Setember 24th - My return from Walsall an hour or so later was similarly in a gorgeous, but darker golden hour that made the red bricks of north Walsall glow beautifully. The nights really are drawing in now, and I’ll soon be commuting with lights on. It actually tried to rain on me as I rode home, but the sun never went in.
I guess that just now, we’re entering the autumn period of great sunsets…
Bring it on.
September 10th - I’m not on form this week, not even slightly. Yesterday I got in and complained the wind had been against me both to and from work, and it was pointed out to me that there was next to no wind. Today, I forgot my camera and had to use the phone. I hate that. Oh dear.
I stopped on the way to work to answer a call. Pulling over in Rushall, I realised how autumnal it looked. This is a lovely Indian summer, but I note the leaves starting to fall, and colours slowly changing.
As autumns go, this is up there with the best so far. I just need to get things a bit more together…
August 14th - I found myself back in Walsall at dusk, having been on a mad dash to Sutton. Finally relaxed and happy, I enjoyed the evening light and a peaceful ride home with the wind assisting me.
Some days are just frantic from start to finish. But it’s nice to feel a very hectic period come to an end. Oh for a few days off and a bit of blessed normalcy.
April 25th - This one’s for Trevor in Oz. You may miss life here when it’s sunny… but not on a went Friday afternoon.
A horrid ride. They guy soaking me in the last 10 seconds just clinched it.
The audio is the remarkable ‘Rain Dances’ by 1970s prog-jazzers Camel. Recording used at normal speed.
April 25th - Riding in the rain when the weather is warm isn’t that bad - once you’re wet, you’re wet and with waterproofs, that takes a good while. But after a week at work, when you’re tired, the light is poor and the traffic relentless, you just want to get home, have a shower, put something fresh on and have a decent cup of tea.
These bike cam stills give a flavour of the journey. Like riding at night, it’s mentally very demanding, as there’s more stuff that you have to mentally process, and the traffic tends to be mad.
I was glad, If I’m honest, to get home.
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.
January 21st - It’s not kicked off to be a good week. I’ve had a ton of work dropped on me, and the railway system seems to be in a permanent state of entropy at the moment.
I left work in Telford late, having tried all day to solve an ostensibly simple problem, without success. Riding back from Walsall, it was wet, but drier and warmer that the previous morning.
Tired and ground down, I remember little of the journey home, as often happens, but I did find this image on the camera I don’t remember taking whilst stopped on red at Rushall Square.
I’ve had enough of the dark and wet days. I need to move into the light.
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.
Sad news reaches me from local blogger The Stymaster: he’s had his ride purloined. It really is a low thing, nicking a person’s bike. Let’s see if we can find it…
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.
They make me think distinctly unholy thoughts.