November 23rd - I was passed by a grit lorry on the Chester Road, and winced as the rocksalt tinkled off my bike. It is winter now in all but name, and I’ll get used to it. The cold was bitter, and frost was on the way, so it was good to see Walsall Council teams out on a Saturday treating the roads. As I passed the back of the depot at Apex Road, the yard was busy loading lorries as they came in, and I noted that the salt barn was pretty much full, all set for the winter ahead. A sobering thought.
November 20th - Just the one picture today, as the commutes were horrid and wet, ad the images I took in the morning were spoiled by rain on the lens. I grabbed this as I left the station at Walsall in the early evening. The rain had stopped, but everything was wet and cold. The traffic seemed tetchy and aggressive tonight, too, but nothing really matches the glisten of a wet urban night scene. There wasn’t much business for the taxis tonight, but it’s nice to see Station Street undergoing a bit of a revival.
Even on a cold wet Wednesday in Walsall, there’s beauty to be had.
November 11th - The weather is stuck in repeat. A lousy, wet and heart-in-mouth commute to Darlaston, and I hopped onto the canal as soon as I could. The roads were mad today, really, truly awful.
The rain varied between a light drizzle and very heavy, and was again glad of good waterproofs. Twice I stopped for shelter under bridges. The autumn colour is gorgeous, but I’d love to see a bit more of yesterday’s sun rather than this endless rain we seem to be cursed with tis last couple of weeks.
From November 6th - Walsall new ring road, Green Lane Junction about 5:10pm, Wednesday 6th November 2013. I didn’t feel it safe to stop as the guy behind was stuck to me like a wet T-shirt. This is far from unique driver behaviour here - get in the wrong lane trying to queue jump, then bugger everyone else trying to sort it out.
More of this run later.
Best viewed large by clicking on the youtube logo, and click on the wee gear symbol and select 1080 for best video quality.
November 7th - It is, of course, coming up to remembrance, and across Walsall, Streetpride teams from the Council and volunteers are both working to ensure our war memorials are clean, tidy and generally up to scratch. One of my favourite in Walsall is the one at Darlaston. Human, touching and poignant, the statue of the Tommy is emotive and devotional, and the surrounding peaceful garden is designed to be enjoyed by the blind and partially sighted.
Tucked away in a very quiet corner of Darlaston, I recommend visiting this one, and musing on the loss and service of those that paid the ultimate price.
For a list of Remembrance Events this weekend, see this post on my main blog.
November 7th - A gorgeous morning commute, nippy but sunlit and in clear air. After the rain and unpleasantness of the day before, a real treat. The canal towpaths were very muddy, but the sunlight and autumn leaves combined to make even this bit of canal - through the industrial hinterlands of Walsall town centre - look beautiful.
October 31st - I passed through Walsall’s ‘Civic Quarter’ on the way home, having to post some mail, which I always prefer to do at a main post office. Some years ago, the area of Leicester, Darwall and Tower Streets was refurbished in a peculiar style, with striped limestone paving, and oddly discordant street furniture and lighting. Although most of the town’s civic buildings are here - Council House, Town Hall, Civic Centre, Post Office - this is also a place of bars and night-time economy. Tonight, as darkness fell, it was oddly busy at the top end, but more deserted behind me.
An odd part of town, really, and I could never love that paving.
October 31st - I cycled to Darlaston in soft, warm drizzle. The rain couldn’t make up its mind to stay or go, and just hovered in an indecisive, grey mizzle that painted most things I saw shades of murky grey. However, it’s time to point out that despite the grey, your local parks right now are marvellous. Whether it’s Walsall Arboretum, Holland Park in Brownhills or as shown here, Victoria Park in Darlaston, the trees are really showing great colours right now that can brighten the most dull days.
My has is tipped to those who work so hard to maintain them. Thanks, folks.
October 16th - It seemed a little previous, considering it’s two weeks to Halloween, but as I waited at the lights at the Pleck Road/Bridgman Street junction in Walsall on my way home I spied this real pumpkin on the parcel shelf of the car in front. Nicely carved, too; beats a nodding dog.
It certainly made me smile.
October 15th - I hadn’t been down Station Street in Darlaston - at least the James Bridge end of it - for a while. What greeted me today was quite a surprise, to say the least.
Walsall has developed some odd traffic calming and management systems in the last few weeks; traffic engineers have gone mad with the Shellgrip at Rushall, and two streets in The Butts have become one way. Here, the stub end of Station Street - a short cut through to Heath Road - has been blocked to two way traffic at the Heath Road junction.
This seems bizarre in itself, but they have left a cycling lane open for us two-wheelers, although it’s possibly the most peculiar such arrangement I’ve ever seen.
It’s like an ability-testing obstacle course. I bet whoever laid this out hasn’t ridden a bike for years.
7th OCtober - Sorry, only just had time to sort this out.
This is a very close pass. He was agressive behind me at the lights, and didn’t appear to care how close he came. The back end was very close indeed. This actually scared me.
I cannot understand the necessity for such an aggressive manoeuvre, particularly at a junction where I have to be particularly wary of traffic from the filter at the left. I had full lights on at the time, and he pulled up behind me at the lights, so he knew full well I was there. Shocking.
October 10th - Back in Walsall, I realised I was wrong; there is something awfully special about Walsall at night, too, but for deferent reasons. In Birmingham, It’s about the rush dying down, about the custom changing, about the shift from daytime economy to night time. In Walsall, it’s about empty, stone empty urban space. Places that in the daylight one doesn’t notice, or care about, but in the sodium light make a different, slightly threatening world.
September 23rd - The Birchils lock flight in Walsall is currently closed and mostly drained for maintenance. It’s interesting to see the pounds drained, and how much junk accumulates in them. Also the simple technology of damming the water to allow work to take place. Some flow still accrues due to overspill, and I was impressed with how clear and clean that was, and I noted how it had cut down to the clay liner - the ‘puddling’ - that keeps the canal water from soaking into the earth.
I don’t know how long the work will go on for, but it’s nice to see the locks being maintained.
September 19th - Nice to see the housing project between Deakin Avenue and Watling Street coming along so well. A mixed development of flats and houses by Walsall Housing Group, it’s good that some social housing is being built here to replace at least a few of the huge number of dwellings that were lost in the slum clearance of the mid-2000s.
These homes overlook the open heath at the top of Holland Park. Whoever gets the flats in the foreground will, in all probability, regularly get red deer visiting. Wouldn’t that be great?
September 4th - It’s not often realised, but Walsall has a specific place to park motorbikes. It’s at the bottom of Tower Street, down past the entrance to the Gala Baths, right outside the Civc Centre.
Note that on the other side of the flowerbed, there’s a handy bicycle park. Both have nice rails to lock up your steed.
If you’re a local news aggregator in possession of a funky moped, you can use either, it’s been legally tested.
This has been a public information post.