BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

August 24th - Aside from the motorcyclists, it was a lovely ride home. I’d been at a family thing, and came home via Chasewater and the canals, hoping to catch the swans again. I didn’t see them, but the fading light made everything ghostly. The canal was still flat as a millpond, and Chasewater wasn’t much livelier.

The light and the water combined to make everything precious, and despite not having my tripod, I managed to get some reasonable pictures.

August 24th - Dam wall path, Chasewater, 8:24pm. Motorbike bearing L plate carrying a pillion - neither with helmets - buzzes pedestrians, scaring their dog. 

The bike is distinctive as it has two blue LED lightstrips down either side of the front fairing - I’m not certain, but I think that may be illegal.

Unbelievable.

August 22nd - At the back of Brickyard Road in Aldridge is a small marina, home to a number of moored narrowboats. Today, the water was mirror-calm, and it makes for an unexpectedly pleasant sight in an otherwise very urban, scarred landscape. 

Admiring perfect waterlilies basking in the late summer sun, it’s hard to imaging this oasis of piece is wedged tightly between two landill sites, Europe’s largest toxic waste facility and a working marlpit.

There is beauty everywhere, if you look.

deantheman:

A week in #walsall 23rd August 2014

deantheman:

A week in #walsall 23rd August 2014

August 23rd - I had to pop into Aldridge on an errand, and so I took the canal. There’s an autumnal nip in the air, and everything is ripening. A fine crop of elderberries, blackberries and haws will make some fantastic pddings and wine, and the rosebay willowherb is demonstrating beautifully why it’s know as ‘old man’s beard’. 

The only disappointment is the acorn crop, which is very, very bad. Only the second tree I’ve seen with any fruit this year - oddly, the acorns that grew are fat and in excellent shape, but the tree is mostly carrying the dead buds of undeveloped fruit. Most odd.

And then, that heron. He’s persistent, I’ll give him that. A fine bird.

August 22nd - The sun came out, and whilst riding over Anchor Bridge I’d noticed the swan family were headed off up the canal at a determined pace. I snatched a frankly awful picture, then went on my way. My mission in Brownhills aborted, I doubled back to get some better pictures, and quickly found the swans in a morass of at least 200 Canada Geese on the canal between Catshill Junction and Silver Street. 

The swans are in fine fettle - I had been concerned last week after not seeing them awhile, and there had been a surplus of white feathers on the water near the bridge, but it turned out volunteers had been ringing them. According to reports, they spent a couple of days sulking in Aldridge, then came back.

Quite what’s attracting the numbers of geese here, I have no idea. I note there’s some outrage about Sandwell having undertaken a cull recently, but with few predators, goose numbers are skyrocketing, which increases pressure on food supplies. It’s a tricky question I guess.

After all, one does get so attached to these birds…

August 22nd - It was an odd day at work, after a very early start, I had little to do except for one late task at 4pm. Coming home, it spotted with rain most of the way, and the sky was threatening. I shot up Brownhills High Street to get to the cashpoint, then couldn’t get any money as my card had expired - I dimly remembered opening the new one the month before, and promptly forgetting about it.
An odd, frustrating day. But hey, it was Friday…

August 22nd - It was an odd day at work, after a very early start, I had little to do except for one late task at 4pm. Coming home, it spotted with rain most of the way, and the sky was threatening. I shot up Brownhills High Street to get to the cashpoint, then couldn’t get any money as my card had expired - I dimly remembered opening the new one the month before, and promptly forgetting about it.

An odd, frustrating day. But hey, it was Friday…

August 21st - For some reason, of late the Canada geese really have taken a shine to the marina in Silver Street, Brownhills.

Time was not so long ago you’d hardly ever see a goose on the cut, but this summer, they love it here - honking, preening and generally making a mess.

I’m fond of these large, truculent, much misunderstood birds - did you know there are twelve separate types of Canada Goose? - bu by heck, they make a mess.

It’ll be interesting to see if this is a passing attraction, or a longer habitation.

August 21st - A grey and depressing day with a heavy, punishing wind. On my way home, for a change, I rode over Springhill and Barracks Lane down to the Lichfield Road, and came into Brownhills that way. 

On the crossroads of Barracks Lane and Lichfield Road, what I think must be one of the oldest buildings in Ogley Hay and wider Brownhills; Warrenhouse Farm’s barn.

Now converted into a dwelling, I’m sure parts of this stone and brick structure are very old indeed; the farm here was where the Warren Keeper lived, who kept the rabbits on Ogley Hay for hunting - hence the Warrener’s Arms pub. Another noted resident was William Roberts, who tried to retire here, but found it too quiet and he soon returned to the bright lights and bustle of Brownhills.

These days, Warrenhouse is no longer a farm; it is private houses and a noted veterinary surgery, but this was the closest building to the location of the Staffordshire Hoard, found only a couple of hundred metres away, and is therefore evidence of a much earlier time, before Brownhills itself.

The converted barn has some lovely flowerbeds running around it too; such a delight on a grey day. 

August 20th - In late summer, in an overcast moment, Coppice (or Goblin) Woods between Walsall Wood and Shelfield are silent, dark and beautiful.

I think this is probably the oldest oak and holly deciduous woodland for miles and miles around. This is very traditional British woodland, of which there is precious little left.

If you fancy a walk out this weekend, why not pop down and explore it?

August 20th - I had to pop into Walsall for some bits and pieces on my way home, and so I rode up Church Hill and down the marketplace. 
Walsall may have changed beyond recognition in many ways, but that view of the yellow sandstone church at the top of the steps is gorgeous, iconic and unique.
Some things are timeless.

August 20th - I had to pop into Walsall for some bits and pieces on my way home, and so I rode up Church Hill and down the marketplace. 

Walsall may have changed beyond recognition in many ways, but that view of the yellow sandstone church at the top of the steps is gorgeous, iconic and unique.

Some things are timeless.

August 19th - I’m fussy about brakes. Very fussy indeed. Urban cycling - particularly in heavy traffic - demands the ability to control speed and stop with certainty and dependability in all conditions.
Since I discovered disc brakes a few years ago now, I’d never have a bike fitted with anything else. After using cable controlled versions - the excellent Avid BB7 - these days, I use hydraulic brakes by Avid (part of what used to be Sachs for old timers reading out there) and by Shimano.
They are both excellent kit. Being hydraulic, however, they absolutely devour pads.
Modern cycle disc brakes started on mountain bikes, where braking is usually short, or at relatively low speed. With similar units on commuting and road bikes, engineering questions of heat dissipation, wear and glaze on the pads are critical.
Discs and callipers get fearsomely hot very quickly. It’s not unusual to see my discs steaming on wet rides. Prolonged use can cause the surface of the brake pad to become shiny and lose grip, ‘glazing over’, and the wear is constant. 
There are two general types of brake pad; sintered metal and resin (AKA ‘organic’) - sintered last a long time, are great in the wet but can howl in use and wear discs heavily. Resin pads wear quickly, are silent, and generally offer softer control and better ‘modulation’.
I’ve been very, very pleased with the Shimano brakes, which have been on the bike for about 4-5 months now, but the resin pads they came with haven’t impressed me. The pads for these units come on a heatsinking vaned plate, and are very easy to change, which is a blessing as the rear set were never the same after I cleaned the bike using normal bike cleaner. The front ones glazed out a few days ago.
I went to sintered on the back when they became poor, and was shocked at the huge difference made, and the fact that so far they’ve been silent, so today, I popped some in the front, too. (The new sintered pad is on the left; the knackered resin on the right).
Braking harmony restored.
I must say, recent experience is leading me away from resin or organic pads.

August 19th - I’m fussy about brakes. Very fussy indeed. Urban cycling - particularly in heavy traffic - demands the ability to control speed and stop with certainty and dependability in all conditions.

Since I discovered disc brakes a few years ago now, I’d never have a bike fitted with anything else. After using cable controlled versions - the excellent Avid BB7 - these days, I use hydraulic brakes by Avid (part of what used to be Sachs for old timers reading out there) and by Shimano.

They are both excellent kit. Being hydraulic, however, they absolutely devour pads.

Modern cycle disc brakes started on mountain bikes, where braking is usually short, or at relatively low speed. With similar units on commuting and road bikes, engineering questions of heat dissipation, wear and glaze on the pads are critical.

Discs and callipers get fearsomely hot very quickly. It’s not unusual to see my discs steaming on wet rides. Prolonged use can cause the surface of the brake pad to become shiny and lose grip, ‘glazing over’, and the wear is constant. 

There are two general types of brake pad; sintered metal and resin (AKA ‘organic’) - sintered last a long time, are great in the wet but can howl in use and wear discs heavily. Resin pads wear quickly, are silent, and generally offer softer control and better ‘modulation’.

I’ve been very, very pleased with the Shimano brakes, which have been on the bike for about 4-5 months now, but the resin pads they came with haven’t impressed me. The pads for these units come on a heatsinking vaned plate, and are very easy to change, which is a blessing as the rear set were never the same after I cleaned the bike using normal bike cleaner. The front ones glazed out a few days ago.

I went to sintered on the back when they became poor, and was shocked at the huge difference made, and the fact that so far they’ve been silent, so today, I popped some in the front, too. (The new sintered pad is on the left; the knackered resin on the right).

Braking harmony restored.

I must say, recent experience is leading me away from resin or organic pads.

August 19th - This is Victoria Park in Darlaston, once a railway line.

This is in the centre of a heavily urbanised, industrial area in the Black Country. It is a green oasis in a sea of roads, buildings, traffic and noise. It is clean, well maintained and a credit to the town.

This is why I love this place.

August 18th - He was only a kitten, really; a sharp eyed, keen whiskered black and white mog exploring his world. This is where I saw the smokey grey pedigree chap a few weeks ago, just on the far side of the canal at Barrow Close in Walsall Wood. 

Puss didn’t seem bothered about me, and was initially hunting something in the water. Foiled, he took a drink instead.

A lovely lad with a smudge-black nose and a remarkably long tail. Oh, to be an inquisitive young cat in summertime…

August 18th - If you haven’t noticed by now, I love herons. Adore them. I make no apology for featuring this one, just a day from featuring the last one - this was was on the restored embankment at the Black Cock Bridge in Walsall Wood.

Love the way he had his back to the water, and was stood on one leg, resting pensively.

I could never tire of watching these fellows.