We had a wonderful weekend at Calf Heath, socialising with Helen and Andy, going to the Historic Narrowboat Club‘s auction of memorabilia and assorted items (Andy was very happy to come away with the two lots he’d been wanting), and watching the Six Nations Rugby final at a delightful pub called The Woolpack in Weston. Sadly neither of us thought to take a photo of the village green or pub, which were both very quintessentially ‘English’. You’ll see a picture if you click on this link.
Barry and I even got quite enthused watching England ALMOST win the title (we’re used to watching and supporting The All Blacks) – it could’ve gone either way until the whistle blew.
Today is my mum’s birthday, so I’ve left Barry on board, hitched a lift with Helen, jumped on a train at Penkridge, changed at Smethwick Galton Bridge, then a bus from Kidderminster Rail Station to her house! I’ve booked a ‘Spoil me’ afternoon tea for her at a little café in Evesham, about a half hour drive from here. I spent a few weeks in the town in May 2009, when Barry returned to NZ after his dad was diagnosed with cancer, on our first six-month narrow boating experience.
Barry in the meantime has tootled up the cut to Penkridge, and will be continuing on to Stafford where I’ll meet up with him tomorrow afternoon – once again by bus and two trains!
Kinver Rock Houses
On Saturday 14th March, we finally had the opportunity to look inside the Kinver Rock Houses.
They are fascinating, and well worth a visit if you get the chance.
Inhabited until the 1950s (said to be the last ‘troglodyte dwellings’ occupied in England), apparently if families wanted a bit of extra room they’d cut their way through the rock. I’m sure it didn’t just happen like that, and there would’ve had to be some rules or there’d have been a rockfall!
They’re now owned and maintained by The National Trust, who’ve lovingly restored and cared for them after they were almost destroyed by decay and vandalism.
The upper level
The middle and lower levels
Inside the lower level, the cave houses have been made to look as they would’ve in the 1930s. Sadly only one was open during our visit, the other one was being worked on.
In 1830, six families lived in these rock houses, and generations of one family resided there for more than 150 years!
They are also, almost certainly, part of the inspiration for J R Tolkein’s ‘Hobbit Holes’. Living in the city of Birmingham, he pined for the countryside, and Kinver Edge would’ve been somewhere he could’ve visited and seen the houses. The second level especially look extremely similar to those found in Hobbiton, Matamata, NZ.
Inside one of the rock houses …
A walk around the outside
Astounding! The similarities between Kinver Rock Houses and the Hobbit movie set in NZ cannot be denied, and I feel extremely fortunate to have visited and experienced them both.
For me, the Friday before last (the 13th!) was the first time I’ve actually walked into the village and had a look around. Despite living just two miles south in Kidderminster from January 1978 to June 1981, as far as I recall I never ventured there.
I missed a treat! It’s such a quaint place – actually quaint doesn’t do it justice. There’s some amazing houses and buildings (I think there’s a bit of money in these parts), steeped in history as 13 of them are ‘Listed’, a charming church and very well-kept graveyard.
Heading to Kinver …
It’s a very pleasant voyage on this part of the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal, so close to the hustle and bustle of The Black Country yet no sign of it from the cut.
The next post will feature our visit to the Kinver Rock Houses – just for you Jenny!
That’s a bit of a mouthful isn’t it?
I’m in awe of nature and the natural world most days, even more so on days like today. It’s the Spring equinox here in the northern hemisphere, and we experienced the first eclipse of the sun here since August 1999. Apparently the next one in UK will be in 2026, who knows which hemisphere we’ll be living in by then!
Moored in Coven, alongside the Fox and Anchor, Barry made a pinhole camera initially and set it up from a porthole in the bedroom, then he used a pair of binoculars to see the reflection, and finally he used a polarising filter on his Lumix camera to get some better shots …
Many places in England were too cloudy to see very much, so we were indeed fortunate. Not a total eclipse, I believe we saw about 84% coverage, but it was magical!
Such joy – who needs a fortune when we are so rich in experiences and memories …