April 22nd - I rode Telford’s cycleways on my way to work. It was raining. The raindrops and fresh greenery made it simply beautiful.
March 28th - It had been a gorgeous day of spring sun, had being the operative word. I had errands to run in Caldmore and Walsall town centre on my return from work, and as I left there, the heavens opened. They opened again as I left Caldmore, and yet again in Walsall. For the third time this week, I got wet, cold and miserable. But hey, I had a saddlebag full of indian snacks, at least.
At 6:20pm, as darkness and rain were falling fast, Darwall Street, the heart of Walsall’s entertainment district, was deserted, but the wet street caught the light beautifully.
Let’s hope for a better weekend…
March 26th - It was a grim commute home. The morning had been fine, but cold. Leaving work fairly late, I thought I’m missed the day’s showers so left off the waterproof trousers. This was a mistake. As I headed home through Walsall, the skies darkened threateningly. From the first spots, to a freezing-cold, wind driven downpour.
These shots follow the rain as I I rode into it, and were captured from the ride camera.
I got in soaked, tired and freezing cold. Spring, eh?
March 25th - Further up Green Lane, I glanced to my left as I winced and grunted my way over the Black Cock bridge, which was harder work than usual. This solitary house, possibly at the end of what may have been Pepper Alley years ago, continues to fascinate me. Back behind here was once a sewage farm and the municipal mortuary. Today, it’s just fields and scrub.
It wasn’t really near sunset, but it was dark, grey and damp. Like October.
Tomorrow will be a better day.
March 25th - The commute to work had been wet and quite, quite horrid, but the wind was more or less favourable. The roads were greasy, the traffic was mad. It wasn’t a hugely enjoyable journey.
Later in the morning, I felt rather ill, and was resigning myself to getting a lift home if I didn’t feel better. Thankfully, sweet tea, a lie down and some food sorted me out, but on leaving work during a break in the rain, I just floored it and sped home as fast as I could. I just wanted to be back, safe and sound in the dry and warm.
I noticed in Green Lane near Jockey Meadows the mist was rising off the marsh, and everywhere was sodden again. This is one of the very few places in life I find intimidating in it’s desolation. I felt it this evening. I have no idea why it makes me feel like this.
I took a photo, then pressed on homewards.
March 22nd - It was sunshine and showers on the way home, and often at the same time. This gave rise to a great rainbow - but sadly, it was too fleeting to capture at it’s best. Still, it was rather beautiful, all the same…
March 6th - Out for the evening and returning late, the streets were very, very quiet. I sped from Walsall with the wind at my back on silent, wet roads; I even sailed through the lights at Rushall Square on green without having to slow down.
Sadly, the night was more redolent of November than March, but the ride was nice.
Still can’t get past my unease over the eeriness of Green Lane at night…
March 6th - The spring evaporated today. On the way home, it rained, and the the wind was horrid. It wasn’t a good day to be out on a bike and I found myself longing for the mild weather to return.
Sadly, the dry towpaths I’d been enjoying for a couple of weeks took a set back into muddy slurry again.
Ah well, there’s always tomorrow…
February 25th - Caught in a short, sharp shower. The air suddenly went clear, and glass-hard. The traffic seemed to go a bit nuts, too.
Despite it’s attempts to kill me, I love the Chester Road. Night or day, summer or winter, sunshine or rain, it’s both often my route out of here, and my way back home.
February 21st - Returning home in the wee small hours, I was irritated to discover I’d forgotten my camera. As I sped from Walsall on deserted streets, there was a fine drizzle but the wind was behind me. I saw nothing but a handful of cars, a couple of foxes and a started badger. The phone is useless in low light, but these do capture the atmosphere quite well.
I’d quite forgotten the otherwordly atmosphere of being out on a bike at 1am…
February 20th - The week before, the canal overflow at Clayhanger had been a raging rapid of water flowing from the canal into local drainage. I posted at the time that I’d never seen anything quite like it, and I was seriously concerned over the possibility of subsequent flooding on the River Tame, when most of the canal overflows in Walsall drain to.
A far from dry week later, the flow is reduced - still high by normal standards - but gone is the angry torrent, and my fears of flooding proven unfounded. Whilst we’ve been far more fortunate than other parts of the country, it does go to show that despite massive development over the years, the local drains and water system is incredibly capacious and resilient.
February 17th - There’s water everywhere at the moment, but it’s depressing to note that flooding caused by bad drains is still happening a couple of years after I first noticed it. At the Black Path, near the A5 by Brownhills School, pedestrians and cyclists are forced onto a muddy desire-path around a lake formed because the drain at the bottom of the slope hasn’t been cleaned out for years.
Similarly, and most frustratingly, at the other end of the Black Path, the money recently spent on Hoilland Park clearly didn’t extend to sorting the nonfunctional drains on the tennis court. Like the flooded bowling green at Waslall Wood, this has been ongoing for a couple of years now. A refurbishment has recently taken place here, yet it’s still flooded, and presenting a hazard.
I’d really like someone to look into sorting these problems out - a lot of people complain about them, and it’s getting harder and harder to defend the official position.
If we can find money to resurface paths, I sure we can spend a little bit sorting the blocked drains.
February 15th -The bad weather seemed to be breaking as I cycled back to Brownhills although the rains would return later. It felt warmer, and stiller. The canal that separates urban Brownhills from rural, rolling South Staffordshire was affording great views - and it looked very much like spring was insinuating itself in the fields an canal embankments.
Everything was still wet, of course, but out here there wasn’t much wind damage - that is, apart from an errant trampoline, sensibly tethered to a fence, buy sadly lacking buoyancy.
February 15th - A rough day. Weather was bad, with a high wind and periodic, squally rain. I needed to get some shopping in, and popped to Morrisons in Burntwood. I found myself on The Sportway, the drive to the Rugby Club that runs alongside the Chasetown bypass.
This is a good tip - I know this route well. Just where the grass is on the foreground corner of the cycleway, there is a huge, wheel-swallowing pothole unseen under the water. Because I know it’s there, I give it a wide berth. Someone coming this way for the first time, wouldn’t know.
My point is this: in this weather, be careful riding through puddles. They can hide a variety of nasties - from tire-shredding debris, to holes, to uncovered drains.
Take it easy and be wary.
February 14th - Valentines Day, but not much love from the weather, which was back to wet and windy. I ‘d been to Darlaston early again, and left in the mid-afternoon lull before the winds really got up. Unlike the ride in, the ride out was again wind assisted and fun.
The traffic was a bit frantic in the wet and I chose to hit the canal again in Walsall Wood. An interestingly wind-cleaved tree near the Black Cock, and cutting across the new Pond and Clayhanger Common the landscape was again sodden and dripping. But there was a kind of peace to it too, which I appreciated.
Crossing the bridge back into Brownhills, the moorings at Silver Street are busier than I’ve ever seen them before (except during a canal festival) - I’m curious as to why. The waterside has been unchanged for a good few years, now, and it seemed to take the boaters ages to discover us. Is it just a pure shortage of places to moor, or the fact that there’s no charge?
Really curious about it.