February 19th - Meanwhile, at the other end in Telford, another sign of spring: daffodils are growing well on the verges and along the cycleways. I love to see them, and last year they seemed so late. I notice crocuses out, too. I’m a bit concerned, really; the heavy snows of last winter returned in late March. Although it’s wonderful to see such early signs of spring, I hope they’re not wiped out by a return to winter… but this is churlish. The weather is such an improvement, as is the cycling.
Hopefully, the weather will open out a bit now.
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.
February 11th - The weather is getting worse, not better, but did hold an unexpected surprise for me today. I set out in the morning to the station, and the rain was heavy with a harsh wind. Even with waterproofs, I got soaked, and sat on the train dripping, miserable and cold. Fortunately, the subsequent train I caught to Telford was very warm, and dried me out a treat. This was by far the worst commute I’ve had for ages.
At Cosford, the torrential rain had become heavy snow, and was setting fast. When I alighted, there was about 10mm. Although wet and cold, it was a delight to see and cycle in, and I enjoyed the scenery and spectacle.
A couple of hours later, the sun was out and all the snow melted away. Glad I caught it, though.
January 30th - The return was equally wet and grey - but did have the added excitement of wet, sleety snow. The sluices are still shut at Chasewater, and everything is still sodden and muddy. The photography was awful. I was glad to get home.
It was nice to see Morris in the snow though, even if it was very short lived…
November 25th - Ladies and gentlemen, I can make an announcement. This coming winter will be warm, without much snow or ice.
I have guaranteed this by purchasing new snow tyres for this season. Therefore, fate dictates that I won’t need them. Which will probably be a shame, as they look like they mean serious business.
This has been a public service announcement to 365daysofbiking readers.
August 5th - It seems the harvest had started just before the rains came over the weekend. These fields near Stonnall were still full of wheat on Thursday, and are now no more than neat rows of cut straw, with crows looking for food in the gleanings. I noticed other fields had been cut at Springhill and Summerhill too.
And so the season ticks on. It doesn’t seem long since there were deep snowdrifts here..
April 7th - I had a shock today. Yesterday, I thought spring was here. Today, I set off in very hazy sunshine for a ride. Looping around Brownhills and up to Chasewater on the canal, I discovered the snow hadn’t quite gone yet. The towpath from Anchor Bridge to Ogley Junction is more or less impassible, with sitting snow and ice to depths of several feet. It took me some time to battle through. Considering it unique, I was further shocked to discover the same situation in Wall Lane, from Pipehill to Wall. That road was blocked to some depth, too.
The only high spot in all this was the swans are sitting again at the back of Sadler Road. Let’s hope for cygnets this year…
April 5th - While I was battling through the week, so was nature, but in a grander, more impressive way. Come Friday evening, the snow remaining from the heavy falls of two weeks previously was lying only where the heaviest drifts had been. On the hill to the south of Mill Lane, the ridge-step hedgerow had clearly been a snow trap, and was dissipating itself in a beautiful way.
Coming through underneath, the keen, bright emerald green promise of a new crop. Winter melts as spring appears.
March 31st - The contrasts continued as I got out on the Chase. Even the popular trails were too snowed up to ride, so I hit Birches Valley on the roads, which were clear and easy going. The afternoon warmed a little, and the sun stayed longer, and it was in one such moment of clarity that I took in the view of the Weaver Hills from Lady Hill. Good Friday two years ago, I was cycling over there in shorts and a tee shirt.
Dropping down to Rugeley, the snow was clear from the canals, and only lay in the lee of hedges and walls, but climbing out of the Trent Valley at Breretonhill, there were still large amounts of lying snow.
I think this is the coldest spring I’ve ever known.
March 29th - Every easter should have a bunny. This one loped across Pool Road behind the craft units at Chasewater this evening. She seemed to be a bit fearless and I think a bit hungry - there can’t have been much nutrition in the environment this week for a hungry rabbit.
I noticed when the dam works were on that there were a large number of rabbits around Pool Road, many living on the dam itself. I do hope someone is keeping an eye on their burrowing exploits…
March 29th - A lazy day. Work has left me exhausted lately, and with a long Easter weekend ahead, I slouched out and did some stuff I wanted to for a change, and slipped out late afternoon for a gentle loop of Brownhills. The thaw has really set in now, but the canal towpaths are still no go, even with the snow tires. I noted at Holland Park that the tennis courts were now tennis duckponds, complete with ducks. The sunset from Chasewater, however, was gorgeous. Water is still overflowing from the Nine-Foot, and the bird life there tonight was fantastic.
By the time I returned to Brownhills, the sunset had retreated to a magenta band on the horizon, but the sky was still stunning. A great sunset.
I could handle a few more days like this. Lets hope the snow melts away soon.
March 27th - The winter is still sat upon my shoulders, weighing me down. Today was another day fraught with bad travel connections, and tomorrow doesn’t look to be much better. Waiting at Blake Street this morning, it was bitingly cold, and snowing. Rather than the enjoyment I normally feel when it snows, today, it was just bleak, more of the same. Due to a signal failure, it took me two and a half hours to get to Telford. The circumspect mood did not improve.
Returning from Shenstone later in the day, there seemed to have a been a substantial thaw during the day - many of the fields I passes looked green, whereas they’d been white the day before. However, the larger drifts will take some time to recede. This one - currently preventing any access to Thornyhurst Lane - is huge.
March 26 - A stunning sunset, which as Jayne Howarth noted on Twitter, gave a spring-like light that wasn’t justified by the conditions. It was cold, and brisk as I cycled the backlanes from Shenstone, and the coming darkness felt threatening and sharp as I cycled home with the wind behind me. The roads were clear and largely dry, although the thaw had evidently set in during daytime. The sky changed colour a number of times, and it was thoroughly beautiful.
A gorgeous end to what had been a somewhat trying day.
March 25th - It promised to be a thoroughly dreadful journey home. Checking travel information just before leaving work, there was chaos at New Street, with overhead line difficulties causing mass cancellations and a reduction to Sunday service on all lines I could get home from. Pitching up a the station, I went for a Walsall train, then heard an announcement for a Lichfield one. Just making it to the right platform, I easily climbed aboard a 6-carriage set which had seats to spare. I actually left New Street before I would normally. This was nice and rather odd. I was very, very lucky.
Alighting at Blake Street, I found the light to be fantastic and even the backlanes clear. The wind was still sculpting powdery snow into impressive drifts, and coming from the northeast, was a distinct and formidable crosswind.
As Laura Marling says ‘I’ll never love England more than when it’s covered in snow.’
March 25th - Today was actually rather beautiful. I skipped into Walsall on ice-free roads, zipping past lines of stationary traffic. It didn’t feel overly cold, although the wind at my back was bitter. As I reached Tyseley, the sky was blue and the sun was out.
Snow upon this urban landscape makes everything old new again. I love the way it picks out rooftops and reflects the goodness of the sun back to me.