December 30th - Not many folk realise but we now, for the first time in decades, have a paramedic base in Brownhills.
Just at the side of the Activity Centre - the former Central Boy’s School - the railings have been removed, and an office fitted out. A paramedic response vehicle waits here, silently anticipating the call.
This evening, there was no need to be out, and I hope they had a quiet Christmas. I hope they have a quiet 2014, too; but it’s nice knowing they’re there, ready for the call.
Happy new year to those. Waiting. Just in case.
December 29th - One of my favourite sets of Christmas lights is a simple run of coloured bulbs along Minster Pool in Lichfield. When I came here before Christmas, I was sad to see that weren’t on; fortunately, it appears to have been a fault, and the wonderful LichWheeld told me they were on the following day.
I returned, just to see them. I think the combination of light and reflection is magical. It’s my inner child coming out.
December 26th - I nipped out again in the evening. Crossing the tollroad bridge at Pool Road, I took a shot of a deserted M6 Toll. For quite a long time, there were no passing cars at all. So quiet.
It’s like a ghost-road. But then, everywhere was quiet, I don’t think I saw a soul. Christmas renders everywhere ghostly, I guess.
December 25th - I stopped off for a breather at Canwell. A proud, foursquare, fearsomely geometric little church that was buggered, like so many were in the Lichfield Diocese with a horridly mismatched 1980s extension. The building and churchyard are still lovely though, and the porch was beautifully decorated. It’s a lonely spot, and I daresay few of the folk who pass it know it’s there, just off the London Road, nestling in the trees.
December 25th - A total contrast to the day before, Christmas Day was bright and sunny with little wind. As is traditional, a pre-lunch ride out this year took in Stonnall, Shenstone Woodend, Canwell, Hints, Weeford, Little Hay Shenstone and Lynn. The riding was fast and quiet, and the wet landscape beautiful. Even the young porkers at Shenstone Park were enjoying the sun. A couple of hours working up an appetite, I saw lots of folk out walking, kids trying new bikes and old timers like me just out for a spin. Best Christmas day pootle for a long, long time.
Dember 23rd - Further up the Watling Street, this house always pushes the boat out at Christmas. I quite like it; it’s a bit of a Brownhills institution. There’s no denying it now, Christmas is upon us for sure. Let’s hope the weather clears soon…
December 16th - on the Christmas card run again, this time in Chasetown. I also came to check out the Christmas lights here, which at least three people have asserted to me are way better than those in Brownhills. They might well be, had they actually got any…
They do, however, have a nice Christmas Tree. Shame about the ugly fencing around it though.
Chasetown remains as gorgeous at night as it ever does; the combination of close packed shops, a steep hill and quite a bit of character make this a lovely place, really. I still think it would be a great spot for a remake of the car chase from Bullit, but maybe on bikes or mopeds.
Steve McQueen, come back, we need you…
December 15th - On an mission to Shelfield before tea (why does Christmas involve distributing stuff far and wide?), I took a route up Walsall Wood High Street to get the church lit up for it’s carol service. Sadly, my photos were awful, but it did look nice and seasonal. I noticed too the the Drunken Duck seemed busy for the hour. Recently under new management, it seems to be gaining popularity.
Must give it a go at some point.
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.