Updated: Aug 29, 2020
Somewhen during university years my girlfriend Roma (now the wife) and I started holidaying on narrowboats with our friends. That puts our first journey between 1974 and 1977, but the memory is vague about the exact date.
In 1979 we explored the Birmingham Canal Network, at a time when everything was black and the canal was full of rubbish. Smoke drifting across the lock from bonfires lit on the towpath just added to the sense of gloom. We frequently had to stop to clear plastic bags from the propellor but we did manage to force our way around the soho loop. Here is our hire boat coming up through one of the Smethwick flight.
You can see Roma in the cover photo for this blog, and she and my friend Mike appear above, through the smoke.
The same group of friends did the same journey in 2019, 43 years later. The change was extraordinary with green trees, pleasant surroundings and no sense of despair or gloom. Not once did we stop to clear the propellor. Our only problem was this green, broad beam barge advertising the new PORT/LOOP housing developments - of course, we had to meet in a bridge hole!
On our first visit, this had all been derelict. What a difference 43 years has made!