December 13th - Further along the canal,I played again with night photography. Interesting that the lack of moonlight tonight made for such grainy images, but I like them, all the same. I hated it at first, but I’m quite getting to like the ghost-flats in Brownhills. The colour comes alive at night.
October 14th - I hopped on to the canal on my way back, and as the sky cleared, dusk fell. It was beautiful, in a quite understated way. I love the canal overflow at Clayhanger Bridge. I adore watching the flow of the water; powerful, noisy, yet soothing. Flowing strongly after a weekend of rain, I listened to it for ages. When you’ve been feeling under it for a while, simple things like listening to the rush whilst watching a decent sunset form can really pick you up.
I cycled homewards lifted.
October 12th - It’s quite hard to take photos on such a rainy day. You find all the good pictures are facing the rainfall, and because the light is poor, you need long exposures, usually resulting in the lens gathering raindrops. I stopped on the Pier Street Bridge to check out the golden streetlight on the canal surface, and managed to keep the lens dry enough to capture the narrowboats in their moorings. Spinning round and interested in the combination of light, wet surface and steelwork, I didn’t realise I had gathered the raindrops. But they worked out quite well, really.
September 24th - my love affair with Darlaston is decades old and shows no signs of abating. I adore the place, from the grimy industrial backstreets, to the quiet loveliness of Victoria Park. Here, half a century ago, trains thundered through this cutting serving the freight needs of the Black Country, but now, landscaped into a lovely open space, it makes for a nice traffic free ride away from some of the worst traffic of the town centre. In spring, this spot is lined with snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils.
I always liked that footbridge, too; it’s an inspired touch.
September 22nd - It’s not been a great weekend, really. I seem to have contracted a cold, which left me feeling hungover on Saturday and just plain horrid today. It was with a sinus-generated migraine that I finally got it together and headed out at dusk. I found the dark soothing, and it made the visual disturbance less apparent. It was very still, and the sunset was gorgeous. Any other weekend I’d have been over the hills and far away, but today, my energy was sapped just doing a small loop on the canal around Clayhanger.
Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.
September 11th - It was raining as I cycled home from Walsall, but for once, I didn’t mind. The wind was behind me, the air felt warm and the bike was moving easily. The events of the day were taking their toll and to my shame, I dismounted and pushed up the Black Cock Bridge. On the adjacent pedestrian bridge I liked the combination of rain, sodium light and metalwork.
The day was long, mentally I’d had a close call, but a weight was off my mind, and the promise of another day lightened my heart.
There’s tomorrow. There will always be a tomorrow.
June 20th - A wet afternoon. I came back from work and headed to Brownhills for some shopping. Crossing the Pier Street bridge, Brownhills looked oddly sad, yet beautiful in the drizzle. The bunting was up for the canal festival, and with everything green it was hard not to be cheered a little by the optimism of it.
Come right on in, summer. we’ve reserved your seat…
June 9th - An odd little bridge on a bend in the Wyrley and Essington Canal at Wednesfield. Faced in roughcast and painted salmon pink, Devils Elbow Bridge is curious on a number of levels, not least the peculiar name. One would imagine it’s due to the bend in the canal. Anyone got any ideas?
May 22nd - I was heading home today from work, and for some reason I hopped on the canal near Anchor Bridge, and headed up and took a look at Clayhanger Common. The sun was bright after a somewhat dull day, and I guess it was my quest for green. Everything is so vivid at the moment you could almost inhale it. Everywhere you look, there is bright, fresh foliage, in shades of emerald more precious and life-affirming than any jewel.
One thing I did notice on my way over Catshill Bridge, is the clock tower added to the roof of a garage in Chandler’s Keep. Has that always been there, or is it new? I’ve never noticed it before.
May 13th - But my, the skies did look black. For most of the day, and it seems it’s in for the week. I really, really want the fine weather to return.
We need to all wish together…
May 11th - I had to go to Aldridge in the afternoon. It was one of those intensely frustrating days when it was bright sunshine one minute, and raining heavily the next. I returned via the canal, always a joy. The view of the marina from Northycote Bridge was wonderful in the sunshine. It rained twice again before I got home…
Hope the warm weather returns soon.
May 6th - The English are still rather eccentric in their habits.
These cars - disgorging a variety of men with step ladders and camera gear - were parked on the approach to the Haselour railway bridge, near Elford, normally a quiet backlane. They were, I was informed, waiting for a couple of old diesel locomotives to come through - Class 20s, apparently, but nobody knew when they were due exactly. This was the cause of much anticipation.
I’ve not seen anything like this before. Bizarre. It takes all sorts of folk to make a world. I hope their locos came, I really do.
May 3rd - This is an interesting one. Just by the Pelsall Road bridge in Brownhills, a lovely bed of daffodils, tulips and other spring flowers, where once there was just grass. The odd thing is that the triangle forming the bed is inaccessible, except by boat, or maybe by ladder from the road above.
Ingenious, perplexing and lovely. Beautiful.
April 24th - Ten years ago I bought a shedload of wild cowslip seeds from a National Trust shop - Sudbury Hall, I think. I bought about 10 packs. I set out on a guerrilla seeding mission. They took surprisingly well.
Many (but not all) of the patches of cowslips on Brownhills and Clayhanger Common were started by me. I love cowslips, my favourite flowers. This patch are growing - and thriving - on the banks of Clayhanger Bridge. The clump seems to double in size every year.
Hello, old friends.
Do something beautiful today. It’s an investment.
April 23rd - I returned against the wind from Shenstone, just to ride through the sunlit backlanes. I hadn’t eaten all day and it was a bit of a battle, to be honest, but worth it, all the same. Everything is awake now, and the greening is well underway. At Shenstone, the ruined church tower will soon be hidden by leaves for another season, and the brook at Footherley will soon be an emerald arcadia once more. Some things are changeless, though, like the cottages and converted barns at Lower Stonnall. They look good whatever the season.