Sunday, 12 October 2014

2014 - Day Out 7: Cats and Birmingham

Date: Saturday 20 September 2014

We couldn't wait for our annual trip to London to see a show, so we decided to have a local trip around the Black Country before making our way to Birmingham to see a musical.

The previous night was a late one for me, so I drearily make my way up to Wollaston and catch the 09:20am National Express West Midlands 276 into Stourbridge, along the way picking up Mr UKBuses, soon after we arrive at Stourbridge Interchange. Our next bus was due to arrive late, so I grab a bit of "fresh air" whilst waiting before making our way back inside the interchange where are late arriving WMSNT Service 240 arrives and we board. We make our way to our next destination and as we pass through Lye and Colley Gate, the driver has caught up his late running and we arrive on time at Cradley Heath Interchange. I have time for some "fresh air" whilst Mr UKBuses decides what bus to catch next on our "unplanned" day out around the Black Country, a Hanson's bus pulls into the interchange and we decide that this is the next bus to catch.

We make our way to the stand and board Service 208 which then takes us on a tour before getting to our final destination, we pass through Dudley Wood, Old Hill, Brickhouse Farm and Oakham before finally arriving and alighting at Dudley, at least we were kept warm on the bus. After alighting at Dudley, it is time to ensure that the coats are zipped up as the usual Dudley wind makes it really cold, I decide to take Mr UKBuses on a tour this time, with us going around Dudley via The Courthouse, The Three Crowns and The Griffin Inn, but we didn't get to sample anything as they were all closed, so we had a short walk around the corner and visited J D Wetherspoons "The Full Moon" to have a drink, a break and a warm. Doombars purchased, Mr UKBuses finds a table close to the front so we can watch the world go by, but Mr UKBuses only spots and keeps an eye on a female police officer who is standing outside, if only she turned around, she would have arrested him, meaning that the rest of my day would be full of peace and quiet!! We do have to make a move and also the police officer moved, so we make our way back into the Dudley cold and back to the bus station for our next journey.

Cheers from The Kings Head
Upon arrival at the bus station, we spot our next bus and board National Express West Midlands service 126 which will take us to Birmingham, or so we thought. As we are nearing Bearwood, we both need to make an urgent visit, the cold weather and pint we had in Dudley does not mix well, so we decide to alight the bus as it arrives at Bearwood bus station and make use of the public toilets at the station, but then disaster strikes as we find out that the toilets are closed, so I come up with a plan and we decide to cross the road and make use of the toilets in "The Kings Head", somehow it turns into my round again, as soon as we enter through the door Mr UKBuses makes his way to the toilets (well I think that is where he went, one minute he was there, the next he had gone!) leaving me at the bar. The drinks are purchased and table found with Mr UKBuses making his way back in time. Which leaves me to finally make a visit eventually finding the toilets after a tour of the pub (and loads of steps) to find them. After our visits, we quickly finish our drinks and make our way across the road back to Bearwood bus station, where we resume our journey (and Mr UKBuses getting run over by a pram before boarding), catching National Express West Midlands service 126 again to Birmingham.

We arrive in Birmingham and alight close to the Bull Ring where as we pass what was once the Bull Ring bus station, we spot a hole that we can look into and as we look we can see that nothing has been changed with the platforms where the stops situated still in-situ, bringing back memories of when we used to visit their years ago to purchase our Midland Red timetable booklets. With our trip down memory lane over we make our way towards the Birmingham Hippodrome, with me leading the way seeing as I know how to get to it. It is also time for lunch and also know that there is a J D Wetherspoons nearby, so we head for a warmth and lunch at "The Dragon Inn" which is quite busy, but we I do eventually find a table even though there was no sign of Mr D9 as I searched, whilst Mr UKBuses gets the round in. We rest our legs and warm up before ordering our food, with Mr UKBuses opting for a Tikka Masala, and I opt for something soft as I have a problem with my tooth, so opt for a bacon and cheese panini. The food doesn't take long to arrive and we devour it quickly giving it a few minutes to let it go down before we have to leave.

Inside the Birmingham Hippodrome.
We now make our way to the theatre to see our show, "Cats", and we only have a short walk until we arrive at the Birmingham Hippodrome, with the front of the cinema completely changed since we last came. Mr UKBuses hands me my ticket and we make our way inside, but before we make our way to our seats we do decide to take precautions and make a visit. We then take our seats and at 2.30pm prompt, the show kicks off, but must admit that the late night before had caught up with me and dozed off for the first ten-fifteen minutes of the show. The first half is finished and we make our way outside for some "fresh air" and a quick drink at the bar during the break, but after paying £4 for a pint, it should be drunk more slowly! With the bitter tasting pint finished we make our way back inside and take our seats for the second half and can confirm that I was awake for the whole of the second half and what a good show it was, but with the show finished we do have to make our way outside.

We make our way through Birmingham and past the bull ring to arrive at Birmingham Moor Street station where at just before 6.00pm, we board our London Midland train which takes us back to Stourbridge Junction where we change onto "The Dodger" to takes us back to Stourbridge Town, which is where I say goodnight to Mr UKBuses, who gets his National Express West Midlands service 276, whilst I have a nightcap at the third and final J D Wetherspoons of the day, "The Chequers Inn" before finally making my way back home after catching National Express West Midlands service X96 back to Wollaston arriving back home to get back and have a warmth.

Even though the temperatures weren't high, a good day was had and it was also nice to visit the Hippodrome for the first time since I was at primary school.

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