Saturday, October 20, 2007

Cannock Chase and beyond

Sometimes competing desires pull you in two opposite locations. Part of me, the tired part, would love nothing more than to have a free weekend, at home, with nothing to do. Another part however, wants to get down to Wolverhampton to see P&S. It’s always a pleasure to spend time with them, it’s been far too long since I last visited and it’s never harder to be no longer just around the corner, when your friends are going through stressful times.

The pull of friendship is stronger than the pull of the sofa and so Saturday finds me heading south to meet up with them on Cannock Chase.

We grab lunch at one of the most eccentric eateries that you could ever happen to come across, the Wimpy ‘shack’ at Milford. It’s hard to describe it properly, but if you can imagine a wooden shack/chalet, with a counter opening out onto some open air benches, adjacent to a small covered area containing further tables, all fronted by a handful of parking spots before the road, then you’re on your way. Kind of fast food drive in, meets seaside fish and chip shack, meets a Swiss chalet style wendy house.

Food is cooked to order and is surprisingly good. Which, no doubt explains the steady and impressive stream of custom, because on paper this really shouldn’t work, but some how it so does.

As we munch through our lunches, P reminisces about his misspent youth in the area and the role the Wimpy shack played even back then – a mad, eccentric, local landmark.

After a walk round part of the chase, we end up at a Forestry Commission coffee shop.

With about five people in front of us in the queue and three people serving behind the counter, you wouldn’t anticipate a long wait. However, despite a general hub-bub of activity, very little progress is being made. It’s hard to pin-point why; everyone is moving and working, but little is being achieved. It would be a fascinating study in time and motion, if it weren’t taking so bloody long and my back wasn’t hurting quite so much. Queuing the best part of half an hour for one tea, one coffee and one diet coke, is a little ridiculous.

Happily our evening meal out at a country pub goes better. With the rest of the country watching the rugby, a pub with no TV is blissfully quiet.

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