Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Hopwood (the inevitable has finally happened)

Karen has been parking the car overnight in the Hopwood House pub car park for the week or so we have been moored here.  There is a large sign at the entrance saying that the gate will be locked overnight but when we first got here I had a chat with a couple of people and they said it is only locked at weekends.  I didn’t quite understand the logic, but they said the travellers tend to turn up at weekends.  As we are quite near junction 2 on the M42 a lot of lift sharers seem to use the pub car park; leaving one car in there and then being picked up by another.

Anyway, on Tuesday morning Karen called me whilst I was still in bed (it was 5.45am after all!) saying that the car park was closed It clearly wouldn’t be opened any time soon as the staff wouldn’t arrive that early in the morning so she came back to work from the boat whilst I sorted out a taxi for her.  The first plan had been to get a taxi to Alvechurch station and then trains to Leamington via Birmingham and then a bus to the offices.  Once we thought about it we decided to order a taxi all the way to work as it wouldn’t cost much more and would be a lot quicker.

This was the first time this had ever happened to us and we know it was our fault.  Before anyone says anything, we always provide custom to the pubs we visit and some, like the Tom o’the Wood in Rowington, encourage boaters to use the car park to make the pub look busy 😉

On one of my first walks around here last week I came across what I thought was an unused observatory on top of Wast Hills.

Having researched it on the Birmingham University web site I find it is still in use and even had a major upgrade a few years ago.  It was built in the early 1980s and the site was chosen because the sky was about 100 times darker at Wast Hills than at the campus.  Hockey and soccer fields have been built near it since so that isn’t the case when the floodlights are on.

Because of the type of telescope used (an equatorial English mount) the building had to be aligned exactly on the north-south axis.  Apparently, the north-south line was staked out in the snow using a theodolite and the foundations subsequently dug.  When it came to mount the scope, it was found that the alignment wasn’t quite correct but, fortunately, adjustments could be made to the mountings to bring it into the correct line.

Today I will probably have a look around Alvechurch to find a good place to moor near ‘safe’ car parking spots.  The wind should die down overnight so I may cruise down there tomorrow.

Mum & Dad update:  Mum is still doing fine on her own and walking further each week.  Dad is still in hospital and suspect he may be there some time as he needs constant care.  The physios are doing a good job on restoring his strength though, so his release may not be too long.

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