock back out. Another museum well worth a visit in Birmingham.

A safe place to have your tea made

Handy hint if you plan on visiting one or more of The Jewelry Quarter Museum, Coffin Works or Pen Museum, it’s worth trying to do them with a couple of days as you can get money off if you keep your tickets.

0 locks, 6 walked down, 0 miles, 1 yoghurt pot, 6.53 clocked in, 8.03 clocked out, 100 years of coffin handles, 1 undertaker, 8 on the tour, 1 determined Joyce, 1980 Joey Tempest Lion.

Next door the lead singer of Europe

Smith And Pepper. 4th February

BUMingham

Breaky!

The Museum of the Jewelry Quarter has been on our list of things to do whilst around Birmingham for some time and finally today we walked down the first couple of locks of the Farmers Bridge flight then headed off northwards. Gradually the buildings turned from light industry and flats to small Victorian factories and then to houses. The houses are mostly shops, jewellers, bullion dealers, we’d entered the Jewelry Quarter.

The Jewelry Quarter

Here is where the FA cup was designed, whistles for the Titanic were made amongst many other things boasted about on brass plaques laid into the brickwork below your feet as you walk along.

Information plaques on the floor

The Chamberlain Clock stands proud as a roundabout, erected in 1903 to commemorate Joseph Chamberlain’s tour of South Africa in 1902/03 after the end of the Second Boer War.

Chamberlain Clock

A small group of people were stood taking photos by the bridge over the railway, a Council street cleaner was busy too. It took a couple of seconds to realise why. This is where about two weeks before last Christmas some graffiti appeared overnight right next to benches where the homeless tend to sleep. Banksy had been at work. (Link to footage from Banksy’s Instagram page). The artwork made it into a lot of the papers.

Cleaned up, but who added the red noses?

The two reindeer are now covered with sheets of perspex which un-skilled graffiti artists now leave their marks on most days. The council chap was busy removing the latest offering as he chatted away to us, I think he rather enjoys his job now. As the pink squiggles were wiped away we chatted about similar artworks in Birmingham, especially David Bowie by the Bull Ring.

The museum wasn’t too far away and we managed to get onto the next tour round the factory. Smith and Peppers was established in 1899 by Charles Smith and Edwin Pepper (his Uncle) at 77-78 Vyse Street, Charles and his wife lived at 77. By 1914 the business was doing well and they expanded, houses were demolished and a factory built at the back.

The admin office with a paper trail back to when the company was founded

In the twenties Eric and Olive Smith (son and daughter of Charles) both joined the company and by the time Charles retired in the 30’s another of his sons, Tom, had joined. Eric and Tom then ran the business with Olive as company secretary. The factory continued until the 70’s when the recession hit them. People had little if any money spare so luxuries like jewelry.

Post corner
Safe electrics!

In 1981, Eric, Olive and Tom were 81, 78 and 74 they decided to retire. With no heirs between them they tried to sell the company, but there were no takers. So after the factory summer holidays the staff were gathered on the Monday morning and told to finish off what work they were busy with and at the end of Friday the doors would be closed for the final time.

Hung where they’d been left in 1981

They tried to get Avoncroft Museum interested but they weren’t. So on that Friday afternoon when the last pieces were finished the workers downed tools and left for the last time, the doors closed behind them everything left just as they left it.

The engravers bench

It took quite some time before the Council (who owned the building) to realise what they had and what they could do with it. In the 1990’s someone came up with the idea to open it as a museum. Detailed photographs were taken of everything, the building was emptied so that work could be done to make it safe for the public. Once this was completed everything was returned to the exact position it had been left in in 1981 when the doors closed for the final time. A real snapshot frozen in time.

Audrey at the jewellers bench

Today Audrey, a volunteer showed us round. From Eric’s office where orders were taken for wholesale trade, into the main office. Here box files contain every receipt the company ever had. Orders would be recorded and sent down in the dumbwaiter to the factory floor. Eric would have his breakfast, toast with homemade Blackcurrant jam or Marmite. Finished orders would return here by dumbwaiter and be boxed up, reusing packaging, then taken by the young office girl up to the Post Office in a string bag. The Jewelry Quarter was a safe place then, everyone was carrying high value goods about the place. The Post Office here was the busiest in the country outside London.

Line of cast iron patterns bow the shelves

Down below in the factory we were shown where the days gold was weighed into tin boxes for each worker, at the end of the day these would be returned and weighed, finished items accounted for and a 2% loss was allowed. Each day the floors were hoovered, each day the overalls were washed out, each day all the waste and water was drained through tanks of sawdust, the feet of the wooden stools would be cut back every now and then and below in the cellar this would all be burnt to recoup any gold. Over a period of two years this would amount to quite a chunk of gold.

Flame sat ready to have air added from a pipe that would sit in the jewellers mouth all day

We were shown round where engraving happened, walls covered in iron dyes for stamping out patterns into sheet gold.

Tools at the ready

A bench where nine jewellers sat soldering bracelets together had an army of angle poises illuminating the benches where soldering flames burnt at the ready, tools looped over string for easy access and leather pinnies fixed to the benches to catch any gold before it reached the floor.

Sqezy washing up liquid ( my mothers choice for many years)

3D relief shapes were stamped into sheets of gold. One chap who worked on this was quite elderly and was pulling almost his whole body weight each time he used the machines, so a motor was added to assist him, but being proud of his skill he refused to use the mechanised assistance.

Hand held sheets of gold
One stamped out Scottie dog

Other hand operated machines cut shapes out of sheet gold. Then a bank of polishing machines would be wurring round constantly with the ladies bringing the shine back to all the pieces.

Would you like sugar or something more sinister in your tea?

In a room to one side, tea making facilities sat next to the electroplating. Here the lady would make your tea, whilst handling deadly chemicals and putting items into a cabinet where the fumes would rise out of the factory, a form of health and safety.

Health and safety at it’s best, the cabinet to take fumes away with close fitting doors!

What a wonderful place, a must see.

White tiles on the building next door to reflect light into the factory

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 cooked breakfast, 2 reindeer, 1 sheet perspex, £7 twice, 2 floors of displays, 1981 stood still, 1 scottie on the floor, 2 adaptors, 1 toaster, 1 dumbwaiter, 3 siblings, 7 shades of overalls, 1 person to befriend, 1 tram, 1 package of post.

Post

Poot. 17th 18th January

Cast Iron Roving Bridge to Cast Iron Roving Bridge

Just as we were about to tuck into a late breakfast a familiar face bobbed down to say hello at our side hatch. Paul from Waterway Routes was heading off for the day to do some data checking for his maps. We arranged to meet up later in the day.

Morning Tilly

Tilly came and went whilst I made use of the washing machine. Mick headed into town to pick up some new glasses, he was a touch concerned that I might not like them as I’d not been with him when he chose new frames. The heavens opened and I was glad I was having a lazy day.

Pixel all wrapped up for our safety

For lunch we set free one of the cheeses I’d brought back with me. Pixel had been loosely vacuum packed as it was so squidgy. It took a while to cut off an end, I then realised that the whole cheese was wrapped in muslin and it should have been unwrapped completely. But the liquid state that it was inside would have required a bowl! So hoping that the muslin would contain it we continued cutting it away, bit by bit.

Cwoor!!!

Verdict. Ohhh yummy, gooey, slightly ‘prickelnd’ on the tongue. In fact after a couple of slices of my GF Austrian bread spread with it my tongue was just starting to go a little bit numb! We’ll try and eek this one out as it was most definitely a treat cheese.

Mick’s glasses are okay, bigger than his previous ones, Dame Edna meets Ben Sherman, apparently this is more modern and cool!

Paul popped in for a cuppa late afternoon when he’d returned after cycling part of the Trent and Mersey. Tomorrow he would be cycling from Lincoln to Boston to check data, good job he has an electric assisted Brompton, just hope the wind stays in his favour for the day.

Do we have to get up now?!

Saturday morning, a bright start to the day, but we loitered in bed for a while, well I have been working hard! Mick headed off for our Saturday newspaper and after a leisurely breakfast we decided to go on a little pootle.

BUMingham

With the next week looking like overnight temperatures will be low, we need to stock up on essentials. Earlier in the week Mick had pulled in at Alvechurch to enquire how much their gas was. At £29.90 Mick bought two bottles! Coal was the next thing, so we pulled along to the service point outside the Distillery.

Coal please

Another boat was topping up and emptying when we arrived so we pulled in and waited our turn. We’re hoping to reach Horne Basin, where the diesel is cheap, in a couple of days so we only stocked up on coal. Only three bags as it was £13 for 25kg a touch more than we’re used to.

The water tank was filled, the tap here has good pressure, one to remember! As we pulled away more boats were arriving, quite a busy spell.

Heading out of town

We decided to have a little jaunt a touch further along the canal to turn round. We passed the boat that runs it’s engine late at night sat not much further on. One end of the Soho Loop is closed at the moment so we chose the Icknield Loop instead.

Turning into the Icknield Loop

Blimey it was chilly out there, the sun low in the sky making it hard to see. The island here is becoming a new neighbourhood according to the developments website. Car free with modern terraced houses, green spaces (currently concrete and mud) and a widebeam sales office.

The new neighbourhood

Coming back onto the Main Line we turned right and headed back into town, turning down the Oozells Street Loop so that we could turn back on ourselves to have the hatch towpath side where we’d been moored before. The left turn out of the loop was a touch tight, but Mick managed it without hitting anywhere.

Boxes on boxes

After a cheesy lunch we walked into town. A bag of unwanted items was donated to Cancer Research, this has now freed up space for this years Christmas presents. Boots was visited for an adjustment to Mick’s new glasses as they were tending to slip down his nose. A food shop for a couple of days and some model making materials for my next project, I have a model box to make soon.

One puzzled Tilly

Back on Oleanna I browned some shin beef added veg and popped the cast iron pot onto the stove to bubble away the remainder of the afternoon. Whilst in Vienna I longed to cook for myself easily avoiding gluten in my diet. I’d dreamt of cooking on the stove top. Later on jacket potatoes went inside the fire box and yoghurt dumplings were sat on top of the stew. It’s good to be home again.

Stew and dumplings

0 locks, 2.14 miles, 2 straights, 2 lefts, 2 rights, 1 liquid cheese, 3 bags coal, 12 loads washing, 1 full water tank, 2 visits from Paul, 1 stew, 12 dumplings, 1 flummoxed cat, 1 set of needles knitting again.

Vienna Postcard 4. 13th to 15th January 2020

31 hours

Real roses tend to loose their heads when used in magic tricks

Back to work Monday morning. Today we should have been doing some technical notes followed by a couple of dress rehearsals, the second one to be watched by Julia and Helene the Producers from the theatre. I spent the morning breaking down the water torture cabinet more. Then later I was able to add chains and padlocks.

Me on stage adding bits of dressing to the water torture cabinet

The afternoon was then spent going through sound and projection cues. Even though Sunday afternoon had been used as extra plotting time there were still issues. The projector was producing a distorted white rectangular light when we went into black out. One suggested solution was never go to black out! This didn’t go down well for obvious reasons.

Dan running through things out of costume

Then when the water torture cell came on (it has a tv screen inside it which runs footage) the projector also showed the footage! The projector wasn’t the right one for the job. This was the point that the projector was turned off never to be powered up again!

Even a Notfallplan wasn’t going to help

Everyone was getting nervous when sound cues were played back. This morning they had been finessed, this afternoon all that work had vanished and needed redoing. Poor Dan really needed to do a dress rehearsal but was thankful that he and Tim had done a run on stage on Sunday as there was no time left.

Dan with one of his tricks

So our first dress rehearsal was in front of the producers and photographer. My set still needed a few things doing to it, but there simply hadn’t been any time left after sorting the technical issues out. The dress went okay, but the producers had lots of questions afterwards.

A doughnut in action

Tuesday there was time to finish the cabinet, with bolts and breakdown the chain making it look older. Then Bruno, the Viennese Frank Matthews started work on what are known as the ‘Doughnuts’. These on the transporter bridge connect the cables from the dolly at the top of the bridge to the gondola below. I could hear quite a lot of German being muttering under his breath, but in the end he succeeded in getting the tension right on the ropes both upwards and down to the stage.

Das Lange the nearest pub

The dress rehearsal in the afternoon disappeared again, so in the evening we had a preview in front of local teachers. It went well but with a few little glitches. Most of us retired to Das Lange for a few glasses of beer and wine, we’d got through the show, but there was still work to be done.

Healthy fruit for breakfast was followed by some egg and bacon

Wednesday morning I was given instructions to head off and do some sight seeing. My jobs list was short but lighting, sound and a new projector needed to attention. Helga was sent out to track down more rivet heads that I could use on the bridge.

Second time lucky

So I headed into the city to the historical centre. Walking in again I wish I’d wrapped up better as the temperature was low, it even started to try to snow at one point, sadly not for long enough. Young trees were wrapped up to protect them in parks and a few mounds of old snow lingered near the ice skating ring.

St Peter’s

I walked through the palaces, not really knowing what was around me, the balcony where Hitler addressed the crowds in 1938. The butterfly house reminded me of Kew garden with a touch of Jules Verne added. St Stephan’s and St Peters churches both still with their Christmas displays.

At Julius Meinl I was pulled inside to marvel at the number of different caviars for sale. I hunted round for things to bring back. The cakes looked fabulous, the cheeses so tasty, twelve types of tomatoes, tins of baked beans for 2.49 euros! I spent my time smelling and absorbing and refrained from buying anything other than what the ladies at the theatre had said was the best Austrian chocolate Zotter, they certainly make strange flavours!

How much?!

Whilst having some lunch I got a phone call saying the rivets had arrived. So I walked back to give them a coat of paint before they were added to the set. I’d only managed 8 miles walking today!

Pre-rusted rivets

In the morning a new projector had been brought in, but the image couldn’t be made a suitable size to satisfy us. So after another morning of work the projection in the show was cut for good. I could then get on with riveting the bridge with the help of Vernon. we managed two sides but ran out of time. He’ll finish them without me tomorrow.

Finishing touches

Another preview night and then it was time to pack up my belongings. Julia and Helene seemed happy. The show is great, it’s just a shame the icing on the Sacher Torte was missing, your average punter wouldn’t know it wasn’t there. Farewells and big thank yous to all the chaps at the theatre. They are a great bunch and very welcoming. By the end of my time there it felt like I’d been working with them for ages, a very good team.

Top of Act 1
The bridge and Dan in action

Vienna Postcard 3.

A day off

Cheeses and meats today

After a good breakfast I set out to explore Vienna. I had a few things in mind and whatever else I came across would be a bonus.

Klimt with Katze
Self portrait of Schiele

First port of call, The Leopold Museum. Built in the Museum Quarter which is situated in the former Imperial Stables. Rudolf and Elisabeth Leopold amassed their collection over 50 years, in the 1950’s works by Schiele and Klimt were considered to be taboo. The Leopolds contributed the lions share of some 5200 works of art to the Leopold Museum at a fraction of their estimated value of 570 million Euros.

A wardrobe

The galleries are filled with paintings, sculptures, some clothing and furniture. Some of the marquetry was exquisite.

Death and the Maiden by Klimt
Self Portrait by Oscar Kokoschka

Klimt and Schiele I knew but Oscar Kokoshka, I knew to be a writer and playwrite, not a painter.

Self portrait by Schoenberg

Schoenberg, the tone row composer (I have had physical reactions to his music in the past, he’s not one of my favourites).

A group portrait with Schoenberg

Then new artists for me. An exhibition of Richard Gerstl who is considered to have been the first Austrian Expressionist, you can almost hear the paint being applied to his canvases.

Summer Guests by Emil Nolde

Then Emil Nolde a German/Dutch artist, who’s choice of bright colours caught my eye.

But my favourites were The Blind Man by Klimt, not in his more recognised style;

Schiele The House with Shingles

Schiele’s House with Shingles. It looks like the roof is made from many thousands of books.

Man with fur cap (My brother the Animal)

and The Man in a Fur Cap by Albert Brinkle. This chap looks like a corn fed chicken.

Stop
Go

After a couple of hours inside I reclaimed my coat and headed onwards. I’m glad I took my feather and down coat as even though the sun was out it was still a touch chilly.

Naschmarkt stretches on forever

Tim the Director of Houdini had mentioned a fantastic food market called Naschmarkt, so I headed off to have a look. I was already aware that it would almost certainly be closed, few shops are open on Sundays in Vienna.

Crystallised fruit
Nuts and spices

Despite all the shutters being down I could peer in through the windows and imagine the smells from the sausages, spices and dried fruits. If I come back I will do my very best to visit here when it’s open. My Mum would have spent a whole week here.

Hey you!
Look up here, it’s beautiful

Looking up above street level two buildings jumped out. A verdigrised lady way up high shouted to me to admire her building against the bright blue sky. She was right, it was beautiful. Designed by Otto Wagner who was a leading member of the Vienna Succession movement and the broader Art Nouveau movement.

Another Otto Wagner building

Almost next door is another of his buildings, less gilt but more colourful. His work has been added to the next time list.

Yum

Time for food. I needed to eat well today as I’d spent far too much time trying to work out what I could eat in the supermarkets. Google is your friend at such times and it pointed me towards Blue Orange who did gluten free bagels. Mine was very tasty with beetroot humus and a cup of tea with a nice sit down.

Ooo err!

Next I wound my way round side streets and headed for Weiner Park where the Weintal Canal heads out to the Danube Canal.

Quite fancy for a storm drain

This was built as a relief channel, it looks more like a storm drain now with fancy bridges, but it was used to rid the city of sewage.

Three Bridges

Vienna’s own Three Bridges crosses the canal, road above rail above water criss crossing as they do on the Hanwell flight.

Every window treated differently

I’d seen so much Baroque architecture as I walked round I now headed to find something different. Kunst Haus Wein designed by architect Hundertwasser is reminiscent of Gaudi or Manrique, but in his own way. Inspired by Klimt his work contains numerous tiles, cut to different sizes, applied at different angles.

A Pip self portrait

Kunst Haus Wein is mostly chequer boarded on the outside, the main entrance with wavy steps with large bulbous pillars with mirrored and tiled sections.

The building houses a museum and a gallery which hosts photography exhibitions. Sadly by the time I’d got here it wasn’t worth the entrance fee to look round. A quick look round the shop and a comfort break did mean I got to walk on the uneven floors all sweeping up into the corners of each room. Another place to come back to.

The fast flowing Danube Canal

By now the sun was setting, so I walked along the Danube Canal to reach the older part of the city. The walls confining the fast running water were lined with much graffiti, not much of it worthy of photographing. As I rounded a bend hills could be seen in the distance.

St Stephan’s

I now joined the masses of tourists in the older districts. St Stephan’s was being photographed from ever angle with the dark blue sky above. The tourist shops open, selling their tacky tack. I meandered my way around.

Hello!

The column of Pest was another focal point. I joined in with the selfies, but got bored of trying to get both myself and the statue in focus, so it just looks like a Christmas tree.

Demel a cake shop est 1786

The blanketed vestibule at Demel opened into a mirrored shop selling expensive cake, there were a few seats in a back room were fizzy wine was being served, I’d hate to think how much the experience was costing the lucky few!

The Hofburg

Horse drawn carriages could be smelt before they came into sight waiting by the entrance to The Hofburg where you can see Lipizzaner Stallions at the Spanish Riding School.

Atmospheric side streets

By now I was starting to feel a touch hungry and quite tired. Should I head back to the hotel? Should I climb on a tram? Or should I carry on walking? I chose the later and headed towards a restaurant I hoped I’d enjoy.

Through the Hofburg where there was a bar set up

I plotted my route, the most direct route along a shopping street. C & A amongst all the usual highstreet names and Austrian stores. The road kept going and going and going. Eventually I saw a Kentucky Fried Chicken sign, I’d almost reached my destination.

Oooo!

Gasthaus Zum Wohl. Here in the warm I took a seat, looked round at what everyone was eating and then was offered an English Menu. Oh for somewhere like this back home. Zum Wohl is a gluten and lactos free restaurant. Here I could choose anything from the menu. Here I could have a glass of draught beer, brewed especially for them.

Beer and Schnitzel

I had a choice, I didn’t really, I already knew what I was going to have. Wein Schnitzel. Well I am a tourist! When it arrived I was astounded at how big it was. Accompanied by a potato field salad and some cranberry jam. Ooh it was nice and just what was needed after a long day on my feet.

I checked the pedometer on my phone and then ordered some almond and chocolate pancakes for pudding. I did wonder if I had room for them, I still had a mile to walk home, so felt no guilt.

Yummier

Once back at the hotel I popped my pyjamas on and poured myself a glass of wine. What a good day it had been.

Tired legs and feet

Meanwhile back at Tardebigge.

Tom moved the outside to a very good one, plenty for me to do. He had a friend come to visit.

Tom Chris stayed lots of sleeps. He’s thinking of having a boat built for him They talked boats lots, reminisced even more, then went to see the dog in a bath down the locks and ate at The Tardebigge. On Sunday they moved the outside. They tied one up and went shopping, then turned us around and headed back to catch the previous outside again.

More shore leave for me! I spent ages in the sideways trees and climbed a tree. A friend kept me busy too. But when I got back to the boat in need of a drink it had gone! Tom had moved the outside with me in it! How dare he!! I shouted lots, but only the wind chimes heard me.

Then from nowhere Tom called my name. What was he doing over there?! At least he had the boat with him!

0 locks, 20.71 miles, 6 tunnels, 3 water fills, 1 extra Tom, 1 friend, 1 missing boat, 10.75 miles walked, 1 museum, 1 bagel, 1 wein schnitzel, 1 beer, 1 very good day in Vienna.