Saturday, May 31

Newport and Gnosall

Last time around I pondered my lack of exploration activity thus far in May, and lamented the lack of a feature trip for the month. Those concerns have now been laid to rest thanks to a nice little outing yesterday, making the most of a bit of sunshine by exploring Newport and Gnosall.

Newport provided a cracking morning's exploring, renewing my acquaintance with this charming Shropshire market town and recalling memories of a visit with Rog and Woody last year. After a brief call at Stafford I hopped onto the 481 bus for a ride through Haughton and Gnosall before alighting at the bus interchange. After a couple of bus stop photos, I made my way along the main street attempting photos of the impressive Guild Hall building, along with pubs such as the Shakespeare, the Railway Tavern and the Pheasant. I had a quick look in the local library before heading up past the church to discover more pubs, the Swan and the Bridge. My favourite discovery though was the remains of the old Newport Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal - the branch had long been abandoned but a section on the edge of the town centre was restored some years back to create the present day walkway, and I certainly enjoyed getting a variety of views of the resulting oasis of green. Soon it was back into town and a dash to the interchange for a photo of the 350 D&G route to Eccleshall and Hanley, a nice little bonus whilst waiting for the 481 back towards Stafford.

I spent the afternoon investigating Gnosall, a rather large Staffordshire village near the Shropshire border. First off I explored the village centre, and the camera was again in action capturing notable features including the Horns pub and the traditional old post office building. Heading down Station Road I was able to add the Royal Oak pub to my haul, and after a spot of lunch, I proceeded to the Navigation pub on the side of the Shropshire Union Canal. One pub photo later, I joined the canal and explored the sections either side of Bridge 35, beginning with a walk up to Bridge 36 before retracing my steps and discovering Bridges 34 and 33 (Cowley Tunnel). Save for a small section at Chester, this is the furthest north I've been on the canal thus far and it built very nicely on my experiences of the canal at Autherley, Brewood and Wheaton Aston. I left the canal at bridge 34 to get photos of my final Gnosall pub (the Boat Inn) before making my way along Wharf Road back to the bus stop.

The ride home gave me plenty of time to reflect on a fine day's exploration, with those canal investigations having whetted my appetite for returning to the area and venturing further afield, perhaps to Norbury Junction. The 76 wasn't due when I got back to Stafford, so I caught the 75 instead and enjoyed the added bonus of half an hour mooching around Penkridge - just enough time to investigate the Festival Garden, the railway station and St Michael and All Angels Church. All in all it was an encouraging return to form and I look forward to seeing what June has to offer...

Wednesday, May 28

300 for WME Wolverhampton

I promised you a WME landmark in my last post, and I'm pleased to report that the milestone has been duly delivered - and it's not just any old milestone either. WME Wolverhampton has just crashed through the 300 photo barrier, confirming the gallery's ongoing growth towards being a substantial body of photographs.

The additional photos that brought about the landmark included a photo of the play area at West Park, bringing back some childhood memories there, plus a new Exploring Lanesfield collection featuring the Methodist Church and the local playing fields. I feel that 300 photos on WME Wolves is quite an achievement, its taken me nearly three years to get there and now I have to push on towards 350 whilst building up the other galleries too.

To that end, there is some other news to report. Following on from the arrival of New Invention last week, WME Walsall is now home to an Exploring Aldridge collection. Its good to see Aldridge getting some attention thanks to photos of St Mary's Church and the local library. The local flavour continues too with WME Worcestershire, where the inclusion of an Exploring Clent collection has been supplemented with additions to Exploring Hagley. I'm the first to admit that WME Worcestershire was woefully short of local photos, so this goes some way towards addressing that particular issue. Of the new content, I think my shot of the Bell & Cross pub in Clent is my favourite - Rog and I will have to investigate the pub more closely I'm sure.

May has been a very quiet month in terms of new explorations, as thanks to dodgy weather and other commitments I haven't as yet done the big outing I always aim for. Instead I've had to make do with a couple of lunchtime efforts, starting with a nice walk across Sedgley Beacon for photos of the Beacon Hotel and the White Lion, which was followed last week with a look around East Park and Deansfield. May is rapidly disappearing, and with the weather showing little sign of improvement, it seems unlikely I'll be able to add to those mini-adventures. Consolation has been provided by progress with the galleries, so enjoy the updates and I'll let you know of any further developments.

Thursday, May 22

More May Updates

Just a quick note to bring you up to date with the latest little batch of WME additions.
  • WME Wolverhampton has been quite busy with a handful of new photos. The highlight is a nice autumnal shot of the 698 on layover at Wobaston terminus, plus there's a view looking out over West Park Lake. Some familiar friends also make their latest reappearances, with Oxley Library, Shropshire Union Bridge 2, Heath Town Park and the Spread Eagle at Woodcross all returning for more photo action.
  • WME Birmingham might only have received one new photo, but it is a notable one as the Birmingham by Bus collection is now home to a view of the 32 calling at Acocks Green. I'm very fond of Acocks Green yet I have very few photos of the area, so this one is that bit extra-special.
  • The buses have also been out in force on WME Staffordshire where I offer three new examples for your delectation - the 765 and 23 at Lichfield are encouraging, but my favourite is a shot of a Green Bus Service vehicle on the 4 at Cannock. There's also a photo of a village sign on Exploring Wombourne if you like that kind of thing.
  • Good news now from WME Walsall, where I've finally created an Exploring New Invention collection. My picture of Forest Gate Library had been on Walstest for an absolute eternity, but now it finally has a proper home and is joined by a photo of The Square shopping precinct.
  • A new collection too on WME Worcestershire, as the Bus Stops & Stations make a rather belated entry thanks to Kidderminster Bus Station and a bus stop in Droitwich.
  • And finally, Exploration Extra gets in on the act with a new collection based on a visit to BaMMoT with Rog and Woody back in October 2006.

Some positive steps forward then, and I note that I am getting dangerously close to my next couple of WME landmarks. There's still work to do, but it could be worth keeping an eye out for some announcements over the next few weeks...

Friday, May 2

Just ticking over...

With all this Dudley exploring I've been doing of late, updates to the WME galleries have been somewhat on the back burner. I have however made a few little additions that I'd quickly like to tell you about.

  • WME Birmingham: A nice view of the impressive Holliday Street aqueduct has been added to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal collection, along with a view of the renovated platform 1 at Moor Street Station.
  • WME Worcestershire: New photos here include a second train view at Redditch Station and a photo of one of the locks at Stourport Basin.
  • WME Staffordshire: Oh no, its another South Staffordshire village collection! Exploring Wombourne makes its bow with photos of the village hall and The Vine pub. I'm pleased that Wombourne is included on the gallery, although this doesn't do much to improve the balance of WME Staffs in terms of its countywide coverage.
  • WME Dudley: The standard Dudley fare really, as a couple of bus photos at Stourbridge join Dudley by Bus. I am pleased though as the routes concerned are the 248 and 287, both making their first appearances, plus the photos have the added bonus of providing some night-time variety to the collection.

After a quiet spell, any updates are always most welcome and these do the job nicely. I'm in the strange position of not really knowing where the site is heading at the moment - having concentrated on doing trips and raiding the old archive recently, I am hoping to push on into new material but I guess we'll just have to see how it goes...