Monday, February 26

The Return of The Rog Files

Yesterday saw the arrival on WME1 of a new Rog Files collection for 2007, containing a handful of photos of Rog and Woody from our recent Warwickshire outing. Its great to finally get the Rog Files moving again, as things had rather stagnated in line with the lack of new photos in general. The 2006 Rog Files still needs an awful lot of work, but I hope to keep the 2007 section ticking over a bit better. The good news is that Rog is still pulling his usual faces and Mr Wood is still battling his coat, so normal service might just have been resumed.

The Rog stuff came as part of a general update to WME1 that also involved some intriguing test photos from July and August 2005. Outings such as the Coventry and Dorridge trip from July, and the Tettenhall, Tile Cross and Kinver August visits are now having their photo potential released. I'll let things settle for a bit and then look to make some inroads as regards updates on the main WME galleries.

And finally, a quick mention for a little gem of an outing last Friday. Inspired by my July 2005 outing to Aldridge, I took the opportunity to get back across that way for a few photos, then retraced my footsteps along the Daw End Branch to Walsall Wood. The walk was topped off with a visit to Clayhanger for some fish and chips in the local park - all in all, a quiet, relaxing outing that was thoroughly enjoyable, you can't ask for much more than that...

Wednesday, February 21

A Busy Weekend

It was a busy weekend at WME Towers, with a Warwickshire outing with Rog and Woody on the Saturday, followed by a family christening on Sunday.

The Warwickshire outing was a proper lads day out, riding around on the Stagecoach Warwickshire network and visiting a few pubs along the way. Rog had a bad cold, whilst Woody still seems to have an obsession with his coat judging by the photos I ended up with. Here are a few personal highlights...
  • A ride on the Birmingham StationLink from Snow Hill to New Street , calling at the Digbeth Coach Station
  • The 86: An interesting ride from Coventry to Rugby, a look at Gosford Green and a loop of the estate at Wolston
  • Rugby: The Rupert Brooke pub for lunch, and a few bus photos at Clifton Road
  • Stratford: A useful photo session - Bridge 69, the Pen & Parchment, buses on Bridge Street. Plus a comedy moment from Woody when we visited the pub - he took a wrong turning looking for the toilet and nearly ended up in the kitchen!
  • The 18: Darkness sets in as we head from Stratford to Warwick via Wellesbourne
  • Warwick: Arrived to find the shops had all closed, but the Rose & Crown was open. There was also a nice little bus station that may be a good location for future bus photos

I did enjoy the outing, and its given me some intriguing ideas for future outings. The Woody trips always provide a tantalising glimpse of places rather than an in-depth exploration of them, thus laying the foundations for a return at a later date

If Saturday was a day for friends, Sunday was all about family. Baby Ezekiel was being christened, hence a lovely service at Short Heath Church followed by a celebratory party at the Homestead pub on Lodge Farm estate. Those particular areas of Walsall hold many childhood and family memories for me, and it was great to add to these further - and Ezekiel seemed to enjoy himself, that baby has personality! A great weekend, here's hoping for more to come...

Wednesday, February 14

More Sandwell Stuff

A handful of new photos have this morning been added to WME Sandwell.

The Smethwick Galton Bridge collection gets three more train photos, all from my Langley Green outing in May 2005. This makes for 6 Galton Bridge train photos in all, reflecting the fact that station is one of my favourite spots for getting pictures of the Class 150 Sprinters. Useful stuff, and there are more trains to come - including one already waiting in Sandtest - but I am concerned that the collection is becoming all trains and not much else. I'll have to dig out some station or platform views to try and provide more balance in future.

Next, and the Langley Green Station collection has received its own train photo in the shape of a Class 150 heading to Dorridge. The collection was launched some time ago with 2 starter photos and then basically forgotten about, so its good to get some new content feeding through. There should be more to follow, as I have a series of station views waiting in Sandtest - I just need to do a few checks on them and then they should be ready to go.

Finally, there's an addition to Exploring Tipton, showing the plaque on the statue of the Tipton Slasher. My photo of the statue itself didn't come out that clearly, so hopefully the plaque will suffice for now. The photo brings back a memory anyway, as Rog and I had our lunch by the statue when we visited Tipton in June 2005. Indeed, the photos I got of Tipton that day were a welcome relief after a less than successful morning struggling to get photos of Northway, Sedgley and Dudley. Another useful addition then, and its nice to make mention of a local personality.

Overall and its another small update, following on nicely from the sprinkling of updates earlier in the week. I just want to keep things ticking over, picking up the odd photo here and there for full inclusion and seeing where that gets me. I think at some stage I'm going to have to get really stuck in and clear the decks properly - but not just yet...

Tuesday, February 13

Getting things moving again

I am pleased to report that the WME updates machine has creaked into action once again, with what will hopefully be the first of a wave of mini-updates to the photo galleries. I have decided to keep things simple by adding little batches of photos rather than getting bogged down in a large scale transfer of piccies, so lets see what's new...

  • Starting with WME Birmingham, and a new collection that carries a fair bit of personal significance. Sutton Coldfield is a place I have a lot of affection for, having been a continual thread throughout my exploration history. This all began back in the 80s, visiting the town with my aunt and cousin, calling in at the McDonalds on the corner of Lower Parade. Fast forward into the late 1990s, and Sutton Coldfield was one of my first ports of call during the Stuart outings, with memories of the 104, 377 and the chip shop on Beeches Walk. Sutton has also played a major role in my solo trips, including my early University/Centrocard trips exploring the railway station, and then there's the Rog outings to Roughley and Streetly - such a lot of personal history, so many memories. The new Exploring Sutton Coldfield collection makes a start in terms of showcasing the town and these memories, but with a photo each of the Gracechurch Centre and the Library I feel I have barely scratched the surface. Even so, I'm delighted that the town finally has a collection all to itself.
  • Moving onto WME Solihull, and another new local collection - Exploring Kingshurst. The photos concentrate on my May 2005 visit to the area, rather than my visit just the other week, and provide views of the Babbs Mill Nature Reserve and the River Cole. The collection provides a much-needed injection of local area photos, meaning Exploring Marston Green finally has some company - and about time too!
  • The final set of updates involve WME Walsall, beginning with more local additions, this time to an existing collection - Exploring Pelsall. Photos of the Ocean chip shop and the Swan pub add further pieces to the Pelsall jigsaw - I particularly like the chip shop shot, it was a nice bonus photo back in June 2005 and now has added significance after Rog and I visited for some chips here last November. I've also added two views of Adam & Eve Bridge to the Wyrley & Essington Canal, giving me the chance to eulogise further about one of my favourite canal haunts, the stretch from Lane Head to Dudley Fields past the back end of Rough Wood. I guess I'm just in a eulogising mood!

It may only have been a small update, but it was undoubtedly a useful one, especially with regard to adding some more local stuff in amongst the buses and trains. As updates go, this batch was also more intimate than usual, getting me back into the swing of things and giving me the chance to ramble on about special little locations. These personal connections may seem somewhat trivial, but they lie at the heart of my exploration - from revisiting favourite spots from the past to discovering new places and making more great memories, thats what its all about, thats what I'm all about. It does me good to just remind myself of that from time to time...

Sunday, February 11

Testing Testing

Continuing the recent progress through into my later archive, I have now added another wave of test photos onto WME1 - this batch focuses on July 2005 and two trips in particular; a walk along the Daw End Branch canal from Aldridge to Brownhills, and a Rog outing to Coventry and Dorridge. Some pretty exciting pictures are emerging that could form the basis of a serious update, and therein lies the challenge...

After months of focusing closely on the older archive, I've got a bit out of practice when it comes to dealing with large volumes of new material. Suddenly, WME1 has had quite a growth spurt and I'm faced with a bulk of photos the likes of which I haven't had to contend with for absolutely ages - quite frankly, its all very daunting. My update work of late has revolved around slotting extra photos into established collections, a low-key fleshing out process that contrasts quite sharply with the large scale type of update that is now required.

I've got a lot to get my head around, reacquainting myself with photos I took 18 months ago and working out how these fit into the exploration tapestry as a whole. Some of the test collections are looking fairly huge (Walstest currently stands at 73 photos), and WME1 is now approaching the 500 mark once more. The photos offer tantalising potential, but there is a lot of tweaking and double-checking to do along the way so bear with me.

After a little period of apathy, I can feel the excitement and enthusiasm returning as I get in amongst the new photos. So far, I haven't yet harnessed the patience and discipline to drive through with any updates but I am working on it, and hope to knuckle down to some serious update action very soon. Keep those eyes peeled then!

Tuesday, February 6

Yes, I am still here

Once again, things have gone a little quiet on the WME front. The galleries seem to be ticking along nicely enough, and I haven't felt a great urge to sort out any more photos, so I've just left things alone for a while - giving me time to enjoy the cricket now that England have discovered something of a one-day winning streak.

There has been a little bit of site work though, chipping away at my photos from June and July 2005 and slowly filtering these through for testing on WME1. I'm quite pleased with the photos that have emerged thus far, and they should provide the basis for a really solid update next time round. Its been good to reconnect with some half-forgotten outings, especially my Goscote and Pelsall canal walk and the Rog trip to Tipton and Stowlawn.

Talking of Mr Chance, he has been busy bless 'im! I note the SBI Fotopic has been updated with stuff far more recent than I've been able to muster on WME. He's also got the SBI Blog moving a little (only a tad mind, still needs to work at it methinks), and then there's the small matter of his rather disturbing MySpace page, 'therogiscookin' - no mention of buses though, what is going on Rog? I'm also hoping we're going to find a way of discussing our exploration exploits so that they can be included on SBI Past alongside my 'Tales of a West Midlands Explorer', could be a nice feature. Hopefully I'll be reporting on the first Rog/Woody trip of 2007 soon with a Warwickshire plan in the pipeline ready to go, now there's something to look forward to!

So fear not, intrepid visitors to WME - all is well, I'm just having one of my quiet phases. It does me good to take a break from the galleries from time to time. The batteries are recharging as I type...