BrownhillsBob’s #365daysofbiking turned 3 today!
March 31st - I hopped on the canal to check out if the swans were nesting yet at the new pool at Clayhanger, but I couldn’t get a close enough look properly. As I pressed on homewards to Brownhills, I noticed that the land where the Bayley House towerblock used to stand near Catshill Junction is being prepared for the newbuild development planned there, with plant clearly operating and equipment arriving.
This land has been idle for a decade this May. It’s good to see it come back into use.
March 31st - First light work night of the year, and I found myself working late - and returning home just as it was getting dark. In Walsall it had not long rained, but it was warm and felt still. It wasn’t a great sunset, but it found a crack in the clouds; Alumwell wore it well, as did Birchills.
It is so nice to have the light back. I feel like a weight is lifted from me already.
March 30th - I’m not going to say where this is, for fairly obvious reasons, but there’s only one animal in the UK that digs like that - and this one has been digging a real des-res. Freshly excavated damp sand and quite large stones spilled out onto the roadside, but no sign of the occupant.
Not the best site, Brock. The cars whistle through here…
I wish you well, in any case.
March 30th - The vehicle entrance to Shire Oak Park - which was formerly the main access to the quarry, and the route used by rangers to get into the lower are of the reserve - had the gate damaged and/or stolen about 12 months ago. It was never replaced by Waslall Council’s Greenspaces team, instead being haphazardly blocked with three light planks nailed between the gateposts.
A couple of weeks ago, the one remaining plank was smashed by a truck reversing through it, which then proceeded to flytip a large quantity of refuse.
This is the state of the ‘repair’, one good tug and those planks will be off. The previous, broken one still lies cast asunder in the ditch by the fence.
I support the Greenspaces team and have fought their corner many times. But come on, this is piss-poor.
This really needs sorting properly. If it had been fixed properly previously, the council probably wouldn’t have had to pay for the rubbish removal of the previous week, either.
March 29th - I left Lichfield and the madness of the crowds as soon as I could, and took a leisurely line through Beacon Park, past the brook and the willows, currently in bud. From there, I took Cross in Hand Lane to Farewaell, then hopped over to Burntwood and back home via Chasewater. A great afternoon in sandals and shirtsleeves, and some great spring sights in the hedgerows and fields, crowned by a stark but beautiful sunset.
Spring really is here now, and this was the last night of darkness until the end of October, a spring, summer and autumn away.
Opening out - I love it.
March 29th - I passed through Lichfield briefly, but didn’t stop as the crowds were crazy. Cruising down from Greenhill I happened to look to my right up the alleyway beside the former Regal Cinema, currently abandoned and derelict. High up the wall, growing from a soil pipe, a large, tenacious buddleia.
I love the audacity and determination with which nature reclaims the man-made if it can get a chance to.
A cold, windy but with sunny intervals between the heavy showers, Sunday afternoon at Belvide Reservoir Staffs
Forsythia and Red Currant. My garden today.
The daffodils that the Aldridge in Bloom people have planted in Aldridge look beautiful at the moment be they on the busy corner of Station Road and Walsall Road, on the edge of what was Pool Green or in a box in the shopping centre. The red currant and grape hyacinths grow wild by and through the fence to the railway embankment on Nursery Avenue, which also happens to be an excellent place to pick blackberries in the autumn.
March 28th - It had been a gorgeous day of spring sun, had being the operative word. I had errands to run in Caldmore and Walsall town centre on my return from work, and as I left there, the heavens opened. They opened again as I left Caldmore, and yet again in Walsall. For the third time this week, I got wet, cold and miserable. But hey, I had a saddlebag full of indian snacks, at least.
At 6:20pm, as darkness and rain were falling fast, Darwall Street, the heart of Walsall’s entertainment district, was deserted, but the wet street caught the light beautifully.
Let’s hope for a better weekend…
March 28th - I stopped at the lights at the Spring Cottage junction in Shelfield this morning, and noticed some poor sod dressed as an animal, dancing whilst wearing an advertising board for a local pet store.
There were more of these characters at other junctions into Walsall, and they were still there, dancing in the rain at 6:30pm when I returned.
How I felt for them - how desperate do you have to be to do that for money? They ones on my return were soaked to the skin, advertising a pet shop that had shut for the day.
Welcome to modern Britain. It filled me with sadness at the thought of it. I doubt I’ll shop there again.
March 27th - The refurbishment of Austin House in The Butts, Walsall is an impressive thing indeed. Boasting 248 solar panels and a geothermally assisted heating system, as well as state of the art insulation, this ageing towerblock has been transformed by landlords Walsall Housing Group.
It’s sad that they couldn’t push the boat out similarly for the flats in Brownhills, but it is very impressive indeed.
March 27th - Not a great photo, but the light was terrible as I headed home. This curious matt-brown box with a bright white light on top puzzles many folk heading east towards Chuckery on the New Ring Road in Walsall, just by Queen Mary’s School. It’s an environmental monitoring pod which takes climatic and and air quality measurements, and logs them. It features a host of sensors - the white light is a particulate analyser, shining light through the air and measuring the floating contaminants. There will be wind, temperature, humidity, and various chemical sensors humming away in what is actually a vehicle trailer. The triangular cowl on the front is covering the towing hitch.
This is a fairly expensive piece of kit, being used to tell us what anyone in Walsall already knows; the air quality here is terrible - particularly next to a badly designed junction where traffic is often static.
No shit, Sherlock.
March 26th - It was a grim commute home. The morning had been fine, but cold. Leaving work fairly late, I thought I’m missed the day’s showers so left off the waterproof trousers. This was a mistake. As I headed home through Walsall, the skies darkened threateningly. From the first spots, to a freezing-cold, wind driven downpour.
These shots follow the rain as I I rode into it, and were captured from the ride camera.
I got in soaked, tired and freezing cold. Spring, eh?