BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

March 7th - After the despondency of the previous day, spring returned with a fresh passion today. I managed to escape work while the sun was still shining, and headed to Burntwood to pick something up. On the way back, in bright spring sunshine, I happened to glance through the gates of the cemetery opposite St, Anne’s Church. What I saw astonished me: the finest display of crocuses I have ever seen in my life. These are incredible when seen in person, and I commend any reader to go take a look. An astonishing, and beautiful thing. 

Forget what I said yesterday: spring isn’t shaping up too badly right now…

January 4th - I’d been down to Stonnall on a fairly uninspiring ride; the weather was far more settled, the wind had dropped, but everywhere is still sodden. I couldn’t find a decent picture. Then, as I cycled up the Chester Road and over the brow of the hill, I realised we we in for a good sunset. I immediately decided to head for Chasewater, to try and catch it. On the way there, I realised it would be nearly over when I got there, so captured views along the way.

I do hope this is the start of a more settle period, but somehow, I doubt it.

August 16th - Also at Hopwas on the canal, a beautiful flower garden at a canal side bungalow. The house is gorgeous, and if only I were rich… but the flowerbeds were a riot of colour; unusual for this point in the season when the brightest blooms start to fade. I just had to skid to a halt and take a picture. Sadly, it doesn’t do justice to the stunning display.

July 9th - It was an unexpected delight this evening to note the flowers along the Ring Road in Walsall, at the Arboretum Junction. Walsall Council always does this really well, and the lovely blooms are a joy to the heart. 

My thanks to whoever plants and tends them - a lovely thing indeed.

June 27th - a third day at Leicester, and another day admiring the flowers at South Wigston. I’m not sure if that’s a thistle (it wasn’t spiky) or a type of cornflower. Even the dandelions going to seed are pretty. Nothing has done more to make me look closely at the margins, the unwanted, the wasteland, than this place. Beautiful.

June 25th - In Leicester today, and out early. This gave me chance to see my favourite patch of scrub, the embankment at South Wigston station.

I’m acutely aware that not many people have favourite patches of scrub, and this does mark me out as a little eccentric.

South Wigston is only a tiny dot of a suburban halt on a busy goods junction, and is totally unmanned. At some point, I think the green margins around the platforms and walkways were managed and planted, but haven’t been so for many years; the perennials that were planted here, plus some wild imports, run riot now all throughout the year, and reward me continually with colour, beauty and bounty.

It feels like I’m the only person ever to notice this; the only one ever to stop and watch the bees busy in the daisies, or bustling around the cotoneaster. Meanwhile, all around the sound of clanking industry, rumbling goods traffic and the joyful hubub of children from the nearby school.

It’s a wild place in the city, and I love it.

June 21st - The north end of Chasewater Dam is currently carpeted in a beautiful display of moon daisies, which not only look delightful, but smell beautiful, too. I love the fact that the rangers stopped mowing the bank and left them to bloom. 

In a day riven with toothache, chaos and general bad luck, these cheered me no end.

June 19th - Jockey Meadows and Bullings Heath, Walsall Wood, are beautiful right now. The water meadows are yellow - not with oilseed rape or dandelions, but millions of buttercups, clearly responding to some favourable condition they found in the dreadful spring. But what reward! Rabbits, hares, deer, all manner of birds and plants vie for attention in this gorgeous landscape, narrowly sandwiched in-between areas of huge urbanisation and industry.

I love this place, this area, my town. This, right here, is why.

June 17th - I love lupins. These tall flowers grow wild along the canal towpaths and scrubs of Black Country canals, and set the cuts ablaze with purples, lilacs and pinks at this time of year. I don’t suppose they’re a native species, I suspect more of a  formerly cultivated feral fancy from gardens. But they seem to thrive untended on the rough embankments and thickets alongside out waterways.

When I see lupins, I know it’s summer at last.

June 5th - The wildflowers (and not so wild) are arriving and making their presence felt in hedgerows and gardens. Everything from lobelia to forget-me-not, rhododendron to laburnam are all showing beautifully. This is the English countryside at it’s best. Get out and enjoy it while you can.

May 25th - Heading back from Stonnall at sunset, down into Brownhills, and off to Chasewater. A beautiful, soft red sunset, painting the town with colour. Come on summer, more please…

May 24th - Out early evening, and speeding towards Stonnall, I glanced to my left as I enjoyed the downhills. Fishpond Wood is gorgeous right now. After last year’s poor bluebell showing, they’re really excellent this year - and these are true British ones, not the Spanish impostors. The light was awful, but the atmosphere great.

I asked a mate about the tin shack. He said it used to house a pump, and he thought it was something to do with the quarry once. Never noticed it before.

These woods are private property and I was trespassing, so don’t do it, kids.

April 30th - Spring really is here. I’ve waited a very long time for it, but today, I noticed the trees at Blake Street coming into leaf.

There is nothing I can really add. Is there really anything more beautiful, hopeful and optimistic than this?

April 3rd - A great sunrise today, clear, and bright, but cold, with the kind of chill that hurts your forehead - but still the sharp, evil, lazy easterly. The snow is gradually fading away, and by my return this evening, it had mostly gone. 

My muse this morning - Grove Hill, near Stonnall - looked beautiful. Some say it’s a mythic, pagan place, and it’s certainly beautiful, and a known landmark for miles. To sit under that lone tree on a summer evening is a joy to the heart. I adore this place.

March 26 - A stunning sunset, which as Jayne Howarth noted on Twitter, gave a spring-like light that wasn’t justified by the conditions. It was cold, and brisk as I cycled the backlanes from Shenstone, and the coming darkness felt threatening and sharp as I cycled home with the wind behind me. The roads were clear and largely dry, although the thaw had evidently set in during daytime. The sky changed colour a number of times, and it was thoroughly beautiful. 

A gorgeous end to what had been a somewhat trying day.