October 1st - Autumn is certainly coming to Catshill Junction and Clayhanger Coomon, as the deciduous scrub here turns golden. On this drizzly October evening, despite the murk, it looked beautiful.
I note the building taking place on the former Bayley House site is coming on well, but the sculpture on the far side of the water is being rapidly claimed by the scrub.
I do hope it doesn’t get forgotten there.
October 1st - Spotted this bike on the train today. It’s a Cannondale, a brand I’m not keen on, mainly for their curious approach to design and resolute defiance of industry standards.
I snatched these images on the phone, as the owner was clearly happy with his new steed. The bike has an interesting feature - ‘Headshok’ suspension. Rather than conventional front systems, where both fork legs travel together and work in tandem, this system is at the fork crown, and much of the mechanism - dampers etc. - is in the head-tube and between crown and fork.
Initially appealing, it means all the load in work is on one member, rather than two; the system is utterly proprietary, and requires frequent, expensive, short milage interval services. Finally, you only have to look at them funny and they stop working.
There are avid Cannondale fans out there, and many love Headshok. My experience was that it was a whole bag of hurt.
I wish my fellow cyclist all the best of luck with his new bike. I think he’ll need it.
September 30th - Once you get used to the idea (and it does take me a good while to do so), Autumn is beautifully enjoyable. The colours are astounding. Everything from fallen conkers, to bright orange berries, to golden leaves and dew-collecting spiderwebs makes it beautiful to be riding right now.
All on one short section of road on an industrial estate.
September 29th - I’d nipped into Birmingham on what seemed like a reasonable afternoon, then got the train back to Walsall. As I got nearer, the skies darkened more and more. It didn’t look good.
I emerged from the station about 6pm, and it was like dusk, with almost biblically ominous conditions.
I got as far as Rushall when the heavens opened, but it didn’t last long. It’s been the driest September on record here, and the rain was refreshing, and all too short-lived.
Setember 24th - My return from Walsall an hour or so later was similarly in a gorgeous, but darker golden hour that made the red bricks of north Walsall glow beautifully. The nights really are drawing in now, and I’ll soon be commuting with lights on. It actually tried to rain on me as I rode home, but the sun never went in.
I guess that just now, we’re entering the autumn period of great sunsets…
Bring it on.
September 24th - I had to nip over to Droitwich late in the afternoon, just to check something over for a client. It’s actually a lot quicker to get there than you’d think; catch the right trains and it’s only 70 minutes out of Walsall.
Droitwich has a lovely station, and as I waited on my return the light was beautifully mellow, but the sky had some very black clouds that looked awfully threatening. But the sun shone through, it was warm, and only the colour of the trees really gave any clue that this was autumn at all.
September 22nd - Cycling down Green Lane between Shelfield and Walsall Wood, I’m greeted by a discarded mattress. Clearly just thrown off the back of a van or truck, there hasn’t even been an attempt to get it to a gateway or lay-by.
Some people aren’t fit to live with pigs. Utter scum.
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.