- A Moose Moment -
We begin the afternoon by catching the train down from the West Midlands, exiting Kidderminster Station in search of our first tipple of the day. Tucked away on Farfield (just behind the Worcester-bound platform) we find the Station Inn on the end of a pretty row of cottages. The pub has earned Good Beer Guide recognition and is where Nick makes the acquaintance of a silver moose that was apparently quite partial to a drop of Enville Ale.
- Preparing for War -
Maintaining the railway theme, we move across to the King & Castle, housed in the Severn Valley station and retaining the style of a GWR waiting room. We savour a half of Holden's Kennedy's Carouse, part of the brewery's 2013 series of World Leader monthly specials, and then take a wider look around the station concourse where preparations are underway for a wartime weekend over the Bank Holiday.
- Bull Ring, Kidderminster -
Continuing down into Kidderminster Town Centre, we pick our way through the market stalls by the Swan Centre and make use of the Thursday Curry Club deals available at Wetherspoons. The Penny Black overlooks the Bull Ring area of town and features a portrait of Sir Ralph Clare, a prominent local Royalist during the English Civil War.
- Kidderminster Lock -
It isn't all pubs and beer today as we take time out for a towpath trail along the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. We cover the short section from Caldwell Hall Bridge (Castle Road) to Limekiln Bridge (Clensmore Street), a stretch which includes Kidderminster Lock as overlooked by the mighty St Mary's Church. The walk gives us time to debate where our Civil War allegiances might have lain, prompting the question whether one could ever be a Cavalier without having a headful of flowing locks.
- In the Olde Seven Stars -
Finding our way to Coventry Street, there was one pub in town we were keen to try above all others. The Olde Seven Stars has won recognition as a local CAMRA Pub of the Year and we simply had to investigate, discovering a place with wood panelling, hop decorations and an inglenook fireplace. We sample some Auntie Myrtle's ale (brewed in Leominster) and note a leaning towards all things Norwich City, including piles of football programmes and the occasional picture of Delia Smith!
- Enjoying the Festival -
Time then for the festival itself, which was now well underway in the Town Hall and as CAMRA members we could get in for an advance preview before 6pm. The theme of the event was the Penny Black in honour of Kidderminster's famous son Sir Rowland Hill, hence the envelope logo on the commemorative glasses and the volunteers' t-shirts. Local breweries were showcased alongside a selection of Yorkshire ales, and among those we sampled were Going Postal, Worcestershire Sway, Saltaire Elderflower, Kinver Over the Hill and the William Mucklow's Dark Mild. The event made a promising first impression and was very welcoming with a relaxing, celebratory atmosphere - long may it continue! Nick was especially enthusiastic about the whole thing, although that probably had something to do with being given more tokens than everybody else!
- The Railway Train -
With those tokens all spent, we take our leave from the Town Hall and troop a few steps across the road to see what the Swan had to offer (a closing half of Cannon Royall's Hood as it turned out). All that then remains is to return to the station for our homeward train, although we take a slight Offmore Road detour to locate some pubs for future reference, one of which was the Railway Train seen above. The only obstacle on the way back was a thirty second connection window at Smethwick Galton Bridge, and when that was negotiated successfully we knew that we'd had a very good afternoon indeed!