October 17th - The morning commute was damp, and a little drizzly, but it brightened up as I neared work. On the way, I noted the assortment of hips, haws and berries, glistening with raindrops. For the hedgerow fruits, it’s been a bountiful year, and the birds certainly have plenty in the larder right now.
A fine autumn; best I can remember for many a year.
October 15th - I returned to Brownhills late in the afternoon when it was again pouring with rain. This wasn’t everyday, lacklustre drizzle; this was dense, heavy rain that squeezed in through any not-quite-close zip or gap, and rendered me soaked.
Once again, I found myself taking a breather on a bridge, just listening to the music - a rattling percussion, accompanied be geese honking happily.
Brownhills, you ain’t no looker; but that’s OK neither am I. But I do love you. Even on the horrid days like these.
October 13th - It rained heavily all the way home, and with a driving headwind it really wasn’t a pleasant journey at all. I hopped on the canal in Walsall Wood to escape the mad traffic, and stopped at Catshill Junction to have a breather as I often do. It was quiet, except for the music of rain falling on water. There was not a soul around, and even the houses in Chandlers Keep looked deserted.
I was wet, cold and tired, but you couldn’t hate it like this. This was a moment of unexpected peace in a very grim day.
I got back on my bike, and rode home.
Monday 13th - A horrid commute, in both directions. Autumn is sitting heavily on my shoulders at the moment; the nights are closing in, and the rainy days more and more frequent.
But then, what should I expect? Half way through October. Just where has this year gone?
October 8th - The weather has really turned this week. From the warm, dry Indian summer it’s changed into a wet, squally October. Very, very heavy periods of rain throughout the day interspersed with sunshine made it a great day for rainbow hunters, but not for drivers, as many local roads were flooded.
Here at Green Lane, on the Walsall Wood - Shelfield border, the usual standing flood near the cottage. It’s not deep, but riding this on a bike needs careful observation not to be passed by a vehicle and splashed or worse.
Coupled with all this it seems very cold (although it isn’t, it’s just a shock).
Oh hello winter. I wondered where you’d got to…
October 6th - It was a dreadful morning commute, and running late on the way home meant I didn’t have much time to stop. The heavy rains and wind of the morning sapped all my reserves of energy and patience; the riding was difficult and the driving poor.
Thankfully, by my somewhat late return, it was dry with an interesting dusk sky and what I suspect was a decent sunset, although I couldn’t get in a good place to see it.
From Walsall Station it looked impressive, if a little ominous. As I passed the Black Cock at Bullings Heath later on, it started to spot with rain again, even though the moon was large and clear.
A horrid day for commuting.
October 1st - Autumn is certainly coming to Catshill Junction and Clayhanger Coomon, as the deciduous scrub here turns golden. On this drizzly October evening, despite the murk, it looked beautiful.
I note the building taking place on the former Bayley House site is coming on well, but the sculpture on the far side of the water is being rapidly claimed by the scrub.
I do hope it doesn’t get forgotten there.
September 29th - I’d nipped into Birmingham on what seemed like a reasonable afternoon, then got the train back to Walsall. As I got nearer, the skies darkened more and more. It didn’t look good.
I emerged from the station about 6pm, and it was like dusk, with almost biblically ominous conditions.
I got as far as Rushall when the heavens opened, but it didn’t last long. It’s been the driest September on record here, and the rain was refreshing, and all too short-lived.
August 25th - A wet, miserable bank holiday Monday. This was the wettest, coldest one I think I’ve ever known. I always find this day depressing; it’s the last holiday before Christmas, and for me, seems to flag the end of summer. A week later, the kids will all be back at school, the nights will be drawing in even more, and the sun will lose it’s warmth.
In short, we’re advancing to Autumn at a fair lick now.
I rode out mid morning during a lull in the rain, and spun around Brownhills and Chasewater. The fruits, glistening with rain, were gorgeous, and the heather is particularly beautiful at the moment. The still green embankments and hedgerows cut a bright dash through the gloom.
I did note puffballs on the old railway off Engine Lane, another harbinger of Autumn.
At Chasewater, the valves are fully open and the waterlevel is dropping quickly. I wonder if there’s a purpose to this, as the canal is clearly full to overflowing.
A grim ride on a grim day. Brace yourselves, summer is closing out now.
August 16th - Heading back towards Chasewater, I noticed the erosion that happens here every time there is heavy rain has been corrected again, in the same way it always has been: sweep the debris back into the hole, and stamp it down.
Expect a similar report next time it rains heavily. Getting an awful sense of deja-vu here.
This really needs a permanent fix.
August 12th - Sweet rain fell in short, sharp showers as I rode home, often out of an almost totally clear, blue sky. The weather is certainly odd at the moment; the wind has been quite strong and it’s been very changeable.
I’ve forgot in this really quite dry summer the music of rain falling on the canal and leaves as I pass. In summer, it’s an occasional delight to the senses.
So long as it doesn’t become too frequent..
August 8th - I came to the top of Shire Oak Hill in light rain, and stopped at the quarry entrance to look at my beloved view to Lichfield. Rain was sweeping in along the Trent Valley, and the hills to the west were obscured by low rain clouds.
It had been another tough week,and I was glad to crest the hill and be nearly home. I love my job, but sometimes it’s tough to keep everything going.
But knowing home was downhill from here, the promise of good company, the family and a decent mug of tea was strong, and cheering.
Home is where the teapot is.
As it happened, the rain never really reached here.
August 8th - In contrast to recent days, it was dark and overcast with a very threatening atmosphere for most of the day. Racing home, I could smell rain on the wind, and it felt ominous.
A bit of rain is welcome; it’s needed. But we haven’t had weather like this for any length of time for a long period, and this felt dramatic and alien.
As I rode down Mill Lane in Stonnall, I noticed a flock of starlings had settled on the field, hedgerow and overhead lines. Perhaps it’s just the Hitchcock thing, but even those little birds in silhouette felt menacing…
August 3rd - Terrible angle, sorry, but the heavy rains of Saturday morning again washed the footpath away on the canal bank at Anchor Bridge, for the fourth time in a year.
Watch out if on bike or foot; it’s a trip and fall hazard.
Just what will it take for the Canal & River Trust to repair this properly for once, instead of just sweeping the washdown back into the cavity?
August 1st - My return journey was weary, wet, grey and warm. Again, it felt like being in the gust from a hair-drier, so warm was the breeze. It was raining steadily, and having popped in to Brum, I returned from Shenstone down quiet, greasy country lanes, dodging a whole host of slippery hazards in waiting, now hydrated.
I note most of the harvest is done here, but for a couple of fields. In the UK, I guess it pays not to dither, and as I was waiting at Shire Oak I reflected on the wonderful unreliability of the great British weather.