Wednesday, 8 December 2010

2010 - Day Out 3: Birmingham

Date: 11 December 2010

The post title above should not be stating "Birmingham", the original plan was to visit Worcestershire and the villages of Belbroughton, Chaddesley Corbett and Cleobury Mortimer. Due to the snowfall in the week prior to the day out, a last minute decision was made, the evening before, where we would postpone the original plan and instead visit the Birmingham area, where we would be able to safely get back if any more snow came and there was more chance of services running relatively normal in the West Midlands, rather than in the countryside.

So Mr WME and Mr SBI meet up in Stourbridge Town, for our first (and last!) solo outing of 2010. After a few photographs are taken of the works undertaken on the redevelopment of Stourbridge Bus Station, it is off to our first destination of the day, so we get on the train to Spring Road, changing at Birmingham Snow Hill along the way. Spring Road is a little station after Tyseley, but the old station building could be demolished to make the station look nicer. We have a little walk and around the corner, Mr WME decides to surprise me and we soon come across the bus garage at Acocks Green. A few photographs are taken, and then it is time to have another walk down towards Hall Green, where we pass the greyhound racing track for more photographs, and end up outside the Hall Green railway station. We then walk a little further to the nearest bus stop, where we catch the world famous National Express West Midlands 11 Outer Circle service.

We duly take our seats on the top deck, where we have a lovely view of fog, that is until we wipe the front windows and we can see where we are going. We pass through places such as Kings Heath, Harborne and Bearwood along the way. Mr WME makes sure that I'm still awake when he tells me to get off the bus, when the bus has only just stopped, so we rush down the stairs and off the bus before the driver even had the chance of shutting the doors. We alighted at Summerfield Park, which is situated on the City Road. We tread carefully accross park in the snow and head towards the Edgabston Resevoir, where I can take some more photographs of The Tower Ballroom, a location that was used in the classic ITV series "Boon" starring Michael Elphick. After our visit to the reservoir, we walk to Monument Road, where we wait for a National Express West Midlands' service 8 Inner Circle bus to take us to our next destination, Hockley.

Upon arrival, we decide to have a warm and head to our first public house of the day, The White House, which is owned by Holden's, and is a nice cozy little establishment. After a quick chat and a warm, we decide to get to our second public house of the day, and we walk towards Aston and head to a place called The Barton Arms. Upon arrival we wonder what we have let ourselves in for, when we walk towards the pub, a person comes out of the bookmakers opposite and decides to relieve his bladder up against a wall. After seeing that we head into the unknown and into The Barton Arms, where I was surprised of what the pub had in store for us. The Barton Arms did not let us down, and the interior was tiled and the pub was quite spacious. We order our drinks and we check out the menu. The pub also acts as a Thai restaurant, so we ditch the usual tradition of "beer and burger" and opt for a Thai lunch. Mr WME opted for a Thai curry and Mr SBI opts for a BBQ pork. The meal was gorgeous and I could not complain about the £5.95 price tag. It is time to set off again and Mr SBI decides to use the facilities of the establishment, or he thought so, he entered through the door and went straight through the other door which led to another part of the restaurant. Confusion over, it was time to make a move, and we head into Birmingham, where we walk past Moor Street Station and into another one of our favourite areas, Digbeth.

Mr SBI and Mr WME in The Spotted Dog
After a short walk and behind Birmingham City fans, we arrive at Warwick Street and the location of our next public house, The Spotted Dog. As we arrive the place empties, but not due to the fact that Mr WME has walked through the door, more Birmingham City fans make their way to St Andrews and watch their match after finishing their drinks in this establishment. So The Spotted Dog goes quiet, and we make ourselves comfy. We see a little bit of the snooker that is taking place in Telford, so we keep our eyes glued to the set to see if Mr UK Buses can be seen, we don't see him (but speaking to him a couple of days later, he stated that he was towards the front, and he nearly had enough coverage on TV, than the snooker taking place). The snooker is short lived, as the Landlord turns the TV over to the Birmingham City match which is taking place up the road, quite interesting, especially as the commentary seems to be in a foreign language - German I think! The Spotted Dog seems to be a friendly place and also it is a pub which caters for the Irish community. Whilst we were there I thought I turned into Sam Tyler as the jukebox was playing out some 70s cheesy classics. Drinks downed, it was time to move onto our next destination.

We take a short walk and we end up back at one of our favourite Digbeth pubs, The Lamp Tavern, which we had visited in 2010. The pub is still enjoyed by a fair few people, and we take up residence in the same seats that we occupied on our last visit. Mr WME decided to opt for one of his favourite tipples, "Stanney Bitter", and we have a bit of a warmth and another chat whilst perusing the Merseyside CAMRA publication, and we try to find any of the pubs frequented by himself, Mr UK Buses and Andy on their last visit to Liverpool. Alas, we couldn't find any, but we still enjoy the warmth and friendliness of the pub, but it is getting dark and we decide it is time to make our way back to the Black Country, so we finish our drinks and head through Birmingham to get to Moor Street to catch our train, Mr SBI thinks that a visit to Digbeth should be on the cards in 2011.

Mr WME gets chance to dry off at The Bell and BearWe catch our train and we head towards Rowley Regis. We arrive and start walking through Blackheath, where, on the way to our next destination, Mr SBI finally locates the JD Wetherspoons in Blackheath, not bad when he has only been looking for it for about three years. Anyway, we head through the darkness steadily across the snow covered paths, even though most of it has now turned to slush or been washed away. We head down towards Coombswood along Gorsty Hill Road, chatting away as we walk along, when Mr WME decides it is time to have a closer look at the pavement, but he blames the ice (I couldn't see a fair lot of it!), but after finding out if Mr WME is okay, Mr SBI finds it hard not to laugh, but the next destination is in sight - The Bell and Bear. Upon arrival, the barmaid asks if it is wet outside, I presume she must have been talking to Mr WME as I was totally dry, whilst Mr WME looks like he has had an unfortunate accident. We can at least have a bit of a break and warmth and Mr WME has a chance to dry off within the pleasant surroundings of the establishment - Mr WME would have no break about his recent fall though. It is time of the year, that once you get cozy, you don't want to move, but move we did and it is off to another destination.

We brave the cold, and having survived a steep gradient and back streets - with no slipping over, we end up on Station Road, and wait for our National Express West Midlands' service 222 bus outside Old Hill Station, where after a shirt ride, we alight at Cradley Heath. Having done some research earlier in the day, we find our next destination - The Hollybush. We enter the establishment, which seems to be closed for a private party, but we enter into the bar where we are asked "Are you part of the party?", on replying no, the landlord states "Well you look alright anyway", so we are allowed to stay and after purchasing our drinks, we find a seat next to the roaring fire, a chance to get a bit of warmth in our bones and for Mr WME to dry off even more. We decide after about five minutes of being in the pub, that this is one nice establishment, even more so after the landlord comes over to talk to us. He asks us where we have been, how we heard about his place, and he even knows the places that we have been on our trip today very well, giving us stories and information along the way. It is getting very cold outside now, but we do have to get back home, so with dragging heels, we make our way through the cold streets of Cradley Heath down towards the railway station. We find out what time our train is due, which gives us enough time to have a wander down the road to "explore" before going back to the station for our train to Stourbridge.

After a short train journey we arrive back at Stourbridge Town, where we have to say our goodbyes, with Mr WME having to make his way back to Wolverhampton, where he is going to stay up most of the night watching the Ashes. Mr SBI makes his way back into Wollaston, to get back home, via the Chinese takeaway and then upon arrival at home, gets warm to eat his supper.

Another delightful trip with some great public houses finds by Mr WME, his pub radar seems to be getting better - how many more great establishments can he find. A great day out for our only solo outing of 2010, but I think there may be plenty during 2011!

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