Tuesday, 9 August 2011

2011 - Day Out 17: Warwickshire

Date: Saturday 30 July 2011

Hyacinth's Bungalow from Keeping Up Appearances
It's the last Saturday of July, and how can we celebrate it, the WARP's get together. So the first bus of the day is National Express West Midlands Service 276, on which Mr UKBuses boards (he was at the stop at the right time this trip!), and we make our way to Stourbridge Junction, where we have to wait to get on the train as the conductor had to sort out his cup of coffee first. Eventually we board and shortly we arrive at Smethwick Galton Bridge, where we change platforms so that we catch the London Midland Wolverhampton to Birmingham service. We wait on Platform 4 towards where the front of the train will be. The train arrives and as predicted, Mr WME is in the first carriage. Mr UKBuses and myself board and say our hello's to Mr WME. The gang is nearly complete, and Mr D9 had text us to say he is in Birmingham New Street, so upon arrival, I make my way to the smoking area, whilst Mr UKBuses and Mr WME search for a D9. I finish my break and rejoin the search, and he is then spotted the other side of the ticket barriers. The gang is now complete and we can make our way to Warwickshire, our area for the day.

First off, we make our way to Coventry, so we catch the 0930 Virgin Train service. We try and find a seat, but the carriage is a bit packed so Mr WME and Mr D9 sit further down the carriage. Mr UKBuses decides it is a perfect opportunity to take a bald spot photo, so he sneaks down the carriage with his camera ready and he would have got away with it, except that the flash went off and Mr D9 noticed! We arrive in Coventry and as we get off the train I take the mickey out of Mr D9's bald spot without realising that the bloke in front of me is bald - oops!! We make a bald, sorry, bold move to the front of the railway station at Coventry, and walk straight onto the National Express Coventry Service 27 "Bendibus", which will take us to Coventry's Pool Meadow bus station. The journey is going okay on the back of the bendibus, until Mr D9 sees the front of the bus turn, which makes him feel a little bit sick. Luckily, its not that far and we soon arrive in Pool Meadow, and as we make our way through the bus station, we head up Trinity Street to catch our bus to take us to our next location, Stagecoach Warwickshire's Service 86 to Binley Woods.

We make our way out to Coventry, and we arrive shortly after at Binley Woods and we alight our bus at Heather Road. We walk down the street, and on our left hand side is the residence of the bucket household, or more accurately Hyacinths from Keeping Up Appearances. We walk past taking a sly shot or two of the house ready to run down the road just in case she apprehends us. After visiting the bucket residence we make our way to the main road and at the 86 bus stop to take us on a short journey. We have a little bit to wait and Mr D9's bladder is kicking in, I do offer to stand in front of the bin, but then realise it would not be a good idea as there is another hole in the side of the bin and I'd have wet legs!!! The 86 arrives, and we make our way up to Binley and alight just outside Morrison's. We have to wait just over ten minutes so this gives Mr D9 a chance to visit the toilet in the store, and as he makes his way back, he decides to have a race with an old woman riding a mobility scooter, he overtakes her on the crossing and arrives back at the stop refreshed. Our next bus is NXC's Service 4 which will take us to Stoke Aldermoor. We are on the lookout for Mitchell Close, it is a good job that I am in the seat travelling backwards, as we make our way through the estate, we pull up at a bus stop, and with the rest of the WARP's looking out, I notice that we have just passed it, so we all make a dash to the door and alight.

The Onslow Residence
We have a few steps to make and we are standing at the end of Mitchell Close, looking up the road and a few houses up on the left, we spot Onslow's house. We walk up the street, and we all sneak our camera's out to take a picture and we are prepared to run as this estate doesn't look to friendly. We walk to the top of the street and have a look at Pinley Gardens, a park that is for use of residents of the estate. After a quick look round we walk back down Mitchell Close and back to our bus stop. It is just before midday, and our NXC Service 3A arrives and takes us back to Coventry. We soon arrive back in the city and decide it is time for lunch, so a quick walk up Trinity Street takes us to J D Wetherspoons "The Royal Standard", drinks ordered we find a table to peruse the menu's, which there was no point of looking at them as we all opt for our usual meals. Mr WME and Mr D9 do the honours of ordering the meals, and when they came back Mr D9 had no room to eat as all the menus ended up on his side of the table for a meeting, even though he did try and make a bit of space by taking to wearing them, or was this a ruse to stop bald spot photo's being taken. Food finished, and a quick visit for everyone to the loo, we head out of the Wetherspoons and have a bit of time to spare, so we have a little walk around to the Cathedral, where Mr D9 and myself reported in to our other halves. After a walk around the cathedral ruins, in which Mr WME decided the bald spot was exclusively for him by knocking people out of the way whilst trying to take a photo of the polished bald spot, we walk back to Trinity Street and our bus stop, with Mr D9 transforming into a "Cone Head", pleasing the local natives along the way. It was now time to get to our next destination, Warwick.

Cheers! In the Punchbowl, Warwick
We board our bus, Stagecoach Warwickshire's Service X18, which took us through Leamington Spa, a place we would be visiting later in the day. After a journey of 40 minutes, we arrive in Warwick, so we have a walk through the town and through the market, and take a little time to visit "The Warwick Museum", where after a walk around, we find Bruce's big brother, and on our way out of the museum, we bump into Mr UKBuses, oh sorry I was mistaken, it was a collection of old fossils. We have a further walk around the town, and we pass a plastic cow along the way before arriving at a pub that Mr WME picked up on his pub radar, so we head into "The Punch Bowl", Mr UKBuses doesn't take this opportunity to buy a round as this was also a cheap place, with a pint of bitter priced under £2. So far today, we have had very sunny weather, but the rest of the day's weather could turn bleak as Mr D9 decides to give us a rendition of Tom Jone's "Delilah", but at least Mr WME decided to take this distraction and use it to his advantage by swapping pints with Mr D9 (unbeknown to him) having a few sips before swapping the pints back over. With Mr D9 singing and finishing his pint (or what's left of it!), we decide to leave the pub before the landlord chucks us out and head back to the bus station. We arrive and find out that the G1, which was our next bus we had to catch, can not serve the bus station due to roadworks in the area, so I ask a driver on the X17 where we catch the G1 from, and after explaining to me, Mr UKBuses decides to catch the X17 to Leamington Spa, so after boarding the bus and showing my ticket, I get a response from the driver - "I thought you wanted the G1!", I quickly make my way to the back of the bus.

Lounging in a darkened Jug and Jester!
We make our way to Leamington Spa on Stagecoach Warwickshire's X17, and after a ride of just over twenty minutes, we arrive in Leamington Spa, and we sample the newly opened JD Wetherspoons, "Jug and Jester", where as we wait at the bar, Mr WME walks in and goes directly to another bar and gets served straight away, Mr D9 and myself have the same idea, with Mr UKBuses still waiting and then nearly getting into an argument as he is accused by one of the local natives of pushing the queue. Whilst the fracas is nearly taking place, the rest of the WARP's take rest in an area by the window, with Mr WME and myself taking advantage of some very high backed chairs. After a couple of minutes, Mr UKBuses escapes from the fracas that he nearly caused at the bar, and as he takes his seat he decides to start a fresh fracas by having a wrestle with the artificial plants. I can assure all readers that no artificial plants were harmed on this trip, but Mr UKBuses is now having counselling. After a rest we finish our drinks, and have a little wander around Leamington Spa, before heading back to the bus stop and we use Stagecoach Warwickshire's X17 service again, which takes us back into Coventry.

Winding down in The Windmill.
After a brief ride through Kenilworth along the way, we arrive back in Coventry, Mr WME's pub radar has picked something up, so as we get off the bus, Mr WME is nearly nowhere to be seen as he is virtually around the corner, and we catch up with him for a short walk, where we arrive at The Windmill, a medieval looking pub with a biker atmosphere. After a quick visit for a bladder stop, drinks are ordered and we find a seat. There are little cubby holes in The Windmill and it turns out that the pub could actually be a maze as there seems to be a load of little rooms all over the place. After our visit to The Windmill, we duly leave after our pints are supped and we return to the bus stop, where Mr WME and Mr D9 decide to have a walk through the centre of Coventry. Mr UK Buses and myself decide to wait and catch Stagecoach Warwickshire's X16 back to Pool Meadow, which only takes a couple of minutes after boarding. We get off the bus at Trinity Street, where Mr WME is already there, and soon after we see Mr D9 who appears to be a little out of breath. We have a short walk back to Pool Meadow Bus Station to catch our last bus of the day.

It is just after 18:15 and our Central Connect "Signature" turned up to take us to Solihull on Service 82, but instead of the Signature, we end up with a "Bus2Work", something that all of us don't really want to catch as it is a Saturday and our day off work! We are on our way to Solihull, and we pass through a favourite village of mine, Meriden and pass through Hampton in Arden, a place that Mr WME and myself visited a couple of months previously. Not long after Hampton, we arrive back at Solihull and we are dropped off just outside the railway station. Arriving a couple of minutes earlier than planned, a few photographs are taken in a hectic looking station, with all the evening buses arriving at what it seems the same time before they make there way back to the depot. We all make our way to the platform where our London Midland train arrives to take us back home. Before Mr D9 leaves us at The Hawthorns, Mr WME manages to set up his camera on timer to take a sneak shot of the bald spot in what I can only describe as a classic move. After saying goodbye to Mr D9, it is now time to say goodbye to Mr WME at Smethwick Galton Bridge, with Mr UKBuses and myself staying on the train to Stourbridge Junction.

After arriving at the junction, we change platforms where we catch "The Dodger" back to Stourbridge Town and then our last bus of the day, Black Diamond's Service 276A back home. It has been another cracking day out with Mr WME on top form for sneaking the bald spot pictures throughout the day. Good weather throughout with good company, thanks for the excellent day fellow WARP's.

The "D9" Bald Spot Pictures:

The first sneaky shot of the day taken on the Virgin Train to Coventry.

The second sneaky shot of the day, taken outside The Warwick Museum.

The third sneaky shot of the day taken on the X17 between Leamington Spa and Coventry. The sun had been out all day and gives a nice glow to the bald spot of Mr D9.

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