Friday 9th October; Smethwick Pumping Station – Birmingham
We left our deceptively rural mooring before 9. There are industrial units away to the right above and behind the trees, and a busy road and railway the far side of the Main Line which is below and to the left.
The Pumping Station heritage centre stood in bright sunshine. It only seems to be open occasionally, and still had the bunting out from the last time.
Is this little moorhen the last baby of the season? It was peep-peeping around near the locks, pretty much ignored by its parents. I hope it will be old enough to look after itself before the cold weather kicks in.
While we waited for the top lock to fill, we could hear what sounded like a lock paddle being raised further down. But no such luck – it was a pneumatic drill or something similar breaking up concrete, but we couldn’t really see what they were up to. Just the sad sight of the ‘New Navigation’ ….. I wonder if it’s due for demolition or restoration?
We joined the Main Line, heading straight into the sun, and eventually arrived at Sherborne Wharf boatyard, which is now on the Main Line rather than tucked away round the Oozell’s Street Loop. We re-fuelled round there last time we were here and this is somewhat easier to access! The trip boat seems to have a reserved mooring and there is also a Water Bus stop. I can’t remember what public mooring there was along here before and don’t know whether any was lost. Luckily the batteries were in stock and they let us stay on the service mooring to do the work, as there were no spaces nearby. I just drank coffee and kept a look-out for anyone who might have needed to breast up to use the facilities. The milk was still fresh, the wet newspaper having done a good job of keeping it cold.
Meg was shut inside much to her disgust. She kept an eye on proceedings though –
but couldn’t see much!
By midday Dave had finished – with just a short delay while he tracked down one of the isolation switches which had disappeared beneath the engine. We pulled back onto a mooring to swap places with the boat behind us, which needed a pump-out before they left for the Black Country Museum – they had been perfectly happy to wait though we had offered to move. As a reward for Dave’s labours I awarded him (and me of course) lunch in the Fiddle and Bone, which is dog-friendly downstairs. Sherborne Wharf office is under the arches in the Roundhouse, behind the gaily painted tables and chairs.
Now we had enough battery power to operate the fridge, it was time for a trip to the Springhill Tesco, half a mile away across the grassy area behind the Arena. I left Meg enjoying the space to run around in while Dave chucked the ball for her.
In the evening we strolled down to the Mailbox and back, watching the Friday evening crowds, the girls spindling along on their teetery heels, the boys larking about around the ‘fall-y over-y things’ – the bollards! We had delicious burgers from a wide choice in the Handmade Burger Company, then went back to the Fiddle and Bone for the gig by the Celtic rock band ‘Bang on the Ear’. Excellent band, good crowd, pints of Doom Bar, late to bed.
And I finally realised that the ‘Bone’ part of the pub name is a Trombone!
3 locks, 3 miles