November 27th - Today, I spotted something I’d never noticed before at Birmingham Moor Street Station: a robin nesting box. Painted to blend in with the brickwork, someone who cares for the structure of this station also cares about the urban birdlife. I shall keep an eye on it next spring and see if it is used.
Top marks, Chiltern Railways. Top marks.
November 21st - In contrast to the day before, it was bright and sunny, but there was a keen wind and it was rather cold. A typical winter morning, in fact, and today it really did feel like the inexorable slide toward Christmas was underway.
Moor Street Station was as light, airy and beautiful as ever. The flower stall in the old wooden ticket booth caught my eye; such bright colours, untypical of the location and season. The effort the lady who runs it puts into her displays is admirable, and always joyous.
I adore Moor Street Station. It’s probably the best station I use, and it’s a credit to the staff that work there.
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.
Oh well, it kept a sign maker busy somewhere…
November 14th - I spotted this interesting - if slightly bizarre - fixie locked to the railings outside Moor Street Station. That’s actually a really nice frame, and is quite old, although I think something’s been done to the bottom bracket looking at the dark marks on the frame. I didn’t look at the time, as I never noticed. I wished I had.
That’s a great set of wheels, and quite a high gear ratio, but the chain needs an oil and retension.
What’s with the ball-crushing saddle angle? And the oh-shit! brake lever is front-acting, but mounted left handed, USA style. Note the way narrow bars, too.
This is the steed of a serious hipster. Fascinating.
October 30th - I spotted this yesterday, but it’s surprisingly hard to photograph. Growing from the thinnest of fissures in a capstone 20ft above Park Street in Birmingham, a small shrub. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s bearing the most beautiful red berries. It’s way out of reach beyond the platform fence of Moor Street Station, where the line crosses the street below. Here, the parapets and abutments of the bridge ramble and cross, and this small plant is clearly thriving, unseen, unchecked and unappreciated, presumably seeded by the local birdlife.
Give nature half a chance and it’s in like Flynn. Wonderful.
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.
April 12th - I love Moor StreetStation in Brum. Not only is it a lovely, light airy and atmospheric station, but on the whole the staff are more relaxed and customer focused than their competitors. Coming through tonight, I noticed some inconsiderate muppet had locked their bike to the security railings by the ticket barrier inside the station. If this had been a Virgin Station, the bike would have been removed and it all would have been rather tetchy. Here, they sellotape a warning notice to the bike, which considering it’s not actually a trip hazard, makes sense. That’s a nice approach.
Their spelling is about as good as mine.
March 18th - A day of misty light and skyline silhouettes. My journey this morning was shrouded in a thick fog of the variety that condensed into frost on my clothes and bike, yet once on the train to Birmingham, it was as clear as a bell and sunny by Four Oaks.
At Moor Street, the morning light was hazy and yellow. Digbeth looked beautiful as the train glided above it on the viaduct towards Small Heath.
I left work late, and caught the view from Tyseley as darkness was falling. Again, the light was lovely; the city skyline was enchanting, and the station remains fascinating in its faded, jaded, days-of-the-empire style. Down on the platform, as a high-speed intercity shot through, I really got the Late Night Feelings vibe again.
Jewels in an otherwise awful day.
March 14th - It was a gorgeous morning, and it looks like the last one for a while. The morning ride was lovely, and the sun over the city more so. Moor Street Station in Birmingham continues to fascinate; the combination of old, new, interesting textures and architecture make for a lovely, light station that’s pleasant and relaxed when the sun shines. In that, it reminds me of Hull and London Marylebone, both wonderful stations, filled with soft, natural light when the sun shines.
March 8th - There’s not much, photographically, you can do with a day like this, except record it as it was. For the second day running, it was wet and foggy. The traffic was still acting strange, and I was glad to get home. It’s not really cold, and the cycling was surprisingly good due to the still conditions - but the flat, grey outlook, devoid of decent light, is relentless.
Please, spring, come back! What on earth did I do to scare you off?
February 21st - Running late for my connection, I piled it through the city centre in the morning, and saw two of these curious advertising trikes parked up advertising Thinktank. They look hand built, but not terribly well cared for. Primitive disc brakes on the back, and small wheels with an absurdly low gear ratio. Must make for an… interesting riding experience.
Certainly wouldn’t fancy piloting one in a crosswind.
February 12th - Lunchtime, just in front of New Street Station in Birmingham. I keep seeing this lady and her pastel blue Dawes step-trrough framed bike. The front basket (only just visible in this hurried shot) is always full of shopping.
That’s some rake on those forks. Bet it’s a nice bike to ride.
January 30th - The sun came out today, and it felt springlike, which I didn’t mind at all. I guess I’d been mourning the passing of the snow - at night, it makes the landscape light in a way that’s almost joyful, and when the thaw comes, it’s like being plunged back into darkness. I’d felt it keenly since Sunday; the weather has been bloody grim, and to turn out on a sunny morning - even with a wind crafted on Satan’s back step - was a joy to the heart.
I’ve actually found a ramp down to the Solihull platform at Moor Street, which I thought had been closed years ago. As I made my way to it today. I looked at the road system, and the buildings around. I can remember the old Bull Ring well, the network of 60s subways and overpasses. But I can’t place any of it, which I find sad. I know Manzoni Gardens was here somewhere, but…
Brum was also showing beautifully from the overbridge at Tyseley. With decent light, I could zoom right in, and I noticed something I’d not done before; before the mosque, and the shiny modernity of the city centre, there are rows of terrace roofs and chimneys in Small Heath and Sparkbrook. I found it fascinating.
January 21st - I remain fascinated by the railway, and the snow has given it a new slant. I’m no trainspotter, and couldn’t give a toss for the operations, or the trains, or anything like that. What I like is the scale, the idea of connection, or a big, unified machine snaking from place to place. Today, I thought about the thousands of mechanical points across the country, working in very cold, wet conditions. The electrical overhead wiring, the signals, the track. The buildings. How it all survives and still (mostly) operates in the worst of the UK weather.
It really is quite remarkable when you think about it.