March 2nd - There’s been some comment locally about a new set of speed bumps that have been installed on Silver Street, Brownhills near to the Miner Island. I knew they were coming - I’d noticed the traffic order posted on a nearby lamp-post way back in the summer, but I’m surprised to note it’s only a single set. There have been a number of minor accidents here, and with the Silver Waters development nearby, I guess there’s an imperative to try and subdue the traffic a bit.
No such measures are required on the nearby High Street, of course, where a set of cleverly installed potholes™ do the same job. Some are so large now, they have their own ecosystems and microclimate. Such is their severity and longevity, many are in receipt of birthday cards from the council. They would, without doubt, even slow the approach of a Sherman tank.
" Birmingham main line canal 2 " Engineered beauty
From the engineers who first built the canal.
To the engineers who built over it !
A true testament to remarkable engineering.
" Birmingham mainline canal 3 " And the bits in between
Just a few other shots, I thought were worth sharing.
After praising the efforts of past engineers, The present day planners & builders are sadly lacking, after coming up with this monstrosity !
March 1st - Cycling on NCN 535 between Witton Lakes and Brookvale Park, I noticed this culvert portal to the brook that flows through the lakes from Kingstanding to the Tame. This steelwork may look ugly and grim, but it’s a vital piece of environmental equipment: it’s called a Trash Screen and stops large items of debris from entering the culvert and causing a blockage where it would be difficult to extract. The grid traps litter, flotsam and jetsam, and can be removed easily by technicians, even in heavy flood conditions.
In the weather we’ve had, clearing trash screens is a major job for councils and the Environment Agency. Often unpleasant, but very, very necessary.
March 1st - one of the markers of spring is leaving early on the first Saturday in March to visit Erdington Bike Jumble. A lovely ride in spring sunshine through the Roman Way estate, Sutton Park and Boldmere, then an hour or so browsing tat (mostly) spending huge sums (£3 this year) and chatting to old pals, passing acquaintances and debating bike stuff.
This year it clashed with a similar event in Long Eaton, and it was a little poorer than usual. However, the catering this year was ace - fresh fried pakora and samosas as well as the usual bacon rolls. Don’t mind if I did.
Always nice to see other people’s rides, too. That Major Nicholls fixie is a lovely bike and well loved - you can just tell.
I did like the Moser frame. Whoever bought that got the beginnings of a nice bike there.
February 28th - On Monday, I took some photos of the Weinerberger brickworks marlpit near Stubbers Green. At the time, extraction wasn’t in progress, but as I passed this afternoon, far below me in the quarry, the red marl was being loaded into a continuous chain of trucks to be hauled to surface factory for moulding into bricks. Digging will continue for hours in a precise, designed pattern. The marl is surprisingly dry, and there is still lots here. This extraction will continue for some time to come yet.
February 28th - Returning from work mid-afternoon, with shopping to fetch, I came through Aldridge. Just opposite the Manor House I spotted these rings of crocuses planted around young saplings, themselves strongly in blossom. The sight and intensity of the flowers was a tonic, and the blossom beautiful in its delicacy.
Spring? This’ll do.
February 27th - I’d had a tough day at work, and just wanted to get home fast. I wasn’t in the mood to faff about, and got the first train I could in the right general direction. That turned out to be the service that terminated at Four Oaks. It was a cracking ride home - dry, clear, crisp - a great spring evening. The sunset wasn’t outstanding, but it was pleasant in it’s starkness, and Castlehill looked as beautiful as ever in the half light.
What intrigued me most, however, was growing on a small patch of neglected flowerbed alongside the access ramp at Four Oaks. Violet flowers, looking a bit like poppies. Just the one small group in an otherwise weed-srewn border. Anyone any idea what this delightful flower is, please?
February 27th - That moment when you’re passing through Moor Street Station in Birmingham - the lovingly rebuilt and restored Great Western Railway station - and realise that even the washers used in the architectural ironwork are an ornate stamped flower design.
That, readers, is attention to detail. Never noticed it in 10 years of using the station…
February 26th - It was beautiful as I returned along the canal. The sky was dramatic, and although not a great sunset, the dying embers of the day were still quite beautiful. And the best thing about it? 5:45pm. We really are pushing the darkness back now. I’ve really enjoyed the last few commutes in the relative dry, and it’s nice seeing the ground and countryside dry out a little, finally.
I want this to be spring. It’s mild. The weather is good. Just 3 weeks until we switch to British Summer Time. But I can’t get away from the fact that on the 22nd March 2013, there was deep snow on the ground.
We’re not out of the woods, yet.
February 26th - The technology of controlling public spaces fascinates me. Footfall monitoring systems, environmental control and public information screens all have their own complex theories and rationales. Even something seeming as simple as a public adress system is complicated in the implementation.
At Birmingham New Street, the public announcements, if one listens carefully, are not relayed universally through every speaker, and there is often a slight timeshift between two announcements on adjacent platforms. The volume of the PA rises and falls locally based on background noise levels measured automatically by a number of units like this, buried in the fascia of the station walls.
I noticed this one this morning as I waited for my train. I thought about how tuned the system must have to be - to echo, resonance, and the synchronisation must have to be just so.
What results are hopefully comfortable, easily heard announcements, that don’t clash and collide with interference from multiple speakers as you move around. This is clearly a very, very sophisticated system, and I’d love to know more about it.
February 25th - Caught in a short, sharp shower. The air suddenly went clear, and glass-hard. The traffic seemed to go a bit nuts, too.
Despite it’s attempts to kill me, I love the Chester Road. Night or day, summer or winter, sunshine or rain, it’s both often my route out of here, and my way back home.
February 25th - Terrible pictures grabbed quickly in the half light… but cause to celebrate. My daffodils are here. Spring is underway!
These early ones come every year at the end of February. They grow on the verge corners by the cottage at the junction of Wood Lane and Chester Road, Mill Green. They are showing beautifully this year, after being a little sad last year.
They fill me with joy. I spotted them a couple of days ago, but have had no time to stop and photograph them. I say hello outloud, every time I pass. They are my signal to hold on, because the greening is coming again… and not a moment too soon.