Back in the Midlands

Trip Start Jul 01, 2009
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Trip End Aug 02, 2009


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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Today we went back in time, visiting the Black Country Museum.  The Black Country is a specific area of the Midlands, and there is some dispute about where that area starts and finishes.  It got its name from the black smoke that used to belch out of the chimneys in the factories and from the coal that was so plentiful underneath the surface.  The mines and factories have all gone now and the air is clean but for a time in the 1800s and early 1900s it was a very grimy place.  The Black Country Museum had recreations of old streets, and a mine which Ray and I went down.  It reminded me of the gold mine that Rob and I went into with Sandra and Mike in the Coromandel - only not so far in this time.  It was very well done with models of people working the coal.  We spent around 4 hours here too, so much to see.  I was a bit disappointed that in the replica houses you couldn't go upstairs to see how their bedrooms were set out, but apparently it is due to the health and safety precautions.  I thought it was getting ridiculous at home but UK is even worse with all their health and safety regulations.  Talk about the nanny state.  Ray and I also took in the Dudley tunnels, via boat, which were built to harvest the limestone.  Get this though, in typical English fashion they used to hold concerts in the limestone caves - can't see that happening in Waitomo anytime soon.  No glow worms in these caves though.
What a terribly hard life these people lived, the women used to make chain for a pittance per day, and the men worked themselves to an early grave in the mines. 
It was a bit of a busy day as I had been swimming first thing - although not without incident as my bike blew a tyre - again - this time only just close to home though, so Ray dropped me down to the pool and I walked home.  Turns out the tyre was faulty, probably right from time of purchase, which caused the first big blow out and the second hernia that happened today.  
I also managed to fit in a group weightlifting session at the gym in the evening.  Quite different to my gym at home, you have to book for this session.  The reason became obvious when I got there and I had a specific mat and set of weights all set up for me.  What service, eh?  Very friendly instructor, and co-participants.  Must go again to that class if I have time before I leave for home.
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