The first consideration was getting to Bham B6 and back. With a dusting of snow on the ground and at least a 50 mile round trip I went for train there and ride back. Caught the 1130 from Warwick to Moor Street and cycled to Villa Park. Not the best of routes on a bike, especially with some of the big islands. Thankfully a fair proportion of the way you can cycle in the bus lanes which was a lot safer. Here comes my train.
Getting near Villa Park, this is the Police Station in Queens Road. A little bird has told me that it is nowhere as busy as it used to be, and is like many in the country becoming a bit of a backwater, not the heart of a community as once was. This picture is dedicated to Katie, my granddaughter, who worked there as a controller until 'restructuring' took place.
Nearly there now. The famous Holte Pub. My Dad used to take me in there for a 'swift half' when I was about 15. Part of the reason why I looked forward to home matches. What a difference in the area when there isn't a match on. Not a burger van in sight and the roads are so quiet. Different world.
The back of the Holte End stand. Underneath is now a conference centre. I could not help but think back to the 1950s when we arrived here at 3am and queued along this wall to get cup tickets. Slightly before online ticketing!
In the ground at last. The Mecca of football. Some may disagree but with 5 generations in the family cheering on the Claret and Blue this is our Mecca.
Then there was the goalposts. Unfortunately, they are removed from the pitch until match days so couldn't prop the bike up as I (and Nigel) would have wished. Also, no-one is allowed on the pitch at all so it was impossible to get the Holte End in the picture properly. I still got a sense of satisfaction from doing this one though. As an aside, some of my Dad's ashes have been scattered on this spot. He would be proud today.
Couldn't resist taking one at the entrance to the player's tunnel. Again, could not get far enough back to compose it properly.
And this is Dan, the media man from Villa Park who arranged all this for me. Thank you Dan. He was really helpful. He will be looking at doing a piece in the programme and also putting it on the Villa Blog Site. I will try and get a link for that.
Then there was a small matter of the ride home! Just over 28 miles. A cold ride but the wind was behind me which helped. This is right underneath Spaghettie Junction. I came to the island where the Lichfield Road meets the M6 and it was huge and so busy. Luckily there is a subway that by passes it which I used. I realised that I was now right underneath the M6 so camera out.
What a brilliant day thanks to Nigel and Alan for giving me the inspiration to do this. More thanks to Dan as well. Some treasured memories for me and my family.