August 17th - If you listen to many opinions in these parts, Brownhills is ugly, a lost cause; everything is broken and we’re descending into oblivion.
But if you open your eyes, and look around, it’s not quite like that.
How I’ve managed to not notice the old wooden rowing boat filled with beautiful flowers before, I’ll never know. It’s placed wonderfully by the Canoe and Outdoor Centre on Silver Street, and captivated me. My compliments to whoever thought of it and planted it. It’s gorgeous.
Compliments are also due to the local schoolkids who planted sunflowers on the open space between the High Street and Short Street; they are absolutely beautiful, and can’t but make you smile.
Brownhills has more than 99 problems. But a lack of beauty isn’t one of them, oddly enough.
June 9th - I came back from work and into Brownhills on a rather lovely summer evening, which, in contrast to the stormy morning, was welcome and lovely. Even at 6pm Brownhills seemed busy with walkers and folk out and about, and the Canoe and Outdoor Centre on Silver Street was humming with activity.
Summer this year is coming in short bursts. Hope this stormy weather passes soon…
October 24th - In Tyseley, I left the station in the mid-morning, with a bright autumn sun cheering me up and making me feel positive rolling the past few days of rain, mud and wind. I stopped on the bridge in Wharfdale Road to look back up the line towards the city. I’ll nvere tire of that view over the rooftops of Small Heath and Bordesley.
The pall of smoke was from a steam locomotive under test at the rRailway Museum. I couldn’t see it from where I was, but I could hear it and it’s lovely steam whistle.
August 20th - pleasing to see that the new bike racks that sprang up throughout Birmingham city centre in advance of the tunnel closures are being well used. Wandering down to New Street after doing a little evening shopping, I noticed this new facility was almost at capacity, even at 5pm. Interesting variety of bikes, too. That fixie with no brakes looks like a fun ride…
July 7th - Passing through Polesworth I noticed this fine, but decaying building. Not a handsome edifice by any stretch, but impressive, foursquare and imposing all the same. The chimneys alone are gorgeous, never mind the finials, cupola and that incredible door. I had no idea what it was, other than a school, and made a note to find out when I got home.
It turns out it’s the former Nethersoles School, latterly a community centre, and now derelict, awaiting planning to turn it into apartments. The latin above the door - to my broken understanding - says ‘School for paupers and girls’ or similar.
It’s a remarkable thing, and so sad to see i falling to ruin. I hope something can be done with it soon.
Decmber 5th - Almost as ingrained in the life of Walsall Wood as the Drunken Duck are Oak Park and Walsall Wood Football Club. Nowadays, the old Oak Park - a collection of outdoor bowling greens, tennis courts and suchlike - is largely neglected and forgotten; the name is mostly associated with the adjacent, crumbling recreation centre, well used but nearing the end of it’s useful life. Out back is the all weather football pitch, a heavily used facility that speaks of the area’s love affair with soccer. Tonight, it was in use, with local football players training for the next big match. They looked cold. That’s dedication…
May 28th - Oddly, I found myself in Aldridge this afternoon. I’m not a huge fan of ‘the village’ myself; the Shopping Centre is soulless, and I find the place a tad unfocussed and a bit up itself, to be honest. However, it’s very green, and whilst cycling up the croft, I had an idea. I cycled up the car park ramp and took a look at Aldridge from on high. What did I find? Lots of trees. Lots of dull, utilitarian architecture. An almost unknown row of modern tenements. A place of contrasts, and an interesting way to see it.