November 27th - Today, I spotted something I’d never noticed before at Birmingham Moor Street Station: a robin nesting box. Painted to blend in with the brickwork, someone who cares for the structure of this station also cares about the urban birdlife. I shall keep an eye on it next spring and see if it is used.
Top marks, Chiltern Railways. Top marks.
November 21st - I returned to Shenstone quite late, and the night was fascinating here, too. I never tire of that station; it’s got no facilities whatsoever, but the atmosphere and architecture make it one of the most lovely stations in the Midlands.
I’m fascinated by the feeling of isolation here at night, the islands of light and the elegant perspective.
I was captivated, too by the chap waiting for his lift under the streetlight on the corner of the car park. A long range, grainy shot, but there’s something about it I can’t explain.
November 21st - At the other end of the day, it was even colder. But the air had developed that hard, glassy-clear quality that it only really develops in winter; when even sounds seem sharper. I noticed as I hopped between stations that the view of the mid-renovation New Street Station, Bullring and Smallbrook from the access bridge was quite stunning, so I stopped to photograph it a while.
Quite surprised I wasn’t collared by the ever-present security as I took these, to be honest…
November 21st - In contrast to the day before, it was bright and sunny, but there was a keen wind and it was rather cold. A typical winter morning, in fact, and today it really did feel like the inexorable slide toward Christmas was underway.
Moor Street Station was as light, airy and beautiful as ever. The flower stall in the old wooden ticket booth caught my eye; such bright colours, untypical of the location and season. The effort the lady who runs it puts into her displays is admirable, and always joyous.
I adore Moor Street Station. It’s probably the best station I use, and it’s a credit to the staff that work there.
November 19th - Yesterday’s sunset was clearly unfinished business. Sorry for the repetition, but I do love this view. Tonight, there was less cloud, and more smog, which sat as a band over the distant city centre. I love the gradual colour transitions and trains, like a Hornby set in the dusk.
November 19th - It didn’t feel icy. But it was cold, and I guess the first really winterish commute of the season. But this sign - a new appearance today at Moor Street Station - seems to indicate lawyers have been earning their corn somewhere. The language is mealy mouthed too.
Oh well, it kept a sign maker busy somewhere…
November 14th - I spotted this interesting - if slightly bizarre - fixie locked to the railings outside Moor Street Station. That’s actually a really nice frame, and is quite old, although I think something’s been done to the bottom bracket looking at the dark marks on the frame. I didn’t look at the time, as I never noticed. I wished I had.
That’s a great set of wheels, and quite a high gear ratio, but the chain needs an oil and retension.
What’s with the ball-crushing saddle angle? And the oh-shit! brake lever is front-acting, but mounted left handed, USA style. Note the way narrow bars, too.
This is the steed of a serious hipster. Fascinating.
October 30th - I spotted this yesterday, but it’s surprisingly hard to photograph. Growing from the thinnest of fissures in a capstone 20ft above Park Street in Birmingham, a small shrub. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s bearing the most beautiful red berries. It’s way out of reach beyond the platform fence of Moor Street Station, where the line crosses the street below. Here, the parapets and abutments of the bridge ramble and cross, and this small plant is clearly thriving, unseen, unchecked and unappreciated, presumably seeded by the local birdlife.
Give nature half a chance and it’s in like Flynn. Wonderful.
October 29th - Spotted whilst passing through Moor Street Station, the Moorish Cafe is again using pumpkins as Halloween -themed table decorations this year. Whoever carves them does a great job - the expression on this one is brilliant.
A real moment of serendipity in an otherwise dull commute.
October 28th - 6:00pm, Walsall Bus Station. Oops. The bus was touching the railings, and I suspect the driver was touching cloth. Although no significant damage appeared to have occurred, the bus was halted here for some time.
Ironically, the advert on the side is promoting bus driving as a career.
October 23rd - Back in Leicester for the day, and passing through South Wigston station, I stopped briefly to study my favourite bit of wild land, not expecting much to be showing well. How wrong I was. Cotoneaster, a yellow berry I don’t recognise, roses, rose hips, clover all made for a fine splash of colour. The cotoneasters were particularly impressive, and they’ll make a handsome winter feast for the blackbirds.
A fine end to yet another wet commute.
October 21st - It’s going to be a hard week. The Monday morning commute saw me heading to Birmingham in a rainstorm. Visibility was bad, and I abandoned the Chester Road and headed for Shenstone, as I didn’t feel comfortable in the spray and slime of the main road. When I got to Shenstone, I realised just how heavily it was raining. It rained too, on my way home; another fraught journey where I rediscovered the lack of traction on wet road markings and the fact that my jacket waterproofing seems to be failing.
The weather forecast doesn’t seem to be predicting much of an improvement. Oh well, at least it’s warm…
October 11th - I was in Telford for the day, and a commute that started in bright sunshine ended in steady rain at my destination. I noticed as I stood on the covered walkway waiting for the rain to pass that the northbound platform was lined with a tree with bright, orangey red berries, yet leaves a bit like those on a cherry tree. I have no idea what this is, and the birds don’t seem to be very interested, either.
It put me in mind of cotoneaster, but the leaves and berries are way too big.
Anyone help me out here, please?
October 10th - In Birmingham late, and the autumn has brought the night back, actually with some shock to me at the time. I emerged from a function to find the city at its very best; light, hard surfaces, wet paving and exaggerated perspective. I only had minutes until my train left, and grabbed quick shots around the Cathedral area. My train turned out to be late, so taking my life in my hands, I took some on the platforms of a darkened New Street Station, where a combination of ongoing construction and desertion make the environment fascinating.
I love playing with photography at night, and there’s no better place than at the city sliding into its own wonderful nocturne.
October 9th - A casual observer might think I had a downer on the project to renovate and upgrade New Street Station in Birmingham. I haven’t particularly, but in my opinion the design leaves much to be desired, both functionally and aesthetically. A good example of the aesthetic horror of the design is the polished stainless steel cladding being erected on the Stephenson Place facade. Unsealed, and hanging from girder work erected on the surface of the old Pallisades centre, again, it stinks of bodge and bad taste. The mirror surface looks tatty to me; adjacent sheets don’t always meet perfectly and where the sheets are pinned, the surface is often distorted and looks dented and cheap.
Compared to the iconic and stunning Selfridges building, this looks like something dreamt up on a bad Saturday in the pub by a crazed Meccano fan. I dread to think what the rest of it will look like when complete…