Sunday, 1 May 2011

2011 - Day Out 9: Wolverhampton

Date: Saturday 30 April 2011

Our first port of call - DudleyIt's the end of a glorious April and the sun keeps shining for the last trip in April this year. I catch the 08:56 National Express West Midlands Service 276, where I purchase a NBus One Day ticket for our trip today, from Wollaston, and the bus picks up Mr UKBuses along the route. We arrange to meet Mr D9 in Dudley, so we decide to be lazy and stay on the bus for a full journey of the 276 into Dudley. After a journey time of just over 1 hour and 10 minutes, we arrive at Dudley bus station and have about 20 minutes to wait for Mr D9, so I make a visit to the station toilets, only to find that they are shut, and Mr UKBuses and myself have a walk round to the market place so that I can empty the bladder (in the market place toilets I assure you). We walk back to the bus station so that we are there to meet up with Mr D9 at 10:30, but we get a phone call to say he is running late.

Mr D9 at the cashpoint!
After another 15 minutes, Mr D9 turns up after getting off his National Express West Midlands Service 74, and with the gang for today together, the WAR's (The P will make a brief appearance later in the day) make their way through the stands to catch their next bus. We catch National Express West Midlands Service 527 to Wolverhampton, a long route that travels through Wren's Nest, Gornal Wood and Sedgley. We arrive in Wolverhampton where we get off the bus just before the Central Library, to see if the rumours are true and that "P", Mr WME, does do some work. We are in the library and Mr WME's main place of work, the reference section, is closed for refurbishment, so after looking in a couple of broom cupboards to see if he is shirking, we find him in the Learning Centre - actually doing some work, but we don't want to distract him from his job, so we decide to head to Wolverhampton's JD Wetherspoons, "The Moon Under Water" for lunch, but Mr D9 shocks us and actually pays a visit to the ATM on the way, where Mr UK Buses states that it must be his round first!

The WARP's at The Moon Under Water
After a short walk through Wolverhampton, we are in Lichfield Street and at the location of lunch, so we head to the bar to get our first drink of the day and Mr D9 recognises that barmaid from his visit's to McDonald's near home. Drinks purchased, Mr D9 and myself have a search around the pub, to find Mr UKBuses who has got us a table. After a couple of minutes we find him. It is time for lunch, and seeing as we are in Wetherspoons we decide to have a look what is on the menu. What shall we have? Looks like the usual!! Mr WME is on his lunch break and pops in to see the WAR's and so for just under an hour, the WARP's are complete. Mr WME turns up in time and we all order lunch, and he has his usual too. Mr D9 does the honours and orders for us, and after the food is ordered, Mr D9 decides to chat up the barmaid, with the classic chat-up line - "Didn't you used to work in McDonald's?" I don't think that worked but it did offer some amusement. Whilst waiting, we have a chat and catch up with Mr WME, and Mr UKBuses does the enforcements by taking the horseradish sauce off me and the salad cream off Mr WME. Dinner arrives and it all goes quiet as we eat up all our nosh. Plates cleared and it is nearly time for Mr WME to head back off to work, so before he pop's back, it is time for a photo, left, - Cheers!

The War's at The Robin Hood, Willenhall
Dinner over and it is time for our next destination, and Mr D9 makes a quick phone call, and the next destination is established, we walk to the nearest 529 stop which is located at the back of The Wheatsheaf, and after a few minutes of waiting, the National Express West Midlands service 529 turns up and driving us is the brother-in-law of the person who we are going to meet up with in Willenhall. We take our seats at the front of the bus, upper deck, and we make our way out of Wolverhampton, and after a short ride which is held up by some temporary traffic lights, we arrive in Willenhall town centre. We have a little further to travel, and Mr UKBuses spots the car of the person we are going to meet. The bus pulls out of the bus stop and we travel around the corner, where the bus is held up by said car, so we rush down stairs where we alight and climb into the car, and after a minute we arrive at our next pub. We clamber out of the car and head into "The Robin Hood", a pub which I think has just been reopened and is owned by Black Country Ales. The pub is situated on Willenhall Road, a couple of minutes from the town centre. We order our drinks and we have a drink with Ray, a work colleague of Mr D9 and Mr UKBuses, and Mr UKBuses comes with another quote of the day after he says to Ray that he has brought his mom a new iron, when asked why, he replies with the classic, "Well, I don't want to stop her from doing her weekend job". Ray finishes his drink off and makes his way to the football match at Bescot, and we finish off our drinks to make our way back to Wolverhampton, as can be seen right, - Cheers!

We make our way from The Robin Hood and to the nearest bus stop, which is a couple of minutes walk away, and along the way Mr UKBuses spots something that Network West Midlands have missed, a WMPTE bus stop, which is no longer used. We turn up at our bus stop and after a minute or so, our NXWM 529 turns up to take us back to the city, and our driver is the same as before, Ray's brother-in-law, we weren't expecting that! After making our way back into Wolverhampton, through the roadworks and temporary traffic lights, it is not long when we are back by The Wheatsheaf, and we need to have a little walk to Queens Street to get our next bus. We walk back by the new bus station in Wolverhampton, which is, having a few last finishing touches being made before opening to the public, which I believe will be in June or July. On the way, Mr UKBuses spots a place for Mr D9, a portaloo, so it is a photo opportunity for the D9'ster, it is a pity that Mr UKBuses didn't spot the post behind him, but he does when he turns around and begins to walk! We make our way to the Queens Street, and after Mr UKBuses is moaning about his knee, but Mr D9 and myself cannot stop laughing about it, we get on our next bus, NXWM service 255 which will take us to our next destination, Swindon.

The WAR's first visit to The Greyhound, Swindon
We make our way from Wolverhampton and we pass through Penn, down the main Penn Road, and we head through to Wombourne. After a ride through the village centre, we spend the next 5 to 10 minutes on the bus going through the Wombourne estates and through a couple of country lanes, which is quite nice in the sunshine, and we arrive in Swindon. The bus stop is situated right outside Marston's "The Greyhound", which a pub I have been past a few times but never visited, so we make our way inside and it is time for our third drink of the day. The pub seems to be a good local to have, with friendly staff and regulars. It is my round and Mr UKBuses pipes up "And don't forget the scratchings" just before I'm due to pay, a trick he has done several times before. We have a chat whilst supping our drinks and chew on the scratchings, and it is time for another photo, left, - Cheers! After our drinks have been supped we still have a bit of time left in Swindon, so we make our way through the village and decide to have a drink in another pub. Virtually opposite is "The Old Bush", but we decide to walk a bit further, down past the canal and we come to an old terminus which brings back memories to Mr D9. A few photographs are taken by Mr UKBuses of the terminus, and upon closer inspection we actually find a bus stop in the undergrowth, and it looks like that this terminus was used quite recently, with a "Travel West Midlands" sticker on the bus stop.

Opposite the terminus, is our second pub stop in Swindon, "The Green Man", a pub that I have visited before with Mr WME, and there has not been a lot of change to the pub since my last visit, which is quite good as it doesn't ruin the atmosphere of the pub, which was quite good the first time round. The sun is shining brightly now so we decide to sit on the bench outside the front of the pub, and opposite the old terminus which starts Mr D9 off with stories about the previous life of Mr UKBuses, and questions of "Can't you remember popping in this pub in the olden days before you were run over outside The Vauxhall". Mr UKBuses can't remember, but we have to sup up so that we can catch our next bus, and we walk back into the village where we are by The Old Bush, and we spot our bus, which despite the many attempts of getting the bus drivers attention, it goes flying past, so we have to kill another half hour in Swindon, so we make another visit to The Greyhound. To ensure that we don't miss the next bus, we sit on the bench outside the front so that we can see the next bus coming down the main road. We bask in the afternoon sun and it is time to make our way to the bus stop opposite ensuring that we catch this bus, and after a few minutes wait our next NXWM service 255 pulls up and lets us on.

We leave Swindon behind and we pass through a couple of country lanes, before the bus pulls up at the back end of Wallheath and spends a few minutes at the Blaze Park terminus before venturing on. After our brief stop in Wallheath, we spend another few minutes on the 255 and we arrive in Kingswinford, where we alight at the stop at the back of The Cross public house. We walk up Market Street and down a side street where we have our pub stop in Kingswinford and we sample a pint in "The Leopard", a pub down a side street but there are a few people in the pub, so it must be well known. Mr D9 and myself sample the toilets where we make it back into the room after sticking to the floor. A brief chat about the old times on the buses courtesy of Mr D9, we sup our drinks and make our way back to Market Street, where we catch our next bus. It is only a few minutes wait and we make our way back into Stourbridge, courtesy of NXWM's Service 256, which takes us through Dudley and Amblecote, where Mr UKBuses spots a few pubs along the way which he has never visited, looks like a local Stourbridge trip may be in order.

We arrive back in Stourbridge, where we decide to pay a visit to The Bell, so that Mr UKBuses and myself can do a Mr D9 and reminisce about the times that we worked in the pub, "back in the day", we do this whilst sitting in the conservatory and after finishing our drinks and getting nostalgic, we make our way up Stourbridge High Street and visit our last pub of the day, JD Wetherspoons' "The Chequers Inn", although we briefly pass through "The Edward Rutland" along the way without stopping. A table is found by the bar and Mr UKBuses spots Mr Tonks in the pub, who has himself spent a day in Bridgnorth before going on to host the "Saturday Nite Disco" on The Bridge later in the evening. We spend our last half hour together talking about our day out and how well it had gone.

It is now time to say our goodbyes, Mr D9 has bagged a lift and is waiting for his "taxi", whilst Mr UKBuses and myself make our way to Birmingham Street to catch our bus home, Black Diamond's Service 276C. Another good day out for the WAR's (P had a nice lunch hour), the weather held out for us and let;s hope the good weather continues for future trips.

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