The Black Country Living Museum

Reading time: 2 minutes...

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 £18.45 each! I’m liking this place already! 😉

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.

Return to the Tower

Reading time: 2 minutes...Off to the Capital today – and a return visit to the Tower of London and more specifically, the Crown Jewels.

Ann and I last visited back in February 2016 but we met good mates Roy, Susan, Lauren and Loki there today, who’d never been before! It meant an early start (for a Saturday) for us, catching the 9.02 out of Kettering. Predictably, the monopolistic Midland Mainline was running late – but only by a few minutes meaning that we arrived at St Pancras International just after 10.05.
It was then just a short Tube journey round to Tower Hill. Roy, Susan, Lauren  and Loki were just ahead and we could see them as we arrived at the Tower’s Ticket Booth.

With tickets in hand, we made our way to the Tower. It was slightly chilly, with a bit a rain in the air and as a result, it wasn’t too busy. We passed through the security check in a matter of seconds and were soon at our first stop: Traitors’ Gate listening to the Beefeater Yeoman Warder do his thing!

Next stop: a short spell in ‘reverse gear’ and we were at The Medieval Palace

Then it was a walk round the Battlements (which we DIDN’T DO last time we were here) and into the cold air and the rain…

..taking in the sights along the way!
Back inside and some impressive exhibits followed…
Then it was back into the elements…

…before taking a well-earned pit-stop to warm up!

With coffees, cakes and conversation behind us, it was back to the history…

A lot of people moan about the entrance fee being too high (£25 for Ann, £19.50 for the ‘oldie’) but we used a two-for-one offer associated with our rail ticket, so it made it even better value. More two-for-one offers HERE – but even without the offer, there is shed-loads to see here and even if you only have a passing interest in history, it’s worth the trip.
..and finally, it was the main attraction – the actual Crown Jewels

…but unfortunately, once inside, all photography was forbidden. But take it from us, if you like a bit of bling, this is the place to see the ultimate collection. Astounding!

We finished up in the same place as everyone else who visits here – the gifte shoppe! The Beefeater bears were tempting, but I resisted!

Wow! What a day! We’d spent almost three hours there and still didn’t manage to see everything. Our timed rail ticket meant that Lunch was going to be a bit late – and we only had around 45 minutes to find somewhere, eat and then get back to the Station. We love a challenge (especially when we’re hungry!)

Luckily, the local Wagamama’s just round the corner came to the rescue, and we were soon seated and placing our order. After a quick scoff we said our goodbyes leaving our friends to enjoy their meal at a more leisurely pace.

It was a great day and with all our connections running to time, we arrived back at Kettering around 5pm. After a quick pop into Aldi for some essentials, we were soon home, reflecting on the day.