Friday, 13 January 2017

Back to the Black Country

Everyone's talking about their boating plans - it must be that time of year. It doesn't look as if there will be a big trip for us this year, for two reasons - firstly, whatever we do will have to be fitted round Chertsey's docking - both for blacking and for a look at the engine; and secondly, because I can't take big chunks of time off work for the foreseeable future. I seem to have acquired a lot more responsibilities (not that I'm complaining about the money that comes with them), including being responsible now for exams, including exam boards which very inconsiderately take place in June and August (I'm not too bothered about the February ones).

Having boated late into the year last year (finishing at the beginning of December, in contrast to the previous year), I'm now itching to get started as soon as possible this year. Easter seems like a good time to start, and we were planning to go to Ellesmere Port. A habit has grown up over the past decade or so that in addition to the regular Easter gathering at the Port, in alternate years HNBC organise an alternative, more southerly, gathering for people based further south. Thus 2014 saw us at Foxton, and 2012 Droitwich - we (that is, HNBC) usually try to tie this into an anniversary event, or campaign of some kind. In 2016 it was the Basingstoke, but because of the need to travel on the Thames, and the possibility that it might be too floody at Easter, we went in the summer. So, the HNBC alternative Easter Gatherings tend to be in even-numbered years. So I assumed there wouldn't be one in 2017, and thus planned to hit the Port for only the second time with Chertsey (I think we've been three or four times in all).

But it appears there has been a bit of a mix up, which I can't guarantee I've fully got to the bottom of, but this is what I've pieced together from what was announced at the HNBC November 'social'. The Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port are celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of their first gathering, or their fiftieth gathering, either this year, or next year. At some point, it was believed that this would be in 2018, so HNBC decided not to organise an even that would clash with it. They therefore organised an alternative event for 2017. It then turned out that the Boat Museum are having their celebration in 2017 as well. So we have the clash of Easter Gatherings that we set out to avoid. 

This leaves us faced with a difficult choice: should we go to the Port, as originally tentatively planned, or should we abandon them for the heady delights of Brownhills and Walsall. Well, we have decided on the latter, for a few reasons. The Port will still be there next year, and in future years (obviously, Brownhills and Walsall will be too, but the thought of company renders them a lot more attractive. We might even get to visit Walsall Art Gallery before it closes). Brownhills is nearer our Alvecote base, by quite a long way, meaning that we won't be so tight for time. Hopefully quite a few fellow-HNBCers will be going as well. We even hope to take a brief detour along the way to meet up with the Princess Lucies. And... we get to travel a new route, never previously traversed in Chertsey, not indeed by me - the dreaded (not least by Jim) Bottom Road.

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