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.

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