Saturday, 10 October 2015

2015 - Day Out 10: Cradley Heath and Old Hill

Date: Saturday 10 October 2015

It is time to meet up with Mr WME and do a local trip around the West Midlands, specifically Cradley Heath and Old Hill.

Cradley Heath Interchange
I have a lie in this morning as I don't have to meet up with Mr WME until 11am, so just before 10am, I walk up to Wollaston and catch a National Express West Midlands service X96 to Stourbridge Interchange where upon arrival, I interchange from bus to rail and after buying my return rail ticket to Cradley Heath I board the Stourbridge Shuttle (I still like to refer to it as the Stourbridge Dodger) and luckily there is only three minutes before I get to Stourbridge Junction as the Shuttle is full and also rather bouncy today on the rails. Arrival at Stourbridge Junction and as I make my way across from platform 1 to platform 2 the train towards Birmingham arrives, so I jump straight onto the train and take a seat for my short journey to Cradley Heath. Upon arrival, it will be my second interchange visit of the day as the newly opened Cradley Heath Bus Station as now been integrated into the railway station and now called "Cradley Heath Interchange", see picture left.

Just before I arrive at Cradley Heath, I get a text off Mr WME to say he is in Cradley Heath, so upon alighting the train, I make my way to the bus station part and have a look around whilst also trying to locate Mr WME. The layout is virtually the same as when it used to be the old bus station, apart from a new island with a couple of stands added for Birmingham-bound services. The old bus shelters have now been made all undercover with electronic doors which open when a bus arrives and a new waiting area between the bus station and the railway station. A little improvement has been made for passengers waiting experience, but money could have been spent elsewhere such as Merry Hill to provide a better area for passenger transport.

Mr WME does eventually appear, he was up the road taking a few photographs, so now we have met it is time to start our day. First port of call is to have a walk up to Cradley Heath High Street so that Mr WME can get some money out of his bank for the day ahead. We get to Cradley Heath High Street which is closed due to gas main works and are on the search for a "Barclays", but with none in sight, "HSBC" comes to the rescue with Mr WME able to get the rounds for the day. We take a walk down the side of the HSBC and onto Corngreaves Road, where after a shot walk, we arrive at our first pit stop of the day, "The Plough and Harrow", which is now owned by the Worcestershire Brewing Company and the first pub of the day that I have passed loads of time and never set foot in. We enter and it looks like it has recently been refurbished. As we get to the bar, I notice a few of the famous "Mario Lanza" Beermats and the barman informs us that he thinks the original person who did these has died and that it is now his son that is doing the sneaky placement of the beermats.

After finishing our drinks in The Plough and Harrow, we have a short walk, less than five minutes to next port of call, another place where I have been past a load of times and have never set foot in, or so we thought. We make our way up Surfeit Hill Road and notice that our next public house, "The Bull Terrier" is now a convenience store, so we make our way towards Old Hill, but luckily, a National Express West Midlands service 53 bus is pulling up at the stop, so we board that, saving us a walk up to Old Hill. As the bus pulls into Halesowen Road, we alight and have a walk down the main Old Hill High Street, where Mr WME gets his bearings for his next pub. We walk back into an area I know and tell him that there is no pub up this way and that it has been knocked down. Perhaps I don't know the area as well as I thought and we turn down a road called Mossvale Close and there is a pub I didn't know existed. We make our way into "The Riddins Tavern". A pint of Bank's Bitter is ordered and at £1.99 a pint, who can complain. Luckily, the Russian Grand Prix Qualifying is being shown, so a seat close to the television is required. We came in at the right time as it has just started, so getting another round in wouldn't break the bank, which is what happened. Jenson Button and the struggling McLaren-Honda only make it as far as P13 in Q2 and after seeing Nico Rosberg put his Mercedes on Pole, we sup up and make our way.

We make our way down an alleyway at the side of The Riddins Tavern which brings us back onto Halesowen Road (why didn't we use this way before!), so we, I, take a break at the bus stop and along comes a National Express West Midlands service 141 pulls up, so we board where we only go a couple of stops to Reddal Hill Road and go into our next pub of choice and another which I have been past loads of times and today is my first time entering, "The Waggon and Horses", a pub which is now owned by Ostlers Alehouses. We decide which beer to have and after sitting down and having a sip, we do take our pints back to the bar as it smells and tastes like vinegar. There were no problems with having it exchanged for a different (and more expensive) ale with no extra money being paid and it is a Green Duck Brewery ale which we will sample more later in the day. We are a bit peckish, so Mr WME decides to have a cob, I opt for a delicious hot pork cob which I must admit, was very moorish. With our food and pint finished, we make our way back outside and catch a bus down to Cradley Heath Interchange.

Upon arrival, we make our way back through the new waiting area and onto the Stourbridge-bound platform and after a short wait, our train arrives and we board and with our stop being the next station, after a few minutes we arrive and alight at Lye Railway Station, where our next place to visit is just a few steps away. Having already sampled Sadlers Ales Brewery Tap House "The Windsor Castle" previously, the brewery has also opened new brewing premises in Lye and we make our way to the new Sadlers "Brewhouse and Bar" connected to the brewery and sample a pint of Yoricks Skull and have a comfy rest on the leather seats. With our drinks finished we make our way to another brewery not too far away which also has another bar connected to it. We arrive at the Green Duck Brewery situated on the Gainsborough Trading Estate and upon arrival we see a green door in a wall which is also the entrance to the Badelynge Bar, Green Duck's Brewery bar which you can see a lot of the brewery so you can sup and see how it is produced.

We have a couple of beers in the brewery and we are also joined by Diesel, a lovely fluffy husky dog who seemed to be enjoying the rugby that was being shown on the television screen and he even joined in the celebrations by giving us a few "howls". With our drinks finished, we decide to have a final drink, so we get a taxi from the brewery to Marston's "The Gigmill", a pub which I have been in loads of time but this is a first time for Mr WME. A pint is had before it is nearly time for home. Well for me it is just a few minutes, so seeing as Mr WME took a shine to Diesel at The Green Duck Brewery, before he leaves he comes back home with me and meets another canine, the one and only Doggy SBI, also known as Alfie, see picture right, in which Mr WME passes the test, before he makes his way home.

A good day out was had with Mr WME with a couple of new pubs / brewery bars thrown in and Alfie's seal of approval.

No comments :