BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

Septemver 27th - I’ve been passing this odd, low farmhouse/barn in Knowle Lane, south of Lichfield, for years. It looks disused, but someone clearly used to live here. 

It’s more redolent of a railway station building than a farm, but has impressive chimneys. There seems to be a bigger house behind, and this the outbuildings, but it’s hard to tell. It has some curious features, including the door or aperture halfway up the wall.

Since the lane here is a partial holloway, it’s impossible to get a good angle for a photo, but this is a fascinating little bit of architecture. Does anyone know the history?

September 26th - Another great sky as I nipped down into Stonnall in the dying light. Coming back into Brownhills form Shire Oak, the view, as ever, surprised with it’s beauty.

The view down Shire Oak Hill to Brownhills is one of the best around here, but few ever seem to notice it. Yes, it’s urban, and not beautiful, really. But it has an interesting, busy urban charm I rather love - particularly at sundown, when the buildings catch the light and are rendered precious.

September 26th - I nipped over to Burntwood to get some shopping in after work. On the way, I passed through Chasewater.

Near the top of the dam I saw an older chap with a bicycle trailer, containing a handsome, elderly brown and white collie dog. When your old mate cant walk so far, but still loves the fresh air and a change of scene, you do what you can. 

In this case it was saddle up the bike, get a trailer, put some old carpet in it for comfort, and use it as a chariot.

A lovely sight; two old friends out for a constitutional - not unlike the two boater dogs I spotted on my return at Anglesey Basin. I think they’d had a falling out as they seemed to be studiously ignoring each other…

September 25th - I spotted this by change in Butlers Passage, Walsall. A dark, dingy alleyway, it’s not a pleasant place, and I normally scoot the bike through here to get on the road home if I’ve been in the town centre. 

Today, I happened to glance left, and there was a beautifully executed partial stencil of Snow White apparently drinking coffee with a lad in a baseball hat. 

I guess it’s a visual joke based on the Italian cafe a few yards to the right.

It’s beautifully executed, and seems to be by the same hand as the now erased ‘Class War’ stencil that was nearby until very recently. The art is confident yet cursory, and beautifully thought out.

A wonderful thing that brought a real smile to my face. My compliments to the artist.

September 25th - Spotted in darkest Wednesbury whilst nipping out on an errand, a giant, concrete lego brick. 
How long have these been a thing? Why was I not informed?
A world where four-feet wide giant lego exists cannot be all bad. But why just use it as an anti-vehicle barrier and not build something instead?
A wasted opportunity, I feel…

September 25th - Spotted in darkest Wednesbury whilst nipping out on an errand, a giant, concrete lego brick. 

How long have these been a thing? Why was I not informed?

A world where four-feet wide giant lego exists cannot be all bad. But why just use it as an anti-vehicle barrier and not build something instead?

A wasted opportunity, I feel…

Setember 24th - My return from Walsall an hour or so later was similarly in a gorgeous, but darker golden hour that made the red bricks of north Walsall glow beautifully. The nights really are drawing in now, and I’ll soon be commuting with lights on. It actually tried to rain on me as I rode  home, but the sun never went in.

I guess that just now, we’re entering the autumn period of great sunsets…

Bring it on.

September 24th - I had to nip over to Droitwich late in the afternoon, just to check something over for a client. It’s actually a lot quicker to get there than you’d think; catch the right trains and it’s only 70 minutes out of Walsall. 

Droitwich has a lovely station, and as I waited on my return the light was beautifully mellow, but the sky had some very black clouds that looked awfully threatening. But the sun shone through, it was warm, and only the colour of the trees really gave any clue that this was autumn at all.

September 23rd - Labouring up Shire Oak Hill at Sandhills, a familiar crunch crackles under my tyres. The beech mast is thick this year, and it’s been a good year for beech nuts.
The husks are hard, prickly and dry as old bones; the little brown nuts shiny and hard. Some years, the nuts are fatter and more oily than others, and this is part of the growing cycle of the tree, not a factor of the weather. Edible but harsh, they were used as a substitute for coffee in wartime and gave their name to a chewing gum.
I collect a few, split them open with a pocket blade, and suck out the kernel, and chew them determinedly for the remainder of my journey. 
A palatable taste, not unlike a slightly sharp hazelnut. But it’s hard work to get a decent mouthful!

September 23rd - Labouring up Shire Oak Hill at Sandhills, a familiar crunch crackles under my tyres. The beech mast is thick this year, and it’s been a good year for beech nuts.

The husks are hard, prickly and dry as old bones; the little brown nuts shiny and hard. Some years, the nuts are fatter and more oily than others, and this is part of the growing cycle of the tree, not a factor of the weather. Edible but harsh, they were used as a substitute for coffee in wartime and gave their name to a chewing gum.

I collect a few, split them open with a pocket blade, and suck out the kernel, and chew them determinedly for the remainder of my journey. 

A palatable taste, not unlike a slightly sharp hazelnut. But it’s hard work to get a decent mouthful!

September 23rd - The overcast days seem to be well upon us now, and when I left work this evening, the light was grey, indistinct and the air quality once more very poor. I had to nip over to Stonnall to pick something up, so I ploughed on with grim determination. 

Just off Lynn Lane, on my return, I noted that the last arable crop of the season was being harvested. Maize (a close relative of sweetcorn) which had grown tall and green in the end days of summer was now being shorn off at ground level by a special piece of machinery, which chops the whole plant - leaves, stalk, seed and cob - into chips for use as bulk in animal feed and the like.

I watched from afar with a heavy heart. The smell was remarkable, and with it, the summer passed the final baton to autumn. The closing-in is well underway today, coincidentally also that of the Autumnal Equinox.

September 22nd - Further on from the flytipped mattress, my dark mood was lifted by a splash of colour as I winched myself up the Black Cock Bridge. Remarkably, the honeysuckle thicket growing there is still flowering, and in seeming good health.

Think about that. We’re 8 days off October, and the honeysuckle is still gorgeous.

Looking beyond the railings, I noted the field in from of the old farmhouse had been planted with young, deciduous saplings, which are coming along rather well. An excellent thing, and great colours right now, too.

September 22nd - Cycling down Green Lane between Shelfield and Walsall Wood, I’m greeted by a discarded mattress. Clearly just thrown off the back of a van or truck, there hasn’t even been an attempt to get it to a gateway or lay-by.
Some people aren’t fit to live with pigs. Utter scum.

September 22nd - Cycling down Green Lane between Shelfield and Walsall Wood, I’m greeted by a discarded mattress. Clearly just thrown off the back of a van or truck, there hasn’t even been an attempt to get it to a gateway or lay-by.

Some people aren’t fit to live with pigs. Utter scum.

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!