Narrowboat AREandARE

From the 2009 & 2010 tantalising tales, traumas and stunning photographs of Barry (photographer) and Sandra (writer) from New Zealand aboard NB 'Northern Pride', to the stories of their 2013 return journey, purchase of 'AREandARE', progress on sustaining their live aboard continuous cruiser lifestyle, and Barry's quest to gain residency and 'Indefinite Leave to Remain' in UK ...

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

A bit blowy in Birmingham!

It was lucky that we had a crew of five for the 36 locks from Bodymoor Heath to Gas Street Basin on Sunday - the predicted travel time was over 9 hours but I think we achieved at least an hour less than that and still managed a pub lunch to boot!

P1210162 Our mooring at the 'Dog and Doublet'


On through the Curdworth Locks towards Birmingham

P1210208 The sun shone for most of the trip, despite the very cool breeze

P1210219 Luckily we had Jamie on top to distract the grumpy fishermen on the way There were about 60-70 of them involved in a fishing contest


Mikey and Sophie joined us half way along to make up our crew of five


The old gas storage tank frames make an interesting feature of the skyline.



Mikey, Sophie and Jamie all working hard on the locks

It was a chilly and extremely windy day and at one point I had a spot of bother at two bizarre locks that are so close together you can't actually get a turn on the boat until it's too late - and we almost ended up facing the wrong way in the side pond which could have been disastrous!  Barry informed me it was due to me not having sufficient speed on the boat to steer - he'd been in the cabin downloading his memory card at the time.  Jamie did get some shots of Mikey and I manically holding onto the stern rope before the others arrived to save the day, but unfortunately we forgot to retrieve them from her camera before she left on Monday afternoon :-(

Mikey, Sophie and Jamie all working hard on the locks


The canal meanders under buildings

P1210311 Well into the centre of Birmingham now, looking back at the Post Office Tower

P1210315Must be a famous Banksy piece on the side of the canal

P1210319Farmer Locks and Mikey well in control

P1210340 Cambria Wharf at the top of the 'Farmers Flight' of 13 locks, the culmination of our 36 locks for the day

Having lived in the Birmingham area for much of my life, it wasn't until I was travelling on the canal system last year that I realised it was actually built on a hill!  Here's another five fascinating facts about Birmingham:

  1. It's the country's second most populous city at 1,016,800 (2008 estimate) - in comparison Gisborne in New Zealand, has a population of around 33,000!! 
  2. In the early 7th century, Birmingham was an Anglo Saxon farming hamlet on the banks of the River Rea. 
  3. It's commonly believed that the name 'Birmingham' comes from "Beorma inga ham", meaning farmstead of the sons (or descendants) of Beorma.
  4. By the 1820's, Birmingham had an extensive canal system and apparently has more canals than Venice.
  5. Believe it or not, it's one of the safest cities in the UK and has been for the past three years, having the lowest crime rate of the eight major cities of the UK.

I recall Sutton Coldfield, the place where I spent my formative years, becoming a part of Birmingham in 1974 and Suttonians, as they're 'affectionately' known, were aghast!  They'd been happy to be a part of Warwickshire thank you very much and had absolutely no desire to be labelled as 'Brummies' with all the negative connotations they felt that brought! 

P1210343 World Cup football fever abounds! Yes, there is a New Zealand flag amongst them - yaay for the All Whites!

We arrived at our destination about 1930 and were fortunate to get a mooring at Gas Street Basin.  We had a walk up and down Broad Street - there were a number of incredible sights to be found of young women heavily made-up and scantily dressed on such a chilly evening; I'm so pleased I don't have to 'dress to impress' anymore!

P1210347 Panorama Toned Lo Res  The old and the new at Gas Street Basin


The Council Chambers with the 'Floozy in the Jacuzzi' fountain in the foreground


A refreshment stop in the Bacchus Bar at The Burlington in Birmingham!


  1. I've just got all homesick!!
    Great photos as usual.

  2. Great to see you are back "into it"
    Really enjoyed the chat in Sydney.
    Off to Bali next wek for 2 weeks so its not all bad :-)