Chilling out at Merry Hill …

Following my last post ‘What’s wrong with Walsall’, as we wondered why other boats weren’t apparent in the area, Barry discovered more challenges when he left the basin that could explain it.

Though the sparse amount of water was clear and clean looking, the level of rubbish on the bottom of the canal was extensive and included clothing, plastic bags, a window blind (!), and an assortment of literally ‘crap’. Clearing the detritus from the weed hatch, he informed me reliably, was nauseating in the extreme …

Apart from a hire boat that passed us just before we arrived in Walsall, Barry didn’t see or pass any other boats along the whole stretch of around nine miles. Maybe it’s the time of year?

I met him back at Bumble Hole on Tuesday, after five days with my parents in Ombersley. Well actually he met me at the Old Hill railway station, a bracing one and a half mile walk away.

We’re now moored at the industrial park next to Merry Hill Shopping Centre, in Brierley Hill. There’s been a few boats passing us, most likely on their way to ‘Stourbridge Navigation Trust Open Weekend‘. Unfortunately we were too late to book into the weekend as a trading boat, so we’ve put up The Home Brew Boat banner here instead, hoping for some interested foot traffic!

Not long afterwards Barry got chatting to a delightful man from Cornwall, who’d brewed many years ago, and may just have had his interest re-sparked. Maybe we’ll be getting an order through for a beer brewing starter kit next week …


There’s a very handy Sainsbury’s here, and it’s a very pleasant and fairly quiet mooring.

And Barry’s given me a few of his photos to play with, which I’ll be looking at and publishing here over the next few days for your delectation!

Life in the UK

In the meantime, we’ve been investigating what Barry’s UK visa requirements are, for his next application in November 2015. One of these is the test ‘Life in the United Kingdom’, for which he must get a 75% pass – 18 out of 24. There’s options to ‘practice’ doing the test online, for free. So we gave it a go …

I’d recommend if you have some time to kill that you give it a go, because to be honest, I seriously doubt that the vast majority of British people would pass!

We gave it a go – Barry got 16 out of 24 right, which is 66.67%, however as a British Citizen, I got a measly 12 out of 24 – 50%! Does that mean I have to leave and return to New Zealand where I’d most likely score a hell of a lot higher? What a farce, a box ticking exercise that we must go along with.

Practice makes perfect, looks like we’ll both be learning a lot more about ‘Life in the Uk’ in the next 12 months …

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