December 5th - Without a functioning rail service, there was no alternative and I cycled home from Tyseley. The wind was strong, but it had died back considerably, and the rain - apart from a brief shower as I hit Park Hall - had cleared. I didn’t fancy the traffic up the main drag over Kingstanding with a side wind, so hit the canal all the way home. It got dark in Aston, and the front light - my trusty Hope R4 - was plenty good enough all the way. The going wasn’t fast, but it was steady, and much of the time I was sheltered from the wind.
Reality checks came at Tower Hill, where rocks had tumbled from the steep cutting embankment onto the towpath, and Park Hall, where a tree had similarly come to a sad end.
There was a cracking sunset, too, but I missed most of it, hidden behind the cityscape. The views over Hamstead were great though, and it made a change to see them at this time of day. I must head here for a sunset when I get chance.
I arrived home tired, but just pleased to be back, and safe. Many, many people had a far worse time with floods, the tidal surge and severe gales. My tribulations were nothing, and I did get in a decent ride, after all.
December 5th - It wasn’t a great day for train travel in the Midlands (or the rest of the country, for that matter). Signal failures led to horrid delays getting to work, and storm damage mainly caused by falling trees stopped lines to Walsall and Lichfield during the afternoon and evening, so I cycled home from Brum and gave the trains a miss completely.
I noted that Notwork Fail have this year put up a lush, artificial Christmas Tree in the ‘New’ New Street.
It’s irritatingly not straight, buy very apposite.
November 26th - Heading off to work on a less than inspiring morning. I’m glad to say I’m used to the chill again now, but the greyness is still a bind. As I sped down through Stonnall, I passed Grove Hill. Last time I looked up there, it was a field of oilseed rape, and the tree, now barren, was in full leaf.
There’s a winter crop grown in the surrounding field now, which was young and vivid green, perhaps the only splash of natural colour on an otherwise dismal grey morning.
That hedge still demonstrates soil erosion beautifully, mind. The folks that planted that knew exactly what they were doing.
November 20th - Just the one picture today, as the commutes were horrid and wet, ad the images I took in the morning were spoiled by rain on the lens. I grabbed this as I left the station at Walsall in the early evening. The rain had stopped, but everything was wet and cold. The traffic seemed tetchy and aggressive tonight, too, but nothing really matches the glisten of a wet urban night scene. There wasn’t much business for the taxis tonight, but it’s nice to see Station Street undergoing a bit of a revival.
Even on a cold wet Wednesday in Walsall, there’s beauty to be had.
November 19th - It didn’t feel icy. But it was cold, and I guess the first really winterish commute of the season. But this sign - a new appearance today at Moor Street Station - seems to indicate lawyers have been earning their corn somewhere. The language is mealy mouthed too.
November 18th - I came out of work, and just caught the tail end of an incredible sunset over Tyseley station. I hurried caught these shots in the four or five minutes before my train arrived. It ws gorgeous, and I was glad I caught it.
November 18th - I left for work a little early today, I took the backlanes for a change. Despite the grey, overcast weather, they were beautiful in late autumn colours. A good wind now, and these trees will be stripped of their last leaves.It really is gorgeous out there at the moment.
November 11th - I think the rain made this, in a funny kind of way. When I came past the war memorial in Darlaston, it was raining quite heavily, but the statue, wreaths and tributes positively glowed in the murk. It looks like Darlaston did it’s fallen proud. So touching, and beautiful, it was a great sight on a wet, grey monday morning.
A few minutes later in the town, I saw the regular street sweeper cheerfully litter picking in the rain. Just as I passed, a lady from a local shop shouted to him, and came out with a cup of tea for him, and praised him for his hard work.
November 11th - The weather is stuck in repeat. A lousy, wet and heart-in-mouth commute to Darlaston, and I hopped onto the canal as soon as I could. The roads were mad today, really, truly awful.
The rain varied between a light drizzle and very heavy, and was again glad of good waterproofs. Twice I stopped for shelter under bridges. The autumn colour is gorgeous, but I’d love to see a bit more of yesterday’s sun rather than this endless rain we seem to be cursed with tis last couple of weeks.
From November 6th - Walsall new ring road, Green Lane Junction about 5:10pm, Wednesday 6th November 2013. I didn’t feel it safe to stop as the guy behind was stuck to me like a wet T-shirt. This is far from unique driver behaviour here - get in the wrong lane trying to queue jump, then bugger everyone else trying to sort it out.
More of this run later.
Best viewed large by clicking on the youtube logo, and click on the wee gear symbol and select 1080 for best video quality.
November 6th - An absolutely lousy commuting day. It was raining for the entirety of journeys both to and from Darlaston, and the traffic - still stuck in autumn muppet mode - didn’t make it easier. There were lights in the darkness, though; at Green Lane, Shelfield, I stopped to take a phone call and felt someone was watching me - so beware eavesdropping moggies when out and about. The canal at Bentley Bridge still looked green, depute the murk. On the way home, the roads glistened and shone in the spray-sweep of passing traffic.
It’s not shaped up to be a great bike commuting week, if I’m honest… at least the forecast for tomorrow is better.
October 29th - Spotted whilst passing through Moor Street Station, the Moorish Cafe is again using pumpkins as Halloween -themed table decorations this year. Whoever carves them does a great job - the expression on this one is brilliant.
A real moment of serendipity in an otherwise dull commute.
October 28th - The dire storms predicted and anticipated never reached the Midlands, although they caused fatalities and damage down in London. This led to many trains being cancelled, and knock-on effects being felt across the rail network. Moor Street Station, usually brilliantly run by Chiltern Trains, slipped up. When I turned up to catch my train, the whole passenger information system - including the displays on the platforms - was showing a message of total cancellations, with no local services listed. I was just about to turn tail and head down to Tyseley by bike, when a Stourbridge train rolled in. It turned out, local trains were running fairly normally, and the delays were only on London bound services.
Why on earth you’d choose not to point that out on the main information screens I have no idea - I bet more local passengers pass this way in a week than London ones.
I guess this is what happens when a London-centric company gets to run faraway stations: only the London view matters.
October 25th - I didn’t come home until darkness had fallen, and coming up the Chester Road I felt like trying my night riding skills out in Shire Oak Park. I felt like it, then I remembered the stiles I had to get my bike over. And it was raining. It would be muddy. Perhaps not.
I think my night riding skills are probably still a bit rusty for that just yet. Maybe in a week or two…
October 23rd - Strategic mistake. I left Leicester early, and hopped on the first train out of Birmingham I could. I ended up cycling from Shenstone against a fearsome, grinding headwind. Although the lanes are taking on the beauty of autumn at last, this was a hard ride and I didn’t really appreciate the dry, sunny ride at the time.
So far, this has been a week of very grim commuting.
BrownhillsBob biked every day for the thirty days of April 2011, part of the #30daysofbiking project, but enjoyed the process so much that he carried on. Over two years down the road, he's still cycling every day and recording a little bit of every journey.