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  1. An interesting court report concerning the Vine Inn, lockside on the Staffs & Worcs canal at Kinver. The food hygiene doesn't look too good. https://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-hubs/staffordshire/south-staffordshire/2019/07/12/dirty-and-dangerous-the-conditions-found-at-this-village-pub/
  2. OK. Perhaps I should have phrased it differently. But the OP is coming from Canada and is doing the Stourport ring over eleven days in June when the days are long. I did the ring a few years ago hiring from Brewood in an October when the days are much shorter and completed it in a “hirers week” (six and a half days) although we used most of the daylight that was available, so the OP should have lots of available cruising time and the Wolverhampton route gives more flexibility. I would say that the Stourton / Dudley route into Birmingham is industrial except for the short initial stretch from Stourton junction to the junction with the Stourbridge arm which is very pretty. I can understand why you find this route preferable. The route to Birmingham from the top of the Wolverhampton 21 is also industrial but with an eleven day holiday and only one chance to experience the Staffs & Worcs from Stourton onwards, I would go via the S&W and Wolverhampton 21. As a boat owner who has experienced both routes, as opposed to a one-off holiday trip like the OP, then the choice may be different. I was born in Wordsley, walked to school every day past the blacksheds and the Stourbridge lock flight, was an apprentice at a factory on the Fenns branch, my wife worked in the local glass industry and we still live in the area so perhaps I see things through different eyes.
  3. I would not go via Dudley, it is a much more industrial route. I’d continue along the Staffs & Worcs. Its more scenic, including Bratch locks. It also gives more flexibility with timing. As you are going clockwise, by the time you reach Aldersley junction at the bottom of the Wolverhampton 21 most of the trips locks and the river section has been done, so if you have a couple of days spare you can divert up the Shropshire union, maybe to Brewood.
  4. Well I enjoyed it. The lack of music is a huge positive point for me. I also like the BBC Four programs that have a similar format ie little or no commentary. There was a one hour "Flying Scotsman from the footplate" program showing a trip on the Severn Valley Railway, and a three hour program on The Ghan which travels from Adelaide to Darwin, the actual trip takes 54 hours. Just thought I'd comment on Mike's film as there didn't seem much response to the thread.
  5. Actually, yesterday the OECD produced a report "Under Pressure: The Squeezed Middle Class" (partially funded by the EU) The report seems to suggest this is a global problem. The introduction carries on to say Middle-class households feel left behind and have questioned the benefits of economic globalisation. In many OECD countries, middle incomes have grown less than the average and in some they have not grown at all. Technology has automated several middle-skilled jobs that used to be carried out by middle-class workers a few decades ago. The costs of some goods and services such as housing, which are essential for a middle-class lifestyle, have risen faster than earnings and overall inflation. Here are the links to the report https://www.oecd.org/social/governments-must-act-to-help-struggling-middle-class.htm http://www.oecd.org/social/under-pressure-the-squeezed-middle-class-689afed1-en.htm http://www.oecd.org/unitedkingdom/Middle-class-2019-United-Kingdom.pdf
  6. If anyone is interested in where we go from here on Brexit, can I suggest watching or reading the transcript of a recent lecture by Sir Ivan Rogers “Where did Brexit come from and where is it going to take the UK?” The YouTube video is just over an hour long, or the transcript will take half an hour to read. Use this link to get to the introductory page and then click on either Full video of the lecture or Full Transcript of the lecture https://www.ucl.ac.uk/european-institute/news/2019/jan/sir-ivan-rogers-brexit-lecture-text-and-video Sir Ivan Rogers (KCMG) is a former senior British civil servant who was the UK's Permanent Representative to the European Union from November 2013 to January 2017. Prior to holding this position, he served as Prime Minister’s adviser for Europe and Global Issues (2012-2013) to PM David Cameron and as Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister (2003-2006) for PM Tony Blair. He is singularly well placed to comment on the causes and consequences of Brexit.
  7. You will probably want to refill the water tank every day. This can take over half an hour per boat, especially if you like to have long showers, so the point already made about thinking of yourselves as four individual boats is very valid, otherwise you will be hanging around water points for at least two hours a day, with four boats having to fill up.
  8. The discussion so far seems to be about pension entitlement for people who are close to retirement. However, for people, predominantly women, who are currently raising children under twelve and have a partner who earns over £50,000 per year it can be important to claim child benefit, even though the payment is later clawed back by the government, as claiming the benefit protects the woman’s NI contribution record. Some forum members may have adult children in this position. This article in the guardian explains the current position https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/jul/28/beware-forgoing-child-benefit-could-cost-you-your-state-pension Beware: forgoing child benefit could cost you your state pension
  9. Sir Ivan Rogers, a former UK ambassador to the EU gave a speech earlier this month at the University of Liverpool. The Guardian has summarised what he said, but the whole ten-thousand word speech is worth reading, or listening to in full. “The lecture by the former UK ambassador to the EU was full of home truths about the failure of our political class” The Guardian article https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/18/ivan-rogers-brexit-bombshell-digested-home-truths The University of Liverpool site https://news.liverpool.ac.uk/2018/12/13/full-speech-sir-ivan-rogers-on-brexit/
  10. I had a Norman 23 with a fixed windscreen. I moored at Ashwood marina on the Staffs & Worcs. It certainly went under the bridges between Autherley junction and the marina.
  11. The Staffordshire & Worcestershire canal is very pretty and most of it is rural. It’s my pick if the system and I had a boat moored there for a few years. It’s one of the earlier contour canals and follows a river valley down to Stourport So the locks come singularly at intervals as the valley drops down to the river Severn rather than in flights as on some later canals. You can take a detour up the Shropshire Union canal which is lock free for many miles from it’s junction with the S & W at Wolverhampton / Autherley Junction. The S & W canal is generally sheltered from the winds that can blow cold on more exposed canals in autumn.
  12. If anyone here is in this situation, then this piece in The Guardian could be important to you. Reading the full article is well worth while. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/jul/28/beware-forgoing-child-benefit-could-cost-you-your-state-pension Beware: forgoing child benefit could cost you your state pension "Last year approaching half a million women opted out of receiving child benefit. An unknown number never applied in the first place. Why? Almost certainly because their partner was earning more than £60,000 a year, which is the final cut-off point for the payment. But while they save their partner the hassle of having to fill in a self-assessment tax form, the ones who have not applied may also be unwittingly denying themselves a full state pension."
  13. To quote from C&RTs Drought FAQs https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/specialist-teams/managing-our-water/drought/drought-faqs Do restrictions simply concentrate the same lock usage (and hence water use) into a shorter period? No, our experience shows that where we’ve implemented restrictions of this kind in the past we’ve subsequently seen decreases in lock usage of 20-40%. Why don’t you operate pounds brimming with water as the longer pounds could operate as a reservoir? The loss of water from a canal pound due to leakage and seepage is the largest component of water demand on a canal system. Loss rates are at their highest during the summer, when soil is dry and water tables are low. The leakiest part of the canal lining is the top 15 cm (6 inches), because it is continually wetted and dried. It is also subject to holes or cracks formed by burrowing animals and wave action from boat propellers. So by increasing the operational level of a pound, especially in a drought, would greatly increase loss rates. During a drought, we actually aim to run pounds as low as operationally possible to reduce losses.
  14. If you have been happy with Napton narrowboats, they have a second hire base at Autherly Junction, which is a taxi ride away from Wolverhampton train station. It’s just under two hours from Wolverhampton to London Euston by virgin trains. Train fares are reasonable if you book well in advance but can be exorbitant if you purchase on the day of travel. This would mean that you would be cruising a different part of the country using the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal and the Shropshire Union canal. But it would entail you visiting London before or after the canal part of your holiday and using London hotels. Birmingham airport isn’t too far from the Napton narrowboats base. Qatar airways and Emirates fly out of Birmingham if that helps with your planning.
  15. While brexiteers seem to think that whistle a happy tune and everything will be alright, there is a good, long-read article in the independent today that's worth a read. It concerns "Effective industrial strategy requires a clear understanding of Britain’s place in the world economy now, and a clear set of goals for where we want it to be in the future" https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/brexit-eu-theresa-may-economy-industrial-strategy-finance-labour-a8449041.html
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