Tuesday, November 25

Very Perry!

24th November 2014 and for my latest Monday menu we have a princely platter of Perry photography, accompanied by side dishes from Kingstanding and Great Barr. Here's what I cooked up yesterday...

- 33 at Pheasey Terminus -
The 934 is my choice of starter on this occasion, boarding on Sutton Road by Queen Mary's Grammar School for a ride that featured Daffodil Road, Fallowfield Road and Barr Beacon. I alight on Collingwood Drive for the Pheasey estate, reacquainting myself with previous photo targets such as the Collingwood Centre and the local branch library (a facility which could be threatened with closure due to Council cuts currently subject to public consultation). The 33 is on hand for my now-customary terminus picture directly outside the centre.

- Deers Leap Sign -
Just like a chef rummaging around in the back of the larder, I wanted to get deeper into Pheasey this time and see what other photographic ingredients I might be able to lay my hands on. Raeburn Road offers glimpses of Pheasey Park Farm Primary School then Wimperis Way has steep undulations to test out the stamina levels of passing cyclists. Doe Bank Lane has field views looking across towards Hundred Acre, while the Deers Leap pub still looks much as it did when I first came here back in May 2006.

- Hurlingham Road -
With a quick dash of Deers Leap bus terminus (now served by the 997 route) and a pinch of Buffet Island, I nibble my way into Kingstanding via Lambeth Road and Bandywood Road. Cedar Church and Bandywood Dry Cleaners are features to catch my eye initially, followed closely by Kingsland Primary School ("Get out of bed, rise and shine, Kingsland starts at five to nine" - or so their banner says) then the Sportsmans Rest pub on Cooksey Lane. Kingstanding Circle offers up bitesize chunks of Blunts Shoes and Mecca Bingo while Hurlingham Road is a pretty scene thanks to a golden autumnal avenue.

- Conker Island -
Anticipation builds for the main course now and 'Dish of the Day' is a place I can't remember properly visiting before - Warren Farm. The estate has an oval-shaped layout based around Warren Farm Road, Aylesbury Crescent and Danesbury Crescent. At the heart of it all is the Conker Island play area, flanked by local shops, a health centre, St John's Church and the Kingstanding Ex-Servicemen's Club.

- Kingstanding Leisure Centre -
Radiating out via Aylesbury Crescent and Dulwich Road, I pick off a few garnishes including Warren Farm Primary School and the Kingstanding Leisure Centre, both nice finds those. Brackenbury Road crosses College Road into Dovedale Road as I prepare for my Perry pudding. I'm intrigued to discover a pocket of new houses overlooked by Enderby Park, which itself seems like a freshly-created patch of open space. Out on the horizon I can see the stately features of Oscott College perched on a ridge.

- The Ring, Perry Common -
The annular characteristics of Warren Farm are echoed a little in Perry Common whereby Witton Lodge Road offers The Ring as its circle contribution. Again we find a park and play area surrounded by shops and local facilities, in this case St Martin's Church on one side and Perry Common Community Hall on the other. Recent remembrance activities have resulted in various trees being 'yarnbombed' with examples of knitted poppies, and very effective they look too!

- St John's, Perry Barr -
Crossways Court and Perry Common Library precede some College Road cuisine, pausing to note the Jewish Cemetery (junction with Warren Road) and the Boars Head pub-turned-buffet on the fork with Aldridge Road. Church Road reveals some hitherto unexplored aspects of Perry Barr so I'm delighted to add St John's Church, Aston Manor Cricket Club and the Church Tavern to my photographic plate. I particularly like the sense of an old village centre beyond the busy A34 dual carriageway.

- GMAC, Perry Park -
The Perry theme continues with Perry Park, home to the Alexander Stadium which hosts international athletics meetings and is the base for Birchfield Harriers. I'd never been here before but would definitely consider watching a meeting here in future - in the meantime it joins the esteemed ranks of sporting arenas I've photographed over the years. Neighbouring facilities include the High Performance Centre and GMAC, a dedicated gymnastics and martial arts complex.

- The Beeches -
Always being fond of desserts, I can't resist tucking into a piece of Perry Beeches for good measure. Treats here include the Beeches pub (a Hungry Horse chain affair on Thornbridge Avenue), Beeches Pool and Fitness Suite on Turnberry Road and the New Bell pub on Booth's Farm Road, which all combine to keep my camera well nourished.

- Great Barr War Memorial Hall -
By this stage I'm almost full to bursting point but there's time yet before the culinary curtain comes down. Great Barr is what you might term my coffee call, topping off the trip with Jayshaw Avenue, Red House Park, Great Barr Memorial Hall and the Beacon Harvester. With that the banquet is over and my shift at proper work awaits, but future feasts should hopefully feature in the not-too-distant future...

Tuesday, November 18

Hub Marketing 2014: Coventry

Friday 14th November 2014 and the Hub Marketing calendar has once more rolled around to our annual Coventry pilgrimage. The local feline population have thus been placed on high alert in case the Chairman should want to make their acquaintance, while the rest of us are instructed to look out for quiffs, Pudsey ears and random bits of tinned salmon...

- An early morning drive -
Members are up and about bright and early to catch the 07:45 London Euston departure from Wolverhampton, travelling in a first-class Virgin vestibule on a crowded commuter service. Coventry is in the midst of a heavy downpour when we arrive, so any thoughts of ferreting are put on hold in favour of staying dry aboard the 8A bus - the Chairman doing the honours with some expert wet weather driving.

- Modelling this year's quiff fashions -
Our scheduled breakfast stop was to be Pat's Cafe, the Clay Lane greasy spoon that so captured our imagination last year. Sadly our hopes were to be dashed once we discovered the premises had been sold, so we sought solace at Rosebuds on the main Walsgrave Road instead. Our Full English here is accompanied by the launch of the 2014 Quiff Collection, Mr D9 producing a rather fetching purple-grey ensemble held together with sticky tape - his creations have gone steadily more upmarket since the original quiff he fabricated out of a scrunched-up Metro newspaper!

- Riley Square -
Our breakfast preceded a ride out to Bell Green, the number 10 bus dodging the puddles along Blackberry Lane and through Henley Green before terminating outside Riley Square shopping parade. To critical eyes the precinct would be a depressing eyesore but I can't help having a certain fondness for its ugly spartan architecture taken straight from the 1960's and 1970's planning handbook - D9 is also appreciative even if neither of us would want to be here in the dark. 

- Bell Green Closet -
Our Bell Green investigations also reveal the Rose & Crown pub, a Working Men's Club, the Health Centre and a branch of the Coventry Building Society. The piece-de-resistance however is the Riley Square toilet block, a sleeve item from the WME memory bank that has the Chairman quite literally jumping for joy. A celebratory hot chocolate in the Bus Stop Cafe sets us up nicely for more estate exploration.

- Wood End 'Scenery' -
Hillmorton Road thus leads from Bell Green into neighbouring Wood End, a place that also wouldn't win any accolades for artistic merit. Two years ago I distinctly remember deserted streets of boarded-up houses awaiting demolition, so its encouraging to see the Spirit Quarters development taking shape on the side of the River Sowe. Some less appealing local landmarks still remain though, notably Dr Phillips Shopping Centre and the solemn starkness of St Chad's Church.

- Bald Spot at the Boat bar -
Having breached the bald defences in Wood End, the floodgates were left open as we continued on to Walsgrave, pausing for a welcome pint at the Boat on Shilton Lane. Sperrin's Ansley Mild was the tipple in question, perfect lubrication for some darts action although the WME aim was still a little rusty to begin with. Chairman D9 thus pocketed a 2-1 lead before the tribute quiff made a guest appearance from the back seat of the Travel de Courcey 703 service.

- Bird in Hand, Aldermans Green -
Alighting on Aldermans Green Road by the Methodist Chapel and Jubilee Hall, we nip into the Bird in Hand for a quick half. Here we occupy a bay window seat while watching Youtube videos depicting Coventry pubs past and present, including a few flat-boxed dives that might well have whetted the Chairman's appetite had they still been standing.

- A Coventry Cat! -
A Windmill Road wander is next on the agenda, skirting the edges of Longford Park where we chance upon our first cat of the day. The said moggy was somewhat startled when Mr D9 scurried over for a stroke, but soon calmed down when the Pudsey ears came into play. The Old Crown pub and Windmill Road Cemetery are photo targets before a short hop 20E up the Foleshill Road means the Chairman can christen the Edgwick Park closet.

- Former Foleshill Leisure Centre -
While the Edgwick Park example was certainly a most welcome feature, the Secretary had another sleeve toilet block in mind so a Foleshill ferret was required to find it. Lockhurst Lane yields sightings of the Crow but it's on Livingstone Road where we hit the jackpot, discovering the disused Foleshill Leisure Centre site complete with the sought-after closed conveniences. 

- Bridge 5, Coventry Canal -
Further Foleshill finds include the local branch library on Broad Street and an organ shop on Stoney Stanton Road. We then pass into the realms of Paradise, happening across the Adam & Eve pub on Eden Street where the landlord thought we'd come for a meeting about the local allotments - I blame the quiff! One swift half of Worthington's later, we follow a track down by the Coventry Canal and stage some impromptu karaoke over by Bridge 5 - sadly our mangled rendition of 'Three Steps To Heaven' didn't do Eddie Cochran any justice whatsoever.

- Double Duty for the Secretary -
The backstreet pubs theme continues awhile with the Bricklayers Arms, an Irish community pub on Cromwell Street with music straight off Bob Brolly's radio playlist. This is soon followed by the Rose & Woodbine in Stoke Heath, a watering hole we've been valiantly attempting to visit for the last three years and this time we finally succeeded. Such an auspicious occasion demanded more darts, and despite WME's sudden burst of double-hitting prowess it was Mr D9 who ultimately triumphed 5-4.

- An Enterprising Approach to Hub Marketing -
The evening was drawing in so members boarded the number 10 back to Coventry, whereupon events took an enterprising turn outside Coventry University's Ellen Terry building. Whitefriars Olde Alehouse produces a brief encounter with a Fusilier whereas its the Worcester Sorcerer that we meet by way of the Earl of Mercia - none of which explains how two tins of wild salmon have suddenly made their way into the Chairman's possession; I thought we were doing Ron West not John West!!

- A Fishy Finale -
That just leaves us with two closing tipples courtesy of the Town Wall Tavern and the Gatehouse, the latter being a suitable setting for Mr D9 to display all his various props for the day. The 19:22 train home then beckons and another Hub Marketing masterpiece is sadly over - it had certainly been a rock and roll day out though. Cheers!

Saturday, November 1

WME Flickr Focus: October 2014

Like a newspaper bloke trying to shift copies of the evening edition, this month’s theme can best be summed up as “Extra, Extra, Read All About It”! Yes indeed, October’s updates were solely dedicated to the Exploration Extra ream of my photostream, so let’s see which far-flung arrivals are making the headlines…

There might not have been any West Midlands representation among my recent offerings but my archives have been raided for items from elsewhere in the country. Starting down south in Dorset, Weymouth wades in with pretty harbour views and a glimpse of a lifeboat, while Swanage summons up a platform view from the town’s scenic heritage railway station – or perhaps you’d prefer a ride on the Sandbanks ferry! A train is then on duty in Southampton as we move through Hampshire, while over in West Sussex there’s a showing for Horsham’s Anchor Hotel plus some curious carved sheep.

Proceeding through the wider Midlands at considerable pace, there’s a pub photo pit-stop in Oxford to note the Duke’s Cut inn, whereas in Derbyshire the Black Swan in Ashover also gets a brief mention. Either side of the Pennines the old Roses counties battle for supremacy: Lancashire stakes a claim with Old Trafford cricket ground and Manchester Piccadilly station but Yorkshire counters that with Rotherham bus interchange and Sheffield’s famous Crucible Theatre.

Not to be outdone, the northern counties have ensured their inclusion. To the west, Cumbria contributes Grange-over-Sands Station and the Ratty Arms at Ravenglass, not forgetting some quintessential Lake District scenery courtesy of Derwent Water. Over to the east, County Durham delivers cricketing pictures from Chester-le-Street plus platform platters from both Durham and Newcastle. A whirlwind tour of the country then and all from the comfort of your own armchair!