Wednesday, March 20

The Hollywood Experience

Monday March 18th and perhaps I should begin with a clarification. No, I haven't been to Los Angeles, nor have I been subjected to the withering criticism of a certain silver-haired judge off 'The Great British Bake Off'. The Hollywood I refer to is a village estate on the fringes of Birmingham and Worcestershire that I visited by means of a walk from Warstock to Whitlocks End...

- Yardley Wood Station -
Things get underway with a ride out to Yardley Wood, a location I first encountered over ten years ago and I'm pleased to say that the station is still the same old place with its terracotta-coloured railings and compact ticket office. The distinctive shops on Highfield Road greet me like old friends where the butchers and wine store have been fixtures here since my photos in 2003. I add in shots of Behan's Bar (formerly the Sherwood public house) and track down the local library off a further section of Highfield Road.

- Warstock Community Centre -
I may have explored Yardley Wood a fair bit over the years but my knowledge of Warstock was altogether much more sketchy despite it being just up School Road. The local community centre initially catches my eye and I also note Simpsons store, a McDonalds drive-thru and the close proximity of Yardley Wood Bus Garage. 

- Bridge 4 -
A wander down Warstock Lane brings me onto the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal at Bridge 4. The towpath wiggles around the back of the bus depot and then passes beneath School Road where Bridge 6 towers over you with its prominent arch. Things then get quite waterlogged and I have to wade my way through various degrees of mud before exiting at Bridge 7 for Solihull Lodge.

- The Prince of Wales -
It's quite handy including a little slab of Solihull on the outing as I make my way along Solihull Lodge High Street passing Peterbrook School. The Lodge is one local pub on Yardley Wood Road and I soon add in the Prince of Wales as I re-enter Birmingham territory at Highters Heath.

- Maypole at Maypole -
I complete my loop of Warstock by investigating the old number 2 bus terminus at Langstone Road/Arlington Road - the current 2 still finishes here during evening journeys. Glenavon Road then connects me with the main A435 Alcester Road South where I can reacquaint myself with Druids Heath Library and the shops at Maypole roundabout. The maypole itself stands proudly in a landscaped area outside Halfords and has a weather cock atop a red and white striped stake.

- Hollywood Post Office -
Hollywood now beckons as I cross into Worcestershire with the continuation of Alcester Road. There isn't much in the way of Tinseltown magic in the air but I do have some good photo targets including the local post office on Hollywood Gardens followed by the Pack Horse pub.

- Wythall Parish War Memorial -
There is a distinct primaveral feel as I reach Drakes Cross where the crocuses are just starting to peep out around by the parish war memorial. The White Swan adds to my pub pictures down by Houndsfield Lane and I also seek out the village library, tucked away behind the Wythall Business Centre off May Lane.

- Train at Whitlocks End -
There's no sign of any red carpet treatment as I round off my adventure with a stroll through Trueman's Heath, following the country lane out to Whitlocks End. Thanks to the construction of a turnback facility, the station here now serves as the terminus for local trains that previously finished their journeys at Shirley, giving me a 20 minute frequency for options back into Birmingham. As it happened I didn't have to wait long at all, and there was just enough time for a train shot or two before I hopped aboard to complete another enjoyable exercise in West Midlands Exploration.

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