September 15th - I spent the afternoon in Droitwich. This piece of woeful, inexplicable cycling ‘infrastructure’ is precisely why we’ll never have nice things.
Do you think the designer gave any thought to cyclists going in the other direction?
(No, there isn’t a lane on the other side of the road; there isn’t even a pavement.)
September 11th - I only went and forgot the camera again. This week can’t end quickly enough. Something is not functioning at all well.
On the way to work, in central Walsall the traffic felt risky, so I hopped on the canal and rode to Darlaston that way. On the way, I bumped into this family of swans.
This bunch are very attentive to humans - I suspect they get fed regularly. They were almost harassing me for food. The adults seem smaller than the Catshill brood, and there’s only three cygnets, but they’re lovely, healthy birds, and seem to have been ringed.
As soon as they realised I wasn’t going to produce bread, they went back to foraging in the weed and quickly drifted away. Cupboard love.
September 10 - Riding home along Green Lane between Shelfield and Walsall Wood. Just on the Walsall Wood side of the Mob Lane junction, I’m overtaken badly by 3 mopeds, or small motorbikes.
The first has three - yes three - hemetless neds sharing an unregistered machine, the rear one actually smoking. Bringing up the rear, two lads with helmets, but one on a bike with the registration deliberately blanked out.
To make matters worse, at the Black Cock Bridge they turned off and rode up the canal towpath.
I do hope they fell in the cut.
September 10th - I’m not on form this week, not even slightly. Yesterday I got in and complained the wind had been against me both to and from work, and it was pointed out to me that there was next to no wind. Today, I forgot my camera and had to use the phone. I hate that. Oh dear.
I stopped on the way to work to answer a call. Pulling over in Rushall, I realised how autumnal it looked. This is a lovely Indian summer, but I note the leaves starting to fall, and colours slowly changing.
As autumns go, this is up there with the best so far. I just need to get things a bit more together…
September 3rd - I’d been to Redditch for a meeting. I don’t go there much these days, and it made a nice change, to be honest. Nicer still was an early finish, and riding back from Sutton, I chose to ride up through Little Aston Forge, a route I also hadn’t ridden for ages.
I must have passed those lovely cottages on the hairpin loads of times over the years, yet I’ve never noticed the pear and plum trees in the hedgerow opposite. The plums - they seemed a bit large to be true damsons - were well over now, but it looked like there had been a decent crop.
The pears had suffered from pests, and some were frost damaged, but the ones that survived were large and beautiful.
I really don’t know why I’ve failed to notice these before…
September 2nd - I will continue to rave about the beauty of Darlaston until I have convinced the whole world how wonderful it is.
Passing through Victoria Park and past the Police Station having been knocked off course by the resurfacing, I noted the lady, content in the warm sun, lost to the world reading a book under the bolt-tree sculpture. The Police station is still a gorgeous building, and it’s leafy surrounds are the perfect setting.
It seems a world away from the Black Country, but at the same time, it’s close to the heart of it.
This is the Darlaston and Black Country I adore.
September 2nd - A better commute this morning. The sun was out, and it was a nice day. Spinning through Darlaston I was pleased to see Bull Street being resurface at long last - it was getting to the point where it didn’t need sweeping so much as ploughing.
I’ve been quite lucky this year; Green Lane in Shelfield and Bull Street both resurfaced, two roads that were nasty to ride on.
September 1st - And theres the thing. Although I’m sad for the passage of summer, I’m returning home in the golden hour. Soon, the time of great sunsets will be here.
The sky was terrified this evening, and the dying sun caught the trees by the canal beautifully.
I always think I can’t do it, but I can. There’s beauty in every season - bring it on.
September 1st - It really is coming on autumn now, and it’s getting me down a little. Cycling to work down Scarborough Road in Walsall on a grey Monday, fallen leaves already scatted on the road, it’s hard not to feel sad for the passage of another summer.
I feel this one has been good; it hasn’t seemed very wet, and although August was a tad grim, the previous months had been great. Sadly I’ve not got out for longer rides this year much at all, with a combination of work and family pressures and a healing, but still troublesome foot injury - but commuting this summer was a real joy.
It’ll be a while until this season gets beautiful, and I’ll be low for a bit yet. Every year, as I get older, this transition seems to be the hardest of the year. I’m wearing a jacket again more and more, soon the scarf and full gloves will be back out of the drawer, and dark evenings will be upon us.
Oh well, down the hatch. It’s still quite green…
August 22nd - It was an odd day at work, after a very early start, I had little to do except for one late task at 4pm. Coming home, it spotted with rain most of the way, and the sky was threatening. I shot up Brownhills High Street to get to the cashpoint, then couldn’t get any money as my card had expired - I dimly remembered opening the new one the month before, and promptly forgetting about it.
An odd, frustrating day. But hey, it was Friday…
August 20th - I had to pop into Walsall for some bits and pieces on my way home, and so I rode up Church Hill and down the marketplace.
Walsall may have changed beyond recognition in many ways, but that view of the yellow sandstone church at the top of the steps is gorgeous, iconic and unique.
Some things are timeless.
August 19th - This is Victoria Park in Darlaston, once a railway line.
This is in the centre of a heavily urbanised, industrial area in the Black Country. It is a green oasis in a sea of roads, buildings, traffic and noise. It is clean, well maintained and a credit to the town.
This is why I love this place.
August 14th - I found myself back in Walsall at dusk, having been on a mad dash to Sutton. Finally relaxed and happy, I enjoyed the evening light and a peaceful ride home with the wind assisting me.
Some days are just frantic from start to finish. But it’s nice to feel a very hectic period come to an end. Oh for a few days off and a bit of blessed normalcy.
August 11th - I nipped to Telford early to make a quick adjustment, and returned within the hour. At the station, glowing in the sunlight on a small patch of forgotten earth, these beautiful purple flowers.
All they want is to be noticed - and sometimes it’s the little stuff that makes life so fine.
August 8th - In contrast to recent days, it was dark and overcast with a very threatening atmosphere for most of the day. Racing home, I could smell rain on the wind, and it felt ominous.
A bit of rain is welcome; it’s needed. But we haven’t had weather like this for any length of time for a long period, and this felt dramatic and alien.
As I rode down Mill Lane in Stonnall, I noticed a flock of starlings had settled on the field, hedgerow and overhead lines. Perhaps it’s just the Hitchcock thing, but even those little birds in silhouette felt menacing…