- D9 drives the 11C -
Starting with Friday 3rd March and the Outer Circle extravaganza saw Mr D9 and I completing a full circuit of the famous bus route. There was plenty of scope for the Chairman to demonstrate his driving prowess before the morning included a classic greasy spoon breakfast courtesy of Stan's in Handsworth - Pepsi signs, fried bread and black pudding, what more could anyone ask for?
- WME triumphs 10-2 in the darts duel -
The customary hub darts contest took place over two venues: WME Whirlwind secured a sizeable 6-2 lead in Stockland Green (where the former Stockland pub is now trading again as the Village Green Flaming Grill) which he followed with four unanswered legs at the North Star in Stechford (D9 was probably too busy drooling over the flat roof architecture). The heavy rain didn't stop us from attempting the occasional photo, notably collecting shots of Stechford's supposed village green accompanied by Station Road shops.
- Inn on the Green, Acocks Green -
Talking of greens, Acocks Green provided the thrust of our afternoon investigations where pub possibilities included the Great Western, the Auld Triangle (rechristened from the Red Lion) and the Inn on the Green. The last of those was Birmingham CAMRA branch's Pub of the Year winner in both 2015 and 2016, a real ale pedigree that prompted us to try out the Bitter Brummie and A Stout With No Name. Cracking beer and a real Brum landmark, the pub looks out over the busy Warwick Road roundabout at the heart of the village.
- The Bald Spot taking 'Pride' of place -
Completing the 11C loop involved some evening endeavours in Cotteridge and Selly Oak. Cotteridge Social Club was a real find complete with chintzy furniture and serious scratchings, then the Chairman reminisced about local character the Cotteridge Growler who died recently. The bald spot clocked in outside Cotteridge Shops and there was a dusky photocall at the former Selly Oak bus depot as we recalled memorable drivers of the past. The whole day was rounded off with some curry goat in Handsworth where Mr D9 enthusiastically made the most of some Cross Guns hospitality.
- BFG in the Black Country Arms -
And so to Walsall where the town's annual beer festival was initially scheduled to be held at the MPV on Intown Row/Whittimere Street. A licensing issue however meant the event could not proceed there but all was not lost - a scaled-down festival was set up at the Black Country Arms instead so that's where Dad, Nick and I were headed on Saturday 11th March. For a salvage situation this was an impressive effort and among the beers we savoured were BFG, Plum Mild, Chocolate Slug Porter, Shakespeare Bard's Best and Salopian Freeze Frame. Talk of Austrian holidays and Engelbert Humperdinck kept us very much entertained although Nick nearly upset the natives by confessing his dislike for rugby!
- Something dark in the Wheatsheaf -
Besides the Black Country Arms, some other Walsall pubs also stepped into the breach by hosting ales originally intended for the MPV. Our itinerary thus took us to the Wheatsheaf and the Victoria (Katz) which between them supplied us with Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby, Holdens XB and Church End Gravediggers Mild plus more rugby. A discussion about driverless cars and the welfare state concluded some wide-ranging conversation and we thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon. Thanks are therefore due to Walsall CAMRA for their sterling efforts in difficult circumstances - cheers!