BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

Aprill 11th - Before I do the usual ones today, tonight I had a nightmare journey home after a less than wonderful day. A couple of consecutive punctures (with different causes) were bad enough. But then, not far from home (thankfully), I gained another entry for Bob’s Big Book of Bizarre Bicycling Mechanical Failures™ - my non drive side crank sheared at the pedal thread. Clean off.

I have never seen this before. Not once.

It felt bad for a couple of miles - I figured a pedal bearing was going south. It felt odd, eccentric. This prepared me for disaster, so when it happened it didn’t hurt or cause me to fall off, but it could have been quite bad. 

The crank is by Lasco, and has done 10,000 miles. From the dark patch on the break, I’d say it’s been cracked awhile. I’m no small fella and fatigue has clearly worked it’s magic.

Oh well. Time for a new chainset, then…

April 10th - returning down the dam, another sign of spring. The bugs have risen.
This isn;t a murmuration of starlings, or even a flock of sparrows. I don’t know exactly what they are, but the air was thick with drifting, buzzing, irritating clouds of insects that got in my hair, eyes and clothes.
Interesting how they all seem to emerge at exactly the same natural trigger point. In a day or so, they’ll be gone.
An annoying, but fascinating beit of nature.

April 10th - returning down the dam, another sign of spring. The bugs have risen.

This isn;t a murmuration of starlings, or even a flock of sparrows. I don’t know exactly what they are, but the air was thick with drifting, buzzing, irritating clouds of insects that got in my hair, eyes and clothes.

Interesting how they all seem to emerge at exactly the same natural trigger point. In a day or so, they’ll be gone.

An annoying, but fascinating beit of nature.

April 10th - I took a spin out to Burntwood after work on an errand, but never got to where I set out for. Even at a fairly late hour, it was good to see the wakeboarding lines busy and in use. It really is great to see people having fun on the water here. 

Even if they do come a cropper now and again…

madoldbaggage:

Mom died three years ago this spring but her garden lives on and through that renewal each spring, so does she. Think she would be enjoying this spring as it seems to be so vigorous this year. Everything that I have taken a photograph of is something that she originally planted. It’s fair to say she loved colour :-) All photographs taken this morning.

April 9th - This… this, it’s remarkable.

   

I was shooting along the towpath, in the part of Spaghetti Junction where there’s a covered, cavernous tunnel over the canal. It’s dark under there; and eerie. It can be a little scary - there is no electric light there, and the only daylight is from the portals and small, irregular metre-square apertures in the roof, that let in shafts of sunlight. It’s a very odd, otherworldly spot.

I cycle through here generally without stopping. But today, a patch of yellow caught my eye in the admitted beam of light. 

I stopped. I backed up. I stood, open mouthed.

   

Hundreds, possibly more than a thousand daffodils in small jars. Each with water in, in the circle of light. Decaying, gone over. Placed with what must have been care, it would have taken a large effort to get them and the jars to that spot. It’s not accessible. It would have perhaps taken a boat… or some climbing. But why? Was it art? Obsessiveness? 

I was captivated. The pictures don’t do it justice. It’s stunning. 

   

When I got home, I looked at the pictures. I puzzled over them. I asked twitter: twitter knew. Thanks to @nebolland, @kenofski, @brumcyclist and @cybrum who enlightened me.

It turns out it’s art. It was carried out by artist, art world enfant terrible and extraordinary publicist Bill Drummond, once of the KLF. 

Read about Bill and his Birmingham project here.

You can say what you like, that had a massive impact on me. That was bloody genius. I have total respect for it.

April 9th - I found myself in Aston, exploring the underbelly of Spaghetti Junction, and the bizarre number of other arteries it conceals - a rail junction, a river, and four canals. I spun around Aston, and spotted the Britannia, a classic, over-the-top Brum boozer, like the Bartons Arms, now marooned in a sea of modernity. It had been a couple of decades since I’d been this way, but little has changed. Some of the street art on the flood channel walls along the Tame is nearly 30 years old.

April 9th - I had a meeting in Sutton in the morning, then had to pop down to Tyseley. Leaving too late to head anywhere else, but too early to go straight home, I cycled back along the canal home. I love the bit of canal through Bordesley. The stretch past The Bond - so many architectural and technological periods in one shot. I have no idea what’s going on with the statue and the large yellow tank at Typhoo junction, but the cowslips on the embankment were a real treat. 

A really nice afternoon.

madoldbaggage:

Another ride this morning taking in road, cycle route and canal. I was struck by how close to Walsall Town Centre there is wildness; this time at Mill Lane Nature Reserve. Half a mile from the town centre and I was watching buzzards flying overhead and catching jays nest building. marvellous.

The Arbo was looking gorgeous and in particular the wildlife garden run by two wonderful women, Jo and Jackie from the Friends of Walsall Arboretum Group. Volunteers, they do a fantastic job. I watched as wren added to her nest in their potting shed!

Then on my return I decided to see if the Little Owls were showing near Riddians Bridge (which remains looking worse for wear) and both were. One on a branch and the other in the middle of the oak. They made me smile.

So happy to be back cycling.

madoldbaggage:

My garden this afternoon

April 8th - Another heron. I think the spring has brought them out - this one was near Bentley Bridge, stood watching the word go by from, ironically enough, a fishing peg. Older than the one I saw last Friday, and larger, he was a an impressive bird.

Can’t get enough herons - never saw them as a kid; they’re a sign of a healthy fish population, I’d tenure.

April 8th - I took the canal for the commute today, joining it in the centre of Walsall. Haven’t done that for a while, and it wasn’t the best decision I’ve ever made, to be honest. It was wet and heavy going. 

Passing Bentley Bridge, it gave me chance to look at the land clearance that had gone on here of late; a whole line of trees and scrub have gone from the roadside of Bentley Mill Way. I assume this is to do with upcoming road improvements here.

I still love that you can see the two spires of Wednesbury from here. But such a blasted, scarred landscape between.

April 7th - I’d spotted a good sky in the offing, and hopped onto the old rail line at Coopers Bridge, then headed towards Ryders Mere. On the way, I spotted something I’d not noticed before; you can actually get a clear view of Walsall and the Black Country to Turners Hill at Rowley Regis from the old bridge at the rear of what used to be Binks Bullows. 

The sky was great, and I was fascinated - there are all the landmarks of Walsall, visible over Ryders Mere and Clayhanger Marsh. A great view.

It just goes to show - you can pass the same spot loads of times, and still notice something new.

April 7th - Damn me, but this squirrel seems happy. Mind, he ought to be; he’s living in the hazel copse just opposite the Watermead in Brownhills. The cheeky little fellow didn’t scarper until I came quite close. 

I’d swear he’s laughing there…

If Gradboy is reading this, sorry mate, but it was too good to miss… 

April 7th - Yay! The cowslips are here. Heading back to Brownhills from work, I took advantage of a gap in the rain, and spinning up a sodden towpath, I spotted the recurring patches of cowslips on Clayhanger Common near the Pier Street Bridge.

I’m sure I guerrilla seeded these a decade ago, and they’ve spread beautifully. Since then, further bands of these dainty little primroses have appeared all around the common. Seeing them in flower brings me enormous pleasure.

Cowslips are my favourite flower. To me, they symbolise spring; yellow, hardy, and they appear when the worst is passed. This year, they’re a good couple of weeks early. 

The snail seemed quite pleased with them too…

April 6th - Bless her, she’s sitting again. For what is the third (or maybe fourth) year, the Catshill swan couple have made a nest in the remnants of the one from the previous year, and they appear to be sitting. 

In previous years, the labour has been fruitless; despite laying eggs, the couple have so far been cygnetless. 

I’ve felt sorry for them for too many seasons. Let’s hope they get it together this year, eh?