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July 25th 2017
Published: July 25th 2017
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The canal in Worcester
Yesterday, Monday, we set out for the market town of Worcester. We have had lazy mornings so did not get on the road until about 10-30am. It was an overcast day, coolish but no rain. After a 15 minute drive, we parked the car on the outskirts of Worcester by the Worcester-Birmingham canal and then strolled along the canal to the centre of the city.I love the canals with their narrow boats and bird life and the leisurely felling they evoke. Steve lead us to the Commandeery, a museum of the Civil War. Worcester was the site of a major battle during this time and Charles 1 was supposed to have left a large amount of silver here when he was forced to flee. Unfortunately, the Museum was closed as it was a Monday.

We continued along the canal until it opened out into a major mooring area. This was surrounded by newly developed apartment buildings within the old warehouses. There was still a boat yard here making modern canal boats which were very beautiful and up-to-date. We walked along to the main lock which allowed access out into the river. Here there were flocks of swans many with young cygnets. We could see the spire of the cathedral in the distance, so walked towards it along the river banks. At the bridge, we also had the WorcestshireCounty Cricket Club's ground just across the river. This was worth a visit so we crossed the river and found the gates open and went in. The view of the Cathedral from the outer is spectacular and many consider this ground the most idyllic in England. The Australian Touring team always plays a warm up game here. Though small it has a welcoming feel and a new members' area, the Graeme Hicks stand.

By this time we had been walking for a long time so decided lunch and a sit down would be welcome. Steve led us to the oldest pub in Worcester, The Cardinal's Hat, but alas, like the museum, it too was closed on Mondays. We decided we might have to sack the tour guide!! We did walk through the shopping area where there are many beautiful black and white Elizabethan style buildings. Very picturesque and well maintained. We eventually went into an All Bar One. This is one of a chain which serves interesting food and good wine. We have a favourite one in London in Leicester Square. Here we had a lovely lunch. Fletcher and I shared some small plates with salt and pepper squid, some prawns, chicken skewers etc. We had some nice white wine to wash it all down.

After lunch we walked across the road to the cathedral. However, we could not go inside as there was a concert about to start. Another fail for the tour guide!! We did walk around to the cloister and the lawn at the rear. On this was an arts and crafts fair in several tents. We spent a pleasant few minutes looking at the stalls and admiring some of the pottery, jewellery and wood work made by local artisans. I resisted buying anything. Then we walked through the cloisters. These were very interesting with many of the windows commemorating local men who had died in World War 1.There was also a lovely Chapter House which is now a cafe with arched windows and ceiling fixtures. We walked right around and stopped at the Millennium window which was the most modern artefact in the place.

We then headed back into the town and I noticed a plaque on one of the doors which said Phillip Serrell, auctioneers and valuers. I was so excited as he is a favourite of mine on such shows as Bargain Hunt and Flog it!. We wandered back to the car through the town's streets. It is a very interesting town.Back at Steve and Sue's we had a great night just chatting, eating a wonderful casserole Sue had cooked and opening a couple of good reds.

Today we were taken by Steve to the Forge Needle Mill Museum in Redditch which is next to the ruins of Bordsley Abbey. The complex here has a visitor centre and activities for children. A pirate exhibition was on in the Museum and a Pirate Juggler was performing on the lawns much to the delight of the several families gathered to watch. We headed into the Needle Museum and joined a tour conducted by volunteer guide, Graham. Have you ever stopped to wonder how needles are made?? Wel,l we certainly learned all about it. Redditch was the centre for needle production in the 19th century and it is amazing how complicated the process was. We were shown each stage of the process from thinning the wire to finally polishing the finished product. This was a cottage industry where families specialised in one of the stages and often worked from home. The final steps of forging and scouring had to be done at the Mill. Inside the scouring room we saw how the needles were wrapped in cloth and went through a laborious process of being rubbed back and forward until they were highly polished. The machines that did this were powered by the water mill which was made of wrought iron and was driven by buckets filling with water from the Mill pond at the rear. While we were finishing our tour the water wheel was started up so it was very interesting to see how it all operated.The top floor of the Mill contained displays of the various types of needles and fish hooks made here, all sizes and shapes. The life of a needle pointer was very harsh and they often died young from the dust they inhaled. They had lists of names from Census Rolls showing the occupation and age of the local people. Steve said many of the same name still live in the area and are obviously descendants. Most needles are now made in China but there are still one or two factories in the Redditch area.

After the tour of the Museum we walked across the field opposite the Mill to inspect the remains of Bordesley Abbey. This had been established by Cistercians in the 12th century and had existed until Henry 8th had abolished the monasteries in 1535. The original settlement of Red Ditch had arisen around it but once the monks were driven out the people left moved further up the hill where Redditch now prospers. Some archaeology had been done at the site but now only an outline and a couple of low walls remain to show where the once prosperous Abbey stood. After our excursion, we retired to the Village Inn in Boely for lunch. Fletcher chose fish and chips while I tucked into a nice lasagna accompanied by a lager. Another pleasant interlude. Then it was back home for a rest.

Tonight we are going round to the local pub for dinner and the Pub Quiz. We are reliving our successes aboard the Astor when we were quite a formidable team. Hope there are not too many British biased questions!.

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