- A Breakfast Cuppa -
A Bradley Lane rendezvous means members meet aboard the Midland Metro in advance of a brief stay at The Hawthorns (where the proximity to all things West Bromwich Albion still makes the Secretary shudder). A hassle-free interchange brings our onward train to Kidderminster and we touch down in Worcestershire's carpet town just in time for breakfast. This in turn is ably supplied by the Oxford Cafe complete with red chairs, fried bread and black pudding - wonderful!
- Rugged Driving on the 3 -
Fortified for the exertions to come, we board the 3 at Kidderminster Bus Station and partake of a Diamond DaySaver at £2.80 each. Always one for some novelty headgear, the Chairman uses the back seat setting to unveil his latest anti-baldness device in the form of a floppy blanket. The jury is still out on whether it properly qualifies as a rug but this does not prevent Mr D9 from steering us to Stourport via Birchen Coppice.
- Mitton Chapel Bridge -
The Secretary has a longstanding fondness for Stourport-on-Severn dating from childhood holidays spent at his Nan's caravan in the area, while the historic canal basins are always worth a visit. The towpath beckons today with a stretch along the Staffordshire & Worcestershire from York Street Lock to Leapgate Railway Bridge. Along the way there are bridges at Gilgal and Mitton Chapel, D9 comes over all David Attenborough when paying close attention to some frisky ducks and there's the prospect of an opening Hobsons half at the Bird in Hand. 'WME Whirlwind' took rather a shine to the dartboard here, powering his way to a 3-0 lead as 'D9 Destroyer' withered in the face of consistent scoring.
- Leapgate Old Railway Line -
The disused railway bridge is our cue to leave the canal behind and join the old trackbed above which has been retained as a linear country park walkway. Stourport had a station on the original Severn Valley Railway route which formerly connected Shrewsbury and Hartlebury (the current heritage operation reflects only part of the line), and there was also a halt at nearby Burlish Crossing. We take the path for the short distance to Wilden enjoying some scenic views of the River Stour.
- Caveman Chairman -
At Wilden the Chairman can unleash his inner neanderthal during a visit to the Rock Tavern. The pub itself is food-orientated and quite posh but does have a spectacular smoking shelter courtesy of a sandstone cave. We aren't quite brave enough to venture deeper within (it looked very dark) so we take the safer option of sampling the Bay Horse, a cosy Marston's local on the Hartlebury Road.
- The Stourport Skellyman -
Meandering our way back into Stourport town centre, we make the acquaintance of a certain Skellyman outside a scooter repair place. Bones rattled, we switch our attention to two of Stourport's Good Beer Guide entries, the Hollybush (Black Country Ales) and the Black Star (Wye Valley Brewery). Both pubs meet with members' considered approval thanks to the provision of excellent ales, Titanic Plum Porter and Dorothy Goodbody's Wholesome Stout respectively.
- Stagborough Arms -
By this stage the Chairman was aching for a proper precinct pub, the kind with limited architectural merit and a roof of dubious proportions. Luckily the Secretary knows precisely the place, just down Lickhill Road a little further on from the Memorial Park. The Stagborough Arms is thus revealed perched next to the local shops; some Worcestershire Way (Bewdley Brewery) accompanies our further attempts on the dartboard but the 'D9 Destroyer' is still losing despite a remarkable bulls-eye induced 70 checkout.
- A Grizzly Situation -
From the Stagborough we take a stroll down by the Severn, inspecting the Riverside Gardens (and closets) before venturing into the Treasure Island amusement park. There are plenty of pirates to pose with here, not to mention Disney characters, scrummaging rugby players and a certain purple dinosaur. Our chosen picture from this portion of the trip shows Mr D9 embracing an ursine companion with great gusto.
- A Cheapside Bald Spot -
Continuing our riverside ramble, we tiptoe across the locks in the shadow of the Tontine and then explore old factory remains at Cheapside. The Chairman is distracted by a vintage clocking-in machine and leaves his bald spot unguarded (no 'rug' to save him this time) before atmospheric alleyways take us round by the Angel and thence onto High Street for our next bus.
- It's just not cricket! -
A quick pit stop at Birchen Coppice (where Mr D9 drools about the Radcliffe Arms) precedes a final flourish in Kidderminster itself. Two Weavers establishments of differing sizes take pride of place on our itinerary here - the Park Lane version having Father Mike's Dark Rich Ruby (and a game of darts 'cricket' that had D9 grumbling about the rules) while the Comberton Hill counterpart offered Corvedale's Dark and Delicious. A wait for our train means surreptitious munching of scotch eggs, and our carpeting crusade is complete once more. Cheers!