Saturday, 18 October 2014

Lightening Trip

After travelling at 4mph for the past six months today’s land based trip to Birmingham seemed to pass very quickly.  There were two clear options.  Either use the senior’s bus pass and travel from Coventry to Birmingham free or purchase a £5.30 return rail ticket.  The rail journey would take 25 minutes and the bus 1 hour 25 minutes.  Being retired and with plenty of free time I chose the latter option.  These buses usually wander all over the countryside passing through small villages which meant I’d get the scenic route.  The bus pass can’t be used before 9.30am Mon-Fri and the timetable showing the nearest bus to that time was at 9.28am.  Obviously I’d have to plan to depart on the next bus after 9.28.  There is a regular service between the two cities which meant there wouldn’t be much of a delay.  Unfortunately the online timetable appears to be obsolete because I watched the next bus go past me as I was walking to the Coventry bus station.  But then I’m retired with time on my hands.  Eventually I was able to board the 10.15 bus.  The other geriatrics were just flashing the driver (I mean flashing their bus passes).  However when I tried it he noticed I was a foreigner and directed me to place the card on the e-reader.  Sorry Berkshire Council, I think you are going to receive a bill!  My fellow OAP’s couldn’t manage the stairs which enabled me to grab a top, front seat.  Great views but the seat steadily became more painful to sit on as time passed.  A very thin foam swab!  The circular route went through a number of local villages, including one that had a war memorial to the cyclists killed during WW1.  I hadn’t realised cyclists were used during WW1 and was surprised to read on Wikipedia <here> that the first cyclist units were formed during the Boer War. They were quieter and easier to maintain than horses.

The route took us through Birmingham Airport and Small Heath; where we had attempted to purchase our boating boots last year; before finally reaching Moor St Station.  I then walked across the CBD, stopping at Tesco to buy some lunch, before reaching Old Turn Junction.  My destination came into view and it’s interesting to see the NIA minus most of the scaffolding.

I heard a boat horn as I reached the Malthouse Pub and arrived in time to see a well known boat making the turn towards Sherborne Wharf.

Paul,  You never know who is watching from afar!  Smile

I was turned back by one of the construction site safety supervisors when attempting to enter the NIA from the south side.  He informed me I could gain access to the exhibition from the north side.  Walking around to the north side and I still couldn’t find the entrance.  Tried the west and east sides without any success.  By now I was thinking of mentioning to the exhibition management that they need to improve their signage.  Finally I asked one of the construction workers how one gained access to the Caravan and Motorhome Show.  He told me it was being held at the NEC. “Where’s that?”  “At Birmingham Airport!”   Oops…..  I must have passed it whilst on the bus. 

By now the stomach was asking the throat if it had been cut and so I found a vacant park bench beside the Town Hall and ate my chilled Tesco sandwiches.  Across the square some Scandinavian tourists were being photographed.

I wasn’t going to allow the day to be a failure and walked back to the bus station to catch the No 900 to the NEC.  The driver very kindly point out the stop.  After alighting I climbed the stairs and then commenced a very long walk to the relevant exhibition hall.  I was on my own and was anticipating having the exhibition to myself.  It was quite a shock to eventually reach the show and discover a seething mass of humanity.  It covered 12 halls and it was packed.  The South Australian camping and caravan show would occupy less than 5% of this floor space.  Fortunately I had my joggers on and was able to elbow my way through the ambling would-be grey nomads. 

There were so many caravans and motorhomes you would either need to have done prior research and produced a shortlist or be prepared to spend several days here.  I particularly wanted to look at fifth wheelers.  There’s only one UK manufacturer and they have a rather nice unit.

However it has two disadvantages, weight and price.  £56,000 for the base model is rather expensive.  At 3200kg kerb weight it’s also heavy.  Finally, the sales rep put me off by “winging” answers to some of my technical questions.  Yes, I had actually done my research on this aspect of the trip!  Note to myself:  If I do this again allow a full day!

The journey back to Waiouru was uneventful, but at least more comfortable, as the seats had better padding!  Jan had more success and managed to buy in the Coventry Market the enamelled roasting dish she has been looking for.  A very good price too!


Paul (from Waterway Routes) said...

I hope you noticed the new blacking and touched up paintwork that Christine and I had just spent the last week putting on.

I was returning the boat to Sherborne Wharf before heading home on the train. I may have passed close to you again on the way to the station.

Tom and Jan said...

I wasn't sure if it was you in the distance. Probably the black face and hands confused me!

Narrowboat QISMA said...

Did you buy ANYTHING at the NEC Tom? Some handy little gizmo? One the caravan peeps have had for ages and will be repackaged and sold to us at 5 times the price!

Tom and Jan said...

Take only photos
Leave only footprints

It was a visit done at the gallop!