Saturday, May 6

Northycote and Underhill

There's nothing I like better on a beautiful spring morning than getting out and about taking a few pictures, and I don't always have to go very far to gather a sizeable set of photos. Thursday 4th May placed some glorious sunshine at my disposal so I stayed close to home by visiting some of my favourite doorstep haunts. The walk went on to prove that even in the most familiar places there can still be new discoveries waiting to be made...

- Bushbury Arms House -
I'll begin if I may with an update from Low Hill (Showell Circus to be precise) where the transformation of the Bushbury Arms from public house to residential apartments has been complete for a while. The new houses of Sewell Gardens (on the former pub's back lawn) are also fully occupied although the Dale House site on the other side of 'The Circle' still remains empty. At least Low Hill Library is still on hand much as it's always been, looking out from the corner of Kempthorne Avenue and Jenks Avenue.

- St Mary's Churchyard -
A glance through the blog archives confirms that the combination of Low Hill - Bushbury Church - Northwood Park is one I've strung together several times on my doorstep wanderings, so if it ain't broke don't fix it! St Mary's Churchyard ensures that pattern is very much maintained as I eye up a few views among the headstones with hints of bluebells. 

- Flamin' Chicken -
Crossing Bushbury Lane, I venture once more into the Northwood Park estate where I've previously noted the conversion of the Staffordshire Volunteer into a convenience store (initially a Family Shopper, now a One Stop). This shop has latterly been joined in the old pub premises by a hairdressers salon and the Flamin' Chicken fast food takeaway. Nearby, both Northwood Park Primary School and the Broadway Gardens Retirement Village are serving as polling stations for the election of the West Midlands Metropolitan Mayor.

- A Sheepish Shot -
And so to Northycote Farm where notices advise that the lambing season is in full swing; indeed, one tiny woolly character is particularly cute when baa-ing in my direction! My customary visit to the herb garden confirms that the lemon balm, sage and lavender seem to be flourishing this year, but one addition to the farm's attractions that I hadn't photographed before is an impressive sensory area with varied planting that showcases different colours, scents and textures.

- Underhill Shops -
Just along the lane from the farm is Underhill where the local shops on Westcroft Avenue include a hairdressers, an undertakers and a cafe - I manage to resist the lure of hot roast pork, instead focusing on the steady stream of number 11 buses terminating here. Elsewhere, the Wulfrun Rose care home has taken over the site where Underhill House once stood and the Talisman still looks rather ominous as a pub prospect.

- The Berry Brook Farm -
Emerging onto the Cannock Road, there's a name change to contend with whereby the (New) Pear Tree is now calling itself the Berry Brook Farm following another makeover. Westcroft straddles the border with Staffordshire but I stay within the bounds of Wolverhampton (Belton Avenue, Blackhalve Lane) in taking a look at Wood Hayes; building work is finally underway here after the old pub grounds had lain disused for several years. A ride on the 11 (via The Scotlands and Fallings Park) rounds things off neatly and I have to say that was a rather productive morning's work!

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