February 19th - A beautiful, sunny, frosty winter morning. I love days like this. It was cold, but the warmth in the sun was tangible, and felt good on my shoulders. In Little Aston, mist quivered in the hollows, before being burnt up in the sun.
A great start to the day.
January 17th - If you’re bored of the winter pictures, it could be a rather long week ahead, sorry. I love them, and intend to bore you with loads.
It was dry and cold when I left home this morning, and the humidity had dropped, so the mist was lighter, but ice still crusted the surface of my gloves and eyebrows as I rolled into the station. Diving off the Chester Road at Wood Lane, I decided to chance my arm at Little Aston Forge, where the sheet ice had been. The sheet ice was still there, but I just glided down the powder-dusted lanes. I adore this weather - possibly not as much as a sunny day in high summer, but I relish the stark drama, and the knowledge that in 80 days of so this will be greening again once more. That’s what’s great about England: extremes.
January 16th - When I got to Tyseley, it was snowing, lightly. It had been a very cold commute - the bike computer said -4, but there was a freezing mist that condensed in my eyebrows and froze solid. There was a heavy hoar frost that painted everything in shades of the ethereal - trees, the railway, the urban sprawl - and I think it looked amazing.
I love how the cold weather makes even the mundane and ugly fascinating and beautiful.
December 13th - I lost a good friend today. It was a cracking morning ride - I had begun to think over the summer that Britain’s weather had forgotten how to make the country look good, but in the last few days - and this morning particularly - I realised that it’s just been dormant, resting, hopefully for a grand performance to come. It was cold, and black ice lurked in hollows, gutters and on bends, but riding was fast and the sky gorgeous in the late winter sunrise. I took loads of pictures, then made late by my fascination, I hurried to work. Coming up the steps at Tyseley, I performed a bounce-test on my trusty Panasonic camera, which was inadvertently hooked out of my pocket with my gloves. The little wonder was no match for the steps, and the case broke and the internal optics were shattered. Since this time last year when it was new it’s taken about 14,000 pictures, so it really doesn’t owe me anything. With a heavy heart, I ordered another.
Must be more careful in future…
December 12th - I had hoped for a few days of cold, clear weather - but it seems the mist and murk has settled back in. Still, I don’t mind as it makes for variety and the cold adds a welcome urgency to the commute. Today, I flew through the journey along icy backlanes, the hedges and skeletal trees dusted in rime. A peculiarly grey and silent day, it was an eerie commute, and the crystal-encrusted spiderwebs on the fence at Blake Street were fascinating.
December 11th - These are the days. I’ve waited for fair weather for ages. Such a change from the grey and drizzle, it lasted long enough for me to enjoy a lovely cold, crisp commute to work. Had it not been for the fact that I was already running late, I’d have cycled all the way into Brum. Grove Hill, at Stonnall looked wonderful, and the only cloud in an azure sky was the plume of steam from Rugeley Power Station. At Mill Green, the hoar frost was beautiful, and made magic everything it graced. I love rides like this.
We’ve maybe got another couple of days of this. Wrap up warm and go out - cycle, walk, whatever. I never love my world more than when it’s embraced by a fine winter frost.
February 3rd - It was a nice day today. First time I had to travel far for work this year - a meeting in Telford in the morning, and then I had to zip back to Tyseley to see someone mid-afternoon. It was very cold, with a heavy frost. As I dashed to the station at Shenstone, I was running late and couldn’t stop to photograph the gorgeous dawn. I’d already stopped to free up a frozen gear cable… Back from Telford at 1:30pm, I changed trains at Smethwick Galton Bridge. The view of the Birmingham Mainline from here is delightful, and it’s a long way up. I found myself fighting the urge to leave the station and cycle the canals of Brum instead.
January 16th - I didn’t really feel well enough for work, but went anyway. I had suspected the cold, frosty, bright day would raise my spirits, and so it did. This is the kind of winter day I love: cold, slightly misty and sun-bathed. It took me a good 15 minutes longer to get to work today, but I didn’t mind. Wrapped up warm, it was lovely to be out. If only I had a bit more energy…