April 16th - Spinning up to Screwfix in Walsall Wood, I noticed that the bank restoration works near the Black Cock Bridge were still ongoing. It seems that after the sectional piling was installed, earth has been spread to the level of it and dropped in front.
This work has primarily been to stabilise the bank and counter erosion, and is not to do with subsidence, as some have asserted. It is interesting to note at this point, that the fall from the embankment on that side is very steep, and the consequences of a breach on that side could be severe.
I do hope they get around to stabilising the brickwork on the other side, though, it’s falling away and is still hazardous to users.
August 15th - Climbing the hill from Stonnall, I passed the entry to Shire Oak Park. There was once a gate here that either got broken or stolen, I’m unclear of the exact detail. For over 12 months now, the gate has been replaced by a variety of hastily-nailed planks, torn down once to enable access for flytipping.
Now, the gate has been replaced by two removable steel bollards.
They don’t look terribly beefy to me. But time will tell. I can’t quite get my head around how long this has taken to sort out.
August 15th - Crops this year have been poor, apparently. Beans and soft fruit didn’t do well from what I can tell. Roadside honesty stalls have been thin on the ground. But how can you resist a prize courgette for 40p?
Stonnall, and yes, I know, but with gourds to gorge on like this, who’s quibbling?
And yes, it was delicious.
August 14th - I found myself back in Walsall at dusk, having been on a mad dash to Sutton. Finally relaxed and happy, I enjoyed the evening light and a peaceful ride home with the wind assisting me.
Some days are just frantic from start to finish. But it’s nice to feel a very hectic period come to an end. Oh for a few days off and a bit of blessed normalcy.
August 14th - The day was mad. Starting with a great deal of nervous anticipation, the wheels of the day ground slowly at first, then became frenzied. I found myself via a convoluted route in Brum at rush hour, looking for food and a cup of tea. Crossing the Cathedral Square - Pigeon Park to locals - I spotted this bike rack. Using it were the spectrum of bike users; a modern roadie’s bike, an achingly hip single speed (set to freewheel side, not fixed as per usual), and finally, a wee folder.
Nice to see so many bikes in Birmingham these days - and such a variety too.
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…