Canal Boat - - Liveaboard -

Af­ter an en­joy­able 48 hours in Birm­ing­ham, our live­aboard veers off on to the North Strat­ford Canal and dis­cov­ers the Salt­isford Arm is a lovely place to moor but loses a part of the boat en route

You might not be aware but, amid the mil­lions of hi­lar­i­ous cat videos to be found on YouTube, there are some (other) ter­rific items. One of these is a splen­did doc­u­men­tary nar­rated by Telly Savalas, made in 1981 and all about Birm­ing­ham.

From a tower block, whose out­look is mainly of con­crete city cen­tre mon­strosi­ties, he says it’s “a view that nearly took my breath away”. Over a nasty Eight­ies sound­track he waxes lyri­cal about “tree-lined boule­vards” and be­ing “pro­jected into the 21st Cen­tury”.

Birm­ing­ham’s roads “are rev­o­lu­tion­ary!” he ex­claims, yet why not “ar­rive the Vene­tian way?” he also pon­ders over shots of a nar­row­boat go­ing past Cam­brian Wharf; “it’s my kind of town”!

With such ring­ing en­dorse­ments firmly in mind, I found my­self moored smack in the mid­dle of Eng­land’s sec­ond city, op­po­site the Na­tional In­door Arena and just a few yards from the Sea Life Cen­tre. Clearly it’s time for some­one to re-make that video; 30-odd years has turned Birm­ing­ham into a bustling mod­ern city that’s oft de­rided but I like it

(though the canals them­selves seem a bit grim, with apolo­gies to the BCN So­ci­ety).

A 48-hour moor­ing is not re­ally long enough to ex­plore much but I en­joyed my stay de­spite dis­ap­point­ingly slow ser­vice with a cold burger and chips at a sup­pos­edly pre­mium burger spe­cial­ist near Gas Street. Mr Savalas would not have ap­proved.

My moor­ing time then ex­pired, it was time to head through the ‘burbs with all the ad­vice be­ing, just as on the way in, to get out of town in one hit rather than risk the were­wolves, vam­pires and De­men­tors, all of whom ap­par­ently lurk in the shad­ows wait­ing for un­sus­pect­ing novice nar­row­boaters to moor for the night. At least, that’s what I hear.

First, a slightly awk­ward re-fill of the

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