All in all a great week for a family of 4 (with 2 teenage sons).
We didn't get away quite as early as we'd hoped mainly due to a jam on the M5, and by the time we arrived there were a couple of groups ahead of us so had to wait 20 mins, fair enough. The staff were friendly and helpful. My wife and I had done canal holidays before - albeit over 25 years ago so appreciated the refresher introduction. Also I reviewed our proposed schedule with CC, it's definitely worth planning beforehand if you are doing a ring. Sir Bruin was fine, everything we needed, all clean and working except we found out later the water filler-cap key was missing (easy enough to improvise something). You can't receive a TV signal in most places we stopped and there is no WiFi, resolved by using my phone as a WiFi hotspot (on Three) which worked in most places.
The plan was to make good progress on the first couple of days so we could take it easier and fit in some stops for the rest of the week. Our second day was the longest and we only just got as far as planned due to some very slow lock operators on the boat ahead (yes you *can* lower the paddle before closing the gate - sigh) but easily stayed on track after that.
We moored-up overnight at Compton (Fiume), Stourport (The Angel), Tibberton (Bridge Inn), Alvechurch (nr. Crown Inn), Birmingham Gas Street (met up with friends), West Country Museum and Brewood itself (Bridge Inn). Several pubs are Marstons ones with exactly the same menu at each - and they stop serving food quite early, e.g. 7:50pm (Brewood).
No problems on the trip. It seems odd (but interesting) taking a narrowboat on the wide river Severn and felt a bit guilty emptying those huge locks just for us! It's quite fast on this section due to the flow of the river - I imagine it would be slower going north. The entry into Worcester is great, though the turn back onto the Worcester & Birmingham canal is a little tricky as it's a sharp turn and the river current doesn't help. They are double locks, so if you might be able to share the work.
Next day was Astwood, Stoke and Tardebigge - 42 locks in all which took 5.5 hours. Mostly through Tardebigge we were able to set up the lock ahead. It didn't seem hard at the time but I ached a bit the next day.
Gas Street was fine on a Wednesday. We got there in time for lunch and visited the museum and art gallery and elsewhere. Arrived back after dinner - most of the bars in the Mailbox close at 10:30pm though Penny Black was open later. Only woken once by a small group of clubbers passing by at 2:00am, but good natured. There were about 4 boats plus us moored there (and many in the basin at the opposite side of the canal).
Took the Old Main Line towards Dudley and stopped at the Black Country Living Museum. Good, but try to get a full half day there - its £16.50 (as of 2015) and quite a lot to look round. There aren't many mooring place there (several occupied by working boats) but there is some room for morning a bit further along the canal just past the factory. There is water at the BCLM Friday (not shown on the Pearson Canal Companion) and a winding hole.
Friday was our only day of rain as we tackled the 21 locks past Wolverhampton - probably just as well during the school holidays. We were advised to go through here on a week day during school time, though it seemed quite pleasant when we did it. Mooring in Brewood is easy beyond the marked official moorings which will probably be full towards the end of the day.
The only incident we had was a broken wooden tiller handle when it touched the inside of a bridge - while I was attempting to train the kids on the first day - and a broken glass. We weren't charged for these.
If we decide to do the Four Counties Ring next year, I would use Countrywide Cruisers again.