September 8th - I was in Droitwich for a meeting. I quite like the place, and it’s a nice train journey, especially on a sunny day like this. I noticed the canal as I rode up the Salwarpe Road. I believe it’s only been reopened in the last few years, and is probably worth exploring one of these days.
August 7th - A great day - sunny. warm, still - great Indian Summer stuff. After around 6 weeks of nursing a foot injury, it was time to push it again - a long ride and some strenuous climbing was in order.
For too long, I’v been doing only work rides, or short stuff; dropping gears to climb hills and generally riding like an old man.
I utterly punished myself on and off road; sharp climbs, speed, and plenty of honking (pedalling stood up). I was surprised at my energy. I seem to be losing weight at the moment, too, and was pleasantly surprised at my stamina considering.
Hopefully, this isn’t summer’s last yahoo and I can get some decent riding in at last before summer’s last breath.
September 7th - More fungi today; spotted in open pasture near Longdon, glistening ink caps, and lycoperdon puffballs and rhizopogon earthballs (I may have some, all or none of that wrong, I leave fungi to experts). Considering the relative conformity of plant life in the UK, fungi like this looks almost alien and distinctly odd.
September 6th - I popped into Lichfield on a grey afternoon for a bit of shopping, and noticed that the Panache Restaurant, which had garnered appalling food safety ratings in recent months had closed and seems to have the builders in.
This was one the Three Tuns pub, and one of three pubs in close proximity on Pipe Hill, the other two long since gone.
This is clearly quite an old building that has undergone much change over the years, and I would hate to see it lost.
I hope the next phase of this venerable pub’s life is kind to it.
September 6th - Well, it’s coming on to autumn, and one of the positives about that is fungi. It looks set to be a bumper year, too - caps, toadstools, polypores, puffballs will all put in appearances in the coming weeks.
These gorgeous shaggy ink caps - edible when young - were growing on Brownhills Common, in a spot where I’ve not seen them before. Pretty much perfect specimens.
At Kings Norton junction we head south on the Stratford canal to the link with the Grand Union again at Kingswood junction near Lapworth. Pretty uneventful cycling along this picturesque canal until we reach the drawbridge pub on the outskirts of Solihull, here we stop for some liquid refreshments as we usually do.
We were about to leave until a narrow boat arrives, so we hung about for a bit just to see the drawbridge in operation, as the two ladies on the boat activated the safety barrier to close the road a rather impatient driver decided to jump the barriers and proceeded to get himself trapped on the bridge. He slowly reversed back tight to the barrier and assumed he would be safe there, wrong ! he was parked right were the huge counter weight beam was supposed to be.
After some strange metal to metal scrapping noises, and anxious voices from the vehicle, the car was freed along with it’s occupants, no one got hurt, but the car wont be worth as much as it was five minutes before.
September 4th - I forgot my camera today, so instead I grabbed it and my little tripod when I had to run a late evening errand. It was quite still in Brownhills this evening, and there were few people around.
I am fascinated by the new white LED streetlights the council are installing in some places. Unlike the ones in Birmingham, these seem much brighter and clearer than the sodium ones they replace, and the cold white light the spread is somewhat otherworldly, particularly on street corners where old and new technologies overlap.
At the Pier Street bridge, I was fascinated by the lights shining off the surface of the canal, something I’d forgotten in the light days of a summer now passed.
Now autumn is upon us, I must sharpen up my night photography techniques.
September 3rd - I’d been to Redditch for a meeting. I don’t go there much these days, and it made a nice change, to be honest. Nicer still was an early finish, and riding back from Sutton, I chose to ride up through Little Aston Forge, a route I also hadn’t ridden for ages.
I must have passed those lovely cottages on the hairpin loads of times over the years, yet I’ve never noticed the pear and plum trees in the hedgerow opposite. The plums - they seemed a bit large to be true damsons - were well over now, but it looked like there had been a decent crop.
The pears had suffered from pests, and some were frost damaged, but the ones that survived were large and beautiful.
I really don’t know why I’ve failed to notice these before…
September 3rd - Arum Maculatum is a common sight in hedgerows and woods at this time of year. Known variously as Wild arum, Lords and Ladies, Devils and Angels, Cows and Bulls, Cuckoo-Pint, Adam and Eve and even Naked Boys, it’s a very unusual plant which sheds it’s foliage before fruiting leaving a 6 to 12 inch high column of bright orange-red berries. These berries are highly poisonous and this is the plant responsible for most hospital admissions due to accidental ingestion in the UK.
The berries contain a toxin which makes the oral tract tingle, and causes sickness and swelling of the throat. Always avoid touching it, although the temptation to do so us great, it has an almost artificial appearance that renders it grimly fascinating.
What always worries me about this plant is that it’s at a perfect height, and so brightly attractive, that young kids may be drawn to it. What yours if you’re out walking.
This example is growing, along with lots of others, on the riverbank near the Arrow Valley cycle path in Redditch.
September 2nd - I will continue to rave about the beauty of Darlaston until I have convinced the whole world how wonderful it is.
Passing through Victoria Park and past the Police Station having been knocked off course by the resurfacing, I noted the lady, content in the warm sun, lost to the world reading a book under the bolt-tree sculpture. The Police station is still a gorgeous building, and it’s leafy surrounds are the perfect setting.
It seems a world away from the Black Country, but at the same time, it’s close to the heart of it.
September 2nd - A better commute this morning. The sun was out, and it was a nice day. Spinning through Darlaston I was pleased to see Bull Street being resurface at long last - it was getting to the point where it didn’t need sweeping so much as ploughing.
I’ve been quite lucky this year; Green Lane in Shelfield and Bull Street both resurfaced, two roads that were nasty to ride on.
BrownhillsBob biked every day for the thirty days of April 2011, part of the #30daysofbiking project, but enjoyed the process so much that he carried on. Over three years down the road, he's still cycling every day and recording a little bit of every journey.