October 19th- a busy, fraught and not terribly productive day, I spun out past teatime into a dark, deserted and somnambulant town. I had the little tripod, and I welcomed the darkness back into my life.
I spun up the High Street, over Anchor Bridge, and back down the canal, and didn’t see a soul; there was life on the narrowboats, as the chimneys were gently smoking, yet there were no other signs of life at all.
I love the new LED floodlights on Silver Court - and Anchor Bridge will always be a muse.
Time to embrace the blackness again…
October 18th - Certainly seeing that family with five cygnets about a lot. They were tooling around the canal, grazing and generally patrolling. I saw them several times during the day, but by mid afternoon, they were loafing and preening in one of the canalside back gardens near Humphries House.
I don’t know why, but these gorgeous, grumpy and truculent birds have me captivated.
October 18th - In Pelsall to meet a pal for lunch, I spotted the beautiful planters by the common that were still blooming beautifully. It’s only a week until the clocks go back, and yet suck colourful flowers are still with us.
Beautiful and surprising, too. Well done Pelsall.
October 17th - I came back from Shenstone just as darkness was falling, and spotted by chance another bountiful crop of autumn. Isolated in the hedgerow at Footherley, a large, impressive and perfect group of mature glistening ink caps. These are toxic, and shouldn’t be touched, but the temptation to is huge. I love their pure white stalks and brown-black, sing caps.
I don’t think the fungi have been so good this year, maybe due to the dry weather - these are rare gems.
October 17th - The morning commute was damp, and a little drizzly, but it brightened up as I neared work. On the way, I noted the assortment of hips, haws and berries, glistening with raindrops. For the hedgerow fruits, it’s been a bountiful year, and the birds certainly have plenty in the larder right now.
A fine autumn; best I can remember for many a year.
October 16th - I’ve come to the conclusion there’s another swan family moved down here, probably from Aldridge. Nipping back into Walsall Wood on an errand, I spotted five cygnets and mum; they don’t seem as advanced in development as the Catshill brood, which are really quite white now, and these seem cheekier, and more unruly.
Looking for food along the embankment at the back of Barrow Close, they were watched by a distinctly unamused bystander, a large, grumpy-looking marmalade cat.
There’s a story there, I’m sure.
October 16th - The patch of grass near Anchor Bridge in Brownhills is not something I ever pay much attention to, if I’m honest; it just exists, and it never occurred to me until recently how odd it is that it has never been built upon.
It remains unspoiled, mowed regularly by the council, and separates the canal from the Lindon Road. There are a good few deciduous trees here and in Autumn, they’re beautiful.
An odd little patch of beauty in an otherwise unremarkable urban landscape.
October 15th - I returned to Brownhills late in the afternoon when it was again pouring with rain. This wasn’t everyday, lacklustre drizzle; this was dense, heavy rain that squeezed in through any not-quite-close zip or gap, and rendered me soaked.
Once again, I found myself taking a breather on a bridge, just listening to the music - a rattling percussion, accompanied be geese honking happily.
Brownhills, you ain’t no looker; but that’s OK neither am I. But I do love you. Even on the horrid days like these.
October 15th - I passed through Churchbridge on the A5 between Cannock and Great Wyrley. This is a horrid, horrid landscape; there is no accommodation within it for pedestrians or cyclists, who do battle with it rather than inhabit it. The architecture and urban design is on a massive, non-human scale which dwarfs pre-existing houses and even the the electricity pylons.
This is not a place for those without a car. An utterly discriminatory piece of urban engineering. I hate it with a passion.
October 14th - Even on the dullest, wettest days this autumn has been outstandingly beautiful. In darkest Wednesbury, the foliage near Steelpark Island is gorgeous.
October 14th - I passed through Snow Hill Station early in the day on an errand before work. I hadn’t been there for ages, and scooting my bike across the access bridge, I was shocked to note the concourse had been retiled. I anxiously checked to see if the odd cat tile was still in place: I was relieved to see it was.
I have no idea why this hand-painted puss is here, but it’s clearly old, possibly rescued from the original station. Attempts to find out what it represents or commemorates failed.
I’m fascinated by this ceramic depiction of a cat. There’s a story here, if only I can find it.
A lovely thing; so glad it endures.
October 13th - It rained heavily all the way home, and with a driving headwind it really wasn’t a pleasant journey at all. I hopped on the canal in Walsall Wood to escape the mad traffic, and stopped at Catshill Junction to have a breather as I often do. It was quiet, except for the music of rain falling on water. There was not a soul around, and even the houses in Chandlers Keep looked deserted.
I was wet, cold and tired, but you couldn’t hate it like this. This was a moment of unexpected peace in a very grim day.
I got back on my bike, and rode home.
Monday 13th - A horrid commute, in both directions. Autumn is sitting heavily on my shoulders at the moment; the nights are closing in, and the rainy days more and more frequent.
But then, what should I expect? Half way through October. Just where has this year gone?
October 11th - I was intrigued to note at Chasewater what seems to be the Catshill brood of swans. Numbering 6 cygnets plus mum and dad, they are well into developing adult plumage now, and were on the main lake towards the north end of the dam. I’m not too alarmed that one appears to be missing, as I saw a single, lone cygnet on Friday at Clayhanger Bridge, so I think the family ties must be loosening now.
Later on, I noticed them proceeding across the lake in a stately line, the speedboats avoiding them.
I’m pleased to see them still prospering; it’s been a real joy to follow their progress this year.
October 12th - It was a beautiful misty morning, and there was nothing for it but to head off for a ride. I couldn’t go far, so settled for a spin around Chasewater. It was gorgeous. From the mist lifting from the canal to the cobwebs on the bridge rail, everything was precious. But the sun was warm, and soon, a tipping point was reached: the mist disappeared in about 10 minutes, to reveal a beautiful sunny autumn day.
Good to see the valves finally closed, too: Chasewater has been quite low of late and it would be good to see it fill up a little.