Saturday, August 30

A Series of Mini Updates

As promised its time to reflect on the latest happenings at the WME galleries, and in a curious echo of my recent explorations, site updates have been small scale and steady rather than big hitting blockbusters...

First off, its good news for WME Sandwell. After a while in the doldrums, the gallery has burst back into life with some new canal content. The Dudley No. 2 Canal makes a welcome appearance in the guise of Wrights Bridge and Gosty Hill Bridge; a useful view of the striking Engine Arm Aqueduct has joined the New Birmingham Main Line; and the Old Main Line gets in on the act by receiving a photo of Smethwick Junction. Away from the canals, I am also pleased to report a photo of The Bush pub joining Exploring Wednesbury, whilst the latest incarnation of the traditional Birmingham platform photo has arrived on Smethwick Rolfe Street Station.

To Exploration Extra next, where we have a new collection focusing on my Great Yarmouth holiday from July last year. The first photos making the cut here include Caister Library, the Ship pub, Wymondham Station and Neptunes Palace at Gorleston. Hopefully there is much more to come, but its always nice to capture a completely new area of the country on EE with East Anglia fitting the bill nicely.

Things have been more sporadic as far as the other galleries are concerned. WME Dudley has received local photos featuring the New Inn at Quarry Bank and horses grazing at the Northway; WME Birmingham awakens from recent slumbers with a second view of the Stockland pub on Exploring Stockland Green; there's a 634 Banga Bus shot joining the Wolverhampton by Bus collection on WME Wolverhampton; WME Staffordshire now boasts a veritable series of Bridge 73 Trent & Mersey Canal photos; and finally, there's canal content too for WME Walsall as Pelsall Works Bridge finds its way into the Wyrley & Essington Canal collection - twice!

Considering that amounts to a whole months work on WME, there perhaps isn't that much to show for my efforts recently. Combined with July's updates this has made for a very quiet summer - now its over to autumn to see if I can rebuild some momentum...

Friday, August 29

A Series of Mini Adventures

Rather than doing a big trip for August, I have instead concentrated on a selection of smaller explorations to keep things ticking over. Here's what I've been up to since that Claverley and Worfield walk at the beginning of the month...

8th August - a cricketing adventure that saw me eventually find my way across to Edgbaston with Warwickshire vs Northamptonshire providing the sporting action. Northants declared on 407 for 8, with Warwickshire crawling to 120 for 3 by the time bad light brought an early close. The lunch interval gave me the chance to explore Cannon Hill Park, getting photos of the various plants and pools - a real treat!

18th and 22nd August - a couple of lunchtime outings, beginning with a look around Upper Gornal that featured the Jolly Crispin and the old Green Dragon, now an oriental restaurant. Then it was the turn of Ocker Hill for some exploration attention, doing a loop from Wednesbury Parkway Metro for shots of the Bush, the Waggon & Horses and Ocker Hill Church.

23rd August - a Saturday morning Shugborough walk with Dad, setting out from Severn Springs then flirting with Little Haywood where we joined the Trent and Mersey Canal. I added to my Bridge 73 photo collection before we renewed our acquaintance with Essex Bridge and the Shugborough estate. We finished off with a stroll through the Chase covering the section from Punch Bowl to the Stepping Stones and back to Severn Springs.

27th August - I was on a mission to try out the trial 612 bus serving the Wolverhampton Swimming and Fitness Centre, so I made my way across to Wobaston to track the route down. I caught the bus at Patshull Avenue and enjoyed a quiet ride up through Low Hill, Fallings Park and Wednesfield to the terminus outside the centre's main entrance. The friendly driver gave a thumbs up and a big smile as I took the photo - I wonder whether the route will be retained after the summer holidays? A few Bentley Bridge photos followed, then I caught the 18 Green Bus up to Broad Lane North before concluding matters with photos of the Spread Eagle and the Broadway.

29th August - and finally, a mini-outing exploring around Bescot this morning. I made my way across to Wednesbury to catch the 679, a route that links Wednesbury with Morrisons at Walsall via Mesty Croft, Friar Park and Yew Tree (although the section between Yew Tree and Morrisons is due to be withdrawn from Sunday). At Morrisons I was able to photo the 414 on the car park before embarking on a bit of a hike around Fullbrook and The Delves for pictures of Palfrey Park, the New Fullbrook pub, Broadway Shops, The Tiger on Walstead Road, Delves Green and South Walsall Library. Bescot Station finished things off nicely, albeit the station looks as uninspiring as ever despite being refurbished last year.

And so another month passes by. I'm hoping to use the last couple of days of August to squeak through a few site updates, along with an appropriate blog posting to fill you in on all the lurid details, and then we'll see what September has in store...

Sunday, August 3

Stile Gurus

Dad and I ventured into Shropshire for the latest in our series of weekend walks, with this instalment providing a handy introduction to the villages of Worfield and Claverley.

Worfield had caught my eye previously during visits to Bridgnorth, with The Wheel pub being a particularly well-known landmark, so I was keen to see what else the village may have to offer. We turned off opposite the pub to follow a lane down to the village hall where we parked. I could see houses and possibly a church a little further on looking like they might offer some potential, whilst the hall itself got my photos off and running.

The walk itself took us away from the village and down the lane towards Albrighton. We then battled a series of enclosed paths complete with head high nettles, thick brambles and other thorny vegetation, before crossing a little brook and emerging into Hilton. The village is only small, comprising pretty cottages and posh-looking houses with Hilton Hall seeming particularly imposing. Crossing the A454, we head up hill and across fields, making our way through Rudge Heath admiring farmsteads and catching a glimpse of the Royal Oak pub. Nearing Claverley we encountered a chicken farm with signs up warning walkers that the chickens might follow you - this didn't concern me too much at first, until I turned around and saw mass ranks of chickens converging on me with some particularly inquisitive birds looking ready to peck my ankles!!

Escaping the chickens we emerge down a steep path and onto the lane at Claverley. The village was totally charming, with narrow streets, traditional cottages and lots of flowers. The church and neighbouring bull ring caught my eye, especially the black and white guildhall type building, whilst there was also a selection of pubs to investigate - the Kings Arms by the church, with the Crown next followed by the Plough at the top of the High Street. Dad and I chose the Crown for a much-needed pint, giving me chance to admire the beams and catch up on the cricket score. Claverley certainly made an impression, and I'd like to check out the possibilities of returning here either by bus or further walking adventures.

Refreshed, we set off on the return leg to Worfield. This took us past a rather isolated war memorial and down to Lawn Turns junction, where we took the lane through Woundale and along a bridleway to emerge onto Worfield Golf Course. The course looked well presented and quite popular with golfers out enjoying a round in the sunshine, with Dad and I following the course edge round to the clubhouse then walking through the car park down to the village. Here I caught a glimpse of a little butchers shop just down from the Wheel, before we diverted up a driveway and back to the village hall.

I don't feel as if I've fully got to grips with Worfield yet, but this walk was a good starting point for further exploration. All in all, it was an afternoon well spent, getting some exercise, making the most of some fine weather and having a nice pint in a proper village pub. As for the stiles, there were plenty of them hence we felt like fully qualified 'stile gurus' come the end of the walk, and I'm certainly not in any hurry to encounter those chickens again!