BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

April 23rd - First time my deer magnet has been switched on for weeks. Just over Jockey Meadows, 200 metres or so from the site of the flytipping in the last post, two red deer hinds. One older than the other, both wathced me nervously from right at the bottom of the field, near the brook. These are very long-range photos, so apologies for the poor quality. 

Both ladies were in the moult, so looked a bit threadbare, but otherwise appeared healthy enough. I think they’re part of a larger herd that loafs in the scrub there.

Nice to see them, and a sign as to why we need to look after our vital green spaces like Jockey Meadows and work against the kind of environmental damage caused by the flytipping shown in the previous post.

April 23rd - Spinning home from work, I noticed fresh flytipping in the gateway again at the Shelfield end of Jockey Meadows on Green Lane. A mixture of what looks like building and domestic refuse, it seems to be the usual ‘pull up and shove it off the back of a wagon’ job; unless the culprits have left anything incriminating, or were witnessed, it’s sadly very unlikely they’ll be caught.

People make excuses for this behaviour, saying stuff like ‘If the refuse tips were free for commercial vehicles it wouldn’t happen’ - it would. If you’re prepared to flytip, you aren’t going to go halfway across the borough to an approved tip. The morons who do this do so because it’s easy, relatively risk free, and because, without a doubt, they’re filthy scum with no pride in their environment or concern for others.

It makes me sad and angry.

April 22nd - I rode Telford’s cycleways on my way to work. It was raining. The raindrops and fresh greenery made it simply beautiful.

April 22nd - Using a bike rack, you’re doing it wrong (and making it difficult for anyone else to do so, too).
Photo taken through the train window whilst stopped at Butlers Lane this morning, hence poor quality, sorry.
Come on you dozy wazzock, it ain’t rocket science, is it?

April 22nd - Using a bike rack, you’re doing it wrong (and making it difficult for anyone else to do so, too).

Photo taken through the train window whilst stopped at Butlers Lane this morning, hence poor quality, sorry.

Come on you dozy wazzock, it ain’t rocket science, is it?

April 21st - Not a bad bank holiday, all-in-all. It started grey, but by the time I got out at 2pm the weather was brighter and warmer than it had been for days. It was hazy, and the sun was breaking through occasionally. I headed out to Harlaston again - but this time, I went by a direct route, and at Clifton Campville, headed to Lullington and Coton in the Elms. From there to Rosliston, then back along the Trent and Tame to Lichfield and home.

The north-easterly was a grim wind to head out into, and it was quite a battle, but it was nice to have it behind me on my return. 

Note that the cherry blossom in Whittington - the top picture - is a good two weeks earlier than a similar picture I have from May 4th, 2010. It certainly has been an early spring this year.

April 20th - For an evening spin, it was pleasant enough; the wind was grim, but at least I’d fixed the problem with my gears. At Chasewater, the sunset was nice, but unremarkable, and I was surprised at how tiny the gull roos was. I could hear an owl calling near the dame, but I couldn’t see it. On the way back home, the sky darkened, and it looked very, very black over Bill’s mother’s.

Luckily, I just got home and got the bike in as the heavens opened… I do hope that nice spell wasn’t summer.

April 20th - An odd day, really. I had a family thing to do most of the day over in Lichfield, but the weather was terrible anyway, blustery and wet. Spinning around Brownhills and Burntwood in the evening, I passed Chase Terrace Technology College.
They have a couple of signs like this. I find them offensive, not only in terms of accepted English, but graphically and syntactically.
Whoever approved them should be dragged out on the street, and slapped with a copy of a The Typography Manual until they publicly repent.
For an educational establishment, this is piss-poor. 

April 20th - An odd day, really. I had a family thing to do most of the day over in Lichfield, but the weather was terrible anyway, blustery and wet. Spinning around Brownhills and Burntwood in the evening, I passed Chase Terrace Technology College.

They have a couple of signs like this. I find them offensive, not only in terms of accepted English, but graphically and syntactically.

Whoever approved them should be dragged out on the street, and slapped with a copy of a The Typography Manual until they publicly repent.

For an educational establishment, this is piss-poor. 

April 19th - The footpaths around Chasewater’s south shore have recently been resurfaced, and are, on the whole, lovely. Since transferring to the control of Staffordshire County Council on April 1st, certain local councillors have rediscovered the park’s existence and seen keen on turning into some kind of landlocked Prestatyn, and the council itself talks darkly of ‘returns’.

I fear we’re in for interesting times.

The new path around the boating lake shows off the goose and swan poo fantastically well, and I was cheered to note the return of the third white domestic goose, hitherto missing since Christmas.

She looked in good health despite what must be advanced years, and was very white and neat. Not as aggressive as normal, the geese ignored me and one remained resting in statuesque, one-legged repose.

These birds bloody hate me on the whole, but I’m actually rather fond of them. Long my they remain.

April 19th - I was fiddling with a mechanical fault all day. I love my bikes, but the gears can be perplexing when not quite right. I spun out late to Chasewater, and unexpectedly bumped into a good friend while I was there, which brightened me up no end. On the way, I noticed the oilseed rape at Hammerwich was looking gorgeous. Still not quite peaked, it’s a lovely colour nonetheless, and I love how the tractor trails in the crop highlight the landscape contours.

As long as I live I’ll always love this changing, fascinating landscape.

April 18th - Between Harlaston and Clifton Campville, there’s a small, Catholic hamlet called Haunton. There’s a church, a small convent, a huge old folk’s home that used to be a private school and a lot of odd architecture. This is a tiny place, but it has surprising corners.

In the churchyard today, I noticed this railing remnant being consumed by two separate trees engaged in a slow, determined tug of war. I was fascinated in the distortion, and wondered how old the railings were.

I swear that if you put your ear close, you could hear the trees grunting…

April 18th - A great long ride today, on a warm, wonderful spring day. I headed out to Honey Hill, at No Man’s Heath via Canwell, Hints, Hopwas and Harlaston, returning via Netherseal, Lullington, Edingale and Lichfield. On the way, I stopped, as I always do, at the old ROC post at Harlaston. It was still in a very sorry state, but I was reminded of something. 

Stopping for a drink and a breather at the top of Willowbottom Lane, just by the bunker, I looked down and noticed a barely visible square of bricks and concrete. This is another reminder of past conflict, for these are the remains of a second world war anti-aircraft watchpost.

High on the hill above Tamworth, it’s an excellent spot for it. A sobering thing on a sunny, spring afternoon.

April 17th - Cowslips everywhere this year. From a rarity 15 years ago to being all over everywhere like a cheap suit, these wee, delicate primroses come in a whole variety of subtly different forms, and are just crying out for attention.

My favourite flowers, without a doubt. Go find some and take a look for yourself. Wonderful little things.

April 17th - The minutiae of drainage engineering are wonderful. I’ve been passing this array of manholes for a couple of weeks now, and noticed that new bars had been installed across the covers. It’s taken me ages to work out what they’re for. It’s not what one may imagine.

Opposite a small, automatic sewer pumping station on Green Lane at Bullings Heath, Walsall Wood, there is the concrete cap to what must be a storm buffer. A storm buffer is a large underground tank that, in time of heavy rainfall, collects drainage water and fills up, storing it and allowing slower discharge into the main network to prevent overload. There are lots around and they work well; you can tell this is one due to the large circular ‘cap’ evident with the access covers.

Recently, bars were mounted over the covers. Initially, I assumed they were to prevent access by drainers - a type of Urban Explorer that goes into sewers and storm drains to explore - but they aren’t actually secure. They’re secured with normal nuts and bolts, not locks. A couple of covers in front (not shown), which I think house pumps of valves - are not so protected.

They have actually been fitted to prevent internal pressure from blowing the access covers out. If the buffer filled to capacity due to a storm event, water pressure would increase against the hatches, and lift them out. That would then expose anyone walking through the subsequent flood liable to fall into a very deep, open manhole.

The bars are therefore a safety feature.

I wonder what has occurred, and where, to make this risk suddenly appreciated?

April 16th - Of course, the real star of this year’s Springs Got Talent is the blossom, which has been extraordinarily abundant this year. Apple and ornamental cherry line the cyclepaths of Telford. The falling petals are a delight, and shower any passing cyclist with confetti, like some groom of the spring.

Fantastic stuff.

April 16th - It’s all about flowers at the moment. I was in Telford for the first time for a couple of weeks, and spring has come on incredibly fast in the intervening period. As ever, the bed of tulips and other flowers at Telford railway station is incredible - but the daffodils - now going over a bit - were gorgeous at Hortonwood. It was sunny, and warm, and the wind seems to be dying a bit at long last. As I ground my way up Shire Oak Hill late afternoon, I noticed the first Spanish bluebells in the hedgerow by Lanes Farm. 

This was worth the wait.