may 28th - After a dreadful day of travelling - 7 hours of commuting just to get to Telford and back - I came home from a day unusually not on my bike. Hopping out as dusk fell, I shot up the Parade to Chasewater, then back along the canal. After a very wet, miserable day the air had begun to clear, and the rain ceased. The sunset wasn’t great, but after the murk, the crack in the clouds seemed heaven-scent. The Parade looked great with the fresh foliage, but I think we could do with some sun now. I need to feel more of the summer warmth.
May 3rd - As I spun around the canals at dusk to get some exercise and food in, I noticed there were a lot of narrowboats moored up - I passed at least 5 that weren’t regulars. I guess it must be the sudden onset of good weather and a holiday weekend. It was chilly, but the air was clear and hard, and in the dying light, living aboard one didn’t seem like a bad idea.
March 6th - The guard rails on the Black Cock Bridge in Walsall Wood have been missing awhile. The bridge itself is ageing badly, perilously steep and in poor condition. Following a temporary bodge - cable tying mesh over the missing rails which kept snapping off - locals complained and now, next Tuesday, 12th March 2013, the road will be closed while they are properly repaired. That in itself will be no mean feat, as the supports of heavy angle iron have rusted to dust.
It’s good to see repairs being made, but I can’t help thinking this particular canal crossing can’t be far from the end of it’s useful life. The problem is, it would be so difficult to engineer a solution complying with modern standards, that I can’t ever see it being sorted, to be honest.
February 27th - What a difference a day made. Yesterday I was lamenting the grey, the cold and the murk. Today, it was grey in the morning, but as I came home - in the light - the sun shone softly and the sunset was terrific - so much so that I was contacted by friends who asked me if I saw it.
Sadly, as I was returning from Walsall at the time, I couldn’t get a good vista on it, but I managed to catch a little of it at Bullings Heath as it died to darkness.
A beautiful, beautiful evening that brought joy - and spring - to my soul. Just what I needed.
February 25th - A dull, grey, chilly day. Again, I came back via Shenstone to avoid a punishing northeasterly wind, but also hoping to find some inspiration in the nascent spring. Sadly, there was none in the dull, grey, darkening lanes, but the spirit of the Footherley Brook remains.
April, come she will, but she’s a long time arriving.
February 21st - It’s been cold, and the wind has been evil. Not particularly strong, but it’s from the east and is lazy; it doesn’t so much blow around you as straight through. Tired tonight after a hard day at work, I really couldn’t face the prospect of a headwind all the way home. So I got the train to Shenstone, and cycled back home from there.
I stopped for a picture just at the bottom of Shire Oak Hill. I haven’t cycled this route much this winter. The wind was behind me, but it was still cold. This hill doesn’t get any less steep either, but the lights are gorgeous in the dusk.
Tonight, this hill gave me a very hard time. Shire Oak Hill is an old adversary, and like all old adversaries, life wouldn’t be the same without it.
January 31st - Evening, Birmingham. It’s about a quarter past five, and the city is sliding gracefully into darkness at the end of another working day. I was here to see the lights come on, in and around Colmore Row and the Cathedral, the grounds of which are affectionately known as ‘Pigeon Park’.
People slag Birmingham off continually. It’s beautiful, if you open your eyes. This could almost be Belgravia.
My city, my past, present and future. How I adore it.
December 7th - Tyseley Station continues to fascinate me, and I still have no idea why. Coming up Wharfdale Road towards it last night on my way home, it looked stunning in the sunset. I think it’s the air of faded Victorian grand purpose that does it; a once proud architectural endeavour, surrounded by factory yards, industrial units and empty streets. I just love the welcoming glow of it’s lights in the darkness. It’s somehow more powerful in winter than summer. A conundrum.
November 25th - Chasewater’s water level was higher today than even the night before. Remarkably, the level is now to the bottom of the balancing culvert between the main lake and the Nine Foot pool. A long, careful shot in the dusk showed the scale was at 6cm from top, whereas 3 weeks ago, it was at 54cm from top. That’s a rise of 48cm or 480mm in three weeks, an utterly astounding figure. This means the reservoir isn’t far from full.
Since the water is now lapping at the bottom of the balancing culvert, I’m interested to see what happens. There is a second such culvert at the same level out from the Nine Foot to the spillway, which seems to be sluice controlled. at the moment, that one is empty so any overflow will pass straight through, and the lake will not get higher. I’m wondering if this is the final intended level, or if the second balancing culvert will be shut off and the water level between the Nine-Foot and the main pool be allowed to rise.
I hope so, otherwise the shoreline will be a shadow of it’s former self.
At least the sailing club now have enough water. If anyone had told me Chasewater would refill this quickly, I’d have told them they were mad. Remember, back in May we were expecting a drought…
November 17th - A trying day, for various reasons, but a rather good sunset. I’d been busy all day and hit home as darkness fell, before shooting out again. A day when I really couldn’t catch my breath, when it was suddenly taken by the sunset over the canal at Catshill Junction. A harbinger of a cold night, it was beautiful, and I wished I’d see more of it. Ah well, there’s always tomorrow…
October 29th - The day had been better, weather-wise; it was milder, and the rain had mostly stopped. The day had that never-quite-light feel about it, though, and the sunset at 4:45pm was ominous. Looking towards the city from Tyseley Station, central Birimingham seemed close enough to walk, but the railway signals strung out in an undulating line following the course of the track told a different story. I love that view, for all all it’s faults. Brum, you’re a rough dame but I wouldn’t be without you.
October 15th - Returning along Green Lane, Walsall Wood at dusk, something caught my eye on the verge near Shelfield School. I stopped to take a look at what seemed to be small peaches, and found they were actually really nice, perfect little crab apples. These would probably make a decent wine or jam - whilst too acid for conventional culinary purposes, these tiny apples are highly prized amongst jam-makers and home brewers. I’m surprised nobody has picked up the windfalls, to be honest…
October 4th - I was accompanied by a forgotten companion on my return from work this evening - nightfall. It was 6:45pm, and nearly dark when I arrived home. A little bit of a shock to the system. This made photography difficult, as I hadn’t got a tripod or gorillapod on me. Sweeping down a dark and deserted Maybrook Road, the dusk made for an interesting shot with the camera sat on a street cabinet. This part of town - on the Walsall Wood/Brownhills border - always seems deserted. Even in the daytime.
September 28th - Finally, when I got home, I got some cycling in. I had to nip down to Stonnall in the early evening, and as the dusk fell, I realised I hadn’t got my gorilla pod - the adaptable camera mount I use for night shots. Since I don’t have steady hands, I had to rely on my fallback night photography trick - standing the camera on street furniture and fences, and setting it on self timer.
The results were’t too bad.
April 29th - Chasewater was lovely in the damp twilight. The rain where I was had ceased, but there was still a shower ongoing on the northern shore, which hung in a damp cloud. To the west, he sky was bright and reflected off the surface of the pools and wet ground. The dam itself looked soft and distant through the wet air. The smell, too, was beautiful; the after-rain scent mingled with balsam and pollen. An oddly beautiful evening which was very, very unexpected.