Saturday, May 30

WME Flickr Focus: May 2015

Well the dust has begun to settle after the General Election and the Queen's Speech has set out the planned legislation for the next parliament, so lets see what items are on the photographic statute book where the West Midlands Exploration photostream is concerned...

'Black Rod' has bashed away and our first Bill is the WME Solihull Act where Knowle Locks will be presented in sequence working along the flight from top (No. 51) to lock 48 (not quite bottom). These will be aided and augmented by the Herons Nest pub slightly further along the Grand Union Canal.

Our second piece of lawmaking focuses on the combined regulation of WME Warwickshire and Exploration Extra. Shakespeare's County is being granted a three H rule comprising Hatton (the railway station sign), Henley-in-Arden (a railway station view) and Harbury (Church Street corner) whereas Exploration Extra will benefit from a commitment to Colchester bus pictures (specifically of the 76 route) and a platform pose from Arnside.

We now have rulings as regards WME Staffordshire and WME Telford - the former is instructed to include canal scenes from Great Haywood and a train shot from Kidsgrove, while the latter is issued with the Boat pub at Jackfield and a general glimpse of Ironbridge Square. Motions are also in place concerning WME Wolverhampton where it is intended to permit sightings of Heath Town's Netto supermarket (now an Asda of course) alongside Grove Lane in Tettenhall Wood.

There are a few statutory instruments that are set for ratification. Little Stretton will be joining WME Shropshire accompanied by a peek at St Mary's Church in Highley; the Handsworth Horticultural Institute and Kingstanding's Hurlingham Road are due for presentation on WME Birmingham; and WME Sandwell will provide pub pictures of the Cottage at Langley and the since-demolished Londonderry that once stood on Basons Lane.

Finally to the Private Members Bills which will also receive an airing. These include acknowledgment for the Lazy Hill Tavern near Aldridge (WME Walsall), the Gardeners Arms in Droitwich (WME Worcestershire) and the welcome return of a 297 bus shot from Stourbridge (WME Dudley). The good news for the general public is that we don't have to wait for any approval from the House of Commons or the House of Lords, as all measures and amendments are already in place on said Flickr photostream without even the slightest notion of requiring of a referendum. And that, my right honorable readers, is that for this month!

Monday, May 25

Hub Marketing 2015: North Wolverhampton

More May Marketing beckons with Heath Town, Fallings Park and Underhill on standby to supply mischief and memories in North Wolverhampton. Exercise equipment, discarded furniture and a bygone brewery would all feature as we set out on the trail of pubs past and present...

- Bushbury Arms Building Site -
Although not part of the official afternoon agenda, the Secretary couldn't resist some initial investigations around Low Hill where there are developments afoot at two former pub sites. On Showell Circus the shell of the Bushbury Arms is being retained as part of a housing scheme that will see homes built on what was the beer garden. Meanwhile down by Park Lane bus garage the site of the Paget Arms is getting some construction attention after being wasteland for several years.

- The Chairman's Cob Collection -
Members are instructed to converge upon the Lych Gate Tavern at 1pm sharp but the Chairman's hectic morning becomes compounded by his late arrival. Luckily for D9, the Lych Gate offers excellent cobs at only 50p each so some serious stocking up is done of the cheese and black pudding variety. The Country Life ale wasn't bad either as we narrowly avoided becoming embroiled in a game of Pictionary.

- Rowing Redemption -
While strolling towards Carvers, the Chairman's cob conscience kicked in and it was decreed that some manual exertion would help rebalance his lunchtime equilibrium. A situation like this usually requires an outdoor rowing machine, and there just so happened to be one on the park by the canal basin. Somehow though I don't think D9 will be making the men's coxless four for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

- Canal Cottages -
On a serious note, it was good to see how Carvers Builders Merchants has become re-established after a major fire at their Littles Lane base just over three years ago. Lock Street then allows a peek at the canal cottages opposite Wolverhampton Top Lock, a timeless scene despite the modern presence of Victoria Halls student tower nearby. 

- Bald Spot by the Brewery -
The bottom of Lock Street emerges by the side of the old Springfield Brewery, the place where Mitchells & Butlers produced the Springfield Bitter that D9 gets so nostalgic about. Making our way along Grimstone Street, the Secretary's local knowledge comes up trumps when the brewery's former gents cubicle is revealed; sited next to a small gatehouse, it still has a notice in place asking users to switch off the lights upon leaving.

- Springfield Brewery -
The brewery has lain derelict for many years, becoming an increasingly sad sight whenever Secretary WME has previously taken photos in the vicinity. The feature entrance is on Cambridge Street where gradually various letters have fallen off the ornate archway sign. Better times could be ahead given that the University of Wolverhampton have purchased the site with a view to creating a construction college - planning permission needs to be confirmed but work could start later this year if granted.

- Travellers Rest (as was) -
The wider Springfield area offers interest with St Stephen's Church, the Freemasons Arms (presumably the former brewery tap) and Alan Garbett's butchers shop. We chance our luck on the Springfield Horseshoe estate, encountering Burton Crescent before emerging into Heath Town for more pubs from the past. The Duke of York was demolished a good while back, the site remaining vacant although the perimeter hoardings are getting an artistic makeover, while the Travellers Rest on the corner with Woden Road became the church hall for the nearby Harvest Temple.

- The Boiler House -
Delving a little deeper into Heath Town and Hobgate Road has a couple of remaining tower blocks for D9 to drool over. One curious find is the boiler house which provides heating and hot water for tenants and businesses across the estate. 

- A Spoonful of Sugar? -
A Deans Road detour allows for a look at the Jolly Collier, a basic local on Old Heath Road that backs onto the Wyrley & Essington Canal. The Chairman is still suffering from 'cob overload' so he's grateful for a seat on an abandoned sofa, even if his antics were witnessed by a very suspicious audience! Perhaps he needs a sugar rush to boost his energy, in which case a nearby shop provides a much-appreciated marketing moment. 

- Exercise Endeavour at Heath Town Park -
It's now the Secretary's turn for some exercise when the outdoor gym at Heath Town Park needs to be put to the test even if his chest press technique needs more practice. D9 meanwhile gazes longingly at the Manhattan (a pub previously known as the Shoemaker) but despite its flat-roofed allure he declines the chance to visit, preferring instead to continue towards Fallings Park. 

- Checking out in the Golden Lion -
A longstanding landmark on the corner of Cannock Road and Raynor Road is the Golden Lion, positioned opposite the Co-op supermarket which itself stands on the site of the Clifton Cinema (long gone but still fondly remembered by older generations). The pub is the setting for darts and a discount, members emerging honours even with D9 triumphing on the dartboard but WME pocketing the cheapest round and the highest checkout (just for the record, a 63 outshot complete with a double 15 clincher).

- A Highcroft Homage -
One other by-product of our Golden Lion visit is that D9's misbehaving mobile has been charged up just enough to allow for today's installment of silly song season. Vince Hill thus trades off against a pile of poppadoms as the Otter & Vixen is noted on Old Fallings Lane. There is then a moment to remember the Highcroft, a Bushbury Hill landmark since replaced by a care home - North Wolverhampton has lost a number of pubs in relatively recent memory.

- Tackling the Talisman -
Ruskin Road is our gateway into The Scotlands, an estate where the streets are named after prominent literary figures (Wordsworth, Keats, Dickens and Carlyle among others). Our target now is Underhill bus terminus outside the shops on Westcroft Avenue, a place remembered for Metrobus rides on the 511. Pub options around here include the Talisman (fronting both Underhill Lane and Wildtree Avenue) and the New Pear Tree (a location with transport resonance as a former trolleybus terminus).

- A cob-fuelled drive on the 11 -
D9 was keen to recreate former driving glories although its the 11 and a double-decked Trident that have to suffice today. Powered by cheese and onion (and a mouthful of clingfilm) he expertly steers us back through the Scotlands and on into Wolverhampton where the Great Western and the Prince Albert await for grey peas and pricey Guinness respectively. A final darts blast in the tram waiting room and the day is done - Cheers!

Wednesday, May 13

Roughley Speaking...

From Blake Street to the Beggars Bush, number nine in the 'Monday Mission' series reports back with numerous nuggets from some North Birmingham navigation...

- Blake Street Station -
Monday 11th May then and the Cross City railway line either side of Sutton Coldfield is my area of focus for this particular mission. First of all we have Blake Street, the northernmost West Midlands stop before you enter Staffordshire. This is a station that has provided rich photo pickings in the past and does so again today; the main facilities and car park are on the Birmingham side but there is a separate feature entrance below the Lichfield platform with a tiled underpass connecting to the ticket office.

- Hill Hook Terminus -
Next door to the station is the Blake Barn, a corporate pub where Rog and I enjoyed some lunch once a few years ago. Blake Street (the actual road) then leads me to Watford Gap roundabout, a well-known junction in local circles where Staffordshire (Shenstone Wood End) awaits in one direction and Sutton Coldfield in the other. I keep firmly within the West Midlands boundary by doubling round to Bishops Way, soon reacquainting myself with Hill Hook bus terminus outside the local shops where the 902 is on hand for a very timely pose.

- Hill Hook Corn Mill -
One little pocket of Hill Hook I'd never set eyes on before is the local nature reserve as accessed from Netherstone Grove. A commemorative plaque informs visitors about the old corn mill that once stood in the vicinity - the mill's pool remains intact as the focal point of the modern-day reserve, providing an important haven for wildlife and waterfowl. The spring sunshine glistens on the rippling water to give a precious sense of peace and tranquility.

- Four Oaks Saints Cricket Club -
Following earthen tracks around the pool's perimeter, I catch a glimpse of an adjacent cricket pitch and can't resist investigating a little more closely. The ground is home to Four Oaks Saints Cricket Club with the clubhouse being properly accessed from Clarence Road. I have to make do with views from afar although a little scorebox does look quite quaint in a shady spot beneath some trees. I continue my rummage around the nature reserve before exiting into the network of cul-de-sacs that comprise Bradgate Drive.

- Little Aston Village Hall -
Emerging onto Clarence Road, the county boundary with Staffordshire is firmly in my sights again as I bear right for Little Aston. I'd flirted with the edges of the village during my Aldridge mission a fortnight ago so I was keen to uncover more of the area, and on Little Aston Lane I found a prime photo candidate in the form of the village hall. As well as hosting meetings and events, the hall is also the base for local bowls and tennis clubs.

- Tandem Twin Signs -
There are a clutch of local shops arranged around the crossroads where Blake Street, Rosemary Hill Road and Clarence Road all converge with Little Aston Lane. Flames Fireplaces, Abigail's dress shop and the Little Aston News & Convenience store all feature, while the junction is also marked by some signs detailing a twinning arrangement with Saint-Georges-sur-Baulche in the French region of Burgundy.

- Butlers Lane -
Back on Clarence Road, I spot the main entrance to the aforementioned cricket club as positioned behind a small shopping parade. Hill West Primary School is also encountered before I home in on my second Cross City station of the morning - Butlers Lane. The booking office here is on the Birmingham-bound platform and isn't especially old or interesting, while the steep ramps leading down to either platform are notable features that would surely present a considerable challenge to anyone with a wheelchair, pushchair or pram.

- Pint Pot -
From Butlers Lane I continue on foot towards Little Sutton with the Butlers Arms and White Lion contributing pub pictures in quick succession. Tower Road then takes me across the top of Mere Green where the Pint Pot promotes traditional pub games accompanied by a protruding white chimney. Onto Grange Lane next where my camera captures the Four Oaks Baptist Church with a little post office store directly opposite.

- Plough & Harrow -
I've now arrived into Roughley, a place I first explored with Roger over ten years ago but haven't really returned to since. Despite the long gap between visits, Slade Road is still familiar with the Plough & Harrow pub very much recognisable as the place Rog and I stopped off for a pint back in 2005. 

- 905 at Roughley -
Just around the corner from the Plough is Roughley bus terminus where the 905 is conveniently already waiting at the stop on Weeford Road. Along with the 902 and 904, the route is part of a network linking the outlying estates of Sutton Coldfield with Birmingham City Centre. I board the bus for the short ride back to Mere Green via Gibbons Road and Sherifoot Lane. 

- Four Oaks Station -
Mere Green is my lunchtime pit stop, pausing by the main roundabout where some landmark shops still remain empty pending redevelopment - the proposed Mulberry Walk scheme has become something of a protracted saga but work will hopefully start later this summer, Boots and Marks & Spencer being among the companies primed to move in upon completion. From here it is but a short walk to Four Oaks station where I admire the traditional waiting room and awnings on the island platform while awaiting my next Cross City connection.

- Oscott College Lodge -
Given the ten minute frequency on the line, I don't have to linger long at all before one of the ubiquitous Class 323 units screeches into view and a few minutes later I touch down at Chester Road. Today's finishing straight is now in sight as I wander past the Baptist Church and a sewing machine shop to reach New Oscott. The area is home to St Mary's College, the seminary of the Archdiocese of Birmingham where prospective Catholic priests undergo theological formation. Although I can't see anything of the main college building, the lodge on the corner of Chester Road and College Road is handsome in its own right. All I now have to account for is a shot or two of the Beggars Bush (these days a Flaming Grill establishment) before boarding a well-timed Walsall-bound 77 and that my friends is that. Another mission accomplished!

Wednesday, May 6

Nick Turpin does it by halves!

The May Day Bank Holiday weekend has become firmly established in our highwayman's calendar as the date for the Long Itchington Beer Festival. This year the event is being promoted as a 'half festival', health and safety restrictions meaning that only three out of the usual six pubs could participate. Nonetheless we set out on the Stagecoach once more and prepared for a day plundering pubs, chasing chimneys and ransacking old railway lines...

- Jephson Gardens -
The day is off to a brisk start when we hail ourselves a Chiltern carriage somewhat ahead of schedule, Nick Turpin boarding at Warwick Parkway already armed with some CAMRA bounty for his highwayman apprentice. Our early arrival in Leamington Spa allowed for some green-fingered gallivanting with the floral displays in the Jephson Gardens being very colourful indeed.

- Stockton Locks -
The 64 Stagecoach has become a familiar ride now, settling back for sightings of Radford Semele, Ufton and Southam while the final approach to Long Itchington is punctuated by views of the cement works chimney standing tall on the horizon for miles around. We leave our steed just after the Two Boats pub and make our way by foot along the Grand Union Canal, determined to levy what we could from the Stockton Locks. 

- Top Lock -
The flight was busy with several boats in attendance and small armies of cabin crew doing the manual work of opening and closing the successive lock gates. Making good time, we soon reach Stockton Top Lock (No. 4) where a service hut provides a handy photo opportunity. Just around the corner, Stockton Top Marina is home to moorings and hire boat companies - Nick Turpin seems particularly taken with a barge named Sally Slapcabbage, one of the best boat titles we've ever come across.

- The Boat Inn, Birdingbury Wharf -
Our canal walk concludes at Birdingbury Wharf where the Boat Inn is perfectly placed for a breakfast bite. The pub has something of a delicatessen on the go in its foyer entrance, while above the bar is an excellent mural depicting the route of the Grand Union between Birmingham and Braunston. The menu is imaginatively waterways-themed and the 'Narrow Boat' sounded just about right for hungry highwaymen in need of sustenance (there was a 'Long Boat' option for those with added appetites). 

- Nick Turpin Navigates -
A hearty breakfast later and we were primed for the return ramble to Long Itchington. Nick Turpin was on navigation duties, coming armed with an Ordnance Survey map so as to pinpoint the railway remains we were very keen to explore. The London & North Western Railway between Leamington and Weedon came through the area, serving the cement works and having a Southam & Long Itchington station (this closed to passengers in 1958 and to goods in 1965). Although disused for many years, sections of the line can be traced as a public footpath albeit our initial investigations involve a bridleway back to Stockton Locks.

- One for the chimney collection -
We pick up the trail proper on Stockton Road just after the Blue Lias, scrambling down into the cutting and ultimately continuing through to Stonebridge Lane. The walk is certainly interesting if rather muddy in places; we pass some gates into the old cement works, seeing Nick's favourite chimney up close and then enjoying various subsequent views of it as it recedes on the skyline once more. Wormhole tunnels accompany texted football updates as our Heath Town correspondent keeps me up to date with the news from Molineux.

- Earlsdon Morris -
Time then for the beer festival itself, with Church Road bringing us neatly to the Green Man just in time to see St George being resuscitated by the kiss of a virgin. Some Great Oakley Wagtail here is swiftly followed by the Dark Star Porter (from the newly formed Stratford upon Avon Brewery) courtesy of the Harvester. The third participating pub in the truncated festival this year is the Buck & Bell - we don't actually have a drink here as the place was full to bursting already, but we can enjoy the dancing outside as expertly performed by the Earlsdon Morris from Coventry complete with sashes, knee breeches and garlanded bowler hats.

- Southam Church -
Our final Long Itchington tipple this year comes instead at the Two Boats, not officially participating but still very popular. Wood Farm's Scrum trades with Wells' New World DNA before our return 64 Stagecoach is summoned. Nick Turpin is positively partial to some further pub pilfering, hence some Southam sightseeing with St James' Church being a fine landmark even with chip shop fragrances wafting across the churchyard.

- Holy Well -
Being a Warwickshire highwayman of considerable repute, Nick Turpin has accumulated much local knowledge and deems a visit to Southam's Holy Well is very much in order. The well is an ancient water course recognised in Saxon times if not even earlier; we admire the gargoyle faces from which the spring currently pours forth, the wider well site guarded by wooden stakes. The water historically was said to provide treatment for some eye conditions although we don't put it to the test today, preferring instead to sample some Kingmaker in the rustically-painted surroundings of the Market Tavern. 

- Millwright Moments -
We avail ourselves of the 65 Stagecoach for an alternative route back to Leamington, Deppers Bridge and Bishops Itchington featuring before we negotiate Harbury and recall festival frolicking memories from last August. At Leamington Parish Church there is an instant interchange onto the X17, meaning Warwick now loomed large in our quest for ale adventure. The Millwright Arms dutifully delivers some Tribute and Town Crier, while the evening ends at the Wild Boar over some Shardlow Dark Extra.
Once again it had been an exhilarating and eventful day exploring Warwickshire, so its cheers to Nick Turpin and to Long Itchington!

Tuesday, May 5

Hub Marketing 2015: Spring Vale and Sedgley

Affectionately known as 'Big Lizzy', the Elisabeth blast furnace was one of the defining features of Bilston Steelworks, a major industrial site based in Spring Vale. Iron and steel production ceased there in 1979 and Elisabeth was demolished the following year but the memory of the works lives on. Now some 35 years later, the Hub Marketing Board were in the area to pay homage to Big Lizzy as part of a trek from Priestfield to Sedgley via Ettingshall Park...

- Pembroke Avenue, Ettingshall Village -
Priestfield's Midland Metro stop is chosen for our half past ten meeting point, although it seems the Chairman is suffering some timekeeping issues and a cob payout is a distinct possibility. The Secretary puts the extra wait to good use with some local photos of Ettingshall Village, recalling lunchtime visits here on the old 572 Pete's Travel bus route. Features include New Street shopping parade and WOSAL (the World of Spirit and Life chapel) although the William Butler pub on John Street was demolished a few years ago.

- D9 meets a D9 -
Our Chairman makes a belated appearance just after 11 o'clock with his bald spot at risk of an immediate photograph. Luckily he averts the danger just in time by attempting to load novelty songs on his miscreant mobile, the phone sadly resisting all efforts to inflict musical misery on Mr WME. Among the shops on New Street is Gaga Baldy's chip shop (presumably not named after D9) and Angie's Cafe - the latter is the ideal setting for some breakfast as the Chairman meets his namesake bus courtesy of the cover from an old Stourbridge Beer Festival programme.

- I bet he drinks Carling Black Label! -
With a Full English each properly accounted for, we set out on an extended walk to the site of the steelworks. We've only just left the cafe when D9 spies a vintage Carling Black Label sign above Ettingshall Off Licence - this seems like a perfect excuse for a bald spot picture! Sidwick Crescent next and D9 is still unable to load his intended song, although he does manage to summon up a few bars of 'Orville's Song' by way of tribute to the entertainer Keith Harris who sadly died recently.

- Ward Street Railway Remnants -
Ward Street brings with it some railway heritage in the vicinity of the former Priestfield railway station which was historically served by two lines - the GWR between Birmingham Snow Hill and Wolverhampton Low Level, and the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton route with links to Dudley and Stourbridge Junction. Ward Street itself crossed the second of these, whereby the old bridge has been given a stylised makeover with the former trackbed still discernible below.

- The Priestfield Polka -
The next station after Priestfield on the OWW was Bilston West so we pick up the trail along a footpath that  plots the course of the line, skirting the edges of Bilston C of E Primary School before eventually emerging at Millfields Road. It's now the Secretary's turn to unleash his song choices with the Liechtensteiner Polka prompting D9 into an improvised dance routine jigging along the cutting.

- One man went to mow... -
In an ideal world, the path would be a well-maintained walkway perhaps with information boards to explain the transport heritage it represents. In reality it resembles an overgrown dumping ground, particularly beneath the bridges where the line passed under Coronation Road/Chestom Road and Mill Street. Our Chairman gallantly does his best to try and improve the situation by recovering discarded lawnmowers and shopping trolleys but sadly he is fighting a losing battle.

- Springvale Sports & Social Club -
Millfields Road is where we find one major feature of the old steelworks complex that still survives intact. The Stewarts & Lloyds Welfare Club was saved when the works closed down, becoming the Springvale Sports & Social Club which nowadays is part of the Midcounties Co-operative. The club remains at the heart of the community with rooms for hire and sporting facilities including a bowling green and skittle alley.

- The Elisabeth Arms -
Some parts of the wider steelworks site have been reclaimed for modern housing, including the Weston Drive estate and Sedgemoor Park. A stroll via the Birmingham Main Line Canal connects the two, although with residential cul-de-sacs and hints of green open wasteland it seems a world away from the days when the area was busy with industrial activity. Turtons Croft footbridge brings us to Overfield Drive where 'Big Lizzy' is remembered in the name of the Elisabeth Arms, a corporate Sizzling pub seemingly popular with diners. Here the Secretary eyes up some discount Banks's Mild as a toast is raised to the steelworks and all who once worked there.

- WME wins in the Three Cups -
Next on our agenda is Lanesfield, a place surely populated by some of those workers back in the day. The metal shutters adorning the Rookery Tavern on Wood Street don't bode at all well while the Forge Hammer on Spring Road is now a cafe, leaving us with the Three Cups as our remaining option for some darts action. Perhaps inspired by the World Championship snooker showing on the tv screen, the Secretary became a man possessed and stormed into a 5-0 lead with something approaching genuine scoring prowess, leaving the Chairman puzzledly scratching his bald spot desperately trying to avoid a whitewash.

- Beacon Hill Cemetery Closet -
D9 did at least win one leg and with his blushes spared we proceed up Mount Road into Ettingshall Park, a pleasantly leafy semi-detached estate with local shops on Dovedale Road. The Three Crowns does us nicely for a drop of Tribute as Mr WME extends his darts lead to 8-3, and the Secretary's successes continue with a super sleeve item next to the gates of Beacon Hill Cemetery. Despite driving the 581 around here several times, D9 had never noticed the cemetery's closet before and is doubly irked when his phone battery dies at the crucial photographic moment.

- Hurst Hill Shops -
In Woodcross we make the acquaintance of Dorothy Goodbody at the Horse & Jockey, her Pedal Pusher being a new Wye Valley brew celebrating a cycling event held in Herefordshire. Hurst Hill then follows in quick succession, dipping into Dudley territory where the Foodliner is now a Local Express store, the Old Gate pub was demolished for housing a good while back and the Gate Hangs Well is now established as a mini Tesco. Paul Street offers a peek at the local primary school before we admire the bowling green of the Coseley Tavern at the top of Upper Ettingshall Road.

- Setton Drive Scenery -
Across now to Woodsetton where a Cottage Spring cob ensures all penalties are paid in readiness for our closing Sedgley session. On a bright May evening it's actually quite scenic looking out across fields with ponies as we approach the Beacon Hotel, even if there is some sadness on route now that the Prince of Wales on Tipton Road has been flattened with new houses under construction. The Beacon soon lifts our spirits though, a classic pub with classic beer - the Dark Ruby was on top form as always.

- The Chairman raids the fridge -
There's plenty to nibble on pubs-wise in Sedgley, so the discerning drinker can choose from the Bulls Head, the Crown, the White Horse and several others. Our pick includes the White Lion (sampling Enville's recreation of Simpkiss Bitter; I never drank the original but I like the current incarnation very much) and Mount Pleasant (a.k.a. The Stump). Just when we think there couldn't possibly be room for any more fun, Mr D9 spots an abandoned fridge-freezer and promptly 'liberates' some Mr Freeze ice pops!

- Driving Duties for D9 -
Those frozen frolics meant the Secretary was at risk of being late for an evening appointment at a cricket club quiz in Tettenhall. We needed a demon driver for just such an occasion, and luckily we had one in our midst with the Chairman soon strapped in ready for some serious steering wheel action.

- Ready for the quiz! -
All of which meant that Mr WME did get to the quiz (almost) on schedule, helping Team Bears to a respectable 4th place with 82 points. It could have been even better if not for some deceptive cheeses that wiped us out when placed second going into the final round, but as ever it was the taking part that counts!
Cheers to Big Lizzy, the Bears and the Hub Marketing Board!