Sunday, 30 January 2011

2011 - Day Out 3: Worcestershire

Date: Saturday 29 January 2011

It is time for the WARP's first 2011 trip, or as was the case two weeks ago, WARP's last trip of 2010 following the snow last month which saw it cancelled due to snow! It is time for the gang to visit the county of Worcestershire.

Service X3 in Kidderminster
Mr SBI meets Mr UK Buses in Wollaston on National Express West Midlands Service 276, which will take us to Stourbridge Junction, where we meet up with Mr WME. We decide to pass the time for the train to arrive by going into the waiting room to get out of the biting cold, where Mr UK Buses decides to hog the space under the heater. Ten minutes pass where we catch our train to Kidderminster which doesn't take long to reach its destination. We alight at the railway station on Comberton Hill, and we make our way down to the nearest bus stop. This month, it may be cold, but there is no evidence of snow falling down in blizzard style amounts or any heavy clouds containing the white stuff, so we feel happy to continue with the trip, where we catch the First Service X3 to Redditch. First Wyvern Day ticket purchased, we are on our way and we pass Chaddesley Corbett on our way, where Mr WME and Mr SBI discuss their trip a couple of weeks previous. Mr UK Buses comments on how the road can be seen today, as last month it was unrecognisable due to the covering of thick snow. We shortly arrive in Bromsgrove, where the gang is complete as Andy makes an appearance and scares Mr UK Buses along the way as he hits the window by his seat and Mr UK buses jumps out of his skin.

We make our way from Bromsgrove to Redditch, and upon arrival, we make our way to our first J D Wetherspoons of the day, "The Rising Sun", but as we walk from the bus station, we realise that a new Wetherspoons has opened, "The Royal Enfield", which was previously a Chicago Rock Cafe public house. Our first beverage of the day is supped, where Andy goes on about modal switching and hub (!) as part of a review of Wolverhampton services later in the year. We have time for a drink in another establishment in Redditch, and an old favourite, "The Golden Cross", we make our way there, which is basically a few steps away from the back of Wetherspoons, and after enquiries from Andy, we find out that it does not open until 12pm, so we have another round in The Royal Enfield.

Drinks supped, we make our way back to the bus station, where we wait for the X3 back to Bromsgrove, but a bladder stop is needed by Mr SBI, but after a previous visit, I find that the toilet is occupied again and have no time to visit, and cross my legs on the X3, which Mr UK Buses decides to try out his "D9" driving skills. We arrive back in Bromsgrove and alight the bus just before the main High Street, and notice a short cut to our next drinking establishment, J D Wetherspoon's "The Golden Cross Hotel", where we find the entrance to the rear beer garden / smoking area. The gang still have to make there way to the front of the pub to get to the facilities, but it does cut a corner and gets us out of the cold which is adding pressure to the bladders. We order our drinks and find a table, where we decide to study the menu and have lunch. Mr UK Buses opts for his usual curry, Mr WME and Andy decide on gourmet beer and burgers, whilst I opt for the standard beer and burger. It is not long before Mr UK Buses, Mr WME and Andy receive their meals, but I wait and wait and the rest of the gang are halfway down their meals when I contact a member of bar staff to enquire about where my meal is. I've got no evidence, but it seems that Mr UK Buses could have got his own back for our last London outing (click here to find out), but it is a case that the waitress just forgot my meal and left it in the kitchen. It is time for me to play catch up, so speed eating is required. It is nearly time to get our bus to the next destination, but change for the bus fare was needed by Mr UK Buses, so he asks a couple of market traders in Bromsgrove High Street to change a tenner, but he gets no joy, so what is the next way to get change? Well for the normal person, they would go into a shop and either ask the cashier, or purchase something cheaply priced. Mr UK Buses decides to be different, on the way down to the bus station, he decides to ask a busker with a hat on the floor in front of him with a few coppers of change in whether he could change a tenner for two fivers. The answer was obviously no, how many buskers would get a wallet full of bank notes out!!!

We arrive at the bus station, where Andy empties his bladder before catching the bus, and just as he makes his way back from the toilet, our next bus arrives. It is time to catch Red Diamond's Service 140 to Stoke Prior. We start our journey, where Andy decides another demonstration of "D9" driving needs to be shown, but whilst he is demonstrating, I decide to show Mr UK Buses how far it is to the railway station at Bromsgrove or as I class it, "Birmingham Bromsgrove". We are on our way to Stoke Prior where we decide to spend five minutes of our journey making our way around a maze of a car park at a Morrison's Supermarket en-route. It is not long before we arrive at our destination and as soon as we get off we all need a bladder stop, so all four of us decide to stand at a hedge at the roadside for it. Someone states that the road isn't busy as normal, so just as that is said, a car decides to turn up and we all pretend that we are talking on our mobile phones, even though our hands are empty! We finish off anyway, and make our way round to our next drinking establishment, "The Navigation Inn". Drinks are purchased and it is decided for a mini pool tournament where first up it is Mr UK Buses Vs Mr SBI - winner: Mr SBI. The winner of the next match is to play Mr SBI in the final, so it is Andy Vs Mr WME, with Andy taking a strong win. The final is Mr SBI VS Andy, and after a little pestering from the losers, we carry on our game, where later in the match Mr UK Buses informs us that there is no black ball on the table!! I think there was a bit of foul play occurring!

Cheers! Stoke Prior - The Boat and Railway
Drinks finished in The Navigation, we make our way to the next public house in Stoke Prior. A walk along the canal is decided, where Andy takes the lead, so we make our way. As we walk along the tow path, it seems to be getting muddier and muddier, and halfway along Andy needs another bladder stop, so to go one further than our previous stop at the roadside, he literally lets it hang out and decides to stand at the side of the canal, to fill it up! We are halfway along on tow path trek now, so we carry on and it is not long after, and also many questions from Mr UK Buses of  "How much further is it?" when we arrive at our second public house in Stoke Prior, "The Boat and Railway". Drinks ordered and we sit down in a cosy pub atmosphere, and out of the two visited, I think that The Boat and Railway would be my choice of pub on our next visit to Stoke Prior. A customary "Cheers" photo is taken, see right, where I hide Mr WME, so Andy has to yank him just in time as the timer counts down on the camera. Drinks finished and visits made to prepare ourselves for the next journey, we make our way to the bus stop, which is just a little walk along the main road. We arrive at the stop, but Andy is unsure whether the bus stops along this road, but our worries are soon calmed when we spot the return of Red Diamond's Service 140 to get us back to Bromsgrove. We get aboard when Andy spots his old next door neighbour from the time of his living in the village. We make our way from Stoke Prior where Andy points out his stay of residence in the village, and it is not long before we make the return trip to the Morrison's car park. It doesn't take that long before we arrive back in Bromsgrove, and we decide to take a few bus photos as we don't have a long time before our next bus arrives, but we have a change of plan and visit "The Red Lion" for a quick half before we return to the bus station for our next journey.

We get aboard our return service for Kidderminster, the X3, which takes us back past Chaddesley Corbett and Andy tries to locate the road he went down in a brand spanking new double deck bus from Pensnett Garage and caused damage to a side panel from a hiding rock on the roadside. Just under half hour and we arrive back to "1869", sorry the Town Hall in Kiddermisnter, where Andy and Mr UK Buses, sneak in and out to their normal bladder location, "The Swan". After their brief visit, we make our way to the bus station at Kidderminster via the Weavers Wharf shopping area, which seems to be twice the usual distance than our normal line of route that we use to get to the station. We have a little time to kill so a few photographs are taken at the station, and it isn't long after that Andy feels the need for yet another bladder stop, so we make our way to the nearby Tesco superstore to make use of their facilities, with Andy and Mr WME doing a lambada under the fence to gain access onto Tesco's car park. Mr UK Buses keeps an eye out at the station for our bus whilst the rest of the gang make the umpteenth stop of the day. We arrive back at the station and it is not long after when our next bus arrives, one that Mr UK Buses has wanted to catch for a long time to fulfill his wish of catching a bus down the main Kidderminster to Norton / Stourbridge Road, so we get aboard the last scheduled trip to Stourbridge of Whittle's service 125, a service where despite being across the Network West Midlands border, it is cheaper to use this bus than "NBus" operators fares in the NWM area, a modest £1.70, which cannot be complained about. Mr UK Buses sits down and enjoys his trip which sees us go up Comberton Hill, then The Broadwaters, past "The Park Gate", through Iverley, and past "The Greyhound", Mr UK Buses local in Norton. We arrive in Stourbridge, where we have a couple of hours to kill in the evening.

Cheers - Stourbridge, The Bell
First up is a visit to "The Bell", where Mr SBI and Mr UK Buses worked previously, which was in 1998, an astonishing thirteen years ago - doesn't time fly! After the drinks are purchased, we take our seats in the conservatory area, a place well known by Mr UK Buses as he once had this area of  The Bell cordoned off when he had a meal to celebrate his twenty first birthday (all them years ago!!!!). The Bell has changed a lot since our employment, with the main lounge and bar serving area merged into one and the servery area bricked up. The time spent in The Bell was all about Mr SBI and Mr UK Buses reminiscing about their antics when they worked there, so a "cheers" photo was in order, which can be seen left. It was time to carry on our tour of Stourbridge, so we go to another place of employment for Mr SBI, which is just a stone's throw away from The Bell, and we visit "The Talbot Hotel", another public house that has been refurbished and it makes an improvement to what the hotel was. We decide to have a half here so that we can go to "The Chequers" a new J D Wetherspoon establishment in Stourbridge, which was originally a "Chicago Rock Cafe" establishment. We decide to be greedy and have another "Beer and Burger" meal, with Mr UK Buses and Mr WME opting for the Gourmet Burger, and Mr SBI decides to stick to the standard chicken burger meal. It is time for Andy to say his goodbyes when he has a phone call to say that his lift arrives, so the WARP's become three. We spend a little time to let our food settle, and we walk to Mr UK Buses stop where we say goodnight and the WARP's become two. Mr WME and Mr SBI decide to have two quick drinks before we say our goodbyes and go for a rest at home, so we visit "The Mitre" where Mr WME is happy when a song by Ken Dodd (!?!) appears on the Juke Box, and he seems to know every word, which makes me worry even more about his music tastes. After Mr WME is sung out, we decide to visit our last establishment of the day, "The Duke William", a pub that has been refurbished into a real ale drinking establishment, which also sells a selection of perry and ciders. It also seems to be one of the busy establishments in Stourbridge at the moment, as we have to take our place at the bar, which is no great loss as we seem to find our barmaid of the  day, a decision which we both agree on. After our drink in The Duke and Mr WME's scratchings purchased for his trip back home, we make our way to the temporary stands in Stourbridge where my 276 arrives first, with Mr WME only having to wait a few minutes before his 256 to take him home to Wolverhampton arrives, he may make it back to Stourbridge sooner than he thinks, as he starts to have a little fatigue kicking in, lets hope he didn't succumb to the sandman on his journey. 

What a great start to the year for the WARP's trips, a good day out, a little excercise in Stoke Prior, and a good laugh with the "D9" driving experiences. Lets hope that all WARP trips this year stay like this.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

2011 - Day Out 2: The Pistonheads Performance Car Show

Date: Sunday 16 January 2011

Earlier in the week, Mr WME had text me to ask if I wanted to go to the Performance Car Show, because his mother had won tickets to the show. As I knew that this show was also part of the Autosport International Show, I jumped at the chance, and so big thanks to Mr WME and more importantly his mother, very big thanks Mrs W, the day out yesterday turned into two days, so this weekend turned into a BOGOF, Buy One Get One Free, two for the price of one, (I could go on and on with these terms!), but anyway I was going to the NEC.

Mr WME also let Mr SBI stay over at his residence as we needed to be at the NEC for 0930am to take our reserved seats at the Fifth Gear show, part of our tickets for the show. So I get up just after 0630am, after enough sleep to allow my aching feet to recover, to get myself ready and go downstairs so that Mr WME can now gain access to his own bedroom so that he can get ready. It is just after 0700am, and we make our way to Wolverhampton so that we can catch our train to get us to the show in time. Seeing as it is early on a Sunday morning, the buses are not running yet and we walk along the main Stafford Road, into the city. It takes us just after thirty minutes to walk into the city, and after walking along the ring road and see how the new bus station is progressing, we arrive at Wolverhampton Railway Station, but upon looking at the departure boards we find out that there are no trains and that the service is being replaced by buses, with the first one arriving at 0845. We did not want to wait for forty-five minutes for the bus to arrive, so Mr WME informs me that The Midland Metro is running. So choices made, we walk towards the Metro terminus at St Georges in Wolverhampton, having a closer look at the new bus station along the way - we also see a picture of the project manager and he sure looks young to be in his position!!

After walking through the city, we arrive at St Georges and it is not long before the tram arrives, and we take our seats ready for our journey into the other Midlands city, Birmingham, where this tram terminates at Snow Hill Railway Station. I have no excuses to get out of travelling on the Metro, as I enjoy any journey on the tram, but just after 0800am on a Sunday morning, I'm not to keen on hearing the voice saying that "The next stop is.......", but I grin and bear it and it is not long before our tram leaves Wolverhampton St Georges, and we are on our way via Priestfields, Bilston Central, Wednesbury, West Bromwich Central and Jewellery Quarter and many other stops, before we arrive at Birmingham Snow Hill. Along the journey, Mr WME and myself keep ourselves entertained by talking about our outing yesterday and the barmaid at The Swan in Chaddersley seems to be the top of the agenda. Mr WME also brings up Lizzie Borden, which I'm getting quite worried about Mr WME's music taste as he also bought up The Little Blue Man in conversation. After some crazy song choices from Mr WME, we arrive at Birmingham Snow Hill, where we walk from the station and down Colmore Row, past Starbucks Coffee in New Street to New Street Station, where after a little wait, we catch our train to Birmingham International.

We arrive at Birmingham International and it is now time to make our way to the halls of the NEC to have a look around The Autosport International and Performance Car Show. We leave the station and turn right for a bit of a walk to the main halls, but it is okay as half the way is a travellator, so it isn't too bad. We didn't make it for the Fifth Gear show, but not too worry as I am more of a Top Gear bloke. We arrive at the show, and we opt for the Autosport International part of the show first. To begin with, we have a walk around the merchandise stalls, and after that we then make our way around the motor sport sales stands. After about 15 minutes we see the new livery for the 2011 Lotus Renault GP (see top left photograph), where the iconic livery which was used on the old Team Lotus makes it return to Formula One - it will be good to see which Lotus team comes out on top for 2011. We carry on having a mooch around the halls and then we come across the McLaren stand with a display of old F1 cars that they have raced over the years. I was pleased to see the MP4-23 (see top centre photograph), the McLaren that Lewis Hamilton raced to net him the Formula One World Drivers Championship in 2008. After a while taking photographs of the McLarens we carry on around the NEC, and we see F1 Racing Magazines display, showing cars which were raced in the 2010 season on their virtual grid (see top right photograph), with cars on display from Lotus, Williams, Force India, Torro Rosso, Jenson Button's MP4-25 the 2009 defending champion car, and the current Formula One Champion, Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull car at the front of the grid. Whilst we were looking at the grid, Martin Brundle was in the background signing autographs for the fans. We had a little break outside of the NEC, which enabled Mr WME to get some photographs of the building.

Break over, we entered the show at The Performance Car Show entrance and had a look at that part of the show, and I had the chance to win a Lotus Racing Bag, worth £300, by entering a survey about the show. We continue to look around the stalls and try to get a few freebies, being handed out by the "Pit Babes" pictured below and also the chance to enter a competition to win tickets for a Grand Prix in the 2011 Formula One Season.


After our walk around The Performance Car Show, we decide it is time for lunch, so we go to the J D Wetherspoons that is located at the NEC to rest our legs and have some food. We locate a table to enable us to browse the menu and get a table number to order lunch. We see the prices on the menu, and discover that being located at the NEC has somehow managed to make Wetherspoons raise it's prices considerably, so we decide to hold on for lunch and make our way to Birmingham. We make our way from the halls, back along the travellator, back to the Birmingham International Railway Station. We have about fifteen minutes to wait before our train to the City arrives, and we board the London Midland service to Birmingham New Street for a quick ride back to the city, or so we thought. Along the way there is a problem with an alarm on the train and we are stranded at a station until it is sorted out, which it eventually is and it is not long before we make our way to New Street. We arrive in Birmingham and walk via New Street to J D Wetherspoons public house located in Bennetts Hill, "The Briar Rose", where we both opt for a Beer and a Burger Meal, and a chance for Mr SBI to rest his now aching feet.

We are fed and watered, and decide to make our way back towards Stourbridge, so we pick up our bag of freebies, which Mr WME seems to have hide his bag amongst mine, and make our way to Birmingham Snow Hill. Just before we reach the station, the rain decides to show itself, but we get to the station without being soaked and after a short wait we board our train to Stourbridge Junction. Before the train pulls away, I have downloaded a Google Maps App to my Blackberry, and after noticing that when you open the app, it locates where you are, we spend most of the journey back looking at the phone and seeing the blue dot move along the screen. The train pulls up at Rowley Regis where Mr WME reminisces about Andy running for the train in a Superman style and literally jumping through the doors before they shut. Shortly after, we arrive back at Stourbridge Junction, where we change to the Parry's People Mover to get to Stourbridge Town. Upon arrival, we make our way to the temporary bus stands to catch Service 276A, which is operated by Black Diamond, and it is not long on the bus, where we get off close to Mary Stevens Park, to enable myself to get some cash from the "One Stop" shop. We have a bit of time to kill, so we walk to The Longlands Tavern, in Western Road, a pub that Mr WME had been to before, and wanted to return. We arrive and see that people are in the pub, but the pub is closed, so we head to the other public house that we were going to visit after, which is just literally a stone's throw away in Cleveland Street, "The Garibaldi". We head to the pool room part of the pub, where Mr WME gets his wish, it is time for darts. Remembering that when we tried playing before that we weren't that good, we decide to play "101", and after a few hits of the wall, instead of the board, we get down to the stage of hitting doubles to win the game. After a few attempts and getting no where, we decide just to score the points rather than doubles. After the four matches, Mr WME wins with the score being 3-1, and he even finished one game with a fluke score of 38!!!

We have an hour before we get to meet Mr UK Buses, so we head along Clifton Street and go to "The New Inns", in Cherry Street. We order our drinks and sit down to rest Mr SBI's even more aching feet (see picture left), whilst looking through the latest copy of "Ales and Tales", CAMRA's local magazine. We have a bit of relaxing time here, where we are keeping ourselves warm next to the fire. We have a chat about our time out over the weekend, and we both agree that our public house over the weekend was "The Swan" in Chaddersley Corbett, both for friendliness and the bar staff and her dress!! Not long to go, so we get ourselves ready for our little trip up South Road, to make our way to meet up with Mr UK Buses.

It only takes us about five minutes to get to "The Old White Horse", which is still known locally as "The Harvester", even though this hasn't been one for about three years and is now owned by "Crown Carveries". We happen to make it in time ans see Mr UK Buses at the bar, so due to his unfortunate timing and good timing by Mr WME and myself, it is his turn to buy the round!!!! After Mr UK Buses wallet has an heart attack, we sit down at the bar and say our hello's properly. It is not long before a table is spotted empty, so we sit down more comfortably, and chat about the weekend, and Mr UK Buses tells us of his visit down to London (Wembley Stadium), to see the Snooker Masters Championships, and asked us if we saw him on the TV. After finishing our drinks we head across the road to "The Plough and Harrow", where we have a lovely seat right next to the burning fire and carry on our conversation and about our planned weekend away to Weymouth in the summer. We have another round of drinks and a cheers photo (See picture right), and then make our way back to "The Old White Horse" for a very quick half before Mr UK Buses gets a lift back home and Mr WME and myself catch the 276C back to town. We make our way to the stand and see that Mr WME's Diamond Bus is awaiting for his Service 256 back to Wolverhampton, but my Service 276A arrives beforehand, which I catch to get back home and rest my aching feet for the rest of the evening.

Another good day out, which completes our fantastic weekend. Not long to go before our first 2011 trip for the WARP's.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

2011 - Day Out 1: Chaddesley and Cleobury

Date: Saturday 15 January 2011

It is time for the first trip of 2011. and what better way to start it off with a trip from 2010! Mr WME and Mr SBI attempt to try the trip that was originally planned for December which was called off because of that white stuff - Snow, but there was no snow in sight today, so it is time for Mr WME and Mr SBI to meet up.

And meet up they did, Mr WME made his way from Wolverhampton to meet Mr SBI at 9am at Stourbridge Town Railway Station, but due to the change of terminus of National Express West Midlands 256 service, it is just slightly later, so it is straight to the ticket office to get our tickets. A return to Kidderminster is purchased and we board the Parry's People Mover to get our connecting train at Stourbridge Junction. Trains changed and we discuss if we risk the dark clouds above, which we do, so it now a discussion at which railway station to stop at, Hagley or Blakedown.

A station is chosen, and we get off our train at Blakedown, a station that we have both passed through several times, but have never actually set foot on a platform. Mr WME is in his element, taking photographs of the station signs, platforms, and a junction box, which I must say I have never actually noticed before. Photographs over, we start our first walk of the year and we make our way down to Blakedown village, where upon arrival, Mr WME gets his camera out again to take more photographs, this time of the Post Office, and Blakedown's main public house, The Old House at Home. We make our way to our first village on our long walk, Belbroughton, so we make our way along Belbroughton Road, where Mr SBI spots the direction sign and realises that the distance to Belbroughton is longer than if we had got off the train at Hagley. No turning back now, we head up the hill and arrive at the crossroads at Hackman's Gate. We head straight on and down Hackman's Gate Lane, where we have a little walk and talk, and it is not that long before we arrive in the village of Belbroughton.

Before we actually get to the village Mr SBI leads Mr WME on a loop up Church Hill to get a look at the Holy Trinity Church. We walk into the Village where Mr WME gets his camera out yet again and takes photographs of The Talbot Hotel and more of the village itself. This is a good time for Mr SBI to pop into the village shop and get refreshment, a banana and strawberry smoothie. After time spent in the village and mid point of our walk, we carry on back through the village and pass The Queens and head up Drayton Road, to get to our finish point of the walk, Chaddesley Corbett. We walk up the hill just out of Belbroughton and it is not long before we come across Drayton, a small hamlet, where Mr SBI has a mini-break, whilst Mr WME takes a couple of photographs of The Robin Hood public house. We carry on along Drayton Road, where we have a chat as we walk, where Mr SBI spots a boot at the roadside, and the other boot is located not far away. Mr SBI brings up the question of "How is it that on roadsides up and down the country, why is it that if there is a sock at the side of the road, there is never another one to accompany it?", we walk a little along the road and Mr SBI comes across something which looks like a crumpled up sock, to prove his point, but upon picking up the crumpled mess, it appears to be a pair of knickers (Bridget Jones Style may I add), and they are quickly thrown back on the ground and hands wiped on Mr WME's coat. Further up the road, we spotted an odd trainer - the other one does not seem to be around! After what seems a short walk we arrive at Chaddesley Corbett, a village about the same size of Belbroughton, but seems to be a little bit busier, the walk from Blakedown is just under six miles - what a walk for the new year!

We have a little walk down the main street of the village and along the A448 as far as The Fox public house, to find out where the bus stop is to catch later on, none can be found, so we assume that we just hail the bus down, so we head back to the main village, where Mr WME is in photographic mode taking photographs of The Talbot and The Swan, where we decide to have a rest and lunch. The Swan is a public house owned by the Batham's Brewery, and we opt for the lounge to rest our feet, which is a spacious room. We have a look around our surroundings and then we spot the barmaid of the day to serve us our drinks (this was decided before we even finished our trip!), and we order our food to give us energy for the afternoon part of our trip. Mr WME opts for the faggot and peas, whilst Mr SBI has the scampi and chips, both good portions and worth the money paid. It is nearly one o'clock and we head to the main road and get our bus, First operated X3 which arrives on time, and stops for us upon hailing it down, and takes us to Kidderminster. We shortly arrive in Kidderminster, where Mr WME decides to take a photograph of the Town Hall, where we suddenly hear a shout of "1869", which is some pleasant bloke telling us that was the year it was built and that there is only one other original building in Kidderminster (the bank past the bullring), before everything was redeveloped in the 20th Century. Did you also know that the church was originally built in the 10th Century and is open most Saturdays, so that you can have a look around, neither did we, but this bloke told us. After our local history learnt, our bus, service 2A arrives and takes us to Bewdley.

We arrive in Bewdley, and we get off just before The Great Western, a public house that Mr WME wants a photograph of. Pictures taken, we walk into the town past The Black Boy Hotel, and over the bridge, where the level of the river can be seen, which is a high level today. We carry on through the town, to our next refreshment stop, which Mr SBI thinks it is going to be a public house that he has visited before, but instead of stopping at The Woodcolliers, we head up the side of the pub, a little street called Wyre Hill, and after a few minutes we are both running out of steam due to the gradient of the hill, but we arrive at a little back street establishment called The Black Boy, but this is not the big hotel which we past earlier. We head into the lounge where we have a drink, and rest our feet and get our breath back. The pub has a few people in and they all seem to be a friendly bunch. Our breath is back and it is time to head back into the town, where we have to catch our next bus, Service 292 to get us to our next destination, Cleobury Mortimer. We wait at the stop opposite The Angel, and wait, and wait, but our bus eventually turns up, fifteen minutes late, and we head to Cleobury, past the Wyre Forest, The Hope Pole Inn and the Far Forest before we arrive at Cleobury Mortimer.

We get off our bus before the main village and head into The Bell, a pub that doesn't stand out, but it was a good find by Mr WME, where we have a drink in the bar. The pub seems small from the outside, but it does house a bar, lounge and a pool room towards the back. The regulars are friendly enough and after a quick break we head back out to the village. We head round to the church and notice that I have already been to Cleobury when I was younger on the way back from trips to Ludlow and Clee Hills. We decide to have another refreshment break and head into The Kings Arms Hotel before catching the 292 back to Kidderminster. After our stop, we head up the hill to the bus stop, and we decide that a bladder stop is needed, and sneak in and out of The Talbot before getting back to the stop. Luckily the bus is late and did not arrive whilst we had our bladder break, after about five more minutes the bus arrives and we hop on for our ride back. I decide to log onto the net, to find out the Wolves score, but Mr WME did not want to know, and I did keep my promise, it was a shame that the old gentlemen at the back of the bus shouted it out to someone and Mr WME did find out the score in the end. We arrive back in Kidderminster by the Town Hall, which was built in 1869, and we make our way up Comberton Hill, where we discover Subway has closed, but a KFC has opened opposite, and we arrive at the railway station just in time to catch our train back to Stourbridge.

Cheers - To the first day out of 2011
We change at Stourbridge Junction, and arrive at Stourbridge Town, where we gladly walk to the bus stop at the same time as NXWM's 246 arrives, which we catch to Amblecote and visit one of our favourites, The Swan at Brettel Lane. We have a drink there, and find out that someone I worked with once was working behind the bar. A few songs are selected on the Jukebox, one of them obviously is Metallica, which gives us time to have a relaxing drink. After our drinks are finished, we walk the back streets towards Wordsley to our next refreshment stop, and we pass The Oakfield Tavern, well the remains of a once proud standing pub, as we later found out that it was demolished just hours before! We carry on our way and arrive in John Street, the location of our next public house, The Bird in Hand. We decide to sit in the lounge and find out that the pub is quite a relaxing pub, with the bar being different, where it seems more busy, with darts being played. Back to the lounge and time for a cheers photo (see left), and Mr SBI actually finds out how to use the camera indoors, and we decide to use the only table that seems to be decorated with a lacy tablecloth, and christen it the lovers corner, but not for us! 

Drinks finished, we head back onto the main street and into Wordsley itself, where we have time to have a quick half in The Queens Head, before catching our bus back to Wolverhampton. Mr SBI thinks that he has enough time for a quick cigarette break, but for once, the bus seems to arrive early, and has to put it out to enable us to catch the bus. We head through Kingswinford, Wombourne and Penn and arrive back in the city, and walk to another favourite of ours, The Giffard Arms, where we have our last refreshment stop of the day. After we finish our drinks, it is back to Mr WME's house to finish off the day with a Chinese to eat whilst watching Match of the Day, after which we retire ready for our visit to The Performance Car Show / Autosport International.

Another brilliant day out, and a great start to 2011. It is looking like this year will be a great one if this trip is anything to go by.