BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking
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.

17th August - At Home Farm, Sandhills, the harvest seems complete, and the wheat in the top field has been harvested. The day before, the straw lay in neat rows; today, it had been baled into neat, cylindrical rolls.

I love to see this, it appeals to my urge to grab order from chaos, and always looks dramatic.

And with this, the season’s mechanism advances another notch - it can’t be a coincidence that the weather is now colder and more changeable.

August 17th - If you listen to many opinions in these parts, Brownhills is ugly, a lost cause; everything is broken and we’re descending into oblivion.

But if you open your eyes, and look around, it’s not quite like that.

How I’ve managed to not notice the old wooden rowing boat filled with beautiful flowers before, I’ll never know. It’s placed wonderfully by the Canoe and Outdoor Centre on Silver Street, and captivated me. My compliments to whoever thought of it and planted it. It’s gorgeous.

Compliments are also due to the local schoolkids who planted sunflowers on the open space between the High Street and Short Street; they are  absolutely beautiful, and can’t but make you smile.

Brownhills has more than 99 problems. But a lack of beauty isn’t one of them, oddly enough.

August 16th - This young grey heron was fishing in the canal, just by the old marketplace on Silver Street in Brownhills. You know, right by Tesco. On a Saturday afternoon.

I’ll let that sink in a bit.

I’d never have believed we’d see this kind of thing in Brownhills when I was a lad.

Hello, heron - I wish you an excellent day’s fishing.

August 16th - Heading back towards Chasewater, I noticed the erosion that happens here every time there is heavy rain has been corrected again, in the same way it always has been: sweep the debris back into the hole, and stamp it down.
Expect a similar report next time it rains heavily. Getting an awful sense of deja-vu here.
This really needs a permanent fix. 

August 16th - Heading back towards Chasewater, I noticed the erosion that happens here every time there is heavy rain has been corrected again, in the same way it always has been: sweep the debris back into the hole, and stamp it down.

Expect a similar report next time it rains heavily. Getting an awful sense of deja-vu here.

This really needs a permanent fix. 

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.