Monday: A taste of Sandwell with a morning walk around Horseley Heath and Tividale. My route included Lower Church Lane (Tipton Police Station and the Old Courthouse), Alexandra Road (the Cottage Spring and Tipton Cemetery), Horseley Heath (the old post office and the Port & Ale), the Old Main Line Canal (Tividale Aqueduct and Gilberts Bridge) and Dudley Road West (Tividale Park, the Wonder and the Albion) - some good finds amongst all that lot!
Tuesday: risking a Sandwell overload with a Titford Tour around Langley and Blackheath.
- Hurst Green got me started with the Clock and the Fairfield, then it was Causeway Green for the Wing Wah (formerley the Hen and Chickens) and the post office.
- Langley next, visiting the Carnegie-built library and Barnford Hill Park, folowed by a quick loop of Rood End to find that the Gate pub is now a builder's merchants.
- The centrepiece of the trip was a walk along the Titford Canal - Oldbury Junction still looks horrific even with the sun shining, but the locks and pumphouse proved much more appealing. It was a shame to see the perilous condition of the Langley Maltings building, a sad ruin with most of its roof missing.
- Lunch in Langley and back on the towpath. There's a junction just after Jarvis Bridge - Whiteheath is straight on but I bear right under the M5 and out to Birchfield Lane.
- Lion Farm beckons - not my favourite estate it must be said, but I'm pleased to locate Rounds Green Library and the Phoenix pub.
- Wander down to Whiteheath, where the Gate pub is being demolished and the local shops are being redeveloped.
- Onwards to Blackheath to track down a photo of the 129 route (soon to be withdrawn) and to note that the California pub has found a new lease of life as a bridal shop - the mind boggles!
- I finish with a ride on the 88, another route facing the chop. Intriguing journey back through Hurst Green and Langley, with the Londonderry and Uplands section giving me a few future targets.
Thursday: now this is more like it, a bit of extended sunshine. Compton and Tettenhall Wood are my destinations for a cracking little stroll, my photo targets this time including the Shoulder of Mutton, the 501 bus terminus and the former Tettenhall Wood Library - all rounded off with a perfect pint courtesy of the Royal Oak.
Friday morning: sunshine and showers were on the menu this time, so I decided to brave Birmingham for a wander around Aston and Nechells. Star finds here were pubs such as the King Edward VII, the Aston Tavern (closed down near to the parish church) and the Villa Tavern (corner of Nechells Park Road opposite the impressive old baths). I had planned to investigate the canals around Spaghetti Junction, but this was quickly aborted thanks to one of those pesky showers. The rain was short-lived but bordered on the torrential, so there was nothing to do but seek shelter and dry off at Bridge 109. Twenty minutes later its blazing sunshine but I still look like a drowned rat - I grab a quick look at Cuckoo Bridge and Aston Bottom Lock on my way back to the station.
Friday afternoon: still feeling a bit soggy, its back to Wolverhampton to meet up with Stephen. Unfortunately the showers have followed me over from Brum, and round 2 sees me get soaked again as we head for HSBC. Codsall and Wednesfield then feature as we sample the Station and the Vine, a couple of distinctive pubs to act as the backdrop to our debates and reflections. The Station was another towards my Holden's collection and featured some choice railwayana and a pint of Ironbridge Foundry Gold, whilst the Vine had an austere quality befitting its inter-war heritage and is the current Wolverhampton CAMRA pub of the year.
Saturday: Matchday at the Molineux as Dad and I attend Wolves v Everton. A pre-match pint takes us to the Combermere Arms on Chapel Ash, the place was alive with anticipation and doing a good trade. The game itself finished as a goalless draw, Wolves showing plenty of character although Everton may feel a bit unlucky not to have won.
A busy week then despite the weather, I think I did well to cram in so much activity. I still have another week of holiday to contend with, and if anything the outlook for this coming week is even worse although I remain cautiously optimistic I'll be able to get out somewhere...