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.
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?
March 26th - I cycled to work in bright sunshine, but it felt bitterly cold, although I guess it wasn’t, really. Since it was so nice I took a quick loop of Kings Hill Park in Darlaston. It’s a credit to the people who work hard to maintain it. The spring flowers are gorgeous, the planters are shaping up well and the the place is clean and tidy.
It’s such a shame that Oak Park in Walsall Wood can’t get a fraction of this kind of dedication. A real shame indeed.
March 25th - Further up Green Lane, I glanced to my left as I winced and grunted my way over the Black Cock bridge, which was harder work than usual. This solitary house, possibly at the end of what may have been Pepper Alley years ago, continues to fascinate me. Back behind here was once a sewage farm and the municipal mortuary. Today, it’s just fields and scrub.
It wasn’t really near sunset, but it was dark, grey and damp. Like October.
March 25th - The commute to work had been wet and quite, quite horrid, but the wind was more or less favourable. The roads were greasy, the traffic was mad. It wasn’t a hugely enjoyable journey.
Later in the morning, I felt rather ill, and was resigning myself to getting a lift home if I didn’t feel better. Thankfully, sweet tea, a lie down and some food sorted me out, but on leaving work during a break in the rain, I just floored it and sped home as fast as I could. I just wanted to be back, safe and sound in the dry and warm.
I noticed in Green Lane near Jockey Meadows the mist was rising off the marsh, and everywhere was sodden again. This is one of the very few places in life I find intimidating in it’s desolation. I felt it this evening. I have no idea why it makes me feel like this.
March 24th - I noticed this Volt Metro folding electric bike parked in the racks outside Darlaston Library as I passed. It looks like a decent design; disc brake front, V-brake rear, motorised rear hub (I think) with derailleur gears - it even has suspension fork and seatpost. Dread to think what it weighs, but it’s an interesting bike.
March 24th - It was a sunny morning, but cold. But it’s the cold, clear days when Darlaston really shines. Passing through, I still love the place. So many architectural gems in such a quiet, unassuming little town.
March 23rd - The Chase is still very muddy. This is a normal speed clip, from Castle Ring to Stonepit Green this afternoon. Top speed about 30mph. I was absolutely plastered in mud. But by heck, it was funn.
March 23rd - I love the soft rolling countryside of Longdon Edge, a series of undulating ridges radiating from the east of Cannock Chase to the Trent Valley, and eastwards to Lichfield. There are winding lanes, hidden holloways, little traffic and secluded tracks. Soft woodlands, open fields and beautiful hamlets.
There are few better places locally to spend a springtime golden hour.
March 23rd - Out in the late afternoon to bright sunshine, but a fearsome wind. I had been planning to head to Hopwas Hays Wood, but the thought of the headwind on my return put me off. I headed north instead, over Gentleshaw Common, over Castle Ring, down into Stonepit Green and back around the eastern flank of the Chase through Upper Longdon, Farewell and Buntwood. The wind died as I was out, and although nippy towards sunset, it was a gorgeous ride. The CHase is still very muddy, though…
March 22nd - It was sunshine and showers on the way home, and often at the same time. This gave rise to a great rainbow - but sadly, it was too fleeting to capture at it’s best. Still, it was rather beautiful, all the same…
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 two years down the road, he's still cycling every day and recording a little bit of every journey.