BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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.

June 10th - Sights you don’t see everyday. Late afternoon, I’d nipped down into Wednesbury on an errand, and on the Darlaston Road at Kings Hill, the road was closed off by Police. There was a supermarkey delivery lorry lying on it’s side, and it looked quite bad. It turns out another vehicle was involved, but thankfully, nobody was seriously hurt.

That’s what you call a bad day at work.

A sobering thing. Stay safe out there, folks.

June 5th - A better day. There was warm sun and it was dry with a keen wind. I had to nip down to King’s Hill near Darlaston, and passed the derelict, abandoned Methodist Church. I haven’t been this way much of late, and since my last look at this architectural stunner, it has continued to decay gracefully. The building has been sold, and permission granted to convert it into apartments, but work has not commenced yet.

At least we’re not losing the building.

What fascinated me today was the way nature is reclaiming the place. When the Church still held it, although unused, volunteers used to tend the grounds. Now, it’s run wild, and a riot of begonias, roses and shrubs are taking over. 

It’s sad and beautiful simultaneously.

May 7th - A snatched picture combining two of the worst hazards in cycling. One is common, the other seems unique to a particular part of Darlaston. The loose grit - marbles - I’ve discussed at length here; wheel and traction stealing, highly polished grit, it washes down during rain and snow, and gathers in junction voids and gutters, waiting to snatch your bike from under you.
The unique hazard is metal clippings, swarf and shards, and this is Heath Road in Darlaston at it’s junction with Station Street. Around Darlaston Green, all the way down to the Walsall Road this problem slices tyres and causes punctures. Open tipper wagons and skip lorries corner here to get to the scrap yards up the road, and metal drops through their tailgates, shutterboards and  from unsheeted tops. The metal lies flat in the road, where it’s gradually sharpened by the traffic dragging it against the road. 
Automatic sweepers don’t pick it up because it’s so thin, but hit it with your tyres and you’ll quickly flat. It’s a pain in the arse. Look closely here and there’s sharp spikes, wire and razor-thin plates.
Look out for it; avoid the area if you can. In a place where one has to watch the traffic carefully, it’s another hazard to watch out for.

May 7th - A snatched picture combining two of the worst hazards in cycling. One is common, the other seems unique to a particular part of Darlaston. The loose grit - marbles - I’ve discussed at length here; wheel and traction stealing, highly polished grit, it washes down during rain and snow, and gathers in junction voids and gutters, waiting to snatch your bike from under you.

The unique hazard is metal clippings, swarf and shards, and this is Heath Road in Darlaston at it’s junction with Station Street. Around Darlaston Green, all the way down to the Walsall Road this problem slices tyres and causes punctures. Open tipper wagons and skip lorries corner here to get to the scrap yards up the road, and metal drops through their tailgates, shutterboards and  from unsheeted tops. The metal lies flat in the road, where it’s gradually sharpened by the traffic dragging it against the road. 

Automatic sweepers don’t pick it up because it’s so thin, but hit it with your tyres and you’ll quickly flat. It’s a pain in the arse. Look closely here and there’s sharp spikes, wire and razor-thin plates.

Look out for it; avoid the area if you can. In a place where one has to watch the traffic carefully, it’s another hazard to watch out for.

April 8th - Another heron. I think the spring has brought them out - this one was near Bentley Bridge, stood watching the word go by from, ironically enough, a fishing peg. Older than the one I saw last Friday, and larger, he was a an impressive bird.

Can’t get enough herons - never saw them as a kid; they’re a sign of a healthy fish population, I’d tenure.

March 26th - I cycled to work in bright sunshine, but it felt bitterly cold, although I guess it wasn’t, really. Since it was so nice I took a quick loop of Kings Hill Park in Darlaston. It’s a credit to the people who work hard to maintain it. The spring flowers are gorgeous, the planters are shaping up well and the the place is clean and tidy.
It’s such a shame that Oak Park in Walsall Wood can’t get a fraction of this kind of dedication. A real shame indeed.

March 26th - I cycled to work in bright sunshine, but it felt bitterly cold, although I guess it wasn’t, really. Since it was so nice I took a quick loop of Kings Hill Park in Darlaston. It’s a credit to the people who work hard to maintain it. The spring flowers are gorgeous, the planters are shaping up well and the the place is clean and tidy.

It’s such a shame that Oak Park in Walsall Wood can’t get a fraction of this kind of dedication. A real shame indeed.

March 24th - I noticed this Volt Metro folding electric bike parked in the racks outside Darlaston Library as I passed. It looks like a decent design; disc brake front, V-brake rear, motorised rear hub (I think) with derailleur gears - it even has suspension fork and seatpost. Dread to think what it weighs, but it’s an interesting bike. 

March 24th - It was a sunny morning, but cold. But it’s the cold, clear days when Darlaston really shines. Passing through, I still love the place. So many architectural gems in such a quiet, unassuming little town.

A real jewel in the Black Country.

December 11th - In the midst of an industrial Darlaston winter day, flowers. Outside the derelict, doomed Kings Hill Methodist Church, a beautiful rose grows from the scrub, bringing welcome colour on a grey day. The building is thought to have been sold to a developer, and may be under threat of demolition, which would be a shame.

Not 10 metres away, flowers of more permanence - metal poppies complete the detail on beautiful new railings, erected as part of the refurbishment of Kings Hill Park. They are gorgeous. The designer should be very proud.

Brightness can be found even on the dullest days.

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…

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.

Life here, distilled. I love this place.

November 7th - It is, of course, coming up to remembrance, and across Walsall, Streetpride teams from the Council and volunteers are both working to ensure our war memorials are clean, tidy and generally up to scratch. One of my favourite in Walsall is the one at Darlaston. Human, touching and poignant, the statue of the Tommy is emotive and devotional, and the surrounding peaceful garden is designed to be enjoyed by the blind and partially sighted. 

Tucked away in a very quiet corner of Darlaston, I recommend visiting this one, and musing on the loss and service of those that paid the ultimate price.

For a list of Remembrance Events this weekend, see this post on my main blog.

November 6th - In Victoria Park, Darlaston, the shaggy mane or ink caps are still growing well. These lovely fungi grow tall and white, then go over quite quickly and, if undisturbed, decay into a black goop in the most fascinating way. Quite tasty when young, these have been sprouting for a month now. Wonderful to see.

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 31st - I cycled to Darlaston in soft, warm drizzle. The rain couldn’t make up its mind to stay or go, and just hovered in an indecisive, grey mizzle that painted most things I saw shades of murky grey. However, it’s time to point out that despite the grey, your local parks right now are marvellous. Whether it’s Walsall Arboretum, Holland Park in Brownhills or as shown here, Victoria Park in Darlaston, the trees are really showing great colours right now that can brighten the most dull days.

My has is tipped to those who work so hard to maintain them. Thanks, folks.