Category Archives: Food

On Your Toes. 25th January

Pelsall Junction to Pelsall Junction

Yesterday they spent the whole day moving the outside, no chance for a snooze whilst they had tea and certainly no chance of a game of pen before they got up either! This morning however things returned to normal, for a while. Then they sprung out of bed put their outside clothes on and pushed it away!

No breakfast!! Well I don’t blame them, somehow an extra little biscuit had made it’s way into my bowl this morning and I was a touch dubious about it.

Keeping on my toes round here

The outside was spun round and retied. Time to head off and explore. ‘Six and a half hours!’ Except in this outside you have to keep very much on your toes. There are so many woofers walking their humans that I just can’t relax. They come from there, there, over there and some more from even there!

Nearly at the trees

I almost managed to get to the nearest trees once, but gave up in the end and just came to sit in my escape pod or on the back deck.

Tom went off to get a newspaper and She got on with numbers. Lots and lots of numbers. Well I thought there were lots, but apparently there used to a lot more of lots of numbers. At one point today She thought she’d lost lots of numbers, that wasn’t good. I tried helping find them but only got short shrift as I tried to jump in one of the cupboards where they might have been hiding.

Trying to stay out of the outside and out of the way

Eventually she found them, in the last place she looked. They’d been hiding in an envelope under the TV and they’d all already been accounted for!

Lots of numbers

When Tom came back he got short shrift too! He wanted to talk, but She was having none of it even if he had just bought a new ash can with a lid.

From one of the two hardware shops in Pelsall

He did something with a few numbers and said that would do. But She kept on with them for ages longer, apparently this is because of Aladdin. She then logged on to the Gateway and read lots, we were told to be quiet, I wasn’t making any noise anyway!

After a while she smiled again. ‘No Tax’. I don’t know why She’d spent so long She already knew that. They had a yummy tea of stirred vegetables and I just got to look at the funny little biscuit again and do my best to eat round it.

Happy faces now

0 locks, 100m that way, 1 wind, 100m this way, 4 spikes left waiting, 1 Saturday paper, 1 new ash can with lid, 2018/2019 tax return done, class 2 NI paid, 1 scaredy cat, 1 worming pill maturing in the bowl.

Wine Rationing. 20th January

High Bridge to Tiverdale Quays (Dudley Port Basin)

So much for 8.30! The music started at 7.45am, just as loud as it had been all yesterday afternoon. It’s a shame we weren’t in a residential area. At least it meant we didn’t lounge around in bed for too long.

Bloomin speaker!

Over breakfast we got distracted. An email from C&RT came in regarding the Council Election. Today we had been invited to place our votes for the Election of 4 Private Boating Representatives. We clicked the link, pulled out the candidates we already knew we wanted to vote for and then re-read the other candidates spiel. Not being ‘first past the post’, you put the candidates in order of preference, you can put all the candidates in your list, or as many/few as you like (as long as you vote for four people). We put six in order of preference. The comments on social media later in the day suggested that the original email should have explained a touch about the Council and what it does, also about the voting process.

Interesting map upstairs in Sainsburys

Here is a link to C&RT website where you can find out more information about the elections. In brief

The Council is responsible for appointing Trustees and has the power to dismiss Trustees.  While Trustees are responsible for determining policy and strategy, Council has an important role in helping to shape policy, raising and debating issues, providing guidance and perspective and acting as a sounding board for Trustees

Our shopping list was reorganised and we set off with our sherpa Brompton to Sainsburys. As I started Mick headed to Homebase to buy a couple of hose connectors as we were down to one and that one lacked a washer.

Neatly stacked boxes

Our first reasonable sized shopping trip since Christmas, we were down to one last box of wine under the back steps. If we’d been getting a delivery we’d have bought six boxes, but today we only got four. Several reasons for this. Our sherpa can carry a lot, but two more boxes?! Our current tenant in the house is in arrears with her rent, so our bank balance is shrinking. Also we should really start having two dry days a week again, both for finances and our health.

Sherpa Brompton

Once we were back time had slipped away. Our planned destination for the day was now too far away. So we discussed what to do, one thing was certain we’d be moving on away from the noise.

Brades Hall Locks

A quick look at our maps and a large M showed itself about an hours cruise away at Dudley Port Basin. We pushed off leaving the radio shouting to itself for the rest of the day and evening.

Cutting through thin ice

Along the Old Main line we soon encountered thin ice. It rippled as we cruised by, then dull pinging noises started to happen at stretches where the ice covered the width of the canal. Maybe we should go down Brades Locks today, we’ve seen people moor below before. But no we kept to our new plan, carving our way further North West past the locks and over the entrance to Netherton Tunnel.

Turning into the basin

Soon the opening on the left showed itself. A housing estate surrounds a large basin where lots of boats could moor. We chose the far corner away from cars and in the sunshine, the whole basin to our selves. Oleanna was pulled back to the next spot after we noticed the amount of dog shit just where we’d step off the boat. Nice!

Where shall we go?

A quick health and safety check and the area was deemed okay for cats. We had no idea what lay behind hedges and fences so would have to trust Tilly.

A very large green box. What’s inside that?! Tom came and made me jump, he closed the side so I couldn’t investigate anymore, spoil sport! Brick walls, but just the right height to get up, a few sideways trees to explore too. Better than BUMingham, but there are better outsides than this one.

What is this?

We were relieved that Tilly’s path didn’t cross with two other cats who were out for their afternoon stroll, one looked like an elderly lady with cut back fur. I suspect should Tilly have had a confrontation she would have come out on top, but we didn’t want any cat fights.

The forecast for the next week is looking a touch warmer, so hopefully ice shouldn’t become a problem. But our freezer is stocked, nearly three weeks worth of meals. Yesterdays roast chicken is now striped and frozen. It will do us another three meals and the bones have been bubbled up for stock during the afternoon and evening on top of the stove, so that’s either soup or risotto already half made.

0 locks, 1.92 miles, 1 straight, 1 over, 6 votes, 1 change of plan, 4 boxes not 6, almost 2 months owing, 2 belts to tighten, 0 pixel left, 1 coconut, 7.45! 1.5 hours shore leave, 2 dollops of pooh!

Time To Explore. 19th January

Cast Iron Roving Bridge to High Bridge, Old Main Line, BCN

The New Main Line straight

Our mooring in the city centre hadn’t been too noisy, just the comings and goings from the Arena and the Sunday morning runners pounding past. But we’ve been here long enough, time to move on and do some exploring. We currently have a plan which may change due to circumstances, so we’ll see how we do.

A Full stop would help this sign make better sence

We’d planned to explore the BCN a couple of years ago, but with temperatures soaring and a panto to design we opted out and headed for trees away from the city. Will we succeed this time? It’s winter and the temperature, at the moment, isn’t conducive to long days at the helm and may well mean we get iced in somewhere. We can take our time and keep a close eye on the weather.

The north entrance to the Soho Loop closed off

With padded trousers on we pushed off and headed north west along the New Main Line. We’ve been along this stretch a few times, but things change. Quite a lot of the graffiti has changed. Long lengths of wall have been painted black and artists and (in my opinion) none artists have made their marks. I like good graffiti and today some stuck out, the best being from Pulp Fiction with John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson pointing their guns at us as we left the city.

The Pink Panther
Pulp Fiction

As navigator around the BCN you have to keep on your toes as their are so many loops and dead ends. But I managed to keep us straight until we reached Smethwick Junction where we turned right to head up Smethwick Locks.

Smethwick Junction

Pulling in below the bottom of the three locks Mick had difficulty pulling Oleanna in. Was there something round the prop? Was the bottom too close to the top? She certainly didn’t want to do as requested, so it took a bit of back and forth. But this was just as well as I spied the bow of a boat coming into the bottom lock from above.

One coming down

I walked up and the chap was just opening up the second paddle to empty the lock, he walked back and climbed on the back of his boat, with only one gate to open at the bottom I could do this for him.

First Lock of the year

Mick brought Oleanna into the lock, our first of the year. She rose up and once I’d dropped the paddles Mick opened the gate and I walked up to the next lock leaving him to close up behind.

The sun cast long shadows, but I was glad of standing in the sunshine as out of it even my well insulated legs were getting cold. No turning down the Engine arm which crosses the New Main line here (link to Lillian’s trip down the arm) we carried straight on.

Entrance to the Engine Arm

We passed through the 103 yards of the Summit Tunnel and then the canal takes the same course as the M5 for a while.

Coming out of Summit Tunnel

The road busy overhead and covered in scaffolding. At Spon Lane Junction three locks take boats down onto the New Main Line, but we veered leftwards and continued under the motorway.

Stewarts Aqueduct

Passing over Stewart Aqueduct we were part of a criss cross of bridges. Below The new Main Line, then us on the aqueduct on the Old Main Line, the railway just ahead and soaring over the lot of us the M5.

The old bridge faring better than the M5

We continued to follow the M5 in the shade. Our route far older than the motorway overhead. Off to the left Oldbury Locks take a branch of the canal up to Titford Pools, but we continued straight on, passing a few moored boats on the off side and pulling in just short of High Bridge where there were bollards to moor to.

After tying up we stopped and had a quick check of the area. Numerous parked cars behind a fence that was bound to have gaps in it. A car sales place, loads of rubbish in amongst the trees and scrub, who knew what loitered there, possibly stuff that would be bad for a cat. Decision made Tilly would be grounded whilst we were here.

More M5

Whist we travel through urban areas we tend to have all the doors locked as a precaution. Unlocking the stern doors I was kack handed and Tilly saw a moment of opportunity and went for it! Damn!! NO sorry I’m busy! Too busy to talk to you! So much to do! She wouldn’t come, so I just followed her with the intention of a rugby tackle should the moment arise. Two crows came and shouted at her which helped, then a chap on the towpath also assisted by just existing. Time to head home! It’s just not safe enough to go to the loo round here.

It being a Sunday it was a touch too late to go to the nearby Sainsburys for a stock up shop. This did have it’s downside. We’d left the hustle and bustle of Birmingham and now found ourselves by a car dealership who blast out a local radio station for all the world to hear.

They’d close soon, it’s Sunday. 

Mick went into their reception and was told that they’d close at 5pm and the music would go off then starting again at 8.30am. That was bearable.

6pm came. It hadn’t stopped. I think we were now upto date with chart music. It continued. A phone call to them, just to check it wouldn’t be going all night. No it would stop in about an hour. 

At 7.30pm finally the thumping noise ceased, we let out a cheer. Thank goodness, but what time will it start again in the morning?

3 locks, 5.49 miles, 7 straight ons, 2 rights, 1 left, 1 escapee, 2 crows, 5hrs of constant thumping repetative music, 1 visit, 1 phone call, 2 boaters about to commit homicide, 1 bored cat, 1 roast chicken, 1 shopping list compiled, 3 coconuts, 1 Countryfile weather forecast looking promising.  

 

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.

Returning Problems. 16th January

Tardebigge Top Lock to Cast Iron Roving Bridge, Birmingham, BCN

Out in Vienna it was time to pack my bags. One thing left to do, visit the cheese shop on Langegasse that I’ve been walking past and inhaling for the last ten days.

Yummy Jumi

Many cheeses in this shop are kept in cabinets for safety, our safety. Many of the cheeses in this shop look like given half a chance they would take over the world with only Dr Who capable of stopping them. With so much to choose from and a taxi booked I couldn’t sample too many, which maybe was a good thing.

Bombs, brains

I’m not too fond of Emmental or Gruyere so that immediately ruled out half of the shop. The chap helped me and gave me a couple of samples. I like goats cheese, but in Britain you don’t often get a hard goats cheese. So as I was in Austria I had to have one from the mountains, ‘High on a hill lived a lonely goatherd’. It was tasty, sold.

Cheese!!!!

Then a softer cheese. No chance to taste this one as they are individual cheeses that have a whole culture of their own. Sold! The chap vacuum wrapped them for me so that my bag wouldn’t be making it’s own way back to the UK.

Heading for home

My taxi was early, the driver arriving just as I checked out and was asking where to wait. Soon I was whisked out to the airport to await a delayed first flight to Munich.

Sadly not available in Mick’s size

I’d booked a window seat, but at the gate I was issued with a new seat in the middle! This was a shame as there were fantastic views over the Austrian Alps, not much snow though!

Alps

Meanwhile back in Birmingham.

Mick and Tilly have been avoiding storm Brendon. On Monday once Chris had left to visit more boat builders Mick filled the water tank and headed northwards again. Passing NB Sola Gratia, under the M42 he chose a suitable place without trees to spend Monday night by Bridge 68.

Tuesday they decided to head into Birmingham setting off early to beat the weather. At 9am they reached the southern portal of Wast Hill Tunnel. The interior of Oleanna already in full tunnel mode, hoping that with all the lights being on this would keep Tilly from fretting. I suspect he just timed their passage well and she was busy having her morning snooze as he could hear no shouting at the back doors.

A mile and a half later they came back out into daylight. But what lay ahead?

Out the northern portal

There was a boat up against the towpath, pinned in my a fallen tree. Had the tree fallen onto the boat? Mick was about to try to nudge his way through when the owner came out. Last night he’d tried to do the same, but got stuck. Whether he was grounded or just held by the tree Mick didn’t know, but one thing was certain Mick was now stuck too!

One stuck boat with tree attached

The other boater had rung to report it to C&RT, another phone call wouldn’t hurt after all Mick had nowhere to go. He couldn’t get into the side so was just having to sit in the middle. Apparently C&RT staff were on route to access the situation.

Fountains arrive with long chainsaws

Then the C&RT staff got held up by traffic so the contractors were called and sent anyway. They arrived with long handled chain saws and proceeded to climb onto the roof of the stuck boat. Helmets, high-vis but no life jackets! The roof of the boat was wet and had no grabrail or anything should they slip to stop them. They chopped and chopped away at the tree. Soon the trapped boat was free.

On the bow

Mick offered the bow of Oleanna as a platform to carry on working from, then they moved to the stern to clear more. At last Mick and Oleanna could continue on their journey into Birmingham. The 8.5 miles had taken around 7.5 hours and Mick had got a touch wet in the process.

and on the
Stern

Location is always important. So I insisted on some greenery in the BUMingham outside. Tom obliged and tied up the one with short sideways trees. Thank goodness it wasn’t just bricks again!

So back in Munich.

I should have had an hour and a half waiting for my next flight. There were things to do, look at the shops and restaurants, then eat the quinoa salad I’d brought with me from Vienna. The new (well to me new) passport control had to be cleared, this I am now a dab hand at after being rejected on my outbound flight. Hold your passport down on the screen with your hand so that it can be read!

Long corridors

I headed to the gate, not quite at the furthest point of the airport, but almost. Staff arrived, then announced that there was a delay. This extended and we finally were allowed through the boarding gate as our plane should have been pushed back. There was no plane, just a bus to take us out to our Star Alliance A319-100, here we crossed the tarmac and climbed the steps to find our seats.

Climbing on board

With everyone on board we taxied round to run up along the side of the runway. The pilot swung us round onto the tarmac, would this be a rolling start? We tootled along for a little while straightening, then the engines roared up and the wheels began to speed up. Time to say goodbye to Europe….

Except the engine soon powered down! There had only been a short blast of throttle, now we were trundling along the runway. An air hostess quickly came on the tannoy and said that an announcement would be made shortly by the captain as to why we hadn’t taken off. They don’t use the term abandoned as this might cause alarm!

Once we’d turned off the runway the Captain spoke to us, something about the engines not being in sink, I’m not sure what he was saying as a group of English men were too busy joking with each other about finding the nearest underware shop! One thing we did all hear though was that he was going to go round and try to take off again.

This time we headed further up the runway, turned to face the tarmac and stopped. The engines roared and we set off, so far so good, we’d made it further than last time. Bye Europe… as the wheels lifted off the ground this time. Phew!! I had wondered if we’d have to change planes, be diverted to another UK airport, but thankfully we were on our way.

Mick later told me about the air disaster in Munich in 1958. Glad I didn’t know about it earlier!

The sun setting over main land Europe

The sun soon set on the horizon turning the sky orange. After an hour and something the coast of main land Europe showed, lights twinkling below. Clouds covered the English coast, just the occasional glimpse confirmed we were over land again.

With half an hour to go we started to descend, the lower we got the bumpier it got. Bumpier and bumpier. The bumpyness kept on coming. We seemed to be getting lower, but would we be sent round again by air traffic control. There were a lot of houses getting closer, surely we must be about at the end of the run way!

As the runway lights came into view the plane crabbed it’s way towards the ground, was this still Storm Brendan? One wheel down, then the other, both now on the tarmac going slightly diagonally. As soon as the engines stopped their furious noise a round of aplause filled the plane, followed by more comments about underwear shops.

Birmingham and canals

Only about half an hour late, I sailed through biometric passport control, my bag was about the tenth to appear on the conveyor. The cheese in my bag kept quiet so I exited arrivals through the green customes doors to see Mick stood holding his phone with my name flashing away in red, just in case I’d forgotten what he looked like!

Very posh first night present from the Viennese Producers

0 locks, 14.16 miles, 1 wind, 2 much wind, 1 tree, 1 wet boater, 2 chain saws, £20 on cheese, 2 vacuum bags for safety, 1 taxi, 2 planes, 2 trains, 3 shuttles, 1 walk, 271 head nudges with Tilly, 16 very posh first night chocolates.

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.

Vienna Postcard 2. 12th January

54.5 hours

It’s been a short but long week here in Vienna.

Lufthansa, not a bad way to fly

Picked up from the airport and checked into my hotel I then showed my face at the theatre in the evening. A very friendly bunch who totally put me to shame, its been a very long time since I learnt German at school! Some words have come back to me during the week, but everyone at the theatre is bilingual.

Choosing paint colours with a glass of wine

I must have impressed on my first visit as I got my hands dirty and ended up being invited to stay for a drink in the crew room once everyone had finished work. This reminded me of the old SJT days when ideas were discussed in the green room over tea, just here it’s with a beer or wine in hand at 10pm.

Such a pretty theatre

On Wednesday I got to finally meet the new director Tim, a lovely fellow who has worked so hard and been exceptionally patient this week. Dan the writer and actor arrived Wednesday morning in his van, having driven from Newport in two days with jet lag. Then Fez, the videographer arrived completing the team.

A bridge pedestal

I spent the day painting things. All the base coats were ready for me to finish off. There is no scenic artist, but if you show Helga or Michaela what you want they are more than capable. Which is just as well, as I do not like their ladders and there was some high up breaking down to do.

Floor in progress

During the evening call we painted the floor. With a plank cut the right width with packers underneath it, I could paint along each side to create floorboards. As soon as I turned round to recharge my brush the plank was moved to its next position ready for me. Then laying in the Painty grain, one person wet the area and I painted over it. A very good team effort and dispite starting later than planned we finished bang on time.

The bridge goes up

Thursday and lighting started to happen. Some of this before the main parts of the set could be put in position. But once overhead was done the Transporter Bridge could be built. Sections of it I’d already faded to black after asking which way up they would be. Unfortunately Bruno had remembered his Anglo/German labelling wrongly, fortunately it was only two small pieces that needed repainting.

Michaela behind Dominic, Helga, Andreas and the only brit Vernon on the right.

The position for the projector was altered to give us a bigger image and images altered to fit the space and blended in with lighting. It all looked very exciting. The end of the days production meeting got through countless cans of beer and four bottles of wine, I left the building at 2am!

Fez checking what’s inside the cabinet

Friday, a day of getting things painted, but badly! There are some days, not many, when I pick up a brush and spend hours doing something, only to look at it later under light to see what a waste of time my work has been! The water torture cabinet is the thing that will be painted and painted on this show, time and again to get it right. It’ll get there, in the end.

The show is on till the end of February if you happen to be passing

Then the sequence with the cabinet was teched. The Audio Visuals took forever to sort. Vernon and his team had worked hard on a solution so that we could move curtains from side to side and then, on cue, have them drop to the floor, this is called a Kabuki. Fortunately my idea for this worked helped by a lot of Viennesse magic.

Now that is a big Painty sink

The content of the AV is still a bone of contention. Discussions could go on for years regarding it. Then it’s editing would take decades! To me the director is sadly right. If only the content had been able to be done in one continuous shot.

Vernon helping to check lighting states

Saturday. Tech day. This is when we stop and start the play to add in lighting cues, sound and visual along with curtains opening and closing. We started a little late, but thankfully got through the play despite there being a lot of problems with the images.

Fairground lighting state!

I at least got to sit around for much of the day instead of running around. Tim required my input on many things which was nice and stopped me from nodding off!

At last something other than rice

We finished with enough time for me to finish painting the floor, moulding my mud banks into it, whilst a sweet potato cooked in the microwave for me to eat back at the hotel at gone 11pm. This made a very nice change from various forms of microwave rice that I’ve had each evening.

Which way

Tomorrow I have the day off and I’m hoping I have enough energy to see some of Vienna. I have too many things on my list to do, but may just head in one direction and see where I end up.

Meanwhile back on Oleanna.

More bricks!

A day or so after I left, Mick headed to Sherbourne Wharf. 50 litres of diesel (we’ll get more when I’m back from Hawne Basin), they had no gas sadly, then he headed to Cambrian Wharf services to top up on water and finally dispose of our waste.

Topping up

Then they headed out of town staying on the level. First stop was just south of Edgbaston Tunnel where Tilly got to stretch her legs and be amongst the green again. But she wasn’t satisfied as the towpath was too busy.

Much better than BUMingham

Next stop was through Wast Hill Tunnel in a spot we moored with NB Blackbird a few years ago, but they arrived there too late for Tilly to explore.

Mick had hoped to be able to moor at Alvechurch, but where he’d planned he couldn’t get into the side. I’m assuming this was at a far more cat friendly mooring than the usual one by the railway and marina. So he moved on to Tardebigge, where Tilly got green freedom again.

Swish curtains

0 locks,? miles, 4 tunnels, 1 happy cat again. Short list today, it will be expanded when I’m home.

German word of the day, Ananas. This means pineapple, but it also means strawberry in Austrian!