Wednesday 25th September; Hockley Heath to Birmingham
We were almost clear of the trees last night but not quite – the breeze got up and there were a couple of loud bangs as acorns (we thought) came off the tree above. In the morning I went to remove them and found three knopper galls instead. These are formed when a tiny gall wasp lays eggs in the developing acorn and the growing larvae cause this amazing distortion. When this first appeared in the UK, people got very worried that it would destroy future generations of oak trees – but some years there are many more acorns than galls, leaving (we hope) plenty for squirrels, jays, etc to eat as well as enough to germinate into new little oak trees.
After a quick visit to Wedge’s Bakery for bread and some tasty savoury snacks, we cruised towards Shirley, past a Christmas Tree farm,
the burnt out cottage where saplings are growing on the collapsing first floor,
and the Earlswood permanent moorings, where someone has created a nifty way to climb a tree.
Lady Line Wharf is having some work done, though we couldn’t tell quite what.
At Shirley Drawbridge, which now with a replacement control box is a joy to use, we held up a mere 6 cars, though one was a Learner so we felt we had added to their education.
We rounded King’s Norton junction, where the toll cottage is now swathed in plastic while the ravages of the fire are being repaired, though we saw no activity.
We stopped briefly at Holliday Wharf to empty a cassette, passed under Black Sabbath Bridge (previously Broad Street)
and after the quiet waterways so far we were surprised to find the moorings pretty full. We found a Chuffed-sized space on the Sherborne Wharf side. I walked down to Cambrian Wharf to dispose of some rubbish, and realised the moorings there were pretty full too. It turned out that there is something going on at the Black Country Museum this weekend. Historic boats Uranus and Cassiopeia were breasted up against a flat on the offside below Tindal Bridge.
Efforts have been made to make the planted areas more useful for humans and insects. There are herbs of various kinds (gone to seed now, they really need trimming unless the seeds are being left for the birds);
some lovely ferns;
and flowers for the bees.
14½ miles, Shirley Drawbridge