BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

April 17th - The minutiae of drainage engineering are wonderful. I’ve been passing this array of manholes for a couple of weeks now, and noticed that new bars had been installed across the covers. It’s taken me ages to work out what they’re for. It’s not what one may imagine.

Opposite a small, automatic sewer pumping station on Green Lane at Bullings Heath, Walsall Wood, there is the concrete cap to what must be a storm buffer. A storm buffer is a large underground tank that, in time of heavy rainfall, collects drainage water and fills up, storing it and allowing slower discharge into the main network to prevent overload. There are lots around and they work well; you can tell this is one due to the large circular ‘cap’ evident with the access covers.

Recently, bars were mounted over the covers. Initially, I assumed they were to prevent access by drainers - a type of Urban Explorer that goes into sewers and storm drains to explore - but they aren’t actually secure. They’re secured with normal nuts and bolts, not locks. A couple of covers in front (not shown), which I think house pumps of valves - are not so protected.

They have actually been fitted to prevent internal pressure from blowing the access covers out. If the buffer filled to capacity due to a storm event, water pressure would increase against the hatches, and lift them out. That would then expose anyone walking through the subsequent flood liable to fall into a very deep, open manhole.

The bars are therefore a safety feature.

I wonder what has occurred, and where, to make this risk suddenly appreciated?

March 25th - The commute to work had been wet and quite, quite horrid, but the wind was more or less favourable. The roads were greasy, the traffic was mad. It wasn’t a hugely enjoyable journey.
Later in the morning, I felt rather ill, and was resigning myself to getting a lift home if I didn’t feel better. Thankfully, sweet tea, a lie down and some food sorted me out, but on leaving work during a break in the rain, I just floored it and sped home as fast as I could. I just wanted to be back, safe and sound in the dry and warm.
I noticed in Green Lane near Jockey Meadows the mist was rising off the marsh, and everywhere was sodden again. This is one of the very few places in life I find intimidating in it’s desolation. I felt it this evening. I have no idea why it makes me feel like this. 
I took a photo, then pressed on homewards.

March 25th - The commute to work had been wet and quite, quite horrid, but the wind was more or less favourable. The roads were greasy, the traffic was mad. It wasn’t a hugely enjoyable journey.

Later in the morning, I felt rather ill, and was resigning myself to getting a lift home if I didn’t feel better. Thankfully, sweet tea, a lie down and some food sorted me out, but on leaving work during a break in the rain, I just floored it and sped home as fast as I could. I just wanted to be back, safe and sound in the dry and warm.

I noticed in Green Lane near Jockey Meadows the mist was rising off the marsh, and everywhere was sodden again. This is one of the very few places in life I find intimidating in it’s desolation. I felt it this evening. I have no idea why it makes me feel like this. 

I took a photo, then pressed on homewards.

March 6th - Out for the evening and returning late, the streets were very, very quiet. I sped from Walsall with the wind at my back on silent, wet roads; I even sailed through the lights at Rushall Square on green without having to slow down.

Sadly, the night was more redolent of November than March, but the ride was nice.

Still can’t get past my unease over the eeriness of Green Lane at night…

February 21st - Returning home in the wee small hours, I was irritated to discover I’d forgotten my camera. As I sped from Walsall on deserted streets, there was a fine drizzle but the wind was behind me. I saw nothing but a handful of cars, a couple of foxes and a started badger. The phone is useless in low light, but these do capture the atmosphere quite well.

I’d quite forgotten the otherwordly atmosphere of being out on a bike at 1am…

January 29th - Micro asphalt is a pain in the arse. There are several installations of it in Walsall that I know to. The system is simple; a thin layer of resin-based coating is applied to a poor road surface, levelling the dips and sealing cracks. Unlike conventional tarmac, this is a chemical adhesive process. It’s way cheaper than resurfacing fully, and purportedly much more effective than tar and chipping.

Sadly within Walsall, in places it doesn’t seen to have gone too well.

Manufacturers claim a life of 20 years for an application, but this stretch in Green Lane, Shelfield is only a couple of years old, and is already forming potholes and ruts like a ploughed field. 

It’s actually easier to see the effect on a wet night, as the water pools in the ridges and dips. Riding over this is afoul and makes steering unpredictable.

This road is now worse to ride than before the new surface was applied. Nice work, Walsall. Nice work…

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.

October 30th - The flytipped fridge problem continues. Recently, the law changed and scrap yards can’t accept old chiller appliances, which must now go for specialist recycling. Sadly, people are still leaving them out for scrap men, who strip the easiest to separate metal parts, and flytip the rest.  Dumped fridges and freezers are currently a huge issue for local authorities all over the country.

When you leave stuff out for the tat men, you are encouraging this scumbag behaviour - please don’t do it.

These are in Green Lane, Walsall Wood, just past the houses beyond the Black Cock pub, just pushed off the back of a vehicle into a lay-by.

This is what happens if you fiddle with waste disposal legislation without thinking through the consequences.

October 16th - Autumn is in full swing now. As I cycled down Green Lane from Shelfield to Bullings Heath, the golden hour pre-sunset sunlight caught the hedgerow and set it afire. It was so lovely, I had to stop and take a photo. 
Maybe this autumn thing can work out after all…

October 16th - Autumn is in full swing now. As I cycled down Green Lane from Shelfield to Bullings Heath, the golden hour pre-sunset sunlight caught the hedgerow and set it afire. It was so lovely, I had to stop and take a photo. 

Maybe this autumn thing can work out after all…

Septemebr 24th - I came home after a late finish at work full of cold. Still struck low with the weekend’s bug, the going was hard. The dusk fell during the commute, and I became painfully aware that we’re now in the few weeks where drivers seem to be re-learning to drive in the dark. I don’t understand the psychology at all, but up until about the end of November, driving standards at dusk will be very poor. Left hooks, getting pulled out on, overtaking into oncoming traffic. All tonight. I had bright lights and a generally decent road position. There must be a reason for this, I see it every autumn.
Be careful out there, folks. You never know what’s lurking at a bad junction or beyond the oncoming headlights.

Septemebr 24th - I came home after a late finish at work full of cold. Still struck low with the weekend’s bug, the going was hard. The dusk fell during the commute, and I became painfully aware that we’re now in the few weeks where drivers seem to be re-learning to drive in the dark. I don’t understand the psychology at all, but up until about the end of November, driving standards at dusk will be very poor. Left hooks, getting pulled out on, overtaking into oncoming traffic. All tonight. I had bright lights and a generally decent road position. There must be a reason for this, I see it every autumn.

Be careful out there, folks. You never know what’s lurking at a bad junction or beyond the oncoming headlights.

August 20th - another fruit that’s set to be in abundance this autumn are haws, the berries of the hawthorn. Bright red, bitter and woody, they’re not toxic and can make decent jams and wines; but to me, their primary purpose is to provide sustenance for the birds, who flock for their goodness in winter. At the moment, these copious tiny berries are orange-green, and these fine examples were spotted in the hedgerow at Green Lane.

Enough sun and they’ll be pillar-box red, another fine sight and indicator of the passing year.

July 2nd - Today, summer faded to grey and the rain returned. I cycled home in steady rain, but it wasn’t unpleasant. Coming down Green Lane, Walsall Wood, I noticed what had been a lush field of beans last year had been left fallow this year. There is is immense pile of manure at one end of the field, and wonder if the growing of legumes and subsequent fallow period are part of a natural ground management system.

No such concern in the water meadow the other side of the road; untroubled by livestock other than deer, the grass there is lush, colourful and a couple of feet high now. It’s absolutely beautiful.

April 30th - I see someone has been busy renewing all the footpath signs around Jockey Meadows and Coppice Woods off Green Lane, Walsall Wood, which is great. The new ones are lovely wooden jobs, well made. Excellent stuff.

I notice they make a specific and accurate distinction between public footpaths and permissive footpaths. This difference in status is crucially important and sadly little understood by many walkers.

Nice to see this - wonder how far the signage extends?

April 19th - I hadn’t wandered over Jockey Meadows for years - I must do it again. Leaving the bike in the hedge, I waded through the water meadow towards the deer. The land here is saturated, and appears very fertile. Globeflowers are in bloom, and frog, toad and newt spawn are evident in the shallow water (frog spawn is in clumps, toad in ribbons. Newt spawn is laid in small pockets on the stems of underwater plants or in the curls of leaves and fronds). There is a healthy greenness here. I can see why the deer love it. This is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and I can see why.

April 19th - I saw them fleetingly in the distance, and thought they were horses. Stopping to take a better look, I realised there was a group of at least 4 red deer in the middle of Jockey Meadows, between Green Lane and Lichfield Road, Walsall Wood. Crossing the wetland to get a better shot, it was very, very boggy, but I discovered there was quite a large, mixed group; largest I’ve ever seen here. Half the group disappeared from view as I approached, I’d say the total was maybe 20-25 animals. I can see why they like it here; open watermeadows for browsing with low scrub for cover when eeded. So wet, they get little disturbance (I was wading through marsh 6-10 inches deep), no dogs and plenty of fresh sedges and other greens.

I love the deer. They’ve probably come up from Brownhills Common, scared off by the noise of all the anti-heathland protestors…

March 7th - Meanwhile, on the Walsall Wood-Shelfield border, Green Lane is currently in a sorry state. There is flytipping in various spots, and the litter is building up, too. My contempt for the scum that do this is immeasurable. However, the first undealt-with dumbing begets more; and so it has been. At the entrance to the Sewage Works, the main barrier, which put an end to regular violations of the driveway, has been stolen, and the tipping problem returned there, too.
The whole lane needs a good clean up and the selfish bastards who dump rubbish and drop litter need stringing up by their toes…

March 7th - Meanwhile, on the Walsall Wood-Shelfield border, Green Lane is currently in a sorry state. There is flytipping in various spots, and the litter is building up, too. My contempt for the scum that do this is immeasurable. However, the first undealt-with dumbing begets more; and so it has been. At the entrance to the Sewage Works, the main barrier, which put an end to regular violations of the driveway, has been stolen, and the tipping problem returned there, too.

The whole lane needs a good clean up and the selfish bastards who dump rubbish and drop litter need stringing up by their toes…