My BCN Challenge came to a premature end.
The log was a bit hard for me to get my head around, because you weren’t supposed to open it until setting off, and it really needed me to have planned my route in advance, which I hadn’t done.
There was also an ‘I-Spy’ section, to prove that you’d actually been to the places you claimed.
Right from the start I spent too much time enjoying the Perry Barr lock flight and the remarkable Tame Valley canal which, although being a long series of straights that crosses and recrosses the M5 and M6 motorways, manages to have the character of a nature reserve in many places.
I didn’t reach the Rushall Canal until 3pm – five hours after starting – a distance that would have taken a fast team only a couple of hours.
Then a gust of wind blew all my timekeeping/quiz sheets off the cabin and into the canal, and I got rather disheartened.
As dusk fell, I marvelled at the wonderful character of the winding Wyrley & Essington Canal and simply enjoyed the view and didn’t worry that its shallowness made for slow going. It’s a marvellous mix of nature and suburb, a ‘siren’ canal that can lure you to distraction, especially on a sunny summer evening. The locals here are lucky to have such a resource.
When I arrived at Brownhills at 8pm and discovered a canalside Tesco with excellent moorings, my will crumbled.
And here I stayed. It’s now Sunday noon, 16 hours after arriving, and I’m about to set off again for the end at Wallsall Basin at 3pm. But with no real intention of ‘competing’. It’s enough just to be there for the boat rally.
By the way, May is ‘Mild Month’ says CAMRA, and it’s about to end. No better way to celebrate the end of Mild Month than by slaking your thirst with this lovely, toasty ale, low in alcohol and chilled to perfection on a hot summer day. I chose Thwaites - which is currently on promotion for £2.66 for a four-pack in Tesco – and put it in the icebox until chilled to the heart.
The picture below doesn’t show how cold my beer was, because I like to use plastic glasses. They are much safer – they float, are excellent insulators to keep in the cold, and there’s no risk of broken glass.
Thwaites changed the name in the draught version to ‘Nutty Black’, to try to distance themselves from a ‘flat cap and whippet’ image of the drink, but I think that's nutty and pointless. What they should be doing is encouraging bloggers like me try it and write about it. I’ll convert you, and you’ll convert the local imam or LDS missionary.
Thwaites Mild really is marvellously refreshing on a hot sunny day when chilled to the bone – full in the mouth and feeling like half-a-meal, chilling the body better than the heady, but empty, teeth-grinding cold of an iced lager.
Captain’s log supplemental, Sunday night: Jolly dee, I’m already No.1 in Google for ‘thwaites mild’!