March 26th - It was a grim commute home. The morning had been fine, but cold. Leaving work fairly late, I thought I’m missed the day’s showers so left off the waterproof trousers. This was a mistake. As I headed home through Walsall, the skies darkened threateningly. From the first spots, to a freezing-cold, wind driven downpour.
These shots follow the rain as I I rode into it, and were captured from the ride camera.
I got in soaked, tired and freezing cold. Spring, eh?
March 18th - Empty for months now, the former Rushall Mews care home for the elderly was built and operated throughout most of it’s life by the local authority, Walsall Council. It was a well loved, modern facility built in the 1980s, and was a fine thing indeed. Sadly, it has been a victim of the cold wind blowing through local government, and it has been closed, like most such council provision.
Councillors and ‘change managers’ waffle on with weasel words and forked tongues about ‘increasing choice’ and other such worn-out cliches, but the closure of lifelines like this and other units like Narrow Lane in Pleck and Short Street in Brownhills, coupled with the loss of daycentres, is purely a money saving exercise. Like the rest, this good quality building - still more than fit for purpose - will be bulldozed for private housing.
The service users and the cost of their care didn’t create the problems, but most don’t vote, so they’re an easy target. Meanwhile, the politicians and money men who did cause the problem walk away unscathed.
It took decades to get facilities like this for our aged and vulnerable. It has taken but a few short years to wipe them out. The social care system is hard to assemble, but tragically easy to take apart.
I pass this empty place often, and the site of it fills me with sadness.
March 17th - Since I noticed the caution sticker on the back of the truck last Friday, I’ve been studying other such vehicles for similar safety features. Coming home tonight, I was surprised by this one: on the back of a very long, articulated fuel tanker, it warns of the wide turning circle and the danger of being on the left of the lorry as it turns. It also gives the equally sound advice about mirrors. Both these points are excellent.
Interestingly, it appears to be warning car drivers, not specifically cyclists. I find that a bit odd. Like the one on Friday, it’s also a wee bit too small to read from any distance or in a hurry.
Nice to see, though. Well played, ESSO, well played.
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…
February 11th - After the snow stopped the day in Telford was dry and sunny.
'Never mind' they said. 'It'll be dry for the journey home' they said.
I left Walsall in the dry, without putting waterproof trousers on. 5 minutes later, when it was too late, the heaven opened, and then the rain turned to snow. For the second time today, I was wet, cold and fed up.
At least no one can ever accuse me of being a fair weather cyclist.
December 12th - Coming home late, it was raining quite hard. It was warm, though, and well wrapped in my waterproofs I enjoyed the sights, sounds and sensory onslaught of the traffic on the rain. At Rushall, I stopped to photograph the Christmas tree. It looks better in the photo than it looks in reality - this one seems a little tatty, if I’m honest.
In the late hour, the junction at Rushall Square was quiet, and glistening in the rain. Sadly, I couldn’t keep the lens clear and just had to go for it.
Hopefully, the weather will clear for the weekend.
April 18th - The evening sunlight was gorgeous tonight. Late home from work, I’d been blown to the station in the morning by the most incredible tailwind, hammering 40+ miles per hour down Shire Oak Hill and making Shenstone a whole 5 minutes quicker than usual. My return from Walsall in the evening was similarly assisted, but to a lesser degree as the wind had subsided somewhat.
It was a beautiful ride, even if it deal feel a little chillier than the last few days.
March 30th - Off to work early, and a return via Slowloaf in Mellish Road. Rushall Parish Chuch - that of St. Michael the Archangel - is fittingly made from local limestone, and is a handsome, Francophile church with an imposing, tall broach spire. It has a long history, although this incarnation is Victorian. History hereabouts of the village, the hall and environs go back to the Domesday book. All of which are somewhat impressive.
Reflecting on this, whatever aberrant demon possessed the architect of the modern hall, bizarrely erected in the churchyard really needs to be expunged. Sadly, the exorcism wasn’t undertaken quickly enough and similar architectural defecations occurred at many Lichfield Diocese churches in the 80s and 90s; Brownhills, Pelsall, Walsall Wood, Canwell.
January 25th - This is one that’s been annoying me all week, but haven’t managed to catch well on video until Friday night at Rushall Square junction. As well as seeing moppets driving around peering out of a small aperture in an otherwise frosted up windscreen, the failure to clean snow from your roof is lazy and dangerous. Three times this week I’ve been overtaken by people - all three in Little Aston, as it happened - who, with the burst of speed - cleared snow of their roofs into me or my path. At 20MPH it’s not funny.
It’s also against the law. When it snows again, be a treasure and wipe the snow from your roof, eh?
December 10th - sadly, I only have this pair of images for today. I took a fair few in the morning, but isn’t realise the camera was set wrong, and they came out really badly. Oops.
On my way home from work, I let the wind blow me from Walsall. It was cold, but not unpleasant, and the air was slightly hazy. Stopping at the lights in Rushall, at what used to be the village square, I thought how festive it looked. This area is always very bright at night - a combination of street and traffic lights, shop windows and signage, but with the extra light of the christmas decorations, it did, actually, feel a bit like Christmas. Ah well, only a few days of work left to go…
August 30th - I noticed this poster a few days ago, and it’s been bothering me ever since. I think it’s one of the worst advertising banners I’ve ever seen. I’m assuming that the company concerned, the builders Cameron, are trying to tell me that if I buy one of their new build houses in Rushall, I can save tens of thousands of pounds. What they’re actually telling me is I can’t save anything. I think it’s bloody awful, am I alone in this? Is it only me that is annoyed about stuff of this nature?
June 4th - The disappointments of the day were compensated for handsomely by the herons on the canal. Even the darkest bits of the industrial Black Country - and I hit the Tame Valley Canal, which has some very grim bits indeed - was host to these fine fishers. Oddly twitchy, it was difficult to get any pictures, but this fine fellow obliged in Rushall. Death on two legs to it’s hapless prey, I must have seen ten or more of these dishevelled, rickety looking birds. Also prolific were the common terns, whose missile-like fishing skills have to be seen to be believed.
March 12th - I was amused by this wonderful piece of driving at Rushall Square, just north of Walsall, yesterday. Not dangerous, but a symptom of someone not concentrating, one wonders what was going through his mind. Didn’t seem to be on the phone, either, which is the usual cause of this kind of thing.
BrownhillsBob biked every day for the thirty days of April 2011, part of the #30daysofbiking project, but enjoyed the process so much that he carried on. Over two years down the road, he's still cycling every day and recording a little bit of every journey.