2021: I’m Just Going For A Walk... Part 6!

Walsall? Vaccine? Glorious sunshine? Yes! Those three factors were served during this final 'I'm Just Going For A Walk...' blog segment! With the lower part of the 30s age bracket being made eligible to get our vaccines, I booked my appointments straight away! Thankfully, the weather was roasting, the sun shone down all day. Oh yes, that familiar hotel view tracked me down, W!

It had been just the other week when I actually had a purpose to leave my house, during the same week I was afforded another chance to wander with a purpose. Walking down to Willenhall Town Centre had me remembering those morning's and afternoon's when I walked the same route to get the 529 bus towards Walsall. No, I wasn't going back to that hotel, I was heading into Walsall to get my first COVID-19 vaccine. Because I have had certain restrictions to deal with I had to make the most of the bus journey from Willenhall to Walsall that sunny Sunday afternoon. The last time the 529 took me to any place else had to be during 2015, before I departed to China for the first time. On my way to Walsall, I noticed several sights along the way, reminding me of a job that I enjoyed but the management I didn't like. The Village Hotel Walsall passed me by, I surely felt a sense of progression even during this pandemic time. I had planned to get a KFC meal like I had before in 2015, that decision hadn't yet been made at that point. Go! 

In retrospect I knew in that moment that I didn't need to go anywhere near that hotel, time had passed and to be honest I have had enough of being stuck in the same place. There was no way I was going backwards, even if a KFC would be involved! Absolutely, the walk up from home to Willenhall was nostalgic enough for me. Bus wise, I remember straight away when I had last travelled on one, that was during my March 2020 visit to Nottingham when I took the Sherwood Arrow to Sherwood Forest. I took in every view, sure I had seen those Walsall bound views many time before but I had hardly been anywhere since the Pandemic, it was a case of being thankful for every opportunity. As my bus approached Walsall's Town Centre, I had the challenge to find the former T.J Hughes store in the Saddler's Shopping Centre. I thanked the bus driver as I stepped down from that 529 service from Wolverhampton via Willenhall, moreover thinking how on earth people were expected to uphold 'Distancing?' I wore my mask, it wasn't difficult! 

Walking from Walsall Bus Station through an alley that took me to Park Street had me fronting the correct entrance of the Saddler's Centre in Walsall Town Centre. I knew what I was looking for, sure as sure I found the vaccination centre. Being earlier than my appointment time, I was escorted into the correct line for me to start the process. Excited to finally be receiving my first COVID-19 vaccine, it was a walk that I wouldn't be forgetting for all the right reasons. I had waited since December the previous year to be called up to receive my jab! Scanned into the system, I took my application form like piece of paper to the second station, everything was very organised! Boris, don't be taking an ounce of credit for this rollout! Disgusting! Checked and correct, I was guided around the third checkpoint to be directed to bay '14'. Being my lucky number because its my birthdate, I had a feeling this Pfizer jab was going to be hitting different for all the right reasons! Rico was my vaccinator, easy on the eye he was! Vax, get into my arm! 

Keeping things light I made a few jokes as Rico asked me if I was allergic to anything? I just said 'nasty people' are the only thing that get me itching! Before I knew it, my t-shirt arm was rolled up for Rico to administer my first dose of the Pfizer BionTech vaccine into my arm. Half vaxxed, I thanked Rico for his service and help. Passing through to a distanced waiting area I had to wait for 15 minutes. My vaccination card was brought to me, I had to voice up because it had been scribbled with such bad handwriting! Not knocking the NHS, I calmly inquired whether I could call 119 to get a printed letter with my serial numbers on because the writing looked preschool! Let me take another seat for my bubbling tone, I was just preoccupied by the scruffy letters because this vaccine will get me out of this country! I didn't want those numbers and letters to mistaken for what they are not! In the end, I exited the vaccination centre with my first vaccine dose in my arm! From May 31st I had 10 more weeks until dose two! ¿Lo rico? ¡Muy rico! Very!

I am never going to say no to a bit of discount for doing something for the greater good! Oh, no! Clocking that Costa Coffee was offering a 10% discount for those who could produce a vaccination card, well on the day of the jab. I indulged completely, well I wouldn't go that far. Getting one of the 'Frappuccino' drinks because I hadn't had one in ages! I know 'Frappuccino' is Starbucks, I didn't catch the Costa equivalent. Exiting the Saddler's Centre onto Park Street, It was like a blast from the past well from the period before the second Lockdown. Me and my Mum would walk from Darlaston to Walsall Town Centre along the Walsall Canal, before heading home I would sit-down at the top of Park Street with my TESCO meal deal. Fast forward to May 2021 during the third Lockdown, I decided against a meal deal but paid attention to that Walsall thoroughfare. People from many walks of life made their way down Park Street, echoing the sound of many languages. Being a Bank-Holiday Monday, it wasn't busy along Park Street. 

My Walsall walk had started from home, taking me up to Willenhall Town Centre for me to catch the 529 bus. I had no desire to alight at Tempus Ten on the motorway island, I appreciated the nostalgic view but the memory was recaptured at arms length. The weather was right, hardly any clouds in the sky and the sun was out with temperatures in the twenties. My vaccination at the Saddler's Centre was stress-free even though the handwriting on my vaccination card looks questionable, I am halfway to being fully vaccinated and that is what matters.  Even with the discount, Costa had me shocked how much that iced coffee drink set me back with that 10% included! Park Street gave me another previous view in real time, things weren't busy, meaning I didn't feel wary about transmission of the virus. As I proceeded closer towards the bus stop, I knew that I had one more element to tick before boarding that Wolverhampton bound 529. Walsall had me going for that walk and I wasn't mad about it. Park St, see you on August 17th! 

Nowhere on the vaccination pamphlet suggested that I couldn't have one pint before getting the bus back to Willenhall. Taking a seat that overlooked the Walsall Waterfront at the Brewer's Fayre was the one for me, with a pint of Thatcher's Gold cider in hand I was happy. As the sun shone down over the Walsall Waterfront, Bar10 had attracted a gaggle of entertaining locals that made pantomime look boring. With no theatre available since Lockdown, the public who were enjoying their outdoor beverages gave me an amusing view! My pint was lovely, the New Art Galley wasn't a bad view, something had to be said for that Bank-Holiday Monday treat. I had been able to enjoy one pint by itself in Birmingham a few days earlier and that would be the same theme in Walsall. I feel that learning to enjoy that one drink served me well, I had no need to get drunk at all. The scenic industrial nature of Walsall's Waterfront concluded my vaccination day out. Look at me trying to be cautious! Walsall, let's level up, it has been 6 years! 

Finishing up my pint, I decided against that KFC at Tempus Ten as mentioned before. Located a stones throw from the Premier Inn, I was able to easily jump on the 529 that was going towards Wolverhampton. I would get the bus to and from the hotel during my time as a Hotel Receptionist, I definitely don't feel mad that I had to navigate the 529. It was a day of triumphs due to getting my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, having the memories of the last year and before that being served. I have a very good life and just because I worked in Walsall then went to China won't ever put me above being able to appreciate the Black Country town. Having the second dose in August, I will be making another day for that final vaccination dose. As I walked home from the bus stop in Willenhall, I did think that this blog post would be the final segment to my walking blog series that has taken me through Lockdown 3 during 2021. Get over it, get your vaccine when you can because we need to get out of this Pandemic! COVID-19's get out now, V! 

1st Pfizer Dose, Baby! 

Joseph Harrison


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