July 19th - I was still suffering with my left foot, so rest was in order and I didn’t do anything except cruise out for a bit of fresh air and some shopping. It was an odd evening - at 6pm on Saturday, Brownhills is usually dead and deserted, but it had rained nearly all day, and right now, from the Pier Street bridge, the town was coming alive - people were walking, jogging and getting shopping in.
All the time under a dramatic, somewhat threatening sky.
May 29th - Just over a week ago I noted that the honeysuckle bush overgroing the barrier at the Black Cock Bridge was in bud. Today, on another wet, grey commute, I noted that the shrub was now coming into flower. Already, it smells delightful, and is becoming a riot of colour, from yellows to dark, dark crimson, and every shade inbetween.
Honeysuckle grows like a weed these days in many hedgerows, scrubs and canal embankments. It’s delightful, and the insects love it. It fascinates me and always looks a little prehistoric.
May 28th - A foul commute to and from work, characterised by constant drizzle, wet greasy roads and drivers not concentrating. Nearly wiped out on the way to work, a lady pulled out on me from a factory forecourt so closely her car snapped the reflector off my rear mudguard. Had I been slightly slower, she’d have clipped my wheel and I’d have been off. She didn’t even stop.
Returning on a no less intemperate journey home, I was cheered to see the cows still on Jockey Meadows; a fair-sized herd, there seem to be about 12 or 15, and they were looking wet and fatalistic as only cows can.
I’m convinced they’re here to maintain the meadow and churn it up, whilst spreading the fertile love in the form of cowpats. They certainly seem to be having a good go.
They were fascinated by me and my bike. I’m sure they’d all have come to the gate had I waited long enough.
May 24th - There’s probably some fancy photographic name for it, but some days seem naturally high-contrast. Something about the light. I spun around very wet towpaths out of Brownhills to Chasewater, and noted that part of Sandhills was dark, and another part was remaining in light. It really was quite beautiful.
Newtown’s bunny population were out enjoying the lush wet vegetation, and could be barely bothered to run away as I approached, and the view to Hammerwich was as wonderful as ever now it’s wearing it’s summer jacket. At Chasewater, the view from the dam was remarkable, with a rather threatening sky.
As I headed home, the heavens opened again.
But it’s summer, and warm rain is better than cold…
May 24th - Still feeling a bit ropey, and with dreadful weather, I didn’t get out until late afternoon when the sun decided to make an appearance. Sadly, the heavy rains have again blathered the towpath at Anchor Bridge. Where the water streams down the embankment, the shale footpath has washed from the side of the concrete drain cover again,leaving an 8-10 inch deep channel, 6 inches wide across nearly the full width of the towpath.
This is deep and large enough to wedge a bike wheel in, or lose a foot down - especially with inexperienced cyclists or kids. Take care. The rest of the path northwards to the bridge is also eroded badly and is quite hazardous.
Horridly enough, that’s a used syringe in cavity. I suspect it washed down with the storm water, possibly out of a drain.
May 23rd - A horrid day. Rainy, wet, and the warm summer air seems to have left us for a while. I slipped out in the evening to Mill Green to run an errand, and coming over Shire Oak, stopped at the quarry gates to capture my familiar muse in the murk.
A horrid, headache grey day. I didn’t feel great, either. Summer, come back soon, please…
May22nd - I left Leicester early in the afternoon, when it was still a pleasant day; I’d set off in light morning rain, which had cleared. I did what I had to, then nipped over to Spinney Hills to pick up Indian snacks, and headed home. As the train pulled from Leicester, the rains came.
I had an inkling from passenger information that there was disruption to northbound local services out of Brum, and changed trains at Nuneaton for a service to Lichfield Trent Valley, which was also heavily delayed. It was the right decision though, which was a relief.
I alighted at Lichfield in a thunderstorm and torrential rain. Waiting it out, I gave up, and cut a run for it.
I got soaked. The roads home were like rivers, and progress was slow. I hadn’t been that glad to get in, and have a hot shower for a very long time.
May 11th - I’d really not been well. My stomach was bad, and my body ached, so it was just as well the weather during the day was poor, as I didn’t feel like I’d missed much. I got out at dusk, and took in the sunset, spinning up a wet canal towpath to check up on the swan family. Sadly, I didn’t catch them - once the cygnets hatch, they tend to move around a lot so I’m not overly concerned - but I did catch an impressive sky.
In the distance, I could see it was raining still out towards Tamworth. A fitting end to a pretty horrible day.
May 8th - I spun home after heavy rain, and had to nip to Chasetown. On the way, I was fascinated by the profusion of slugs and snails, the wet undergrowth and a really, really dramatic sky. I’m always fascinated by gastropods, as they get such a bad press, but we couldn’t really exist without them, and close up, they’re fascinating things.
Over towards Hammerwich, the oilseed rape is going over now, but today, Lichfield Cathedral spires were clearly visible if you know where to look. I often wonder how many people realise you can see that from here, in just the right spot?
It wasn’t a great day weather wise, but still plenty of interest in Summer’s brewing cauldron.
May 1st - I had thought I was alone on the pub terrace. However, an ominous crunch made me look down… and the patio was actually busy with slugs and snails, presumably energised by the damp after the previously dry days.
I picked up the bike and carefully stepped around them. I always feel pangs of guilt when I hear that crunch. I have a soft spot for these fascinating, bizarre creatures. Hate to kill them.
May 1st - I had to pop out in the morning, but worked from home for most of the day - which was just as well, as the weather was wet and miserable. Going out to meet a couple of pals later in the evening, I found myself chaining my bike up in a pub beer garden. Once the preserve of summer afternoons and rare, balmy evenings, pub terraces, beer gardens and play area have changed subtly in recent years, becoming a haven for smokers.
None here tonight, though, so the heaters on the parasol stayed untriggered. An odd, wet, otherworldly atmosphere pervaded the evening. Curious.
April 27th - I was working throughout the day, and only got out late evening. It was threatening rain, and dusk was bearing down. I then realised I’d forgotten the camera, so had to use my phone. It didn’t really like the light, I think.
Nice to see that in the last week my favourite tree - the lone horse chestnut near Home Farm, Sandhills, has burst into leaf; I read the seasons by that tree, and now I know safe passage to summer is guaranteed. The canal all the way round to Newtown (and probably well beyond) is lush, and green, and beautiful. How I love this season.
Cruising up Short Street, I spotted the sky, and shot home before I got soaked. Interesting to note, though, that the street lights here have been changed for new LED ones; they’re very good, and are creeping onto many streets in Brownhills. Wonder what the rollout plan is?
April 25th - Riding in the rain when the weather is warm isn’t that bad - once you’re wet, you’re wet and with waterproofs, that takes a good while. But after a week at work, when you’re tired, the light is poor and the traffic relentless, you just want to get home, have a shower, put something fresh on and have a decent cup of tea.
These bike cam stills give a flavour of the journey. Like riding at night, it’s mentally very demanding, as there’s more stuff that you have to mentally process, and the traffic tends to be mad.
April 25th - A dreadful commuting day, really, and not a great one at work, if I’m honest. I returned home late afternoon in a rainstorm. The rain was warm, though, and what wind there was seemed to be behind me. Coming from central Walsall after picking up some shopping, I crossed the Arboretum Junction, and whilst waiting at the lights, noticed the surface water problem here was getting worse. In heavy rain, the asphalt here doesn’t seem to shed water, and a 3-4mm covering develops over the entire junction. I’ve never seen any road do this before, and must be a peculiarity of the surfacing.
It’s bad enough of a bicycle. Feel sure someone is going to aquaplane across here one day…
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 three years down the road, he's still cycling every day and recording a little bit of every journey.