Sunday, 22 March 2015

2015 - Day Out 02: Kingswinford and Wordsley

Date: Saturday 14 March 2015

It has been nearly a year since I last met up with Mr WME. After a long gap we finally met up again to visit a few hostelries in Wordsley, or so we thought.

It was arranged that we would meet at the Red House Glass Cone in Wordsley and visit a few of the public houses around that area, so I make my way up to Wollaston to catch National Express West Midlands Service X96 into Stourbridge before interchanging onto Hanson's Service 267 bus which dropped me off at the bus stop virtually opposite the previously mentioned Wordsley's Red House Glass Cone, a local landmark. I arrive with a few minutes ahead of the prearranged time and wait at the Glass Cone. Mr WME seems to be running late and after a couple of Stourbridge bound buses go past, I send a text to Mr WME, a couple of minutes after I receive a phone call (with a lot of hyperactive sounding children in the background) and Mr WME says he is just getting off a bus in Kingswinford as the Service 256 he originally planned to catch had been taken out of service. Luckily I spot a Kingswinford bound National Express West Midlands service 257 bus coming along from Stourbridge and I make a mad dash across the road and sprint towards the next bus stop and luckily with a second to spare board the bus and catch my breath back as the bus makes its way to Kingswinford.

Nearly recovered I arrive in Kingswinford and alight just opposite The Cross where Mr WME is waiting and after saying our hello's and me still a little bit out of breath we make our way for some much need refreshment. We walk along Summer Hill and make a left turn along Cot Lane, where we arrive at "The Park Tavern", a pub that I have visited on several occasions before, its here that we have a catch up and a look ahead to this seasons Formula One over a pint of Enville Ale.

A pint of Ma Pardoes Bumblehole!

A pint of Ma Pardoes Bumblehole!

After leaving The Park Tavern a short walk was taken Barnett Lane and then Barnett Street to "The Glass Cutters Arms" where a pint of Ma Pardoes Bumblehole was sampled, see picture above. After sampling this pub we left and came back out on Barnett Street, I was lost and as we literally around the corner, I knew where we were, up until now, I didn't realise that The Glassmakers Arms was there, I'm pretty sure I have heard about it over the years, so know I know where it is situated.

As we turn the corner from The Glassmakers, we are at the back of "The Queens Head" in High Street Wordsley, which is now part of the Black Country Ales Brewery Portfolio. We enter via the tradesman's entrance and Mr WME had a pork pie, with loads of mustard, he calmed his taste buds down with a pint of Lancashire Stout. I went all strange whilst sampling a pint of Voodoo Dawn. After snacks and drinks were finished, we went past The New Inn, somehow resisting the urge of a pint of Bathams and then it was all downhill literally as we walk past the church to sample our next public house.

Cheers from The Rose and Crown!

Cheers from The Rose and Crown!

We stop by the traffic lights and turn left into the bar area of "The Rose and Crown" and whilst watching a bit of Six Nations Rugby Mr WME samples another Enville Ale, see picture above. I decide to watch something else instead, the barmaid who served me my pint of Holden's Golden Glow, I'm sure she could look after me, see picture below. After drinks are finished, we reluctantly leave and have a short walk up Brierley Hill Road and sample another pub that I have never been in before and visit Marston's "The Samson and Lion", both of us sampling a good old fashioned pint of Banks's Mild. We gatecrash a party before it has even started, we were allowed to stay though as they were only setting up the room for the festivities later that evening.

The Rose and Crown offer a crèche service!

The Rose and Crown offer a crèche service!

After The Samson and Lion we retrace our steps and head back down Brierley Hill Road and head towards Stourbridge along the main road. We are getting a bit peckish now, so we decide to pop into "The Vine", or what was once The Vine, but is now Ocean Basket, a Chip Shop / Fish and Chip Restaurant where we sample a cone of chips. I opt for the good old fashioned style whilst Mr WME decides to have a battering with the battered chips. We carry on our walk to Amblecote eating our chips along the way and up Brettell Lane to a newly refurbished "Red Lion".

I have been in since the refurbishment and this is Mr WME's first visit since the refurbishment. From what was once a run down dark public house with not too many customers, it was nice to see the pub regenerated into a bright airy and actually full public house. Here we have to stand to drink our pints as there are no tables left, we both opt for the Salopian Brewery's Lemon Dream and after finishing them we have time for one more public house to visit. We make our way back down the short distance down Brettell Lane.

Our last pub and drink of the day is an old favourite, "The Maverick", now early evening, the pub, as The Red Lion is starting to get busy and we get a spot in the Wild West Saloon where Mr WME decides to go all Mexican, even though we are having a typically British named pint of "Dodgy Banker" to round off our day. After we finish our pints we leave the pub and say our goodbyes, with Mr WME heading in one direction for his National Express West Midlands service 256 and myself back up Brettell Lane to catch my National Express West Midlands service 246 buses back home.
A good afternoon was had and a couple of new hostelries were visited, a meeting should not have as long a gap next time.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

2015 - Day Out 01: Worcestershire

Date: Saturday 28 February 2015

Its our first outing of the year and we are staying relatively local to the Midlands and having a tour of Worcestershire.

First Worcesteshire bus in Midland Red Livery
I make my way up to Norton to meet up with Mr UKBuses and it must be a New Years Resolution as he turns up ahead of the planned time. We walk from the Broadway shops, our meeting point, to Norton Road stopping at the bus stop just up the road from what was once Brewers General Store. We do get offered a lift but we wait for the bus as it would be cheaper for a return fare. At 9:18am, Central Buses service 125 turns up on time and we board and purchase our return ticket to Kidderminster. Central Buses have recently took over operation of this service after the collapse of Whittle's buses and upon arrival at Kidderminster we alight outside the Kidderminster Railway Station where I have time to have a "fresh air" break before our next bus arrives which is Diamond's service X3 and we board purchasing our day tickets, the County Connecta.

First Worcestershire bus in Midland Red Livery
We head in the direction of Bromsgrove, with an hour upon arrival so that photo's of First's two heritage liveried buses can be spotted, but before arriving we go past Chaddersley Corbett with Mr UKBuses saying hello to his turkeys as we pass. Twenty minutes after leaving Kidderminster, we arrive in Bromsgrove and upon arrival, Mr UKBuses sprints down to the last stand of the bus station (another New Year's Resolution?), where he has spotted one of the heritage liveried buses on service 147, see picture right, that we are after. It is not on the route that it was supposed to be as the buses have been painted into Retro Midland Red Livery to celebrate 100 years of operation of Route 144. Not long after the 147 departs, a bus on route 144 pulls into the bus station, see picture top left, at Bromsgrove so within a matter of minutes of arrival pictures of both buses have been taken. We have time to spare so we have a walk down Bromsgrove High Street and have our first drink of the day at J D Wetherspoons, "The Golden Cross" with Mr UKBuses purchasing the first round (another New Year's Resolution?). After finishing our drinks we make our way back to the bus station and I make a visit to use the facilities where a lady cleaner just waltzes in without a care in the world and carries on doing her job whilst a load of gentleman carry on with their business.

At The Bar in The Westcroft
We have a while to wait for our next bus so we hang around the bus station for some photo taking opportunities, the before mentioned cleaner does a bin emptying around the bus station and gives me a smile as she passes me, I don't know if that is a good thing or bad thing. I have some "fresh air" and stand close to our next departure point, Mr UKBuses joins me and whilst waiting we spot a certain Mr Phil Tonks (with no bacon roll / sandwich in hand), he is travelling up and down along the route today as part of research for an article he is writing on the history of Route 144. We decide to go off plan and catch the earlier journey and have a catch up with Mr Tonks on the journey. Along the way we pass through and stop at Webbs of Wychbold Garden Centre and after another 20 minutes on the bus we arrive at our next destination ahead of schedule, Droitwich Spa. As we are ahead of schedule we decide to have a rest and after alighting and saying our goodbyes to Mr Tonks, we walk a few yards to "The Westcroft", see picture left, I can remember the last time we visited this establishment, on a cold dark wintry evening, it was virtually the same today apart from being dark. After having a little warm and rest, we sup up and make our way to Victoria Square, where we have a short wait and I have some more "fresh air", before our next bus arrives.

Cheers from the Boat and Railway!
At 11.45am, iGo's service 145 pulls up so we board showing our Connecta tickets and it takes just under fifteen minutes before we arrive and alight at our next destination of Stoke Prior. We don't have a lot of time here so we head straight into "The Boat and Railway", see picture right, a nice pub situated alongside the canal, this would be a nice little rest in the middle of summer under the blazing sun. Its Mr UKBuses turn to purchase the drinks and whilst he is being served I take the opportunity to use the facilities (It's either because it is icy cold or Mr D9 has lent me his bladder for the day). We have a warm and a rest again and ready ourselves to go back into the cold and make our way to the bus stop to catch our next bus from. Luckily it is only a few steps as it is situated right outside of the pub and we don't have to wait long before our iGo service 145 arrives to take us on our return journey back to Droitwich Spa. The return journey only takes ten minutes to get back to Droitwich Spa, which means that we have just under ten minutes wait and time for some "Fresh air" before our next journey to our next destination.

It's 12:49pm and we board First's 147, not the heritage liveried bus unfortunately and after twenty-five minutes we alight in Worcester by Worcester Foregate Street Railway Station and decide it is time for lunch, so we visit J D Wetherspoon's "The Postal Order". Mr UKBuses finds a table and after an agonising long wait (looks like the locals / regulars get preferential treatment) I finally get served and join Mr UKBuses at the table and peruse the menu. I have a change and opt for the gammon and chips whilst Mr UKBuses sticks with tradition and opts for his usual BBQ Chicken Melt (without the melt) but as my legs are aching from my wait at the bar previously, Mr UKBuses is forced to order the meals. The food eventually arrives and we tuck in. Even though the service was poor the food was good and we rest for a few minutes to let our stomachs settle before making our way back into Worcester. As we were delayed at lunch we have to go off the plan and miss out the First Depot in Padmore Street, Worcester, so we head straight back to Worcester Bus Station, with a bit of time to take some photographs and also a visit to "Andy's News" to get some supplies for our journey ahead.

Mr UKBuses has a nap!
We wait for our next bus and at the time of arrival due to be 2:53pm the bus is running late and we are worried that we may have to go onto the emergency plan, but Diamond's service 295 does eventually turn up at Worcester Bus Station and we promptly board and depart, there is a screaming child sitting on the bus which thwarts Mr UKBuses plans, but as soon as the bus carries on along its journey, there seems to be a vibrating sound coming from the engine, but upon closer inspection, Mr UKBuses is in fact having a nap, see picture right. We are not too far from our destination as we pass through Stourport, the driver is back on time and we arrive back at our planned time of 15:53 at Kidderminster Bus Station. After a few photographs are taken we decide to get out of the cold and have a warmth and a rest by walking around to J D Wetherspoons "The Penny Black" where we enjoy a pint, or in Mr UKBuses case, a double whiskey and we take our seats looking out onto The Bull Ring which was once a hive of activity and full of Midland Red buses and clay bus stops. It is nearly time to return back to the West Midlands, so we walk back around to the bus station to wait for our final journey of the day.

We plan to catch the 4:52pm Central Buses service 125 back to Norton, this is the last journey back to Norton of the day and we wait and wait and think we may have to walk to the railway station to get the train back. Just under half an hour later Central Buses service 125 towards Stourbridge finally arrives and we have to undergo a driver change which delays us a bit more, luckily it is Geoff who was driving to Kidderminster so we cant have a go at him especially when he informs us he was late because of football match day parking at Bridgnorth was holding him up. We do board and take our seats and get warm passing through the Broadwaters and on to the main Stourbridge / Norton Road towards Stourbridge. We are nearing Marston's "The Greyhound" in Norton and after politely asking the driver he lets us alight just outside of The Greyhound, where we have a warm and a final pint before saying our goodbyes and making our way back home.

A good day out was had with Mr UKbuses devising a good plan yet again and here are his bald spots:

Bald Spot 1

Bald Spot 1: The bald spot is seen in Bromsgrove Bus Station.

Bald Spot 2

Bald Spot 2: The bald spot is seen trying to hide as it enters Worcester Bus Station.

Bald Spot 3

Bald Spot 3: The bald spot can clearly be seen at Worcester Bus Station.