Monday 1 July 2013

Startlingly different

We were already at the bridge past the M42 when we saw a sign on the canal indicating there was a bakery / fruit & veg shop 100 yards off to the right. Some very satisfied customers were just returning to their boat, so we decided to explore. What we found, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, was Wedges Bakery, packed out with customers.

The bakery's own website is in for repair, but I found this – which gives an interesting take on the establishment.

The bakers' goods looked yummy, with lots of different types of pie in addition to the various breads. Unfortunately, we weren't in the market for anything from that department today, and confined ourselves to some veg and "slices of delicious Ham" (thank you, Hilaire Belloc). Wedges is very unusual, and well worth a visit, especially, it would seem, if you like a good made-on-the-premises pie.

As startling to encounter, coming round a bend as we meandered through the countryside, was a sudden reminder that we were approaching Birmingham.

Readers who have been this way themselves will note that, strictly speaking, these photos are in reverse order, given our direction of travel. I've reversed them to indicate something of the effect the whole thing had. Was it a condominium, a retirement home, a hotel complex, the set for a new movie? Why the classical façade of the building waiting for us to grace it via a red carpet? Other building complexes came and went as we journeyed, but nothing with quite the impact of this one.

So – every day a new experience. We also came through an extremely well-behaved electric lift-bridge today – quite different from yesterday's horror. You have to just enjoy the sense of power as you turn the key and hold down the button, and then the traffic lights flash and the barriers lower, and the bridge rises and a dozen cars wait for you to gently bring Erin Mae through to the other side. Then you hold down the close button, and the whole process reverses (apart from the traversal of Erin Mae). Except that if you take your finger off the close button at the wrong (or right!) moment, you give a bit of a shock to the impatient driver at the front who over-anticipated where the barrier would have got to as it rose to let him through!


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