March 12th - I landed at New Street at an unusual time, between trains. The station was heaving, and I wasn’t enjoying it, so hopped on the first service leaving in my general direction, to Four Oaks. Leaving there to cycle home on a hazy, sunny afternoon, I noticed the cycle parking there was pretty well used, with some nice bikes that were well locked.
That GT 29er is a lovely bike.
British Transport Police clearly take security seriously here, as there’s warnings about decoy tracker bikes and locking yours up with at least two locks.
One assumes this has been a theft hotspot - I can’t recall ever seeing such dedicated warnings anywhere else locally.
That aside, it’s a decent shelter, with good racks. Well played, Centro. Let’s have some more, please.
March 11th - On the way home on a sunny, spring evening, with a low sun shining long over Aston. The train stopped and was held for a few minutes, dwelling on a service coming in the other direction before the points could change - as often happens. The doors were open, and I was stood in golden light, frozen.
It’s a snapshot of Birmingham, and why I love it so.
March 10th - I love it when, for a short time every spring and autumn, my homeward commute coincides with the golden hour. Even more so if it does so during a period of good weather. This evening, I returned from Shenstone specifically to catch the station and two towers in the beautiful light, and hopefully see the sunset over Ogley Hay and St. Jame’s Church.
Neither disappointed. I’m loving this spring.
March 10th - I’ve not seen anything like this before. Today, I was travelling from Acocks Green to Tyseley, as I often do. One of the routes I take includes a shortcut down an alley that used to be Rockwood Road, which crosses the railway between Alexander Road and the Birmingham City Mission. On the footpath, just as you leave the railway bridge, there’s an pecuiar, improvised bollard made of cast iron and steel, about a foot high and 8 inches diameter. It bears the legend ‘Great Western Railway Co. Boundary 1888’.
It doesn’t take the brain of Sherlock to work out what it is, but why? I’ve never seen railway property delimited like this before. Further, I must have passed this scores of times without noticing. How did such a trip hazard survive 126 years? Is it listed? Are there more? Is it important historically, or just a curio?
February 7th - I was over in Telford early, and returned to Darlaston at lunchtime. In contrast to the day before, the weather started out rainy, but turned springlike pretty much as soon as I left the house. The cycleways of Telford were beautiful in the sunlight, and the station at lunchtime oddly quiet, but a much nicer place to be for a bit of sunlight.
Why does the weather keep taunting me like this? Why am I scaring the sun away?
February 3rd - I was in Leicester for an important meeting, but the travel gods were not favouring me. I left with good time to spare, but a bastard of a headwind made me just miss my train; a frantic Clockwise-esque fiasco ensued. I got to Leicester, and had to head to the outskirts of the city. I took a wrong turning. I found myself battling the headwind again. I arrived with just minutes to spare.
The person I was due to meet was running an hour late, so at least I had time to freshen up. Thankfully, the journey home was less eventful, and with an assisting wind.
At Leicester railway station, apropos of nothing, an apparently abandoned table tennis table. No, I haven’t a clue, either.
Nice to see Notwork Fail have actually recognised the shortage of bike parking here and stopped getting shirty with people chaining their steed to the railings. So good to see so many bikes.
January 28th - I narrowly missed the heavy rain on both commutes, on a miserable day of stress and meetings bracketed by railway stations. I was out early, and back late, but there was a familiar lightness creeping into the sky. I just wish it’d stop raining for a few days.
It’s not too much to ask, is it?
January 23rd - I had to nip over to Pelsall on an errand, so I cut over The Spot and up the old railway trail. I love the view from the bridge over Clayhanger Lane. It was a great evening sky, too. If only I’d have caught it half an hour earlier, I reckon this might have been a decent spot for the sunset…
January 22nd - First time in Tyseley for a while, and I’m still in love with that view and sunset. As I left work - in the blessed light, how things are improving - the soft light of the oncoming dusk cast a lovely soft orange glow. The sunset was still good by the time I reached central Birmingham too.
Today, it felt that perhaps the spring wasn’t too far away, after all.
January 9th - The journey home was similarly blessed; the weather was good, and the trains on time. At Walsall I got that Late Night Feeling thing again, and couldn’t resist a shot of platform 1, which always feels a bit like Walsall’s very own platform 9 and three quarters.
I even had a decent exchange with another cyclist at the lights in Rushall. Can’t be bad.
January 7th - The nights are opening out already. This makes me happy. Stood on Tyseley station, it was pretty much still light, which was an improvement. It had just rained, and everything shone. I liked the lines, the perspectives, the lights. Tyseley Incinerator chimney acting like a windsock, an approaching train. The lights of the Birmingham skyline.
Late night feelings again. I never get bored of this.
January 3rd - I was back in Telford today, only the weather wasn’t quite as nice. I was fortunate really, as I expected us have much more rain than we did, and the winds here weren’t as bad as forecast either. I caught a short, heavy shower as I arrived at Telford, and sat it out for five minutes on the covered walkway that forms the station bridge and connects it to the town centre. I could see light on the horizon, and the downpour soon lightened.
The geometry of that walkway fascinates me; it’s very 1980s, but also very solid. Dingy at night, it could do with better lighting, but it’s not a bad piece of urban design, really.
December 29th - I stopped by at Hademore on the way back. This sleepy hamlet was once a cluster of farms, houses and an explosives depot (yes, really) surrounding a level crossing. Now, the crossing has been removed. Some railway cottages were demolished in the upgrade of the line, the old signal box moved to Chasewater, and Hademore found itself riven in two by the railway and bypassed by a loop of horrid road with an equally abhorrent utilitarian flyover.
There is great history here - on the long road from Whittington to Elford the Marquis of Donegal had his house, Fisherwick Park, and the surrounding grounds were designed by Capability Brown. They were all carried to dust, however, when in 1810 the estate fell into the possession of the Howards of Elford, who ploughed up the lawns, demolished the hall and converted it all back to farmland.
A few relics remain, including the big old gateposts that stand here, moved from a site nearby when the railway would have ploughed through them itself.
The other relic on this once-busy road is the Post Office K6 red call box; now with it’s phone removed, it still has a working light, shining like a beacon in a shorn hamlet that nobody passes through anymore.
I guess this is just the sadness of things.
December 4th - Circumstances appear to have dictated that sadly, these signs are now necessary at Blake Street Station. Sometimes, it comes to me that we live in a cold, hard world.
My thanks go out for the kind, patient and dedicated work of the Samaritans. Bless them all.
Nobody need suffer alone.
November 30th - A terrible day beset by daft problems, but mainly by a rather upset stomach. I shot out for a brief ride as I saw the sunset was so good, and caught the tail end of it. I headed up onto the old railway line at Clayhanger, and even climbed the old signal post for a decent shot. A fine atmospheric sunset, and the ride made me feel better, too.