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 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 8th - As dusk fell, the sky cleared, and heading into Brownhills on this quiet, damp evening it was actually quite beautiful. It’s been a month or two since I last saw the canal look like this… I also noted that these were probably the last days of my commuting home in the light.
Everything must pass.
October 8th - The weather has really turned this week. From the warm, dry Indian summer it’s changed into a wet, squally October. Very, very heavy periods of rain throughout the day interspersed with sunshine made it a great day for rainbow hunters, but not for drivers, as many local roads were flooded.
Here at Green Lane, on the Walsall Wood - Shelfield border, the usual standing flood near the cottage. It’s not deep, but riding this on a bike needs careful observation not to be passed by a vehicle and splashed or worse.
Coupled with all this it seems very cold (although it isn’t, it’s just a shock).
Oh hello winter. I wondered where you’d got to…
October 6th - It was a dreadful morning commute, and running late on the way home meant I didn’t have much time to stop. The heavy rains and wind of the morning sapped all my reserves of energy and patience; the riding was difficult and the driving poor.
Thankfully, by my somewhat late return, it was dry with an interesting dusk sky and what I suspect was a decent sunset, although I couldn’t get in a good place to see it.
From Walsall Station it looked impressive, if a little ominous. As I passed the Black Cock at Bullings Heath later on, it started to spot with rain again, even though the moon was large and clear.
A horrid day for commuting.
September 29th - I’d nipped into Birmingham on what seemed like a reasonable afternoon, then got the train back to Walsall. As I got nearer, the skies darkened more and more. It didn’t look good.
I emerged from the station about 6pm, and it was like dusk, with almost biblically ominous conditions.
I got as far as Rushall when the heavens opened, but it didn’t last long. It’s been the driest September on record here, and the rain was refreshing, and all too short-lived.
August 25th - One thing that is good about a wet ride is that it speeds up the bedding in of new brake pads. Last week I changed the ones on the front, and although greatly improved, that hadn’t yet reached best efficacy. A ride in the wet - with some nice hard stops from speed - works wonders, and the rain on the disc mingles with the metal dust from the disc and pads, forming a grinding paste that wears everything together quickly.
On my return, I swill out the brake calliper and disc with a hose.
The brakes are loads better now than they were before. I’ve never seen this documented anywhere, but seems to work a treat.
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 10th - I realised I hadn’t really done a circuit of Brownhills like this for a while, and despite the grim weather warnings, it’s wasn’t a bad day at all. The light was bright, and the scenery good. It was a good day to photograph landscape, I guess.
A the Pelsall Road bridge on the canal, I discovered how the otherwise inaccessible flowerbed was being maintained - formerly I’d wondered if it was from the boat so often moored nearby.
At Chasewater, the lake was very, very choppy. The wakeline had been abandoned for the day, and only a few very brave windsurfers were out.
I note that the valves are currently open, and the water level at the reservoir is steadily lowering, probably to the lowest level since last summer, the high watermark evident on the spillway bridge in a line of white surface scum.
An unexpectedly great day to be out.
August 10th - A remarkable season, and now the fruiting begins in earnest. The wind was gusting hard, and the threat of rain not far away, but I slid out mid afternoon in defiance of Hurricane Bertha (spit). I let the wind blow me along the wet canal to the cyclway over the common - on the way, I noticed what I think are cherries growing ripe on a tree by the Pier Street Bridge. They look rather fat and large to be such gems in Brownhills. Can anyone help there?
There’s also been a remarkably prodigious crop of hazelnuts from the hedge thicket opposite the Watermead estate - but what wasn’t already squirrelled was blown down in the wind; the towpath is thick with nobbled and wind-fallen nuts.
On the cycleway, a similarly bountiful crop of blackberries, and the elderberries too are ripening to a beautiful black-crimson gloss.
Summer coming to an end is always sad, but how can one remain so in the face of such wonderful fruits?
August 8th - I came to the top of Shire Oak Hill in light rain, and stopped at the quarry entrance to look at my beloved view to Lichfield. Rain was sweeping in along the Trent Valley, and the hills to the west were obscured by low rain clouds.
It had been another tough week,and I was glad to crest the hill and be nearly home. I love my job, but sometimes it’s tough to keep everything going.
But knowing home was downhill from here, the promise of good company, the family and a decent mug of tea was strong, and cheering.
Home is where the teapot is.
As it happened, the rain never really reached here.
August 8th - In contrast to recent days, it was dark and overcast with a very threatening atmosphere for most of the day. Racing home, I could smell rain on the wind, and it felt ominous.
A bit of rain is welcome; it’s needed. But we haven’t had weather like this for any length of time for a long period, and this felt dramatic and alien.
As I rode down Mill Lane in Stonnall, I noticed a flock of starlings had settled on the field, hedgerow and overhead lines. Perhaps it’s just the Hitchcock thing, but even those little birds in silhouette felt menacing…
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.