December 9th - After some years of the awful skeletal Christmas tree - literally a lighting column with a wigwam of lights strung from it - it’s nice to see Walsall has returned to the tradition of a real tree, and this years looks great to me. Tonight was the first time I’d seen it, and I must say, it’s a nice one.
Considering a couple of years ago the outrage when the tradition was threatened, it seems to be surviving well.
Welcome to Walsall, the land of political u-turns…
December 9th - It was a beautiful commute this morning. Heading into Darlaston, I took to the canal to better enjoy the sunshine. The day felt mild, and just a little bit, I’m starting to feel Christmassy. I need a break. Christmas will give me chance to get some stuff done. Hopefully, the weather will either be like this, or cold and clear. I’d hate another like the past couple…
December 6th - I finished work early, and headed to Lichfield to get some shopping in. The weather was horrid - a constant not-quite-rain that soaked everything all the same and painted the city in shades of miserable.
I quite enjoyed it, all the same. Lichfield is quite Christmassy, but for me the magic here at this time of year is exemplified by Dam Street after the crowds have receded.
Sad to see there’s no lights up along Minster Pool this year - they normally look wonderful.
Sadly, at that point, the camera battery died. Think I might need a new one…
November 30th - Brownhills has been spoiled rotten this year by our municipal overlords at Walsall Council - they’ve brought us new Christmas lights. Likened to mint Cornettos, they seem to show holly sprigs and stars, or maybe snowfall. They complement the tree we no longer get beautifully.
Can we have another lump of coal for the fire, Mr. Bird?
November 2nd - Bakers Lane, Lichfield.
Bugger off, you’re a month too early.
Sadly, Lichfield Council are getting a lot of stick for this. They have nothing to do with it - it’s erected by the owners of the Three Spires Shopping Precinct.
31st December - A few folk have noticed these two wreaths tied to the central barrier on the Miner Island in Brownhills. Fellow local blogger Warren Parry asked about them yesterday, and I said I’d check them out. Passing today, they appear to have no labels. I have no idea what they’re relating to.
Can anyone help? A small, sad mystery.
December 25th - The weather cheered up for the traditional Christmas day ride, which was unexpected and enjoyable. Heading out along the dam at Chasewater, I succumbed to my OCD about the water level and took a picture of the scale. It really isn’t far now until the water reaches the maximum level of the top of the weir in the spillway. I reckon it might just get there by new year. I last checked last Thursday, 20th December, when the water was at 44cm from the top of the middle metre scale. It now stands at 8cm from top - an increase in 5 days of 36cm, or 14 inches. I have never seen anything like this. Water is now lapping around the balcony shore, and to all intents and purposes, is now at pre-dam work levels. A remarkable thing and a great Christmas present for all wildlife enthusiasts who love this special place.
December 24th - I cycled over a very grey, silent Chasewater at dusk to Morrisons in Burntwood. The supermarket was very quiet for 4pm on Christmas Eve, and I felt quid sad and un-Christmassy. To cheer myself up, I cycled back through Chasetown. I like this odd little hillside village, and it’s steeply inclined High Street. They have quite a good Christmas tree this year, and in the damp darkness, the lights of the traffic and shopfront mingled to form a very festive scene. I felt much better, and cycled home damp, but full of festive spirit once more.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
December 23rd - The Christmas spirit has taken a while to arrive with me this year. Nothing unpleasant, but with the dismal weather and concentration of work it’s been difficult to focus. Spinning back home tonight to Brownhills from Cannock Chase, I spotted this boat at Catshill in Brownhills. I love it and it made for a very unexpected breath of festive cheer…
December 20th - It was still peeing it down when I arrived at Lichfield - soggy, muddy but exhilarated. The rain was a fun challenge to cycle in, but the traffic was murder. I haven’t been here for a while, and noted, as ever, the excellent Christmas lights. The quiet city gave me chance to get shopping done, and admire the new, Debenhams-sponsored Christmas tree, which, I have to say, is probably one of the best public trees I think I’ve ever seen.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. But wetter…
December 19th - I was hoping for a cold, dry Christmas. It seems it’s going to be another warm, damp one like last year. Today was pretty grim, and I left it until after dark to take in a grim loop of Brownhills.
You guys over in Chasewater Wildlife Group… you doing the rain dance. You can stop now, it’s OK. Honest…
December 15th - I went to Chasewater for the first time in a couple of weeks, but sadly, at dusk. I’d been up on the Chase (more on the main blog later) and returned over the dam. The water level must now be getting close to full. I had concerns that the balancing pipe system between the Nine Foot pool, main lake and spillway would dictate the overall final level, but the sluice between the Nine Foot and spillway seems now to be closed. I guess this indicates the final full level of Chasewater will be the top of the new breakwater overflow. The level therefore is now climbing up over the sluices, and I’m fascinated to see the lake bed reclaimed. This is like watching the recovery of a good friend from a grievous illness, and fills me with joy. The convalescens of a reservoir.
On the way back to Brownhills, I passed a row of narrowboats moored by the Anchor Pub. I have vague recollections of this at this time every year. Wonder if it’s a christmas party? Fascinating, and lovely to see.
December 10th - sadly, I only have this pair of images for today. I took a fair few in the morning, but isn’t realise the camera was set wrong, and they came out really badly. Oops.
On my way home from work, I let the wind blow me from Walsall. It was cold, but not unpleasant, and the air was slightly hazy. Stopping at the lights in Rushall, at what used to be the village square, I thought how festive it looked. This area is always very bright at night - a combination of street and traffic lights, shop windows and signage, but with the extra light of the christmas decorations, it did, actually, feel a bit like Christmas. Ah well, only a few days of work left to go…
December 7th - I keep seeing complaints on social media about the state of Walsall’s Christmas tree this year. Since the tree has faced a bit of an uncertain future in recent years, I’m surprised we’ve got one at all; and so I thought I’d take the opportunity to check it out. I don’t think it’s too shabby at all, to be honest. Sat in front of The Crossing at St Pauls - the church cum shopping centre by the bus station - it seems to fit well in what is possibly the only public square in Walsall that works architecturally. Seems decent enough to me…
December 4th - I spotted this poster hanging on the fence on the entrance to Shenstone Station. What a wonderful, christmassy thing. Must try and catch that - a fine idea.