Sunday, 18 September 2011

2011 - DayOut 23: Worcestershire

Date: Saturday 17 September 2011

It is our second time out in September, and it is a welcome return for Mr D9, who has not been seen on a SBI day out since July. Today's day out will be a Whittle's Day covering Worcestershire and a little bit of Shropshire.

Fist of all, I meet up with Mr UKBuses outside the shops along The Broadway in Norton. From there we have a little walk up to the main Stourbridge to Kidderminster Road, known locally as Norton Road, where we get to our bus stop for the first journey of the day, after seeing two National Express West Midlands Service 276 buses nearly having a fight as they come out / enter the nearby Whittington Road, our bus is behind and pulls up to our stop and we board. We catch Whittle's Service 125 from Stourbridge to Bridgnorth which operates via Norton and Broadwaters, we are only catching this journey as far as Kidderminster and our section follows Midland Red's old service 305 route between Stourbridge and Kidderminster, a bit of route that Mr UKBuses is relishing. We arrive in Kidderminster at around 0945, so as we alight in Kidderminster Bus Station, we have the opportunity to take a few photographs, mainly Whittle's vehicles, before we decide to have a quick look around the town centre before the arrival of Mr D9. We make our way back to the bus station and Mr D9 duly arrives on a service 192 bus, also operated by Whittle's, albeit about ten minutes late, and as we walk around the bus station to greet him, he is nowhere to be seen as we near the bus, he has walked around the bus station to greet us, in the opposite direction, but as we turn around he is at the other end of the bus station and he duly puts his arms in the air. The ARM (Andy, Roger and Mark) gang is now complete, and we have a little time to wait for our next journey, so we go to a nearby Cafe Nero, where I opt for the standard coke and a "Portuguese Custard", basically a normal British egg custard which has been hit by an hammer! Mr D9 opts for a normal black coffee, and Mr UKBuses seems to have gone upmarket and opts for a Muffin with a Cappichino. A quick visit to the toilet before we set off (which seems to be located in the Stourbridge branch!), we head back to the bus station for our next bus. We have time for a quick cigarette before our bus arrives and Mr D9 asks me for a light, before I look up and realise he is smoking on a plastic cigarette, loaded with a supply of nicotine!!

Cheers! In the Jewel of The Severn at Bridgnorth
It is now just before 1045am, and our next bus arrives, Whittle's Service 125, which will take us to Bridgnorth, which means we have covered the whole of the route today. We head through Bewdley, Button Oak, Highley and Eardington before arriving at our destination of Bridgnorth. As we head into the main town, we pass the Severn Valley Railway station, where we also see one of their trains heading out of the station towards Kidderminster. The journey has taken just over one hour and also a spot of D9 driving has been shown my Mr D9 himself. Mr D9 has also broken the rules on the bus along the way by having a "plastic" cigarette, but has he, as there is no smoke! We alight just before the main high street in Bridgnorth High Town, and we decide it is time for dinner, and we head to our first J D Wetherspoons of the day, and we duly head to Bridgnorth's "Jewel of The Severn", see picture left. We get a round in first, and it is indeed a first as Mr UKBuses decides to purchase the first round, I hope he isn't coming down with anything. Drinks purchased by Mr UKBuses, we find a seat and peruse the menu. Mr D9 and myself have a little wager that Mr UKBuses will have his Chicken Tikka Masala, and he proves us wrong when he opts for his now standard BBQ Chicken Melt (without the cheese!), whilst Mr D9 fuels himself for the rest of the day opting for the Gourmet Burger, and I have my now standard Beer and Burger. We don't have to wait too long before our food arrives and we tuck in. We are now fed for the rest of the day, and Mr D9 has eaten his onions, so his gas tank is full for the rest of the day, which is bad news for us. We make our way down toward The Bear public house, which is where we have to catch our next bus. As we wait, the sky goes dark and it duly starts to rain. There is no shelter nearby so we have to wait in the rain, but Mr UKBuses seems to be standing in someones doorway, and as it rains faster he further edges towards the front door, which means I can take a little shelter from the rain, but Mr D9 is still stuck in the downpour, but as he waits he looks in the front window, and is surprised that Mr UKBuses isn't comfy sitting in the unfortunates house owner's armchair, with his feet up in front of the fire, whilst puffing away on a pipe, as I look round he is virtually in their hallway!

Mr UKBuses pointing out the good old days!
Ten minutes later than planned, our return bus arrives and we board Whittle's service 125 again, but this time we will only be travelling as far as Bewdley. The bus makes his way out of Bridgnorth, with Mr D9 deciding to wave at someone out of the window as we leave. We make our way back through Eardington, with the driver trying to catch up time and doing his impression of Jenson Button along the way. We reach Highley, where the sun is now shining away and as we arrive we decide to stop on the bus as we don't find the village "Highley" interesting, the only good thing about Highley during our time on the bus as we pass through it is the smell from the chip shop, but this is quickly masked by Mr D9's "gourmet gas", which has started pumping from his body. We make our way out of Highley passing through Button Oak before arriving back in Bewdley. We have a quick browse around whilst making our way up Load Street, where we arrive outside our second J D Wetherspoons location "The George Hotel", and as we arrive at the bar, Mr D9 decides it is time for him to buy a round, and I'm not complaining. We head towards the front of the pub and we find a nice comfy settee to rest our legs, which is situated between the entrance to the hotel and the hotel reception. Before we get comfortable, Mr UKBuses decides to move the empty coffee cups off our table and places them amongst the display advertising the Christmas Fayre that will be available over the coming months in the run up to the main event. Before we get comfortable, I try and get a "Cheers!" photograph, but I have the wrong setting on my camera and duly get a video instead, results which can be seen below. Mr D9 and Mr UKBuses reminisce about their time at National Express West Midlands before we have to make our way to the bus stop, Mr D9 removes the empty coffee cups out of the Christmas display before we leave. Mr UKBuses must have a vision from his previous life and the explanation on the sign says it all, see picture above right. We make our way down Load Street to the bus stop for our next journey. We wait and wait, and it looks like we will be missing our connecting trip in Kidderminster, but our bus finally turns up, twenty minutes late.

Cheers! The ARMS in The Queens Head, Wolverley
We board Whittles Service 125 again and it takes us the short distance between Bewdley and Kidderminster, as we arrive in Kidderminster, the bus takes us to the stops situated outside of the Swan Centre, so I come up "with a interesting plan..." It is just before 1500 hours, and our next bus is due to leave the bus station at 1500 hours, we decide to have a little gamble and get off Whittle's service 125 at the Swan Centre, and after looking at the timetable on the stop, our next bus visits here, and after a minute our next bus, Whittle's Service 7 arrives, which takes us to Wolverley via Huscott and Sion Hill. As we pass through the little estates en route, Mr UKBuses decides to point out a few of the old Midland Red clay bus stops, and when we are around the Sion Hill area, I notice a block of flats that I think was residence to my auntie when I was a little toddler all of them years ago. We make our way through Sion Hill, and arrive just outside of Wolverley, and we alight outside of The Lock, a pub which is situated right next to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal and as the name says a big lock. My round now and the barmaid has to wait as Mr D9 and Mr UKBuses decide to visit the toilet at the same time and the choices are made after they made their visit, Mr UKBuses opts for the Boondoggle and Mr D9, Banks's Bitter. The weather is good at the moment, so we decide to sit outside of the pub, which is a pleasant choice as we have the canal boats going by and the traffic on the main road. We finish our drinks and decide to use the emergency plan and spend more time in Wolverley. We walk around to the other Wolverley pub, The Queens Head, see picture left, Mr D9's gas is coming through aplenty en route. Mr UKBuses recovers from buying his first round today, and then tries to make me pay for this round, even though I have just brought a round in, it seems Mr UKBuses is back to his normal self! We have a bit of time to spend in Wolverley, so we decide that a few games of pool are needed. Mr UKBuses and myself go first, and after a game full of snookers thanks to Mr UKBuses, I win. I head outside the back door after this for a cigarette break and find out that there is a lovely beer garden towards the rear of the pub, something that I have not noticed before. Whilst I have my cigarette, Mr D9 plays Mr UKBuses at pool, and Mr D9 is victorious despite Mr UKBuses using "tactics" by snookering him - well he did have an easy attempt of doing this as most of his balls were still on the table, Mr D9 decided to use tactics of his own and the help of his bottom with the gourmet gas causing a stink. I finally get to play Mr D9, and after a game where Mr UKBuses is creeping around with his camera, Mr D9 beats me. Pool over, a further round of drinks are purchased and with still time left, we swap the pool cues for darts, where Mr UKBuses and Mr D9 play against each other, due to my lack of darting skills, I opt to keep the scores. Mr D9 wins again. We have a few minutes to spare, so we have a quick "bullseye" game of trying to score 101 in six darts or less. I'm afraid none of us were able to manage it, so we were awarded with our "BFH - Bus Fare Home". And as we collect our BFH, we make our way to the bus stop, where more gourmet gas is escaping and our Whittle's Service 7 arrives to take us back into Kidderminster. We pass through the estates on this newly operated route, with Mr UKBuses playing "spot the clay post" along the way, and this starts me D9 thinking about a new hobby and looking at researching the old routes of Kidderminster, to see where these clay stops would have been located. We arrive back in Kidderminster with a few minutes to spare before catching our Service 125 back to Stourbridge, Mr UKBuses and myself try and get off the bus quickly as Mr D9 has "dropped one" and smelt the back of the bus out.

Cheers, The Boys are Back in The Bell, Stourbridge.
We use the time waiting for our next bus, by taking some more photographs around the bus station in the dying light, with Mr D9 having a little run to the nearby Tesco's to relieve his bladder for the journey ahead. Considering that the Whittle Service 125 has been behind time for most of the day, Mr D9 should have plenty of time, but disaster nearly strikes and our bus turns up on time. After a little plea with the driver (and contacting Mr D9 on his phone at the same time), the driver helpfully waits, and the passengers keep an eye out to see why the bus is waiting at the station, and Mr D9 emerges from the Tesco car park and into the bus station, doing a bit of limbo underneath a fence along the way, and he bounds across the bus station and onto the waiting service 125 to a howl of cheers from the other passengers as he boards. After Mr D9's jaunt across the car park, he takes a few minutes to get his breath back, and we make our way towards Stourbridge, and there are a few people aboard this bus, which must be one of Whittle's main earners considering the number of people that have been aboard the service throughout the day. We make our way past Broadwaters, and along to Norton passing The Old Waggon and Horses, and also The Crown at Iverley along the way. As we head towards Norton, Mr UKBuses points out one more clay post, this time in Stourbridge, hidden in a bush behind the Norton sign. We pass The Old White Horse and down Worcester Street and onto the ring road, where we alight and make our way to The Bell, see picture right. Drinks purchased we make our way into the old pool room, and take our seats. Mr D9 and myself seem to choose the correct sofa, whilst Mr UKBuses decides to opt for one that likes to eat him as we see his legs in the air and being pulled towards the back. Mr UKBuses and myself have another reminisce about our time working in The Bell years previously, deciding the layout of the present Bell seems to have been improved since our time, but the decor has lost it's traditional feel with current bright wallpaper / paint on the walls. It is nearly time for us to head back home, but we decide to have one last drink and something to eat, so we walk up Stourbridge High Street, before finally ending up in our last Wetherspoons of the Day, "The Chequers Inn", where we order drinks and Mr UKBuses and myself opt for the beer and burger deal with us both having the Chicken Burger variety. As Mr D9 orders at the bar, his "gourmet gas" is still pumping which makes me head quickly towards our seats, the bar is a no-go area for the next five minutes. Our meals arrive and as they do, Mr D9's taxi has arrived and so we say goodnight to him. Not long after we have finished our meals, Mr UKBuses and myself head towards the temporary stops in Birmingham Street, stopping along the way to look at the progression in construction of the new Stourbridge Interchange. After a ten minute wait, our final bus of the day, Black Diamond's service 276A arrives and takes us home to rest our feet.

Another good day out has been had which is due to the good company of Mr D9 and Mr UKBuses (Thanks!!), and who have made the day go by with the funny antics, stories and laughter throughout the day. We will all meet again in October, where we hope to make a visit to the capital of England, London, and if today's trip is anything to go by, it will be a stonker.

Before I go, it is time for one last thing.........

Andy's Bald Cranium (ABC)

The Bald Spot in Bridgnorth

Bald Spot One: This is taken in Bridgnorth, this would have been a classic shot, but the rain stopped play.

The Bald Spot in Bewdley

Bald Spot Two: This is taken in Bewdley, a shot taken with the help of Mr UKBuses, who kept Mr D9 talking.

The Bald Spot in Wolverley

Bald Spot Three: This is taken in Wolverley as we make our way from the bus to The Lock.

The Bald Spots in The Queens Head

Bald Spot Four: Here we are in The Queens Head, Wolverley, where Mr D9 seems to have grown another head and treats us to two bald spots, in which his skin on top of his head(s) seeming to appear a lot smoother, oh hang on I've just realised where this is, I must have been slightly knocked out whilst taking a picture of Mr D9's bald spot and about to hit the ground when he gassed us with his "gourmet gas".

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