Saturday 24th October saw Woody, Andy and myself enjoy an entertaining and eventful day out in Worcestershire, during which we visited Great Malvern, Droitwich Spa and Areley Kings. Here is the tale of the trip...
- An earlyish start sees me on the 9:12 train from Smethwick Galton Bridge to Kidderminster, with Andy successfully completing a sprint finish to join me on board at Rowley Regis (even though it took him most of the morning to recover from his exertions). Mr Wood completes the party at Stourbridge Junction, and we look forward to the day ahead.
- We alight at Kidderminster only to find that a bloke completely out of it on drink, drugs or something is making a nuisance of himself. We head off to get some supplies and investigate a vintage National Express coach on the forecourt of the Severn Valley station, then return to the main platforms to find our Worcester train has been mysteriously delayed. It transpired that the guy from earlier had decided to stagger along the track, causing a trespass incident and he was lucky that the train was going slowly and able to pick him up. As Woody rightly says, it wouldn't be a true outing unless something bizarre happens somewhere or other...
- To Worcester then, and the delay means we have no time to lose. Its straight to the bus station to catch the 44, whisking us off to Great Malvern via Malvern Link and Barnards Green. This was an interesting ride that included a look at Powick and a visit to a retail park where the bus does a tight 360-degree turn. The journey also marked the return of the curse of Andy's bladder, thankfully he just about held out but it wasn't looking good.
- Great Malvern proved a delight to explore, once Andy's bladder was sorted at least. Climbing up to the top part of the town, I was able to get photos of the post office, tourist information centre and the Unicorn pub - and could that have been Su Pollard I spotted browsing some of the shops? The 44 does a loop of the town centre, so we catch it by the Foley Arms and return to Worcester with Andy showing no further signs of discomfort as yet.
- Back in Worcester its time for lunch, so we visit the Postal Order Wetherspoon's by Foregate Street Station. The place was packed out, mainly with pre-match rugby fans, but we found a table in the corner by the TV. Sadly, the Wolves match wasn't showing but Woody did enjoy the weather forecast as we ate our chicken tikkas and gourmet burgers. Hunger slayed, its off to the bus station for a photo or two and then our next bus.
- We're running a little ahead of schedule so Woody recommends we venture off plan for a while and squeeze in a visit to Droitwich. The 244 gets us there in good time, although the almost deserted bus did lead to comments that it "doesn't make a big fat profit"! We couldn't see any sign of the Diamond Bus depot as we headed into the town, so we consoled ourselves in the Westcroft with a pint of Guinness, a couple of Cheers photos and a look at the football - Wolves and Villa were drawing 0-0 at the time.
- Continuing with the unplanned element, our next move sees us catch the 133 direct to Kidderminster. This was another journey where fellow passengers were conspicuous by their absence, but the route did provide an enjoyable ride through Chaddesley Corbett and Harvington, where two lads hopped on board only to be terrorised by an innocent looking wasp. News from home reveals Wolves have secured a 1-1 draw against Villa at Molineux, a good point against our local rivals.
- After investigating a parade of Whittles at Kiddy, we change onto the 3 for our Areley Kings connection. It was good to finally have a proper look at the area having only passed through without stopping previously. Views of the Kings Arms, local church and garage ensure the photo quota is sorted, and we pop into the Astley Cross for a quick pint. Waiting for our return bus to Stourport, a First 3 heads towards the estate but never resurfaces, leaving us to conclude that the driver had taken a naughty shortcut. There's nothing for it but to have another drink, this time in the Squirrel, and hope the 294 doesn't let us down. Andy just has time to get intimately acquainted with the 'Worcestershire hub' before the bus arrives...
- The 294 maintained the theme set by the 244 and 133 in providing another quiet countryside journey. The Red Lion crossroads seemed familiar for some reason, and we enter Worcester via Henwick Park with its intriguing bus terminus and University buildings. Teatime sees us back in the Postal Order, then its onto the 18:49 train home, darkness setting in as we ponder the merits of Hartlebury Station.