Stroll on


Stepping out… Chasewater Strollers first event, from their Facebook page.

You may remember that I recently plugged a new parent and toddler walking and social group that was starting up a Chasewater – their first meeting and walk took place last Monday Morning. A good time was had by all.

I knew that longstanding friend of the blog Rose Maria Burnell (mum to top ginger chap Ed) would be interested, and she popped along to check it out.

Rose and Ed had a great time, and Rose has written a great writeup for the blog, for which I thank her most profusely.

The Chasewater Strollers are meeting every Monday at Chasewater Innovation Centre, and tomorrow  (Monday, 21st April 2014) will meet at 10:00am when the centre opens.

Esther Allen, organiser, had this to say about tomorrow’s walk:

Happy Bank Holiday Weekend!

Chasewater Strollers are still meeting this Monday but we are pushing it back to 10 am as the Innovation Centre opens later.
This week we will meet behind the Reception on the left. We will aim to leave by 10:15 am.

If the weather is nice we’ll be having a picnic afterwards -all welcome. I’ll check the forecast Sunday night and confirm.

If you come on the walks and want to keep updated please join the Chasewater Strollers private group (just do a search).


Rose wrote:


A great atmosphere for parents and their kids… image from Chasewater Strollers.

Chasewater Strollers Launch

On Monday 14th April I went along to the launch of the new Chasewater Strollers walking group. We met at the Innovation Centre at 9.30am and set off for a walk around the reservoir at 9.45am.

I have to be honest and tell you that I really wasn’t expecting much from this event, but how delightfully wrong I was! It’s a beautiful thing in life where the effort and thoughtfulness of someone is met with the response from the community that it deserves. This is exactly what happened on Monday. Esther Allen who formed this group is passionate about creating something positive both for the parents in the local area and for Chasewater. She has thought very carefully about the whole venture, completing risk assessments and getting the backing of local councillors, the support of staff at the Innovation Centre and has even secured a grant from Staffordshire Council to help fund it. There was a great turnout with 18 babies and over 20 adults!


‘Hope you’ve got my best side!’ Ed goes for no publicity. Image from Chasewater Strollers.

When we arrived, we were welcomed by Esther’s husband (in his Chasewater Strollers high viz vest!) into a room where there were beautiful displays of colourful balloons, cakes and hot drinks! The walk was very good exercise as well as being a brilliant way to make new friends. We strolled along in the sunshine chatting happily and enjoying the wildlife. It wasn’t just all mums either – there were two dads and a grandmother. Any parent or carer is welcome with a baby in their buggy and there is no charge to join in. Esther had the keys to the gates which were opened wide for us all to go through. This enabled a lady with a double buggy to enjoy the walk, too.

Afterwards we enjoyed cakes, coffee and Esther gave out balloons to all of the babies. Most people stayed for another hour enjoy each other’s company and when we left we each were given the details to a Facebook group where we can keep in touch.


All the fun of Chasewater and the outdoors with a great social atmosphere, too. Image from Chasewater Strollers.

I would highly recommend a walk around Chasewater to anyone and with this new group you have the added bonus of making great new friends, too. Esther’s vision is that they will have a play session after the walk for children to socialise whilst the adults have a chat and refreshments. Chasewater Strollers will be there every Monday at 9.30am. (On Monday bank holiday there will be a slighter later meet of 10am.) Anyone would would like to give it a go would be made to feel very welcome indeed.

Contact details:

Search for Chasewater Strollers on Facebook
Chasewater Innovation centre 01543 370737

Chasewater Country Park is signposted from the A5 near Cannock and Brownhills, just south of the junction with the A452 (Chester Road). The postcode for satnavs is WS8 7NL.

Any questions please send us an email or facebook message. Otherwise just turn up and you will be made very welcome!

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Woodmen prove there’s no meat in Quorn


Walsall Wood FC have a great reputation for entertaining football, and a keen, loyal and friendly bunch of supporters! Come join in the fun this afternoon and see some cracking football.

Yesterday afternoon (Saturday, 19th April 2014), Walsall Wood FC faced Quorn FC at Oak Park, and yet again the Woodmen triumphed over the visitors.

Bill Shaw kindly submitted the following match report:

Hiya Bob,

Another win and 3 points for Wood to move them back up to 9th place.

Walsall Wood 2 V 0 Quorn

Wood took just 48 seconds to take the lead, leading scorer Harry Harris sweeping home a cross from Lewis Taylor Boyce.

On 20 minutes Anthony Juxon found Taylor Boyce who released Joey Butlin into the right of the box to calmly roll the ball past the stranded keeper and into the net at the far post to put Wood comfortably in the driving seat.

Apart from Liam Read up front, the high flying visitors (3rd at the start) were well held by the Wood defence and in the end were fortunate to escape with just a 2 goal defeat.

Wood visit Continental star at Rushall on Easter Monday, Kickoff 3:00pm.

Bill Shaw.

Thanks to Bill and for the report, and good luck to the lads facing Continental Star tomorrow.

For The Good of the Wood!

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Egg-straordinary fun at Holland Park tomorrow!

I’ve just noticed this one taking place tomorrow on Easter Sunday morning (Sunday 20th April 2014) at Holland Park, Brownhills – an easter egg hunt (careful how you say that), kicking off from the play area at 10:30am. The weather looks like it’ll be dry, and it’s free, so what’s not to love?

If you miss Sunday’s event, there are ones on Monday at Palfrey Park (really worth a visit) and Blackwood Park in Streetly on Tuesday, both also kicking off at 10:30am.

Walsall Parks guys put a lot of effort into this stuff, and really do a good job. Why not pop along and get hunting?


I believe no actual bunnies were harmed in the making of this photo. Image from Waslsall Council.

Unearth some tasty treasures in Walsall’s parks

Borough youngsters can hunt down some seasonal treats across Walsall’s parks this Easter.

Easter egg hunts have once again been organised by Walsall Council’s senior park rangers and will take place across Walsall this holiday period.

Teams of under 10s and teams of under 14s are being invited to take part in the free fun events. Each team can have a maximum of three members.

John Millard, Walsall Council senior park ranger, said: ‘Youngsters really love the Easter egg hunts – and we like to think it’s not just for the treat at the end!

‘They also have a lot of fun exploring our parks and making new friends as they go in search of the eggs.

‘We hope this year’s will prove just as popular and look forward to keeping hunters on their toes.’

On Easter Sunday, 20 April, Holland Park in Brownhills will be the venue. Teams should meet at the play area at 10.30am.

Another Green Flag Award-winning park will host an Easter egg hunt on Easter Monday 21 April.

Teams should meet at the pavilion in Palfrey Park in Dale Street at 10.30am.

The final hunt will be at Blackwood Park in Streetly, on Tuesday 22 April. The pavilion will be the meeting place for teams at 10.30am.

For more information contact senior park rangers John Millard on 07736 388409 or Malcolm Morris on 07831 157543.

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A very Good Friday

Hopwas Hays Wood - I think this is speedwell

Hopwas Hays Wood – I think this is speedwell (No, it’s not, it’s Green Alkamet – thanks @Wilymouse!)

Yesterday, Good Friday 18th April 2014, was a good day for a ride – with the day off and the sun shining (although not as warm as one would have thought), I headed out to Staffordshire to cath the sun and beauty of spring.

Spring really is on her throne at the moment, and everything is bursting into life. Lambs are in the fields, birds are singing their hearts out and everything seems to have that seasonal imperitive going on.

Canwell to Hints Ford on Rookery Lane. Filmed real real time, great downhill at the end Music is The Runaway by Babe Ruth, a lost hippy classic.

This post is particularly for Trev in Australia, who we’re all still rooting for – get well soon, old chap. But it’s also for all those overseas readers who I know still love the English countryside at it’s best.

It was a great 70 miler, from Stonnall to Canwell, up to Hints, Hopwas, on the canal to Fisherwich and over to Elford, Harlaston and No Man’s Heath. Back via Netherseal, Lullington, Coton in the Elms, Whitemore Haye and Lichfield.

No Man’s Heath to Netherseal via Chilcote. Filmed real time. Music is ‘If You See A Chance Take It’ by Steve Winwood.

For more of this tomfoolery, the 365daysofbiking journal is still running

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Can Walsall Wood mince Quorn once more?


Walsall Wood FC have a great reputation for entertaining football, and a keen, loyal and friendly bunch of supporters! Come join in the fun this afternoon and see some cracking football.

Saturday 19th April 2014

The Wood are at home!

Can the boy from The Wood beat Quorn FC?

Last time they faced off, Quorn got minced…

Kick off is 3:00pm

Come along and support the local lads

Hopefully, a match report will follow…

For the Good of the Wood!


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A respectable draw with the champions


Oak Park – scene of both magic and loss. Better luck next year, lads!

Walsall Wood FC fought bravely last night (Thursday, 17th April 2014), but just couldn’t quite get the better of  visitors Tividale FC in a great match that saw the local lads reach a respectable draw against champions Tividale.

Bill Shaw submitted the following match report:

Hiya Bob,

Another night when football was the winner, in spite of some strange decisions given against both sides.

Tividale 1 v 1 Walsall Wood

Champions Tividale won the title on Wednesday night when neighbours Tipton Town beat the only team that could catch them, Highgate United by 2 goals to 0.

The Champions had the better of the early exchanges, but surprisingly their keeper Charles Price was the busier of the 2 custodians. It was Dale who went ahead however when on 38 minutes a right wing corner was only half cleared, the ball was delivered back into the box and skipper Mark Smith climbed highest to loop a header into the corner of the net to put them 1 up.

Wood had the better of the second half with keeper Price seemingly equal to anything they could throw at him, Then in the 90th minute Andre Gonzales collected a ball at pace wide left, cut inside & hit a scorching low drive that flew past the right hand of the diving Price and  justice was done, with honours even.

Not the classic of 2 weeks ago, but the crowd went home happy, the Championship Trophy presented after an intriguing 90 minutes of good football, what more could they ask for?

For the Wood it’s Quorn the visitors to Oak Park on Saturday, another footballing side so hopefully another entertaining game, don’t be late.

Bill Shaw

As ever, thanks to Bill for the report – always appreciated – for The Good of the Wood!

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Pity the poor landlord

Five years ago, when I started this blog, one of the largest looming topics was that of the then proposed new Tesco Store in Brownhills. We’d been through a consultation, and the proposal was to build a large hypermarket fronting the High Street. The plan was ambitious; we were sold the model of restaurants, new shop units, new road system and even new housing. On paper it was impressive, and everyone in authority was supportive.


Looks like we’re stuck with it.

All this meant the demolition of the ageing, ugly and loathed Ravens Court Shopping precinct. Everyone, it seemed, would be a winner.

Sadly it seems the retail giant had a change of heart. A year or so passed, and a different, much scaled down design was applied for and granted permission. This involved little community improvement, a mere three shop units to fill a gap where Ravens Court would have been, and scaled back community facilities.

This wasn’t a great plan to me, but it was better than nothing. It was all we were likely to get, after all…

Promised vague start dates were passed by without action, and eventually the news became official that everyone pretty much knew – that Tesco, having led the town, village elders and Council up the garden path, were not going to build anew after all. They decided all the patrons of the current Brownhills store were worth was a half hearted ‘refresh’ – a lick of paint and some turd polishing.

This decision had long-reaching effects; Walsall Council were depending on the development to drive regeneration investment in Brownhills, and this decision by Tesco – completely out of the Council’s control – removed any prospect of large scale investment. It set the whole course of Brownhills ‘regeneration’, such as it was, backwards a decade or more.

I wrote about the fate of Ravens Court, and planning, and the whole death of the town centre thing last summer. I suggest interested readers take a look if you’re not familiar with it. I believe that we can’t hold Walsall Council responsible for what happened to Brownhills, as it was at the mercy of the commercial sector in the form of a large supermarket.


Grim as hell, and it’s going nowhere.

This has reared it’s head again in the last week or so. Ravens Court has, of course, continued to rot. Now almost completely empty, it’s a sad testament to regeneration failure, it’s shops shuttered, flats boarded up and anything of any value stolen. As a privately owned development, Walsall Council have very little power to do anything with it, or compel the owners to act.

The authority has issued a Section 215 notice, which is about the limit of their practical power. This forces the landlords to clean up the site, and make it secure, but no more. I suspect this to be complicated in itself, as several units seem to be owned by different entities – for instance, the one on the corner of the square next to the old Natwest Bank, is currently for sale.

I draw this to your attention as there is an interesting report in the Walsall Advertiser this week about the 215 notice, and the meeting at which it was agreed. Labour Councillor Steve Wade said what just about everyone is thinking – that the sooner something is done, the better – but in the realisation that the options and outcome are limited. This is real rock and hard place stuff.


I remember the Town Centre Partnership were going to sort this out…

What did gall however, is that Mike ‘Blofeld’ Bird, Conservative leader of Walsall Council  reserved his sympathies not for the town of Brownhills – with a population approaching 13,000 and apparently stuck with a derelict, dysfunctional town centre – but for the landlords of Ravens Court who’d gone from the prospect of having their white elephant purchased for redevelopment to being stuck with it. It’s always nice to see Mike’s human side come out.

Apparently, the dereliction and lack of upkeep to a property a landlord owns isn’t their fault. What?

Let’s be clear – there is no development plan for Ravens Court, or retail in Brownhills in general. Meetings will be held, waffle will be spouted. Nobody wants Ravens Court, least of all the people who own it. I’d wager they’re praying for a compulsory purchase.

Those rumours being spread by people in positions of local power? Talk about Morrisons or other developments happening there, or in the former Blockbusters store? Absolute rubbish to appease the concerned. They aren’t happening, either (and Asda aren’t moving into the old Focus store on Northgate for those spreading that rumour).

It’s hard to see what could be done with Ravens Court anyway; as a separate development, it’s quite a small patch of land that’s narrow, and any parking access would be off Tesco-owned land. This problem seems intractable.

Please do read the Advertiser article. I’d be interested in reader comments.

We are, as they say, right up shit creek.

Untitled 8

Click on the screen shot to read the story at the Walsall Advertiser site.

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