On the 11th November a group of BFoE people went for an evening out on the annual no. 11 bus 11-11-11, run by Jon Bounds of BiNS fame. Those unfamiliar with the 11-11-11 event should take a look at the 11 Bus website, but essentially it consists of riding a full circuit of Birmingham’s famous no. 11 bus sometime on the 11th of November (although some have taken it to extremes and ridden it for a full 11 hours).
So, a bunch of us from BFoE met up in King’s Heath by the superloo, where we also hooked up with some Birmingham bloggers doing the same thing. All in all a 15 strong band, to document the 26 mile round trip through photographs, video and twitterings. Before proceedings could get underway however, there was the decision about whether we would be riding an A or C – in other words would we ride Anti-clockwise or Clockwise? Eventually after a little debate the 11C won out, and so off we went, clockwise!
Along the route various points of historical, bizzare or humorous interest were pointed out by various 11ers, each it seemed with their own area of geographic knowledge, which worked out rather well in letting us know all about the variations of the outer reaches of the city. Inevitably we received a few funny looks and questions as to what we were up to (just as one of the 11ers gaffer taped a video camera to a handrail), and even after an explanation they still seemed perplexed. The passing round of the sweets probably only compounded their confusion! Given that we had taken up most of the back half of the top deck, it seems we also confused quite a few seasoned back seat dwellers by occupying their preferred spot, and hence forcing them to sit in unfamiliar territory further towards the front.
Our route took us through Cotteridge (which bizzarely has a high proportion of party shops), Bournville (with the Cadbury chocolate factory – obviously), Selly Oak, Harborne, Bearwood, North Edgbaston, Rotton Park & Summerfield, City Hospital, Winson Green (home of HM Prison Birmingham), Handsworth (with the ever lively & colourful Soho Road), Handsworth Wood, Perry Barr, Witton (just near Villa Park), Stockland Green, Erdington (and the infamous 6 Ways island) and Ward End, where the BFoE bunch of 11ers disembarked for a well earned pit stop, whilst the Birmingham bloggers held out for a full uninterrupted circuit.
So after a quick drink in that famous North-East Birmingham drinking spot, The Fox & Goose, we reboarded the next 11 bus for the final leg through Stechford, Yardley (and the rather sad looking vacant Swan Centre), Acocks Green, past Sarehole Mill, and through Billesley back to our starting point in King’s Heath. With the wonders of Twitter we managed to track down the location of the Birmingham bloggers we’d left on the bus at Ward End, and join them for a celebratory drink in the Hare & Hounds to chat about the journey.
So that was the end of an alternative but curiously fun night out, in which we saw some previously unexplored parts of Brum, dredged up some old memories, and discovered that if you’re having a party, then Cotteridge is the place for all your party supply needs! Remember to check out the 11 Bus website.