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March 14th 2010 - Symphony Court Moorings, Birmingham

We stayed another day at our peaceful moorings in Kings Norton.  However on Saturday morning we upped sticks and headed back to the centre of Birmingham. It was a pretty uneventful cruise and a couple of hours later we arrived back at Gas Street Basin.  Before going back to the moorings at Symphony Court, we needed to fill up with water and get a pump-out so we took a detour into Sherbourne Wharf. Once we had made use of their facilities we headed back out onto the main channel again.  It wasn’t really wide enough to turn Lady Arwen around at the junction so we turned left and cruised a short way back up the canal until we found a spot to turn.  It didn’t take long but it was bitterly cold and we couldn’t wait to get back inside where it was warm!


That evening we decided to eat out.  When we had left here on our way to Kings Norton we cruised past a wonderful looking Thai restaurant called Kinneree so we thought we would go and eat there.  We strolled up the tow path and it was really lovely, there were lots of people out and about, it being Saturday night and all the bars and restaurants were buzzing.  We soon reached the Kinneree and fortunately, although it was extremely busy and we hadn’t made a reservation, they managed to find us a table for two quite quickly.  We had a lovely evening, the food was delicious, the service first class and the atmosphere in the place was wonderful.  Then we strolled back to theboat and bed.


We’ve had a wonderful day today!


It all started this morning.  We had breakfast then secured the boat and headed off to Broad Street to catch a No 103 bus.  We decided the quickest way to get to the bus stop was to walk along the towpath to the ICC then cross over the bridge and we would be pretty close to where we needed to be.  As we were strolling along the towpath we noticed a load of TV cameramen so we had to stop and have a look to see who or what they were filming didn’t we! We soon found out, it was Nick Clegg (Lib Dem Leader) and his wife.  They walked right past us, Nick said hello and he even shook Clive’s hand.  (He can name drop now – Nick Clegg that is!!!). We watched them as they walked across one bridge over to the Piano Bar and then back across the next bridge towards the ICC where of course the Lib Dem Conference is being held.  They didn’t need to do that of course they could have just walked straight along the towpath but it made better TV filming them crossing the bridge!  We are going to watch the news tonight, wemay be on it!

Nick Clegg and his wife Miriam


Well that was exciting wasn’t it!


We continued on our way and finally found the correc tbus stop just as the 103 arrived – brilliant! The journey into town didn’t take long and we soon arrived at The Bull Ring and Digbeth High Street, where the Paddy’s Day Parade was taking place.  There were thousands of people!  Large green hats, green feather boas, Shamrocks, Irish flags you name it, if it was Irish or green it was there inabundance!  Needless to say there were also thousands of pints of Guiness being consumed as well!


It wasn’t long before we heard the sound of drums wafting up the road and sure enough a few minutes later the front of the parade came into view.  There were several pipe bands, flute bands, Irish dancers, and also some rather strange honorary Irishmen – Darth Vader for instance! Eventually one float came along and I instantly recognised the music coming from it, it was The Teds!  Two of my many Burwell friends, Emma Millman and Mark McCann, are in the band.  Emma is the fiddle player and Mark and accordionist in this awesome contemporary Irish band.  They have just launched their debut album “You, Me and the Sea Between Us” – its brilliant, I can highly recommend it.

Mark and Emma on The Teds float!


Once The Teds’ float had gone past we decided to follow it for a while and eventually we came to The Irish Centre, which is a large Irish style pub, so we popped in to sample their Guinness.  We reckoned that it ought to be good judging by the pub’s Irish clientele.  It most certainly was, never tasted Guinness that good outside Ireland!  We stayed in there for a little while because there was live entertainment on as well. However we wanted to get down to the South Birmingham College as The Teds were doing a live gig there at 3.15pm. 


I had sensibly made a packed lunch before we set off this morning so we munched our sandwiches on the way back up Digbeth HighStreet.  We were just trying to figure out how to get from one side of the road to the other when somebody opened the barriers and we managed to wriggle our way through against all the people coming the other way and finally we arrived at the College.


We were waiting outside the doors to the auditorium when Emma’s mum and dad arrived so we all waited together.  Finally the doors opened and we went in and managed to get some good seats only a few rows from the front.  The first band started and they were sort of young punks really, not our kind of music at all but they weren’t too bad, just a bit noisy!  They were on for about half an hour then finally they left the stage – they weren’t asked for an encore - bless!  By this time the auditorium was absolutely packed, there wasn’t a single free seat and the standing room in front of the stage was also absolutely full as well! It was perfectly obvious that nobody was here to listen to the other bands, they were all here for The Teds!  Finally they came on stage and started to play – they were brilliant and absolutely brought the house down.  They played several songs from their new album plus a couple of old favourites, The Irish Rover and Whiskey in the Jar – excellent!  The Teds most certainly did get an encore!

The Teds at the St Patrocks, South Birmingham College Auditorium


As soon as they had finished and left the stage the auditorium emptied, mass exodus!  I believe the next act was an Indy band – I hope some people stayed to listen to them!


We left the college and wended our way back up Digbeth High Street until we arrived at The Bull Ring. I was very taken with this amazing building – I think it’s awesome.  No doubt Prince Charles would call it acarbuncle! 

Isn't it amazing!

We decided to walk throughthe shopping centre itself and just happened to come across a Vodafone shop.  Our son Gareth has been nagging his dad for weeks to see if he is due for an upgrade on his phone because Gareth would really, really like Clive’s old one (its exactly the same as the one Gareth dropped in the Kennet and Avon Canal at Easter last year!).  As it turned out he was due for an upgrade and therefore decided to go for the iPhone and he got a pretty good deal.  So he will be reading the user manual now for the next few days until he has figured out how to use this new piece of hightech equipment!  Sigh – men and gadgets! Lol:D


Then it was time to get the bus back home.  What a day it’s been – absolutely fantastic.  Our trip to Birmingham has certainly been memorable.  I have to say that I had no idea that there was such a big Irish contingent in Birmingham but there again, there are so many canals in and around Birmingham and considering the canals were mainly dug by Irishmen (navigators or navvi’s) it stands to reason that there would have been a huge number of them here at that time and many of them probably stayed, so I suppose its not surprising really.


We are leaving Birmingham tomorrow, it’s going to be a big day for both of us as there are 38 locks to negotiate!!!  Our next destination is Warwick and we hope to be there in two or three days time.  We have been to Warwick before but never by boat so we are looking forward to that.  There is a wonderful castle in Warwick, which we have been to before but we have never really had chance to look around Warwick itself.  We also happen to know that there is a folk club in Warwick every Monday night so we are hoping to make it to that.



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