Sunday, 4 December 2011

2011 - Day Out 34: Worcestershire - The Christmas Trip

Date: Saturday 03 December 2011

It is time for the last trip of 2011, and it has been decided to mark the event with an ARMS trip around Worcestershire and that can only mean one thing too - it is the Christmas trip!

We travelled around Worcestershire using First Buses
First off, I have to meet up with Mr UKBuses, so I head out from home and luckily this year the sun is starting to shine and there is no sign of snow this year and hopefully no chance of getting stranded as we nearly did on last year's Christmas outing. I make my way across Swan Pool Park and up The Broadway in Norton, where just after 0805am I meet up with Mr UKBuses by The Broadway Shops. We take a short walk up to Norton Round by the junction of Norton Road and Osmaston Road and wait for our first bus of the day. It is 0820am and our bus arrives which is Whittle's service 125 which will take us to Kidderminster. Mr UKBuses lets a couple of people on first and as he hears how much a return ticket will cost, he opts for it which means that he will save 70p when we catch the bus back later on in the day. Mr UKBuses is now happy as he has saved some money, he is always happy even when he saves a few pence. We take our seats and we make our way down Norton Road, passing through Iverley and Broadwaters near Kidderminster on a bus that is carrying quite a few passengers for the time of the journey on a Saturday morning. We pass the Kidderminster railway station, keeping an eye out for Mr D9 along the way. We arrive at the bus station in Kidderminster at 0840am, and I have my first "fresh air" break of the day whilst we wait for the arrival of Mr D9. He hasn't shown up, so to save waiting in the cold we make our way to the Cafe Nero nearby where Mr UKBuses has a cup of coffee to wake him up and seeing as Mr UKBuses doesn't like my Blackberry phone, he opts for a Blackberry Muffin for his breakfast, I opt for the diet Pepsi and Lemon Cupcake to keep me going. We get a seat by the window so that we may be able to spot Mr D9 in the bus station, but as we get comfortable, Mr D9 rings Mr UKBuses asking where we are, he has decided to go to the J D Wetherspoons, "The Penny Black" in Kidderminster for his coffee and bacon roll, he was expecting us to get off the bus at The Swan Centre stop. We all finish our breakfasts off in both locations and as we head outside of the Cafe Nero, Mr D9 can be spotted at the end of the alley from us.

The ARMs team is now complete ready for our traditional Worcestershire Christmas trip and we make our way around to the bus station where we will catch our first First Worcestershire bus of the day. We have a few minutes to wait before our bus is due, so we spend a bit of time to take a few photographs around the bus station, mainly Whittles buses as they seem to be the main operator around Kidderminster nowadays. Our first First bus of the day arrives and we board the 0915am First Worcestershire 303 service purchasing our FirstWyvern day ticket to use on the buses we catch throughout the day. We make our way from Kidderminster, passing through Hartlebury and Ombersley before we arrive at Worcester alighting at the bus station dead on 1000am. I am the first person to make a toilet stop and I dash to the toilets located in the station whilst Mr D9 and Mr UKBuses take a few photographs around the station. We then make our way through the city of Worcester, with Mr UKBuses leading the way, and we get confused when he stops ahead of us outside a "Private Shop", is he waiting for us or was he going to go in, it turns out that he was waiting for us to catch him up but I did have the phone ready to pre-order an ambulance if he stepped inside. We carry on and arrive at First Worcestershire's depot at Worcester which is located in Padmore Street. When we arrive the yard is empty except for a couple of School buses and one service bus, Mr D9 has a sneaky look inside the engineering bays from the pavement. After our brief tour looking around the depot, we head around the corner where we wait at a bus stop and we don't wait long as a bus arrives and takes us back to the bus station in Worcester. Time for a few more photographs and we head to our stand where our bus is waiting and we wait for the driver to come from the canteen where he has been keeping himself warm whilst we wait in the cold. The bus driver eventually turns up and we are ready to get out of the cold and catch our next bus.

We board First Worcestershire's service 144 where after getting out of the Christmas traffic in Worcester we pass through Droitwich Spa and Wychbold before arriving at Bromsgrove bus station after a journey time of forty minutes. Bromsgrove bus station will be our "hub" of the day as we will be visiting this place the most times today as it seems to link all the destinations that we visit today. We have a bit of time to kill in Bromsgrove before our next bus arrives so we decide to get out of the cold and visit our first pub of the day. We use the tradesman's entrance and visit The Red Lion where Mr D9 and myself are shocked as Mr UKBuses buys the first round of the day. After Mr D9 and myself come around from the shock, we pick ourselves up off the floor and find a table to rest and get warm whilst listening to some Christmas music in a packed pub which is filling up with some more Christmas shoppers from the High Street entrance. Mr UKBuses nearly downs his drink on his first sip, which means one of two things, he was either thirsty or he was in shock of having to buy the first round of the day. After finishing our drinks we make our way back out into the cold to get our next bus. We are back in Bromsgrove bus station and our next bus arrives and we board the First Worcestershire service X3 which will take us to our now traditional Christmas trip location of Redditch.

Its Cheers from The Royal Enfield, Redditch!
It only takes us about fifteen to twenty minutes before we arrive in Redditch, and we alight in the bus station. It is now time for lunch, so we head to J D Wetherspoons "The Royal Enfield", this was previously the Chicago Rock Cafe which were taken over by J D Wetherspoons when the Chicago Rock Cafe company fell into administration, so this means that like Stourbridge, Redditch now has two Wetherspoons in the town. The Royal Enfield is an old cinema / bingo hall which is located a couple of minutes walk from the bus station, and seeing as it is an ex-Chicago Rock Cafe, we thought we may get the same treatment as we did two weeks previously when we visited the ex-Chicago Rock Cafe Wetherspoons in Tamworth, it was totally the opposite, we were served quickly after we arrived and politely by the Assistant Manageress. Mr D9 and myself set up a little bet between us regarding Mr UKBuses choice of dinner, Mr D9 opted for the BBQ Chicken Melt and I was left with the Chicken Tikka option. We take our seats to have a little rest before we choose what we eat, and Mr UKBuses seems to have got us a table which is in the middle of the dance floor, as can be seen right. It was time to look at the menu and I opted for the Beer and Burger deal, with Mr D9 opting for the simple steak, but he wouldn't be getting the eggs of me this week as I'm not having the gammon. It was now time for Mr UKBuses choice and he was undecided, but I think he knew that Mr D9 and myself had a bet going between us when I was trying to steer him towards the Chicken Tikka Masala. He did, in then end, opt for the BBQ Chicken Melt without the cheese which obviously means it was simply a BBQ Chicken!, I gave my pound stake to Mr D9. After about ten minutes, our meals arrive and we tuck in, we had a good portion of chips on the plate, and as the meal arrived whilst Mr D9 was taking a toilet break, we teased him about the chips, especially considering I had a few more than him, which bought back memories from our trip to Chester a few years ago. After finishing lunch we decide to have a walk around to Diamond bus depot located in Church Road which is only a couple of minutes away from The Royal Enfield, the bus depot was originally the Midland Red built depot. After walking back down Adelaide Street, we find a path that brings us out in front of The Royal Enfield, thus saving some shoe leather if we had used this path to get there. We make our way past the bus station which is located under The Kingfisher shopping centre, and just around the corner from the bus station is First Worcestershire's Redditch bus depot located just off Plymouth Road, which had a few vehicles parked up at the back of the depot. After a few photographs, we head back around the corner to the bus station and we have time to visit the toilets, or should that be toilet, located inside the entrance to the main shopping centre. There is still the problem that you have to queue for the toilets. Mr UKBuses pushes his way to the front of the queue and with himself standing outside the gents, and a lady outside the ladies, we wait a few minutes before the gent's becomes free, when a woman comes out stating that "it stinks in there as a bloke must have had a good dump in there before I went in", little did she realise that we must have been waiting outside for five minutes. As Mr UKBuses went in, the smell from the woman wafted outside and we could hear a few coughs from Mr UKBuses inside. Mr D9 was next to go in and I opted out of using the toilet as I think I can hold on until we get to the next location and also avoided the smell.

We board First Worcestershire's service 143 which takes us back to our hub, Bromsgrove bus station taking us through the dreaded Aston Fields, located a couple of miles from Bromsgrove, this is where the railway station for Bromsgrove is situated as I found out with aching feet a few years ago. We also pass through Charford an estate on the edge of Bromsgrove before we finally arrive at the bus station. Whilst en route, Mr D9 and Mr UKBuses are keeping there eyes out for clay bus stops, they spot quite a few despite us being on a bus which has an all over advert and hampers our view to the outside world. As we alight in Bromsgrove, the first thing we do is visit the toilets as the drinks we had in Redditch are getting through our systems. Mr D9 and myself wait outside for Mr UKBuses who is nearly wiped out as he exits the toilets when Mr D9 decides to do a little mopping right by his feet after he finds the cleaners mop in the entrance to the toilets. We have a few minutes before our bus is due and so we have time for a few photographs, with Mr D9 doing his now standard pose outside of the 24 hour emergency toilet in Bromsgrove bus station, I decide to get in the shot this time as I pretend to be doing some business against the wall. We make our way down to our stand and as our bus is due, a Central Buses vehicle turns up at our stop ready to take the Aston Villa fans to the match being played at home today at Villa Park. Our bus has to pull up behind and after nearly tripping over an old lady who is picking up her bags to get onto the bus even though she is getting the one that goes the other way, we board First Worcestershire's service X3.

Cheers from The Kings Head at Areley Kings!
We take our seats on the X3 and we are off to Areley Kings, a place located near to Stourport and also a place that I have never visited before. On the way we pass through Chaddersley Corbett where Mr UKBuses informs us that there is a farm nearby where he is having his Christmas Day chicken from and he has hand picked it, so if you see a chicken wandering around the area of Chaddersley Corbett with the initials MW painted on it, please return it so that Mr UKBuses does not go without on Christmas Day. After Chaddersley Corbett we pass through Kidderminster, pointing out to Mr D9 the location of the now demolished Midland Red garage, and we then pass through Birchen Coppice before we get to our destination, Areley Kings. After riding around the estate, we finally alight at the bus stop just outside of The Kings Arms, the pub looks okay from the outside, Mr D9 and Mr UKBuses head in before me so that I can finish off my "fresh air" break. I finally get inside and Mr D9 and Mr UKBuses are already at a table, see picture left. We have a rest in the pub that is nice and cosy with the regulars looking a friendly bunch. You can tell that it is near Christmas as the landlord or landlady already has the Christmas decorations up. After finishing our drinks we decide that we have to brave the cold by putting our coats on and leaving the pub. A few doors down the road is another pub that we have time for a quick visit and so we enter the Astley Cross, where I get my money out for the next round. As I write this blog entry I realise that Mr UKBuses has saved a bit of money again as it was in fact his round and he forgot to correct me as I got my wallet out, a good job that we only have time for halves. It looks as we won't be having a drink in this pub, as we are waiting in the lounge, there are a load of people waiting in the bar to be served, luckily another member of bar staff appears and we do have time for a very quick drink. We sit by the window but we hear a bus coming so we quickly finish our drinks and head outside. The bus stop is a little bit up the road opposite The Astley Cross, and the bus is actually at the side of the pub waiting to cross the road. Luckily the driver spots me trying to get to the bus stop and he signals that he will stop. We rush to get on the bus and thank the driver for waiting for us.

The Christmas trip is nearly over and our First Worcestershire service 3 bus is the last journey that we will use our FirstWyvern day ticket on. It has gone dark now and as we pass through Stourport, we spot The Treasure Island arcade on the riverside still operating and quite colourful it is too as the lights blare out onto the winter sky. It takes us just under half an hour to get back into Kidderminster from Areley Kings and we pass through the Birchen Coppice Estate before passing the First Worcestershire depot in Kidderminster, which is now located in the middle of a big roundabout. We arrive at Kidderminster at 1745pm, but Mr UKBuses and myself both need the toilet desperately, luckily I know where there are some public toilets nearby. We make our way to the entrance of the Rowland Hill shopping centre in Vicar Street and located under the escalators are public toilets. Mr UKBuses and myself make use of them, and as we make our way back onto Vicar Street, we cannot see Mr D9, we were too quick for him and after he contacted us by phone, he actually went up the escalators into the main shopping centre. We are all reunited, and we make our way back to Kidderminster bus station. This is where we say goodbye to Mr D9 as he has brought a return train ticket this morning, so he gets one last use of his FirstWyvern day ticket to get a bus to the railway station. He boards the bus and it seems an eternity for his bus to depart and Mr D9 says goodbye to us by him frantically waving to us through the back window - See you in 2012 Mr D9. Mr UKBuses and myself have a further ten minutes to wait, and thankfully our bus turns up on time, even though a passenger nearly gets on the wrong bus as both Whittles service 125 buses use this stand in either direction of the route, which confuses passengers more as they turn up within a minute of each other in either direction to Stourbridge and Bridgnorth. Our bus is behind the Bridgnorth bound bus, and we board and make use of the heaters to get some warmth back into our bodies. We make our last journey of the day by showing our return tickets purchased this morning to the driver, and after passing through Broadwaters, where there seems to be some kind of Christmas Fayre taking place, we head up a very dark Stourbridge Road before we arrive in Norton and alight at our stop in Norton Road. We make a short walk down Whittington Road back down to The Broadway shops. I can now barely walk now as I desperately need to use the toilet, but as there are none nearby, I have to go behind the back of some garages opposite the shops to have an unplanned toilet break. Whilst I am emptying my bladder, Mr UKBuses pops into "The Broadway Chippy" to get his tea, I walk with him back past his house where I say my goodbyes to him and walk just around the corner where I get my final bus of the day, National Express West Midlands service 276 to Wollaston, where I get my tea from the "Lucky House" Chinese takeaway, before getting back home where I eat my takeaway and rest my feet for the rest of the evening enjoying the heating to get my blood back to temperature again.

Another fantastic day out was had, and what a trip to end the year on, this was due to the good company, good weather and good planning from Mr UKBuses, if it wasn't for the effort put in by Mr UKBuses with his plans, there wouldn't be no trips making an appearance on this blog, so a special big thanks go out to him for his spotless (well most of the time) planning throughout the year, it is very much appreciated..

I've enjoyed all the days out this year, but I think that the trips in the last quarter of the year have been better than those earlier on in the year, a few new locations have been visited this year. We have also ventured out for a few weekends this year, out of the three weekend trips, I think London in November ranked at the top, with Torquay second, and Weymouth third. London and Torquay fared better due to not stopping over at London on our visits before and not having visited Torquay before, and I can definitely say that I have not "tossed it all away" this year. 

Andy's Bald Cranium (ABC)

Bald Spot Picture One

Bald Spot One: This was taken outside the First bus depot at Worcester, I managed to get this whilst Mr D9 was having a look inside the garage from the pavement opposite.

Bald Spot Picture Two

Bald Spot Two: This was taken in the glorious winter sunshine whilst waiting for a bus at Bromsgrove Bus Station.

Bald Spot Picture Three

Bald Spot Three: This was taken whilst in Redditch Bus Station. I think Mr D9's mind was on other things as he needed to go for a toilet break, enabling me to get this shot.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

2011 - Day Out 33: 246 Charity Walk - The Hard Way

Date: Sunday 27 November

Pensnett Garage Driver Daniel Meanock has organised a Charity Walk along the 246 route in honour of two year old Louie Pumphrey who has Cerebral Palsy. Because of his condition Louie is unable to walk, so the walk that has been planned for today will raise money that will go towards a £19,000 adapted wheelchair and standing frame, which his family will hope will give Louie the same independence as other children his age.

The support bus!
Following on from a charity walk, organised by Dave Gerrard in August, Mr UKBuses was approached by Daniel to see if he could help with the marshaling along the route as we did previously for this walk today. Mr UKBuses asked me to help, and I duly agreed. With the last walk being from Dudley Bus Station to Stourbridge Birmingham Street, it was decided that this walk will go "The Hard Way", from Stourbridge Birmingham Street to Dudley Bus Station, what makes it harder is that the fact that this will be walking uphill to get to the dizzy heights of Dudley rather than downhill toward Stourbridge.

First of all I walk up to Norton and meet up with Mr UKBuses at the shops along The Broadway at approximately 1115am, it is here that he has arranged for the support vehicle driver for the day, "Shuttle" Steve, to pick us up. We head down towards South Road / The Gigmill, and as we reach the bottom of Westwood Avenue, we see a National Express West Midlands Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 coming our way, the first time that a double decker has been this way for years. Once we are picked up, I become an honorary National Express West Midlands Employee for the day as I put on my National Express Hi-Vis and Steve heads up towards Whittington Road, before following the 276 route to Birmingham Street in Stourbridge, pulling up just before the start at Stand C. Before the walk gets under way at 1200pm, it is time for the Express and Star to take a picture, I play a cunning plan by staying on the bus and looking out of the front windscreen, I shall see how it turns out when I purchase the Express and Star when we are in it. My plan was not good in the end, I am barely visible in the windscrren, see picture below (click on it to enlarge the report). Time for a quick "fresh air break" before we head off, but everyone has already arrived and so at approximately 1150, Daniel leads the way.

Our appearence in the Express & Star
Mr UKBuses and myself take a short cut to get to the first crossing point at Church Street / Hagley Road by walking across Foster Street and past the new Stourbridge Interchange, which is nearing completion. We get in front of the walkers as we see them behind us as we come out of Foster Street and we carry on along the ring road ready to do some crossing. I start the crossing off as I get the walkers safely across Church Street, whilst Mr UKBuses does the honours as he gets them safely across Hagley Road, with me following behind. As the walkers are back walking alongside the ring road, I run ahead to Worcester Street with Mr UKBuses not far behind. He leads the walkers as they come towards Worcester Street, and I get in place to stop the traffic coming off the ring road, whilst Mr UKBuses stops the traffic coming down towards the ring road. Greenfield Avenue next, and it is not a busy road so the walkers get across safely. Next up is the split junctions of Enville Street, I keep an eye out on the ring road, slowing the traffic down whilst Mr UKBuses crosses them, and it is easy for the second part of Enville Street as we have the traffic lights helping us. The first crossing points are over, so Mr UKBuses and myself walk back to the bus stop located on the ring road and back onto the support bus, where "Shuttle" Steve picks us up and takes us to the Collis Street / Wollaston Road traffic lights (otherwise known to the bus drivers as "The Fish", a timing point named after the pub which is now "The Ruby Cantonese" Restaurant). As I get off the support bus to get to the traffic lights junction, a passenger is walking down towards the bus where I tell her that this bus is not in service, but the next 246 is only six minutes away. She seemed happy about that, I make my way to the corner, Mr UKBuses is in the middle of the road, ready for the walkers to come, and it is not too long to wait, they cross as I keeps my eyes left, ahead and right all at the same time as my side of the road is where they are aiming to get to continue on to Wollaston, Mr UKBuses has the traffic lights to help him. With the Fish traffic lights completed, we make our way up Amblecote High Street where with the help of the pelican crossing, the walkers are across safely, a quick crossing over King William Street ensues and we are into Brettell Lane. Another pelican crossing gives us a helping hand to get the walkers across safely. At this point, Steve comes around the corner, and picks Mr UKBuses up to get him ahead, I carry on up Brettell Lane, getting the walkers across the small side roads safely. I catch up with Mr UKBuses as we get to the Hawbush Road junction with Brettell Lane, both of us getting the walkers across this busy estate road safely. 

We both jump onto the support bus and Steve takes us the short journey to Bull Street at Silver End, Steve pulls up at the stop and gets off to get a drink from the shop, whilst we wait to keep an eye on the bus. We have a little time before the walkers get to us, so I use this time to get my breath back after the walk up Brettell Lane to Hawbush Road as taken its toll on me. The walkers are nearly here so we make our way to Bull Street, with Mr UKBuses keeping an eye out for traffic coming onto Brettell Lane, and myself keeping an eye on the traffic coming off Brettell Lane. As I'm in the middle of the road keeping an eye on traffic coming from Stourbridge and from Brierley Hill, this people carrier slows down, and dreading the worst and some abuse, it turns out not to be that bad, it is Mr D9, who shouts across the road to me, "I'm off to the pub!!!!", he drives off before I get the chance to jump in the back and join him! Back to the main object of the day and the crossing duty, the first problem of the day is about to ensue as a woman comes speeding round the corner off Brettell Lane, and she doesn't seem to want to stop, she goes straight past me, and luckily there is a gap between the walkers as she makes her way slowly through the gap. Luckily ninety-nine percent of the traffic is obeying our signals, it is just the one percent that seem to think that they own the road and it does put a downer on the events that is taking place today. I'm determined that nothing will ruin today and this crazy driver won't ruin the good things that will happen to the charity walk. Despite this ignorant driver all walkers have safely managed to get across the road, so Mr UKBuses and myself get back on the bus where we avoid walking up the hill to Brierley Hill. We arrive in Brierley Hill where Steve drops us off just before the five ways junction, we have a while for the walkers to catch us up, so I get a chance to have a fresh air break before they arrive.

The walkers eventually arrive and we attempt to get them across Moor Street, I have the task of getting them across the "inroad", keeping an eye out for traffic approaching from High Street and Mill Street, while Mr UKBuses keeps an eye on the traffic from Moor Street, this junction isn't as bad traffic wise since the by-pass road has been built and opened. We carry on up Brierley Hill High Street with the walkers, walking that little bit faster to get ahead of them and we now reach another main traffic junction, Mr UKBuses keeps an eye on the Bank Street traffic, whilst I keep an eye out on the High Street / Level Street traffic, we get the walkers across here safely despite this junction being a bit busier with all Merry Hill inbound and outbound traffic coming this way. We now needed to get onto the support vehicle to take us the short distance to get ahead to the Waterfront island, but we had to wait for someone, and I noticed that half of the walkers were nearly there, so I made a mad dash sprint from outside the bingo hall down to the island, and as the walkers were reaching John Street, I get there with about a millisecond to spare and get them safely across the road, after getting them across, Mr UKBuses was way behind and had stayed on the support vehicle as he wouldn't have managed to get down to us without having a heart attack due to the distance the walkers were ahead, I had to sprint ahead again to get the walkers across Wallows Road. After Wallows Road, it was planned that we would get ahead to Holly Hall, but the next two roads which we weren't expecting to be giving help crossing were quite busy, the road to Aldi and B&M shops near to Harts Hill Garage, which has now been sadly flattened and also Fens Pool Avenue which seems to attract the boy racers, some of them were reluctant to stop as the were racing around the corners, this junction was worse than the Bull Street junction in Silver End. Steve and the support bus was parked opposite where Harts Hill Garage was once stood, so I jumped on the bus to get my breath back after my mad sprint whilst Steve took Mr UKBuses and myself past the walkers and to Holly Hall.

As we approach Holly Hall junction the lights are on red as we arrive so Steve opens the doors, before his scheduled stop so that Mr UKBuses and myself can jump off and get into position early. After about five minutes the walkers arrive and even though this is one busy junction which is another exit route from the nearby Merry Hill Centre, we don't have too many problems. After this junction we get ahead to Holly Hall School, where with the help of a pelican crossing, we get the walkers over two main dual carriageways. Steve has parked up around the corner, and Mr UKBuses and myself jump on once more so we can get ahead again where we alight at Queen's Cross. A couple of the younger walkers have boarded the bus to give their legs a rest and also to avoid the hill from Holly Hall to Queen's Cross, they are forgiven as they have done well to get this far unaided. Back to Queen's Cross, where Mr UKBuses and myself have a look at the traffic lights sequence so we know how we are going to get people across. There is also a run off the main road into Wellington Road from the Brierley Hill direction, so it is decided that I stop the traffic that rushes around this corner whilst Mr UKBuses gets the walkers across the main traffic lights. We are nearly in Dudley and we are about to board the support bus and Daniel has come up with a good suggestion, that is for me to run ahead and tell Steve to go straight to Dudley Bus Station so that Mr UKBuses has to walk the final part of the route. As I run ahead, Mr UKBuses actually does something that I have never seen before, he runs after me and is actually keeping up with me, but he does get on board and I carry on up Stourbridge Road towards Dudley, Mr UKBuses decides to use a two finger wave as he passes me on the bus.

We are on the final leg of the walk now and I make my way to the next crossing destination with Mr UKBuses already in place. The next junction is Stafford Street, where Mr UKBuses and myself take a lane each whilst getting the walkers across safely, I get ahead and stop the traffic from entering Dudley High Street whilst the walkers make there way on the final corners of the route. We have one more junction to get the walkers across and that is Union Street, so we make our way to get ahead using High Street as a short cut to just get ahead of the walkers. As we reach the Union Street junction, the walkers appear so we get them across and it is just about a quarter of a mile to go before they reach Dudley Bus Station. We walk the final bit of the route with them and after 2 hours and 20 minutes, we finally reach the end, and as we all walk through the stand at where the 246 picks up the passengers, we make our way to the layover area at Dudley Bus Station where Steve is waiting to give the walkers a well deserved rest by driving them all back to Stourbridge. On the way back we do go via the 246 route to Holly Hall, and then down Pedmore Road towards Lye and back into Stourbridge, dropping off walkers along the way. For our efforts we are rewarded by Mrs Meanock with a Mars Bar to replenish the sugar we have lost in our bodies along the route. Steve finally pulls up in Birmingham Street in Stourbridge, where we all alight, with the younger walkers winding up Steve by keeping their fingers on the bell as we all get off. The walkers go back to their cars to soak their feet, but Mr UKBuses and myself decide to have a little ride around before we finally make our way back home.

We make our way to the nearest pub, so we walk up through Foster Street past the new Interchange, with Mr UKBuses stopping to take a few photographs, before we walk around the edge of the ring road to our first crossing point earlier and going into J D Wetherspoons, "The Chequers Inn" where we have a good old rest and a well deserved pint. After finishing our drinks, we head down the High Street towards the bus stop on Stourbridge ring road, and as we arrive, the bus that we intended to catch, National Express West Midlands service 256, just pulls out of the stop, so after a few minutes, we catch National Express West Midlands service 246, a route that we have already seen today on our feet, and we head to Dudley again. We arrive in Dudley and we spot an old Volvo Ailsa in WMPTE livery, so we head to the layover area where it is parked to take some photographs. We need to get to Wordsley, so our next bus is Diamond Buses service 226 which takes us past Russell's Hall Hospital where we spot Phil Tonks behind the reception desk. After passing through Bromley and Kingswinford, we alight outside of The Lawnswood. The road is busy but Mr UKBuses won't put his Hi-Vis back on to get me across the road safely. After finally crossing the road we spend an hour or so inside having a rest and well deserved drinks with Mr UKBuses parents. Mr UKBuses senior does stand up for me when I keep checking the Blackberry for the Brazilian Grand Prix results, only as he wants to know how the race is getting on. We leave The Lawnswood and after a lift back home courtesy of Mr UKBuses senior, I get back home and have a rest and a nap on the sofa.

A thoroughly good day was had by myself and the walkers who took part deserve a round of applause after completing the seven mile journey that they achieved on foot today, it was all for a good cause, and donations for Louie Pumphrey can be made on a Justgiving page that has been set up for him by clicking here.