May 22nd - And then, returning home, I noticed this. Perspective. Straight lines and fresh growth. The canals are beautiful right now, and the Wyrley and Essington through Brownhills is no exception.
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 21st - An odd day, I was at home until lunchtime, then had to nip out for a meeting. I returned late, and took a spin out along the canal to Chasewaer, and back to Brownhills over the common. The sunset and light were lovely tonight, but not golden. Everything had a soft pink tone, which was rather soft and charming. It looked best over water, whether it was the canal or Chasewater. A splendid evening after a hectic, stressful day.
May 20th - On my way home tonight, I hopped onto the canal towpath to enjoy the pleasant evening and see if we had any cygnets yet. Sadly, the swans still seem to be sitting, but I did notice how green and lovely the new pond was looking at Clayhanger. It was wearing it’s summer jacket gloriously well.
This site used to be a spoil heap from Walsall Wood Colliery, consisting mainly of grey clay, coal washings, slack and assorted rock detritus. In the early 1980s, it was excavated and used to cap the former refuse tip on the other side of Clayhanger Lane. The void left behind was landscaped, and lined with red marl and sand. It’s very hard to see any hint of the industrial history at all.
Today, that grubby history was evidenced near the canal bank. At the top of the slope, a digging animal - most likely a fox - has started to burrow, and abandoned the hole after a short dig. Just a few inches below the red clay surface, a whole spread of coal tailings has been brought out.
Must have been a hard dig, that. History makes itself evident in the oddest of ways, sometimes.
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 13th - Not a great day. Over to Telford early, then back to Tyseley. Transport worked well, but I didn’t get much done. The journeys were perpetually under the threat of rain - which largely went unfulfilled, thankfully. But there was sun. And spring. In Telford, a row of ornamental cherry tress provided a cascade of blossom. The canal cutting from Galton Bridge station where I changed trains was an emerald delight. Cowslips were quietly rioting in yellow on the embankment of Clayhanger Bridge.
Industrial environments aren’t what they used to be. Thank goodness.
May 11th - As I returned, I passed a particularly intemperate Canada goose on the towpath, standing sentry on one leg. He hissed and honkey at me grumpily, and I couldn’t see why. Just as I was about to squeeze respectfully past, I followed his gaze. There, upon the opposite bank was his mate, and their brood of 3 (or possibly 4) goslings. She looked like she was still sitting. Those guys had cute in shedloads, and are the first goslings I’ve seen this season. Marvellous.
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 10th - Spring is still going strong. Delightful flowers speckle the hedgerows, and the oilseed rape isn’t quite out yet on Home Farm near Catshill. Mrs. Swan still dozes the day away, hopefully on a decent clutch of eggs, and apart from the wind and rain (which are admittedly pleasantly warm), one might be convinced winter was finally over…
May 10th - A late afternoon run out on a very dull, miserable day. Brightened considerably by the performance of the wee rabbits up on the canal bank by the Lichfield Road.
Again, a little chap, but not the same one. He froze when he saw me coming. Sadly, he seems to have a sore on his back, but he looks fit and healthy otherwise. And he has a fine set of whiskers for a little ‘un.
This one is for that there Linda Mason.
May 6th - A lovely ride on on a sunny, bright spring day. Wildlife and rural charm all around. To be in England, in springtime.
I find it all the more perplexing, then, why someone would take their dog for a walk, bag up their dog’s poo, and just toss the bag on the canal towpath, without disposing of it properly. Now we not only have a health risk, we have it packaged in such a way that it’ll not rot down. Archeologists of the future are going to be utterly perplexed as to why they keep digging up random bags containing canine excrement.
Have the arseholes that do this got shit for brains? In this camp I also place those idiots who festoon hedges and trees with these revolting parcels.
May 4th - The rabbit population is healthy and growing locally right now. After myxomatosis swept through again a couple of years ago, the population has swelled in it’s wake. This young bunny - a tiny fellow - was sitting taking the air on the canal bank near Lichfield Road. He had little fear of me, and only made a run for it when I got within 10 yards of him. Hope he develops a bit more fear soon, otherwise I fear he’ll end up as lunch for Reynard.
May 3rd - Spotted in the dusk, swans nesting. Frantically busy in the dusk, they’re on a mission to obey their biological imperative. Their nest is just in front of the Watermead estate in Brownhills, 20 yards of so from the canoe centre.
That’ll make for an interesting introduction to birdlife for some young canoeist…
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.
May 3rd - As I spun around the canals at dusk to get some exercise and food in, I noticed there were a lot of narrowboats moored up - I passed at least 5 that weren’t regulars. I guess it must be the sudden onset of good weather and a holiday weekend. It was chilly, but the air was clear and hard, and in the dying light, living aboard one didn’t seem like a bad idea.