With the body clocks still set to wake at silly o’clock it was no surprise that we stirred early but it was nearly lunchtime when we eventually emerged and pointed Rosie in the direction of Coventry in general and it’s Transport Museum in particular.
It was well signposted and we even happened upon a car park nearby that had spaces and was reasonably priced – by Brighton standards anyway. The only problem was, we didn’t have any change.
So we jumped back in the car in search of a shop, found one and jumped out. It was a busy road so I said I’d see Trev back at the car park. Eventually. No luck in the first shop, but another one across the road was happy to take my money although I did have to remind him that it was a twenty I handed over and not a tenner. In the meantime, Trev was having a nightmare negotiating Coventry’s ring road and one way system, but eventually our paths crossed again and we settled down to a restorative coffee before commencing our look around.
Following the trail around the museum takes you through a timeline of Coventry’s motor manufacturing history charting it’s rise – and fall. There is plenty to look at, from the earliest cycles to the latest concept cars including a gas turbine powered Jaguar. You will see cars and bikes bearing names, once famous and now long gone, such as Alvis, Hillman and Humber.
I picked out my favourite – a 1935 Jaguar SS. You can guess the colour:
The best – or certainly the fastest is kept for last. As you round a corner you are greeted by the stunning sight of first the Thrust 2, then Thrust SSC, the latter holding the current land speed record of a bowel emptying 763 miles per hour. In the flesh – or metal – they look absolutely awesome.
The museum is well worth a visit – not least because it is free – and you could spend considerably longer in there than we did. For more photo’s go to Coventry Transport Museum Photo Special.
Lunch was taken on a pub on the road out of the city. Again an opportunity to try a new ale was thwarted. The house ale – brewed by the Black Sheep brewery up in Yorkshire was the target of my attention, but sadly it was cloudy and on the turn. The wait for something new would continue.
Somers Wood caravan park is in it’s 20th year of operation and a party was held to celebrate on the Saturday night. As dusk fell many of us gathered around a warming log fire, partaking of the lovely food – a stew, two soups and a seemingly unlimited supply of hot dogs. Later on, the Travelling Wannabies - two former site wardens - entertained us with a great selection of songs that had folk singing along and dancing. It was a great evening.
With the prospect of a tour of some of Birmingham’s hostelries later on, we did little on Sunday other than a quick drive in to the nearby village of Meriden to procure some provisions. On the village green there is a Sandstone monument that is said to mark the very centre of England although that is now disputed. Also on the green is a memorial to all cyclists who died in the service of their country and the village is a popular stopping off point for cyclists from all directions. Meriden can also boast of being the home of Triumph motorcycles for over forty years.
At 5:30pm we met with Richard again for the short drive to Birmingham's International Station, less than 10 minutes away, to board a train into the city. Over the next few hours we saw a good portion of the city – and some of it’s pubs obviously, starting just around the corner in John Bright Street and Brew Dog, heading through the Mailbox shopping centre and along by the canal to the Canalside Cafe.
Next up was The Malt House but, given that they had appeared to have run entirely out of real ale we didn’t stop. Further on was The Shakespeare in Summer Row, a beautiful old Victorian watering hole and it was time to go on to pints. Yes, I had been sensible and stuck to halves – at least for a while.
The Old Joint Stock was to be our next port of call, but sadly it closed on Sunday nights. A shame because it looked wonderful too. Fortunately just a short walk away was The Wellington and wow, what a choice. Seventeen, yes 17 hand pumps, many of which featured ales which were new to me. Sadly I could only sample the one but a return visit – on this trip or next – is definitely on the list.
Last but not least was another The Shakespeare where the opportunity to absorb some solid as well as liquid nourishment was a welcome one and the pies were delicious.
Richard’s wife Diane had again offered to be chauffer and she picked us up from the station and dropped myself and Trev off at the campsite. They lived only a few miles away and were off to Wales in their motorhome first thing in the morning. We had a thoroughly enjoyable evening, both entertaining and informative and would both like to thank Richard & Diane for looking after us. It was really appreciated.
Look out for Part 3 soon…