- Compton Lock -
We're having a prolonged spell of decent weather for a change so it's chilly but bright as I set out along the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. Compton Lock enables my camera to limber up accordingly with balance beams and the lock sign to capture; I've been here several times before of course but it's always good to add a new layer to the archive. Closer to Tettenhall, the canal echoes to whistles and shouts from the Wolverhampton Wanderers training ground while slightly more sedate sporting activity has resumed on the tennis courts that back onto the waters off Newbridge Crescent.
- Towards Aldersley -
Tettenhall Old Bridge provides my excuse to switch the cut for the Smestow Valley railway line path, aiming for Aldersley on this occasion. The Cupcake Lane tearoom has sparked back to life in Tettenhall's former station building (it appears to be pretty popular too), and a street art version of Santa Claus unexpectedly adorns the recesses below the A41. I stick with the line as far as Hordern Road, exiting for a repeat glimpse of the Wildside Activity Centre which I'm pleased to see has resumed its educational mission; visits are strictly by appointment only at the moment pending further increases in provision when permitted.
- Christ the King Church -
As for Aldersley, I'm keen to cover any items that might have fallen through the gaps during previous explorations. Aldersley Road's tight terraces precede the suburban semi-detached scenery of Burland Avenue (complete with a shortcut into Sandy Lane allotments I'd not noticed until now), then Pendeford Avenue presents Christ the King Church, dating from the mid-1950s and rather functional in appearance. The church is overseen by the Parish of Tettenhall Regis and has a standalone bell gantry at ground level; the accompanying hall is used by the Helen Richards Dance School for ballet, tap and freestyle lessons.
- That first pint at last! -
Anticipation is building as pub o'clock draws ever nearer, but firstly I peep into Palmers Cross to account for a couple more Lake District-themed thoroughfares (Derwent Rd and Ennerdale Rd among them). The magic hour has now arrived so the honour of providing my first proper pint of 2021 goes to the Claregate, a sprawling roadhouse with plenty of tables outside. Facemask ✓ NHS App ✓ Beer ✓, the Banks's Amber being on fine form although I half-suspect anything would taste great after nearly six months without cask ale. A packet of crisps seals the deal as I keep watch over comings and goings at the neighbouring Tesco store.
- Lower Green -
Never has a simple pint of Bitter meant quite so much to me, a symbolic moment that suggests better times are ahead - if the roadmap holds, pubs should hopefully be allowed to host indoor trade from mid-May onwards. Fingers crossed I'll soon be waxing lyrical again about the joys of Holden's Golden Glow, Bass and Bathams but for now I'll sign off with the walk home via St Michael's Churchyard, Lower Green and Henwood Road. The hospitality industry still faces many challenges and life won't be normal for a good while yet, but being able to enjoy a pub pint again is definitely a step in the right direction - cheers!