BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

August 4th - I ought to know what this is; I can’t remember and the book is in elsewhere. The nettle-ish leaves have me confused. It’s a lovely shade of purple and one single instance (that I’ve found) is in bloom by the canal at Birchills.

Susan, help!

August 3rd - Terrible angle, sorry, but the heavy rains of Saturday morning again washed the footpath away on the canal bank at Anchor Bridge, for the fourth time in a year.
Watch out if on bike or foot; it’s a trip and fall hazard.
Just what will it take for the Canal & River Trust to repair this properly for once, instead of just sweeping the washdown back into the cavity?

August 3rd - Terrible angle, sorry, but the heavy rains of Saturday morning again washed the footpath away on the canal bank at Anchor Bridge, for the fourth time in a year.

Watch out if on bike or foot; it’s a trip and fall hazard.

Just what will it take for the Canal & River Trust to repair this properly for once, instead of just sweeping the washdown back into the cavity?

August 3rd - Chasewater itself was gorgeous. From the honeybees busy on the knapweed, which looks so very like thistles, to the thistles themselves, which are now doing the seeding thing. Amphibious bistory dabbles the western edge of the lake, and the north heath looked gorgeous.

We’re so lucky to have this nearby.

August 3rd - Still laying off the long rides for the sake of my sore foot, I had to run some errands and get some shopping in - so I headed on a sunny, but windy afternoon to Morrisons at Burntwood.

A lovely day, for sure - and the harvest at Home Farm, Sandhills, had started, but the wheat still wasn’t ripe enough. Hopefully, it will be before the next lot of rains midweek…

August 2nd - Still treating my injured foot with care, I took in a lazy loop of Brownhills and bimbled over to Chasewater, then back down the canal. It was a gorgeously sunny late afternoon, and after the heavy rains of the morning, all the greenery looked splendidly fresh.

In the space of 20 minutes, I admired the mature trees on The Parade, enjoyed the shimmer of Chasewater and watched spellbound as a wakeboarder practised his jumps. I also spotted the best garden chair-hammock thing ever, in a limpid, green arcadia beside the quiet, clear waters of the canal.

Don’t ever tell me there isn’t beauty in this place.

August 2nd - I suspect you readers might be getting fed up with my obsession with swans, but with several local broods this year it’s made me more aware of these fascinating birds and their habits.

This afternoon, the Catshill brood - still at an impressive seven plus mum and dad - were on the canal between Catshill Junction and the Pier Street bridge, just to the rear of Lindon Drive.

They were doing something I never knew that swans would do - they were eating blackberries from brambles growing at the canal side. The youngsters were positively devouring the fruit.

I never knew they ate such things. 

When they realised I was watching, they regrouped, and headed off.

August 1st - My return journey was weary, wet, grey and warm. Again, it felt like being in the gust from a hair-drier, so warm was the breeze. It was raining steadily, and having popped in to Brum, I returned from Shenstone down quiet, greasy country lanes, dodging a whole host of slippery hazards in waiting, now hydrated. 

I note most of the harvest is done here, but for a couple of fields. In the UK, I guess it pays not to dither, and as I was waiting at Shire Oak I reflected on the wonderful unreliability of the great British weather.

August 1st - I arrived at work early, before the rain came, but had to nip across town midday. There was a soft drizzle that made my beloved Black Country smell beautiful, and the trees and greenery, washed of dust and grime, looked splendid in their shimmering emerald wetness.

Gorgeous.

July 31t - I had something to go to in the evening, and returned late. I returned after dark, and it was beautiful, as late summer nights tend to be; it had rained briefly in the afternoon and the damp had drawn out the frogs, toads and gastropods in huge numbers.

This delightful pair were within six inches of each other on the grass by the canal at Silver Street. 

Some people find these creatures of the night slimy and unpleasant; I think they’re beautiful, in their own way.

July 31st - It’s not lightly or without thought that I feature this, but it is part of rural life that’s becoming increasingly common on urban roads, too.
This is a dead badger, spotted at the side of Green Lane, Walsall Wood yesterday. Adult, large, and in generally good condition, he had been hit by a car. Either carried or finding his way to the hedgerow, he looks like he died peacefully there.
There ain’t a whole lot of road sense in your average badger, and they’re becoming increasingly active in urban areas like Brownhills. Please take care when driving at night, as these creatures often stumble out of hedges and verges.
They are heavy, and solid, and will do damage to cars if hit at speed, but to those on two wheels, they can be deadly.
Watch out for Brock, please.

July 31st - It’s not lightly or without thought that I feature this, but it is part of rural life that’s becoming increasingly common on urban roads, too.

This is a dead badger, spotted at the side of Green Lane, Walsall Wood yesterday. Adult, large, and in generally good condition, he had been hit by a car. Either carried or finding his way to the hedgerow, he looks like he died peacefully there.

There ain’t a whole lot of road sense in your average badger, and they’re becoming increasingly active in urban areas like Brownhills. Please take care when driving at night, as these creatures often stumble out of hedges and verges.

They are heavy, and solid, and will do damage to cars if hit at speed, but to those on two wheels, they can be deadly.

Watch out for Brock, please.

July 30th - Interesting to note the cat population seems to have woken up since the temperature dropped a little. I see a lot of tails and bums sticking out of hedgerows on my travels, or furry balls asleep on house-steps, cars and shady corners. Often I’m glared at from under parked cars or over the canal from the opposite bank.

I adore cats. 

This midnight lady (I think it;s a lady) was photographed loafing in Chandler’s Keep, as I passed on my way up to Chase Road.  Wonderfully black, and those whiskers! I feel sure she could well be a witches familiar…

That’s one classy cat.

July 30th - It still seems too early to me, but it’s the time of the fruiting and berries now. I’m very familiar with the sticky red berries of honeysuckle - the glaze attracts dust and grime and makes them look grubby - but birds and bugs love them, although they’re mildly toxic to humans.

The white berry here I’m familiar with, but have no idea of the name. These used to grow on the front of a house I’d pass on the way to school, and the berries popped delightfully when thrown at the ground; this is what’s making me think they’re early. I’d have been plucking them in September, at the start of a new term. It’s barely the beginning of the summer holidays right now.

Anyone know their name?

July 29th - The harvest actually started a few days ago, but I was in too much of a hurry that night to get home, there was no time to stop and take photos. This was a field of oilseed rape, on the corner of Green Lane and Mob Lane, just by Grange Farm, in Walsall Wood. The dry plant has been harvested for it’s tiny, black seeds, threshed out of their pots by complex harvesting machinery. The pods, chaff and stalks are shredded, and sprayed back out on the ground to be ploughed back in.

Once the harvest starts, you know the season is marching onwards…

July 29th - Sorry, more cygnets. I didn’t know about these, but taking a desperate dive onto the canal to avoid traffic madness on my way to work, I passed this family of three and parents in Pleck, Walsall. 

They interested me particularly, as the young are clearly starting to develop white plumage, yet look younger than the Catshill brood (they’re smaller, too).

The adults don’t look any different, though…

July 28th - Big dreams, he had them. 

Better luck next time, puss. Maybe it was for the best…