- Heading for Redditch on the X3 -
* Redditch then, alighting amongst various Red Diamond vehicles much to Woody's chagrin. The Golden Cross gets the WME photo treatment then we call into Wetherspoon's The Royal Enfield for our first group pint of 2011. A welcome Guinness always provides some sustenance for the day ahead as Andy teases me with talk of modal shifting to thick blue lines on the Wolverhampton bus network. We decide to see if the Golden Cross is open yet - it isn't, but Andy did make sure by shouting through the window just in case - and so a further pint in the Royal Enfield is required as we prepare for departure. Rog even has time to relive a previous Redditch bladder nightmare when he finds the Kingfisher toilet is occupied once more, I must admit that episode was quite amusing...
* Our exit from Redditch comes courtesy of the X3 back to Bromsgrove, a quick little run back past the Foxlydiate Arms. We alight handily for access to the Golden Cross Wetherspoon's where bladders are becalmed and luncheon is served. As ever for me its a gourmet burger meal deal, this time washed down with some very moreish Titanic Stout, a hearty winter tipple.
* The main business of the day concerned our much anticipated visit to Stoke Prior. With food digested we make our way onto the Red Diamond 141 Droitwich service, taking us down past Aston Fields (with all it's traumatic 'Bromsgrove' Station memories) and then on an extended tour of a Morrisons supermarket car park. We alight by Stoke Prior Church where we christen the new Worcestershire hub and then engage in some D9 racing as Andy and Rog battle each other with a kamikaze sprint down Hanbury Road.
- Stoke Prior, The Navigation Inn -
* We arrive somewhat breathlessly at The Navigation and head inside for a recovery pint, in my case Fuller's London Pride, and a pool tournament. First up it's Roger vs Mr Wood (or was it Freddie Boswell vs Stephen Fry) with Roger's wild hair securing victory, then it's over to Andy and myself whereby Mr Lunn progressed to an easy triumph by modelling himself (apparently) on Hurricane Higgins. The final pits Rog against Andy but a bit of black ball skulduggery left the title undecided, the only wonder was that neither of them noticed the missing ball earlier.
* Next stop is the Boat and Railway, via a walk along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal where the towpath was marginally less treacherous than last year. The pub lives up to expectations with a warming fire and the chance for a Cheers photo where Roger does his best to block me out of the shot with that infernal coat of his!
* It's now just after 3pm so we track down the return bus to Bromsgrove, where more bladder concerns necessitate an emergency visit to the Red Lion for a swift half (of cola I might add). From here our final X3 run connects us back to Kidderminster, where even more bladder concerns result in a limbo dash into the Tesco supermarket, it must be the cold weather!
- Back at the Bell -