20th March 2023.

I’m making terribly slow progress towards completing GBG23 (IF I’m actually doing it), which I know will disappoint those of you who had a tenner on me at 18/1 to repeat my GBG22 triumph (what happened to the film starring Emma Stone by the way ?).

In truth I’m waiting for the lighter nights of early summer before I take the campervan out on trips to Scotland and the West Country, having ticked off most of England between Leeds and London.

This won’t make sense to you I guess, but it’s exhausting staying at home, whether “home” is Waterbeach or Sheffield, and not just because I fear Mrs RM giving me jobs to do in the garden.

At 10:19 on Monday I’d had enough domesticity, grabbed my man bag with phone charger and lead inside, and started to walking to the station.

While walking I booked my 11:00 trip to Derby, and on the train* I booked a return to Stourbridge Junction. Splitting the journey saves you over £30, as long as you remember to step on and off the train at Derby.

Having made a decision to head to Stourbridge two minutes before boarding the train I was just hoping my three Black Country** ticks weren’t taking a “Spring” break or closed for a private function to celebrate Arthur’s retirement or because “Monday”.

So I was relieved to emerge, blinking, into the daylight at the Junction and see that the Seven Stars is unmistakeably a Black Country Ales pub.

BCA pubs divide opinion among Pub Men. On the plus side, they’ll always be open, you get a good soundtrack (“Johnny Come Home” gives way to “Situation” by Yazoo), there’ll be pub grub and are often architectural gems with proper seating.

Like here;

On the downside, they reckon having thirteen cask ales dutifully listed on an electronic screen is A GOOD THING, which it rarely is.

Particularly when there’s virtually no custom at lunch time. Thirteen beers (What Pub delightedly tells us there’s 25 hand pulls as if we’re going to need that level of choice), two ciders, two customers. And a board showing train departures.

So I’m surprised (and delighted) to tell you the Pig on the Wall is actually decent, even if “decent” means NBSS 3.

I momentarily consider using “That’ll Do Pig” as the blog title,

but then realise you get more blog views by squeezing in the name of the obscure Stourbridge suburbs in your title, and it’s all about blog view, really.

I’m sure there’s lots of exciting things to say about Old Swinford, but they’re not on Wiki, and I now had a 2.3 mile trek to western Stourbridge so there was no time to dawdle, let alone stumble crossing the ring and almost land head first in the frontage of the Spoons.

The Plough seemed to close at 2:30, which sometimes means 2:00, which can mean last orders get called at 1:30, so no time to stop, not even for a Bathams.

*The Crosscountry carriages were packed at 11am, as they often are, rather giving the lie to the narrative that we don’t need trains as everyone is working from home and drinking craft beer in their underpants while watching Netflix these days.

**If Stourbridge ISN’T in the self-defined “Bostin’ Black Country” you’d better not tell the local tourist board.


  1. Hi Martin, always look forward to your West Midlands posts. Considering the Seven Stars was closed for several years before Black Country Ales took it on, I think they’ve done a really fine job of resurrecting the place even if the need for quite so many beers on is debatable. Then again, the beer quality there in my experience has never been worse than ‘good’ and I like the way they’ve married the usual BCA house style to the building’s existing heritage. I tend to combine my Seven Stars visits with some Bathams at the Bird in Hand nearby, you can’t really go wrong with those two as a double act. Cheers, Paul

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Paul. As mentioned the beer was GBG quality despite my reservations about the number of pumps ! I do like the pubs, despite the obvious house style from Stafford to Brum to Walsall.

      Don’t worry, I found time for Batham (though not the Bird in Hand).


  2. Martin,

    I can see your epic quest being made into a BBC4 comedy with Mackenzie Crook playing the lead part and Gillian Anderson playing the long suffering Mrs RM character.

    There would be hilarious scenes of attempting to obtain a tick whilst the pub is closed for a wake or a wedding reception. There would be a scene (possibly several) of trying to get a replacement pint after being served vinegar.

    There would be special guest appearances for Sheffield Hatter and BRAPA (+ others of course)

    Each episode would conclude with the campervan driving through the English countryside along a rustic lane with grass growing in the middle.

    You know it makes sense.



    Liked by 2 people

  3. The only place more autistic than beer blogs are rail forums, whose posters are being trolled daily by unnecessary intricacies of stepping on and off trains, just to satisfy non-existent guards enforcing non-existent rules.

    Both categories of internet reading are bloody brilliant.

    Tripled with football forums, you can pretty much know and take advantage of the British psyche. Pronounced with a second e.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “the Pig on the Wall is actually decent”
    I don’t get in either of the Stafford BCA pubs often enough for my comments to count for much, and I’ve not been in “The Shrew” since a new licensee was appointed, but I think the three regular BCA beers are usually drinking well though I rarely risk a guest beer unless it’s an ‘old favourite’ such as Pedigree or Brew XI.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’d need a good curry to tempt me back to Stafford, Paul (Morris Man perhaps ?) but I’ll definitely give the Shrewsbury another chance.

      I nearly always go for the Pig. Except in the next BCA pub…


      1. Martin,
        Yes, I don’t think anywhere beats the Morris Man’s curries, hence me having them about twice a week. The Slaters Blitzen finally ran out last week and now it’s a one-beer-is-plenty pub with only a top selling brew that’s travelled 260 miles rather than also one from just two miles away.
        Yes, the Shrewsbury Arms deserves another chance, especially with a new licensee following months of temporary managers.


  5. Oddly I rarely have their own beers as the guest line up usually always offers something interesting.
    They’ve recently taken over former GBG entry The Swan in nearby Brownhills, and it must be one of the smallest pubs they have. Think there were only 6 guests on when I went in.


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