*Written in 2019*.

As a CAMRA member you get 50p off a pint vouchers for Wetherspoons pubs. I don’t use them very often, and they used to come in blocks of £5 worth that you had to use in 3 months. For once I opted to try and use all 10. To make things interesting I decided to use them in pubs that I’d not visited previously. Not easy as during the course of 3 pub challenges I’d visited over 1100 pubs ticking off most of the easily accessible Wetherspoons around the West Midlands. I like exploring though so off we went.

The old style CAMRA vouchers.

1. The Pear Tree – Kings Heath.

It was St George’s Day, so I was off work as per normal. By a bizarre twist it was also National Asparagus Day. Daz and I jumped on the excellent no 50 bus service from Moor Street and were soon in Kings Heath. I’d done some research but not where to get off. So we alighted and ambled down the main street only to discover a stop right outside the pub. Had we stayed on the driver could only have got us closer had he drove into the building and ordered us a pint.

The pub was busy for a Tuesday afternoon, there was red and white bunting all over the place which I assumed was for St George’s Day. Turns out it was advertising pizzas. We approached the bar and I was expecting a plethora of asparagus ales but alas no. I opted for a Slater’s Pale which was in good nick.

The pub was smart, we sat by the impressive fire pit and enjoyed our visit.

2. Elizabeth Of York – Moseley.

It was still St George’s Day and the 50 bus back into Birmingham was passing another Wetherspoons. We dived in. This one was also adorned with non St George’s Day bunting. As mentioned in the last edition, when I see Walsall ale outside of our fine borough I have to have it. This time it was Backyard’s Hoard. Also on good form. We sat by a very futuristic looking fire. I went upstairs to explore. The toilets are on the second floor by the stairs up to another level. I wanted to continue to the summit but a couple sat up there eyed me with suspicion so I ran off back to my pint. Another good pub.

3. The Wallace Hartley – Colne, Lancashire.

Named after the band member on the Titanic who kept playing as the ship sank, who hailed from the town. I expected it to be wall to wall Titanic beers in lieu of this but there wasn’t a single one. Instead I had a Worsthorne “Blonde Violin”. It’s a Smart pub with oak panelling and shiny black tiles. Lots of people were indulging in the Tuesday steak offer. I enjoyed my pint and catch up with a great friend who hails from that part of the world, Sarah the lovely lady who introduced me to the concept of visiting pubs as part of a challenge. I have much to thank her for.

4. The Pump House – Shirley.

My journey from Colne to Walsall went via Solihull. Directions have never been my strong point. Upon leaving Solihull station I spotted a taxi, and knowing that another Wetherspoons was lurking just two miles away it had to be done. I asked the driver “can you take me to The Pump House, Shirley?” “Yes”, came the response “and don’t call me Shirley”. Sadly, he didn’t actually say that. I put that in to keep you interested. The pub was very smart and arty with a big enclosed fire pit in the

middle. I had the Sihil “Blonde Star” which was on offer at £1.49, down to 99p with the voucher. I’d met my mate Dave in Birmingham who was wearing a mildly offensive t-shirt which nearly caused the glass collector to drop her load as she read it. Cracking pub. I liked it a lot.

5. The White Swan – Solihull.

Another smart Spoons. “Blonde Star” appeared to be the beer of the day so I had it again, although not on offer this time. Dave’s t-shirt was received better in here with the barmaid laughing her head off at it. We opted to soak up some sun and sat outside. Another pleasant visit.

6. The Butler’s Bell – Stafford.

There is a tradition in my family that dates back centuries which states on payday you must go to the pub. Payday in May saw me in no mood to break this cycle so straight from work via the metro and train I headed to Stafford. This town currently boasts two Wetherspoons so naturally I opted for the one that was included in the 16 put up for sale by the company in March. On entry the ales were listed on a board which at the bottom had a little poignant message saying “To our lovely customers, thank you for everything” furnished with a little heart. A nice touch.

I was served by a friendly barmaid who apologised for the delay even though I hadn’t been waiting long. As I was in Stafford I opted for a Slater’s ale. This one called Refresher which I hadn’t seen before. It was very good. I was ravenous so opted for the Tuesday steak deal – large of course, which arrived in no time and I had another Refresher to act as a chaser.

Smart pub, some of the booths had bars round them, no doubt as a nod to the nearby prison but they looked cool. The whole place had a really good feel. Lots of decorations around. A large, wide floor to ceiling case full of ladies shoes in the colour white really caught my eye.

I really enjoyed my visit here. The other Wetherspoons in town must be outstanding if this is the one to be axed.

7. The Lord Keeper Of The Great Seal – Oadby.

When I decided to do this article I Googled Wetherspoons pubs within 50 miles and right on the cusp was this place. When I saw the name it had to be done. So on a gloomy and damp June morning, when the trains in Walsall were not behaving I set off. Upon eventually leaving good ole DH the journey went smoothly and I arrived in Leicestershire wet but on time.

There is a sizable family area to the right, so I opted to sit on the other side of the pub. There was a cider named after one of my favourite singers Katy Perry so I opted for that even though 5.5% is quite lively for the first pint of the day. No trek upstairs for the loo here either, it’s a gentle downward slope.

Nice visit this one but with having to bus back into Leicester I made it a brief one. As I was finishing Katy off a barmaid put down a fish Friday leaflet on my table to try and entice me to stay, but the bus was calling so off I went.

8. The Last Plantagenet – Leicester.

There were 3 options available in Leicester for a visit so again like Stafford I opted for the one that was put up for sale in March. I was peckish upon arrival and with fish Friday still in my mind from Oadby I had it here along with a Gordon’s gin. The cod was massive and the gin was pleasant. All for about £7.20. Result. I still had the voucher lurking in my wallet so I went for an Oakham Citra. It was back to heading upstairs again for the loo but I figured I’d got some calories to burn off after the fish. Another pleasant visit with lots of Friday afternoon drinkers also enjoying themselves.

9. George Hotel – Bewdley.

Named after our patron saint and his picture adorns the sign outside. We initially struggled to work out how to get in. Glancing up a side alley, then working out the entrance is through what looks like a shop front next door. Enville White was the beer of choice here. My friends Matt and Ben hadn’t eaten so we opted to indulge in the 3 small plates for £10.25 between us. A small pizza was an option and I’d been wanting to try one since Kings Heath so opted for pepperoni. Matt tried to order on the app but gave up citing it was a ball ache. The barmaid had already said that Bewdley “didn’t really do wi-fi” so off he went to the bar to order. The traditional way. I approved.

We sat in a conservatory style extension and whilst doing so the sun finally decided to put his hat on. Hip hip hip and numerous hoorays. It suddenly became red hot. We didn’t mind. It was a Monday afternoon and we were all off work. The food arrived quickly. The pizza was unsliced so it took me longer to work out how to eat it than to actually do so but it was really good.

I didn’t get to explore this place as much as usual due to the distractions of ale, food and good conversation but it was still an enjoyable visit, rounded off nicely by Ben getting up out of his chair and walking into a drain pipe.

10 – The Britannia – Blackheath.

This one nearly didn’t happen. Another straight from work payday jobbie but I was lured into The Wellington in Birmingham en route by a colleague and after a few pints in there I just wanted to get back to Walsall to resume supping but with just two days left to use my final voucher if I didn’t do it that day then it wasn’t happening.

This place is unusual for Wetherspoons in that it was already a pub when being added to Tim’s empire. Good friendly place too. Three blokes all said “alright” to me as they left the toilet when I paused to let them pass. Backyard Hoard was again the ale of choice. Whilst mooching around I saw a side door, with a bus stop in sight and in view was a bus with one of my favourite words “Walsall” on it. I hadn’t been feeling the walk back to the train station, so I asked two gents to watch my pint and nipped out. Another bus back to the promised land was in 9 minutes. Perfect. I necked my pint, said and received back cheerful goodbyes from my beer minders and jumped on the next bus. I liked this one so much I went again the following week for a proper visit.

So that’s it. Lots of new pubs visited whilst doing this, all vouchers used, a fiver saved on beer costs and good times enjoyed. I still haven’t had any asparagus though.