Well, last night was certainly not one of restful and refreshing sleep. One of the throbbing nitespots on Walsall's hip and happening waterfront was pushing out rampaging disco beats until two fifteen in the morning (I checked the time every time it looked like stopping; there were quite a few false alarms but a there was nothing else to do, really). The lack of restfulness was compounded - if compounding were necessary - by my decision yesterday morning finally to cave in and light the stove. It takes a good two days to settle down to a consistent gentle heat, so I was also boiling, and had to have the slide open a fair bit for ventilation as well, which didn't help with the noise levels. Under cover of the disco, all kinds of ne'er do well-ing could have been occurring, of which I was mercifully unaware. However, it didn't, and once the music did stop, there was no rowdiness, just the noise of a couple of cars taking the revellers away. I suspect that in fact there might only have been two carloads of revellers; certainly in the hours of daylight the local joints did not appear oversubscribed. Other than being alternately too hot and too cold, then, I did subsequently get some sleep. In fact I was so dead to the world that I apparently failed to hear Emu's Bolinder backfiring no fewer than three times as they sought to make a quiet early getaway. By the time I emerged, the piri piri chicken place had already set in motion its loop of irritating Euro-pop, and a number of our comrades had already slipped away.
I however wanted to visit the Walsall New Gallery first - accounts differ on whether it is facing imminent closure through lack of funding, and having visited Walsall once before and. It gone in, this time I really wanted to. Also, I wanted to get a souvenir mug for the trip, as the event this time did not supply one. Well, I was to be disappointed on that score - good gallery, rubbish gift shop - mostly generic arty gifts, rather than Walsall-specific ones. I got a postcard tho to send the folks at work.
And then we were off. This time we turned left onto the Walsall Canal, and what a sad rubbish-strewn waterway it is. No wonder the people who came that way arrived in a state of depression. We ploughed through, and it got a little better. I made a lovely turn at Walsall Junction onto the Tame Valley Canal (mind you, these BCN junctions do seem generous; I suppose they needed to be for a string of joeys to negotiate them), and the Tame Valley, at this end, was a welcome contrast - straight and deep, and relatively less littered. On a different trip I might have bemoaned it as boring, but in this context it was a positive pleasure. Around two we passed Rushall Junction so are now retracing our steps, having done a little ring (a ringlet?) of the Tame Valley, Rushall and Walsall canals. We will also have done the whole of the Tame Valley and Walsall canals once we get back to Fazeley Junction.
Tonight on the recommendation of Renfrew's Cap'n Pete, we have tied up by the Piercy Aqueduct, about a mile short of the top of Perry Barr. Both sides of this canal have a towpath, but this side definitely has an offside feel (i.e. no vastly expensive cycle track) and Ricky has set to with abandon to first dig up, and then flake out on, the grass. It's a lovely pastoral contrast to Walsall Town centre - although I have to say in its defence that firstly Walsall was a lot less depressed and depressing than the impression I had previously formed, and secondly, that we had no trouble at all from any people there - indeed they were most friendly and interested. I'm not sorry that tonight will be quieter, all the same.