July 14th - On my return, I needed to call on a pal in Newtown, so I headed up the canal past Ogley Junction. Whilst passing, I noticed a delivery of sectional piling and plant, and wondered if the Canal & River Trust had got it together to stabilise the slipping local embankments.
I guess time will tell…
June 17th - It had been a tough day, but recent issues should improve now, and I slipped out again, this time at sunset. I just took a lazy loop of the canal out of Brownhills, over Catshill Junction and up to Chasewater.
At Newtown, the dying sun caught the water and rush-irises, and rendered everything precious. A pleasingly serene end to a difficult, scary day.
May 17th - Out for a leisurely ride in the sun, I took the canal to Newtown. On the embankment near the Chase Road, I spotted these colours of late spring and early summer. Hawthorn, laburnum and lilac, all growing wild on the side of the canal in an otherwise unremarkable bit of Brownhills.
People will tell you this place is ugly, boring and worthless. It’s not. It has immense beauty. But your eyes have to be open to see it - and so does your mind.
May 5th - Up on the A5 at Newtown, Brownhills, things aren’t looking so good. The Terrace restaurant, once a popular establishment, closed just after Christmas and is currently vacant and up for sale, with no sign yet of a buyer - sad really. Back in it’s heyday the place was busy every night.
Meanwhile, almost opposite the Chase Inn is still up for sale. Still open and trading, it’s nonetheless been on the market for ages.
I know society and it’s drinking and socialising habits have changed, but it’s still terribly sad to see these places lost.
I hope they both find new ownership and prosper, I really do…
December 23rd - Shooting down the A5 after a lousy, stormy day, it was oddly settled, clear and warm. I enjoyed the speed and warmth, and reflected on how the weather had changed so markedly in less than an hour.
Passing the Chase Inn in Newtown, I noted it’s up for sale again, which is a shame; it’s a good house and deserves stable, committed ownership. I’ve had a few good beers in there over the years - hope it finds a new owner soon.
November 16th - I headed up to Chasewater late afternoon in bad light, as I hadn’t been for ages, and as usual I took the canal route. Nearing the paddock at Newtown that had been home to Big Tasties, who’ve since moved to Stonnall, I heard the oddest twanging noise. Not long after, I spotter her.
This huge, healthy sow seems to be on her own and have the entire space to herself. She had attracted my attention by repeatedly biting on the barbed wire fence at the towpath edge, barbs and all, tugging it out and twanging it like a guitar string. At first, I was very concerned she might hurt herself but that mouth seems very, very tough. She was very tame and allowed me to stroke her head.
April 27th - It’s true what they say, the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence. This young lamb - one of the small flock at the Big Tasties smallholding between the canal and the A5 at Newtown, Brownhills, expertly squeezed his head through the wire mesh to reach the greenest shoots.
December 29th - It all went a bit Pete Tong. I left home late - the weather had again been dismal - in the dark, and had somewhere to be, and very limited time. Bereft of inspiration, I headed up to the A5. The wind and drizzle were vile, truly vile, and then I realised I’d forgotten my camera. This left me with the task of attempting night photography, without a tripod I could use, on a phone camera. Great.
As it happened, it wasn’t too bad; I got reasonable results with the rail plant yard at Newtown, and some Christmas lights on a house near Deakin Avenue. Then home beckoned. I spotted the flood at the top of the Black Path too late. Wonderful.
Actually, huge parts of Holland Park were under water. Is this rain ever going to stop? I returned home, sodden and grim, cursing my forgetfulness.
December 9th - I remain fascinated by deserted urban spaces at night. This small parade of shops stands just off the A5 Watling street at Brownhills, and was built to serve the housing estates that sprung up there in the postwar period. It is fair to say that its had ups and downs, and more than its fair share of transitory tenants. I find the design odd; there’s little parking nearby, and the curious fall from the road level makes it seem almost subterranean. When I passed tonight there didn’t seem to be a soul around, and I think, in an odd kind of way, it was quite haunting.
September 15th - Just on the canal at Newtown, Brownhills, I was held up by a loiterer on the towpath. I don’t know this wee cat’s name, but she was every but the star, rolling over for tickles, unselfconsciously pouncing on bugs in the grass and looking longingly at the ducks. I don’t think she’s very old, but she’s a lovely little thing.
I know regular readers @The Stymaster and Peter Cutler will enjoy this one.
August 27th - Still, there’s always nature to surprise you. This carpet of fringed water lilies has suddenly materialised near the canal aqueduct at Newtown, Brownhills. I’ve not seen this type of lily growing here before, and wonder if it’s a domestic escapee. Whatever the provenance, these flowers were delightful even in the rain, and they did lift my grim mood.
June 9th - I never tire of the view from the canal at Newtown, near Brownhills. Overlooking the rolling countrysde towards Hammerwich, the church and windmill there are not the only landmarks visible. If you stand in just the right spot, on a clear day, you can see the 3 spires of Lichfield Cathedral visible through the Crane Brook valley. Right now, it’s green and verdant; but this is a great view in all four seasons, constantly changing in character. One of the great unknown gems of Brownhills.
May 17th - The lambs in the smallholding field near the canal up by the A5 in Brownhills seem to be developing attitude. Perhaps it’s the influence of the local yoot, or just the fact that they’re so healthy and full of life. I still don’t know who keeps the livestock here, but the sheep and pigs seem to be doing fine. And as for the smell… the animals don’t seem overly bothered by it, like most of the town.
April 1st - The smallholding near the canal at Newtown, in Brownhills, seems to be thriving. The pigs look happy and in good condition, and seem to be increasing in number. As I passed, this cheeky fellow was proving the old adage that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. He’s obviously deft at this, and I collected the wool he’d snagged on the barbed wire to hang up for nesting birds at home.
February 12th - interested to see that someone is now keeping pigs in the paddock between the canal and Watling Street near Newtown, Brownhills. They look well cared for, and happy. There seem to be some different breeds there - wondering if the ginger ones are Tamworths. This is an interesting addition and shall watch them grow. They’re in the corner of a field that’s also home to a rather impressive flock of sheep. I don’t know who’s farming here, but I wish them well.