A Week in Walsall 16th August 2014.
August 13th - It may be late summer, but there’s still young ones about on the new pool at Clayhanger - fine, healthy mallard ducklings pottered about, as did a couple of moorhen chicks out with mum.
Ducklings have all the cute - but young moorhens seem to have the same dishevelled, grumpy appearance as young owls. They look like befuddled old men.
They are very endearing though.
August 13th - The wind had changed direction slightly, and the rains were scarcer, but conversely, the skies were far more threatening. As I headed home to Brownhills, I was struck by the drama of it. I’m not greatly struck by Humphries House in snow white, but it doesn’t half show off an angry sky well.
Hope it settles down a bit for the weekend.
August 12th - Sweet rain fell in short, sharp showers as I rode home, often out of an almost totally clear, blue sky. The weather is certainly odd at the moment; the wind has been quite strong and it’s been very changeable.
I’ve forgot in this really quite dry summer the music of rain falling on the canal and leaves as I pass. In summer, it’s an occasional delight to the senses.
So long as it doesn’t become too frequent..
August 12th - This is strange. I spotted it growing in the thicket by the cycleway in Telford. The plant itself looks like maybe a rose or some kind of bramble, the the growth ar the top is totally alien to me.
It’s about the size of a golf ball, maybe a bit bigger. Is it some kind of parasite, like an oak gall? Genetic mutation? Or even some kind of uncommon species?
Help invited… it is kind of beautiful.
August 11th - This is something I knew about, but had never seen in use. It’s a bit geeky, but I find it a fascinating demonstration of simple solutions being best.
As New Street Station is gradually turd-polished and sprinkled with cheap glitter, platforms are periodically closed to the public. At the moment it’s the turn of platform 3.
When the platform is closed, so is the adjacent track so that work can be undertaken in safety. The track is blocked, the overhead wires are grounded and these detonators are placed on the line.
Should a train get down here, the yellow disc, which contains a small but effective explosive charge, will be crushed by the wheels, activating the explosive. This makes a sound like a gunshot, alerting nearby workers and the driver.
This technology has been in use for decades, but I didn’t know it was still employed today.
August 11th - I nipped to Telford early to make a quick adjustment, and returned within the hour. At the station, glowing in the sunlight on a small patch of forgotten earth, these beautiful purple flowers.
All they want is to be noticed - and sometimes it’s the little stuff that makes life so fine.
August 10th - I realised I hadn’t really done a circuit of Brownhills like this for a while, and despite the grim weather warnings, it’s wasn’t a bad day at all. The light was bright, and the scenery good. It was a good day to photograph landscape, I guess.
A the Pelsall Road bridge on the canal, I discovered how the otherwise inaccessible flowerbed was being maintained - formerly I’d wondered if it was from the boat so often moored nearby.
At Chasewater, the lake was very, very choppy. The wakeline had been abandoned for the day, and only a few very brave windsurfers were out.
I note that the valves are currently open, and the water level at the reservoir is steadily lowering, probably to the lowest level since last summer, the high watermark evident on the spillway bridge in a line of white surface scum.
An unexpectedly great day to be out.
August 10th - A remarkable season, and now the fruiting begins in earnest. The wind was gusting hard, and the threat of rain not far away, but I slid out mid afternoon in defiance of Hurricane Bertha (spit). I let the wind blow me along the wet canal to the cyclway over the common - on the way, I noticed what I think are cherries growing ripe on a tree by the Pier Street Bridge. They look rather fat and large to be such gems in Brownhills. Can anyone help there?
There’s also been a remarkably prodigious crop of hazelnuts from the hedge thicket opposite the Watermead estate - but what wasn’t already squirrelled was blown down in the wind; the towpath is thick with nobbled and wind-fallen nuts.
On the cycleway, a similarly bountiful crop of blackberries, and the elderberries too are ripening to a beautiful black-crimson gloss.
Summer coming to an end is always sad, but how can one remain so in the face of such wonderful fruits?
August 9th - Green Lane in Shelfield is being, at long last, resrfaced. I came down there tonight, and It’s officially closed, but was ridable with care. Despite the numerous ‘No Parking’ signs and leaflets, I noticed this vehicle, around which road workers clearly had to plane.
These folk may have gone on holiday I guess, and not known about the works, so one shouldn’t be too harsh.
But it would be ironic if they ever moaned about the council never fixing the potholes…
August 9th - I pootled into Brum on the train for an early evening curry on the Soho Road, and did a little shopping in Brum while I was about it.
These street performers were drawing good crowds of astonished onlookers, which amused me as it was clearly separating those with some mechanical knowledge from those without.
It is very clever and visually stunning, but it can’t be comfortable for extended periods, so hats off to the chaps doing it.
Can you spot how it’s done?
A week in Walsall 9th August 2014. The picture at the end is a friend and her daughter, nice people indeed.
August 8th - I came to the top of Shire Oak Hill in light rain, and stopped at the quarry entrance to look at my beloved view to Lichfield. Rain was sweeping in along the Trent Valley, and the hills to the west were obscured by low rain clouds.
It had been another tough week,and I was glad to crest the hill and be nearly home. I love my job, but sometimes it’s tough to keep everything going.
But knowing home was downhill from here, the promise of good company, the family and a decent mug of tea was strong, and cheering.
Home is where the teapot is.
As it happened, the rain never really reached here.
August 8th - In contrast to recent days, it was dark and overcast with a very threatening atmosphere for most of the day. Racing home, I could smell rain on the wind, and it felt ominous.
A bit of rain is welcome; it’s needed. But we haven’t had weather like this for any length of time for a long period, and this felt dramatic and alien.
As I rode down Mill Lane in Stonnall, I noticed a flock of starlings had settled on the field, hedgerow and overhead lines. Perhaps it’s just the Hitchcock thing, but even those little birds in silhouette felt menacing…
August 7th - Closer to home, across the spread of Springhill and Sandhills, it’s harvest time. At Cartersfield Lane, wheat was ripe, and ready to be harvested, a process already underway at Home Farm, where the combine was sending up a terrifically dramatic cloud of cereal dust as it worked. Also growing on the lower fields of Sandhills, a healthy and verdant maize crop, now quite tall.
This does seem to have been a most favourable summer for the farmers, but I’m sure they’ll find something to complain about before long…