BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

September 21st - A horrid, horrid day. Laden with a cold, the sun was out but I was in. Feeling cranky, miserable and ill, I battled technology and social media at home, and finally left for a restorative ride at 5pm. 

The air was still poor, but it caught the sun beautifully. Looking from Hammerwich over the fields to Brownhills, I was fascinated by the glow of the Lichfield Road as it rose to cross the Anglesey Branch. Riding over to Wall and back through the lanes around Chesterfield, the villages and old building looked beautiful, as did the odd flower of the evergreen, growing in the hedgerows at Wall.

It may have been a terrible, terrible day, but the golden hour was just what I needed.

September 20th - Must have passed this garden backing onto the canal at Anchor Bridge hundreds of times - but never once noticed the apple tree, which this autumn has a fine crop of apples. The owner doesn’t seem to have noticed, though, as the windfalls are plentiful on the ground.

A lovely sight. Wonder if they’re eaters or cookers?

September 20th - Things were still grey and the air quality still dreadful, but a very, very fine rain had settled on the town as I cycled to Chasewater. 

It’s good to see the old place busy now, and I love the way the Wakeline people have taken over and repurposed the old pier. Boats were speeding around, despite the murk, but I also noted the low water level - lower now than it has been for a couple of years. The valves are still open, so one assumes there’s a good reason.

Cycling back along the canal, it felt more like November than September, apart from the unseasonal warmth. Or maybe it was just a cold kicking in - at least that would explain the congestion.

September 19th - After a languid Indian summer, the sudden dull, overcast weather was a shock, but other stuff was bothering me. The air quality seems lousy at the moment, and it was irritating my sinuses making me unusually reliant on decongestant. Visibility wasn’t great either, but the air wasn’t really damp. This is an odd season, to be sure.

The autumn is in full swing, and the colours turning from dusty, tired greens to oranges and golds. Around Clayhanger Common and the new pond, the beautiful, deciduous copses and thickets are a wonder to behold, yet I think few every really study them or note the diversity of species they contain.

If only for a bit more sun to make these colours sing!

September 19th - There seems to be a lot of work going on with the local canals at the moment. At Walsall Wood, the embankment has be reinforced near the Black Cock Bridge, and near the Big House in Clayhanger, a month ago a pump appeared for a few days, and disturbance in the scrub showed work had been carried out surrounding the canal sluice drains there. Coming home down the canal from Aldridge, I noted that the sluice hear had been oiled, painted and digging had been going  on.
Wonder why the sudden rash of maintenance?

September 19th - There seems to be a lot of work going on with the local canals at the moment. At Walsall Wood, the embankment has be reinforced near the Black Cock Bridge, and near the Big House in Clayhanger, a month ago a pump appeared for a few days, and disturbance in the scrub showed work had been carried out surrounding the canal sluice drains there. Coming home down the canal from Aldridge, I noted that the sluice hear had been oiled, painted and digging had been going  on.

Wonder why the sudden rash of maintenance?

madoldbaggage:

Wasn’t sure that my camera would be able to do any justice to the colours at Middleton Lakes but I’m quietly pleased with these.

September 18th - From the Indian, back to the Indian summer. Darlaston, in and around Victoria Park. The leaves are turning and falling, and the park as clean and perfect as usual. Surrounded by beautiful houses, I will not cease banging on about this jewel of a place until everyone gets it.

I was intrigued by the scarlet berries on the holly-like evergreen; copious and beautiful, they seem to be holly, but the leaves don’t look much like holly leaves; more like a cross between laurel and holly. A curious thing.

Anyone know what it is?

September 18th - Ah, Walsall. In how many ways do I love thee?

I spotted this a few weeks ago. At first glance, to the uninitiated, it’s quite shocking; an ornate front door to an everyday house bearing a carved swastika.

The swastika, though, has a millennia-old peaceful history before it was stolen by the National Socialists; it is a symbol recurrent in Sanskrit (where the name originates) and one of peace and good fortune to Hindus, Jains and Buddhists. Still in common use in defiance of the Nazi corruption of it’s peaceful meaning, the Hindu culture in particular is trying to reclaim it from being associated with evil.

This beautifully carved front door is laden with Hindu symbolism, including a representation of Ganesha, the elephant-like god of good fortune and artistic wisdom. The Swastika is used often in the front doors of Hindu houses to invite in Lakshmi, the god of love, prosperity and beauty.

Note also the front gate contains the legend Patel, a common Hindu surname. 

Walsall is a melting pot of cultures, peoples and trades. On a dull moring in Pleck, a beautiful thing blends into an otherwise unremarkable urban tapestry.

That’s why I love this place.

September 17th - Recently on Facebook there was some concern over a swan that was found dead in Pelsall. The bird had been decapitated, and many were accusing vandals. The truth is less controversial, but sadly a little more gory.

The swan was, in all probability, killed by a fox. Anyone who’s seen the aftermath of a fox in a henhouse will know that Reynard goes for the neck.

At this time of year, this year’s cubs are driven out of the den by their parents to seek their own territories - that’s why we often see foxes sleeping on roofs and in quiet but open spots in late summer. Quite frankly, these canines are homeless.

The young, inexperienced adolescents are forced to fend for themselves - that includes finding food - and many will attempt kills that are well above them. So it probably was with the Pelsall swan.

Swans are not bright birds. As I came home along the canal, I spotted this usually aggressive lone bird fast asleep, drifting on the water. It had floated into the bank around the overflow, at Clayhanger Bridge, and the thicket nearby is usually host to a den of Brer Fox.

It would be fairly trivial for the fox to sneak up to the bird unseen, and go straight for the neck, which is about the only bit the fox can attack without the risk of being ferociously pecked. The kill, to an experienced fox, would be fast and efficient and lead to food for a week or more.

The fox that attacked the Pelsall bird was probably scared off, or attacked by other swans roused by the commotion, leaving their kill behind.

I couldn’t knowingly leave this swan to a similar fate, so after taking a few pictures, I gently woke it by speaking. I was greeted by wing-flapping, honking and hissing, and the white bird swam away from me.

Job done.

September 17th - The Indian summer continues. It’s very dry, and the air quality is surprisingly poor, but it does make for a lovely atmosphere. Returning home through Shelfield in just a tee shirt, I was captivated by the soft light and landscape.

All autumns should be like this.

September 16th - We’re in a real Indian summer at the moment - back to cycling around without a coat, with the sleeves rolled up. The sun has been shining, and the soft, mist-suffused light - particularly in the afternoons - has been a joy to the soul.
Autumn isn’t far away, though; the trees are turning, and when the sun goes down, there’s a distinctive nip in the air my chest and bones recognise only too well.
Here on the Lichfield Road at Walsall, the atmosphere and colour were gorgeous. I love how the trees are sculpted on the underside by  the double decker busses that regularly pass under their boughs.
This has been a great season, and a good year. 

September 16th - We’re in a real Indian summer at the moment - back to cycling around without a coat, with the sleeves rolled up. The sun has been shining, and the soft, mist-suffused light - particularly in the afternoons - has been a joy to the soul.

Autumn isn’t far away, though; the trees are turning, and when the sun goes down, there’s a distinctive nip in the air my chest and bones recognise only too well.

Here on the Lichfield Road at Walsall, the atmosphere and colour were gorgeous. I love how the trees are sculpted on the underside by  the double decker busses that regularly pass under their boughs.

This has been a great season, and a good year. 

September 16th - There’s a shop opened up in the former bank in Darlaston, just on the Walsall Road at the lights. I say shop, it’s more of an… emporium.

It’s called something like Beer Bank, and I’ve not really taken much notice, as I thought it was purely an off-licence, but it’s far more than that. Told about it by mates, I popped in on my way through Darlaston this afternoon. It’s incredible.

The owner of this place sells all manner of British, Asian, Carribean and  Eastern European groceries. From fresh fruit and veg to cosmetics, from pickled cabbage to spiced soda, I think I’m going to have fun exploring the products here. 

There’s clearly a fierce entrepreneurial spirit at work - every square foot of floorspace is piled high with a whole load of diverse stuff. I loved to see the krela (bitter gourd), okra, chillies and ginger. I’ve no idea what the pumpkin-like green things are. The range of pickles also looks fun. 

I love the free bag of onions when you spend £20, too. This is what I love about the Black Country; something unexpected around every corner.

stevieboy378:

Total silence, apart from the birdsong. This isn’t a bad view, is it - considering I’m in the industrial heart of England …… (at Park Lime Pits)

stevieboy378:

Total silence, apart from the birdsong. This isn’t a bad view, is it - considering I’m in the industrial heart of England …… (at Park Lime Pits)

September 15th - Returning to Birmingham via Snow Hill station, an absolutely remarkable view up Great Charles Street to Paradise Circus over the Queensway Tunnels. Several styles of architecture here from Victorian to Brutalism. 
And beneath it all, a beautiful, glorious city lives and breathes.
This is my Birmingham.

September 15th - Returning to Birmingham via Snow Hill station, an absolutely remarkable view up Great Charles Street to Paradise Circus over the Queensway Tunnels. Several styles of architecture here from Victorian to Brutalism. 

And beneath it all, a beautiful, glorious city lives and breathes.

This is my Birmingham.

September 15th - I spent the afternoon in Droitwich. This piece of woeful, inexplicable cycling ‘infrastructure’ is precisely why we’ll never have nice things.
Do you think the designer gave any thought to cyclists going in the other direction?
(No, there isn’t a lane on the other side of the road; there isn’t even a pavement.)

September 15th - I spent the afternoon in Droitwich. This piece of woeful, inexplicable cycling ‘infrastructure’ is precisely why we’ll never have nice things.

Do you think the designer gave any thought to cyclists going in the other direction?

(No, there isn’t a lane on the other side of the road; there isn’t even a pavement.)