The Black Country Living Museum

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Our very first visit to The Black Country Living Museum!

9.30am: We picked-up David and Valerie and headed by car for ‘the smoke’.

Located in Dudley, the journey took us a lot longer than we planned, (due to some serious congestion on the A14 in the direction of the M6). So, after some inspired diversionary tactics courtesy of David (with only a tiny bit of help from Robert‘s Sat-Nav), we were soon back to normal motorway cruising speed!

Click here for directions (around an hour-and-a-half for us)

11.45am: In spite of the early hold-up, we arrived just before noon and we were soon queuing for tickets. Ooo, that’s a bonus, a single purchase grants you unlimited visits on that ticket for a whole year – and they’re only Β£18.45 each! I’m liking this place already! πŸ˜‰

Looking at the car-park, this was clearly a popular destination, and once we’d got inside, we could see why! After a short AV presentation about the history of Black Country, we were on the Bus soaking up the VERY authentic atmosphere. It was busy everywhere – a really good sign surely!?

12.05pm: All that realism made us hungry, so we headed for the ‘local’ Fish and Chip shop – Hobbs & Son. initially, it looked like everyone else had the same idea as there was quite a queue sprawling out into the street.

The Menu was simple… Fish & Chips or Fish or Chips – and the Chips were cooked in beef dripping (surely the best only way!). No Pies, no Kebabs, no oversized bottles of fizz, just traditional fare!

…and it tasted all the better for it. We took advantage of the excellent weather and pitched-up on a grassy bank nearby. Val and I went back for extra salt and vinegar, which was somehow all the more appropriate, as I had to assist Ann with her volume of Chips!

Now all that was left to do was to soak up the authenticity of our surroundings – and they’d done a fantastic job here… Shops, a Chapel, a Pub, various Dwellings, a Mine, lots of old vehicles …and of course, plenty of coal on show! Any disappointments? Just one – the Cider served in the Pub. Called Rosie’s Pig, and it tasted like a home-brew gone wrong, and then watered down. Yuk! 😯

It was really like travelling back in time…

…and with Actors on-hand in period dress, it all added to a very immersive experience!

By 2pm, after a cuppa, we called it a day. It had been nothing short of a fantastic experience. It’s another one of those attractions where it’s impossible to ‘take it all in’ in one visit – so I’m sure we’ll be back.

We concluded our trip with a brief visit to the Gift Shop. Plenty there to temp us, with some very unique mementos for sale.

2.45pm: Into the car-park and back to 2019 with a bump! A quick check of the traffic showed some heavy congestion on our planned route. David and Ann compared notes and decided to head in the opposite direction on the M5, then the M42, then the M6, and finally, the A14. It worked well, and we were home by 4.30.

A Long Time with a Longbow!

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Friday is with us again and that means it’s our weekly lessons, courtesy of Kettering Archers!

For me this time, there was a deliberate change of equipment! After spending last week and the week before dabbling with the Longbow, tonight, I decided to spend the whole evening with this more authentic Bow. Remember, it has no arrow-guide, no sights – so it’s just sheer strength, and a bit of luck and judgement, attempting to send it to the target – I must have looked like an extra from a familiar Cider advert and perhaps I’d have had more success aiming at CANS as I was NOT on form at all tonight!!! πŸ˜²πŸ‘

Whilst Ann continued to refine her technique with her Practice Bow, I was introduced to the Longbow Group – and I spent the rest of the evening with them! A very nice group of chaps, offering what Kettering Archers do best: plenty of guidance – both literally and figuratively. With these ‘merrie men’ I immediately sensed an extra element of fun, as I spotted that many of them had a small beer tankard attached to their waistband. When I asked the inevitable question, I was told that after practice, it was for ‘the Mead’ (well, obviously!) πŸ˜‰ Wow! I’m going to like it here!!! They also carry the highly decorated pink arrow – awarded to the Archer who ‘screws-up’ their shots in the most imaginative way! 😁😁😁😁😁 At last, I’m an instant winner!

Slightly disappointingly, my current Longbow, compared to theirs, only had the poundage to send my arrows half the required distance. So, roll-on next week, when I’m dispensing with my 30-pounder and ‘trading-up’ to something much heavier. I’m learning that this fun hobby is also giving me a good upper-body work-out…

…and that’s not just trying to get the top off the bottle of Mead!!! πŸ‘πŸ‘