Saturday, April 20

D9 Does Solihull

It's Friday 19th April and there are potential sleeves, discounts and dives to be accounted for as the Marketing Board make Solihull their next destination...

- Camp Hill Locks with a hint of baldness -
After an early meeting at Bradley Lane Metro Stop (where the Chairman's sprinting skills were once again on show at 'Cob O'Clock'), members head through Birmingham to Bordesley for another survey of the Bordesley Station closet. Attention swiftly shifts to the Grand Union Canal and a stroll up the Camp Hill Locks towards Small Heath.

- Farm Park, Sparkbrook -
The Secretary's sleeves come into play at Small Heath Bridge when he introduces the Chairman to the closet buried in the brickwork. A detour towards Sparkbrook is then required for a mooch around Farm Park and a glimpse of the Marlborough, a distinctive former Mitchells & Butlers pub with a landmark clock turret.

- The Acocks Green Bowl -
The Grand Union grilling continues with the section from Anderton Road via the Ackers to Tyseley, the morning sun allowing the Chairman to top up the tan on his bald spot. Acocks Green then beckons with photos of the bowling alley and an excellent value late breakfast deal in the Spread Eagle Wetherspoon's.

- Wasp Chewing didn't mix with D9's Cappuccino Stout - 
To Solihull then where members can convene in the Masons Arms for a lunchtime pint of Titanic Cappuccino Stout, a very enjoyable ale provided there aren't any wasps to chew. Unfortunately the striped insects seem to be giving the Chairman some grief, and he suffers a particularly nasty attack when trying to give a driving masterclass on the number 5 bus.

- D9 Chews More Wasps in Solihull -

- The Red Lion, Shirley -
The 5 is the connection via Widney Manor to Cranmore Boulevard where the Secretary's sleeves rustle up another item in the form of Bernie's, a renowned off licence specialising in high quality real ales. Moving into Shirley, the boxlike 1960's frontage of the Red Lion catches the Chairman's eye although inside the pub is surprisingly homely when armed with some Slater's Top Totty.

- Stratford Canal at Hockley Heath -
The X20 Stratford-upon-Avon bus is next on the agenda, although members only need to catch it to Hockley Heath. The Wharf Tavern might well have been a beer opportunity but the Secretary's radar is twitching when he senses another pub somewhere along the towpath of the Stratford Canal...

- Mr Grumpy with a Scrumpy -
The Secretary's radar must have been on a long distance setting because the supposed short walk turned into a lengthy ramble that became quite an obstacle course in the muddiest patches. A disciplinary procedure was looming but the Secretary redeemed himself by revealing the Blue Bell, a traditional cider house not far from Earlswood Lakes. A rusty-coloured Black Rat is medicine indeed after all the hiking, and just for the record, the Chairman volunteered his own caption for the previous picture!

- The Saxon, Cheswick Green -
With his radar readjusted, the Secretary leads a march across to the Cheswick Green estate where the Saxon provides a brief but enjoyable spot of refreshment whilst we await the arrival of the S4 bus. The vehicle itself was an example of Central Connect's Signature branding with a very plush interior - the Chairman was so impressed he naturally had a go at driving it himself (after a fashion).

- The Foster & Allen Tribute Karaoke -
After a pit stop in Solihull, members make their way onto the 37 for a ride down the Warwick and Stratford Roads to Digbeth. The Irish community atmosphere in the Spotted Dog was so powerful that the Chairman felt compelled to break into song - luckily the Secretary resisted the offer to perform a duet!
- Old Empire in the Old Bush -
With all vocal chords suitably exercised, members complete proceedings by heading back through to Bradley Lane and rounding things off with a brief curtain call in the Old Bush. Despite the wasps, long walks and the singing it had been another top notch day out - here's to the next one!

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