Monday 7th and Tuesday 8th August; Alvechurch Marina to The Vale, Birmingham
We came up to Alvechurch marina on a busy M5 with some very slow driving but at least it was mostly dry. Our mooring was very convenient for quick loading and within the hour we were ready to leave. The mooring pontoons are very short here, and you need to use your centre rope to tie up to a post. The tyre around it was in the wrong place to protect our paintwork, so I had deployed the fender picked up by the hirer we met in Worcester on our last trip.
My camera, which failed on our last trip, is luckily still under warranty and has been sent off to Nikon for repair. It hasn’t yet come back to the shop, so most of the photos this time will be taken with my phone.
We could have stopped at Hopwood, but decided to go on to King’s Norton so that Meg, who had so patiently dozed in the car for half the day, could have a good run around. We passed just one boat in Wast Hill tunnel, soon after we entered, and were through in 28 minutes. It seemed to be easier coming north. As Dave took Meg out again later, he noticed ‘red sky at night’; fingers crossed!
Well so much for folk weather forecasting. Or maybe it wasn’t the western sky that was red …. Although the location is very quiet we woke several times during the night to hear rain beating on the roof, so much so that we overslept till well after 9! And it was raining again, but by the time we left, some time after 10, it had stopped. Just past the junction we could see something going on up ahead involving a crane.
The work boat was being craned out and they started lifting after we had passed. These were taken by Dave on his camera. The chap stepped off smartly just afterwards.
Luckily there was only one boat moored at Selly Oak so we could stop for a trip to Sainsbury’s and Halfords. The moored boat seemed very concerned about privacy and security; as well as a ‘Private property, keep out’ notice, and all windows obscured, they had chained and padlocked themselves to the bollard.
It started to rain as we got back with the shopping, but we didn’t think it was right to clog up the mooring in case someone else needed it. So we got the wet weathers on and went on to moor at the Vale in the university area of Edgbaston, just before bridge 84A. It was dark and gloomy under the trees but at least we were inside. Eventually the rain stopped and the boat behind us moved off, so we pulled back into the open by a grassy patch, and decided to stay put rather than go into Birmingham. We walked up to visit the Botanical Gardens – almost visible across the railway line, but to reach it you have to cross the footbridge and follow the road over the Edgbaston tunnel. It’s only about 15 minutes though.
There are tropical glasshouses with some wonderful plants, and extensive grounds outside.
Sarracenia are insectivorous. Insects fall into the pitcher and, unable to get out again, are digested. Below, the one on the right is Drosera, or Sundew. Insects are trapped on the sticky beads of moisture on the fringes of the leaves. There is a round-leaved sundew which grows wild in the UK in damp acid areas, where the soil is thin and poor and holds insufficient nutrients.
There were also exotica such as bananas and some amazing tropical flowers.
Nearby was the National Collection of Bonsai. These specimens are so valuable they are kept under lock and key, and there is another locked and barred gate to separate them from the rest of the collection overnight.
Beautiful if you like that kind of thing. They make my toes hurt, with their roots crammed into those little pots.
Outside, there was a beautiful rock and water garden constructed down a slope.
As we walked back to the entrance we were surprised by a little voice up above saying ‘Hello’.
We had a very pleasant afternoon and the rain held off pretty much too. After the evening rush of cyclists bombing by, so busy that Dave could only take Meg on the grassy area and not along the towpath, the evening was very quiet. The railway is close but doesn’t bother us.
9 miles, Wast Hill tunnel