August 20th - I had to pop into Walsall for some bits and pieces on my way home, and so I rode up Church Hill and down the marketplace.
Walsall may have changed beyond recognition in many ways, but that view of the yellow sandstone church at the top of the steps is gorgeous, iconic and unique.
Some things are timeless.
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.
August 6th - Riding back through Walsall on a warm summer evening, you realise this is the best time of year to see it; the trees around Hatherton Street, Lichfield Street and the poncily named ‘Civic Quarter’ are absolutely wonderful. People run Walsall down as being dirty, post-industrial and architecturally barren, but it’s one of the greenest pieces of urban landscape I’ve ever seen.
Beneath these trees, a town lives and breathes.
If you don’t believe me, get somewhere high, like the New Art Gallery or St. Matthews steps on Church Hill, and look out. Walsall is a green oasis.
July 29th - Sorry, more cygnets. I didn’t know about these, but taking a desperate dive onto the canal to avoid traffic madness on my way to work, I passed this family of three and parents in Pleck, Walsall.
They interested me particularly, as the young are clearly starting to develop white plumage, yet look younger than the Catshill brood (they’re smaller, too).
The adults don’t look any different, though…
July 23rd - in the Goscote Valley on my way to work, as the day started to warm up, I was drawn to a continual crackling sound. This always fascinates me; it’s the sound of gorse pods popping open with a snap, and scattering their seeds.
The action is induced by the warmth of the sun, and makes for an interesting diversion on the way to work. I love how the pods rattle musically when you shake the bushes, too.
It’s the little things that make summer, really.
July 22nd - The Mad Old Baggage noted the other day that buddleia was known as the ‘butterfly bush’ - and she’s right. By a busy roadside in Walsall, the purple, masonry-destroying shrub is quietly reclaiming the built, and using it to nurture the lepidoptera.
It may be a plant of the margins, scrubs and wastes, but buddleia is a bright, beautiful shrub that clearly supports a whole host of bugs - which can’t be bad.
A fantastic sight.
July 22nd - I think this must be the earliest I’ve ever seen ripe blackberries - albeit in small numbers. It’s so early in the season for them, I couldn’t quite believe it. Rosehips, too - summer is definitely cranking on a notch. With the bright sunshine and very warm days of late, so much fruit is ripening.
This is definitely one of the best summers for a good few years. Get out and enjoy it - it’s stunning.
July 11th - My return via Walsall for some shopping took me up through Yewtree, Delves, Highgate and over Church Hill. Rounding the corner on the cycleway, at the foot of the old, disused steps down to The Ditch (that’s the name of a place, honest), a fantastic display of flowers.
What a splendid ride for a Friday at the end of a very, very hard week.
June 24th - Hatherton House, one of the older, more dignified buildings of Walsall, situated on Hatherton Street. That was until it was converted into a nursery, and some arsehatted moron decided to do this to it.
I have nothing further to add.
June 10th - Waiting in the queue at the Arboretum Junction in Walsall this morning, I was pleased to note that this Ricketts Ltd. tipper wagon was kitted out with safety features - a reversing safety camera, cyclist warning notice. He seemed to have extensive mirrors too, but I couldn’t get them in shot.
The wagon was driven professionally and courteously, and I couldn’t fault it - it was nice to see. More and more tipper trucks seem to have these safety features - shame they aren’t on some bigger HGVs.
Well done, H. D. Ricketts - very considerate.
June 6th - A local pizza company had people dress up in superhero costumes and stand at junctions with placards.
This has not sold me pizza, frankly.
If you use this pointless and demeaning tactic to advertise your business, I’ll not buy from you.
June 6th - I came through Walsall at 4:30pm up the Wednesbury Road, and was met with a large degree of congestion. I’d been seeing smoke from way back in Darlaston and wondered where it was emanating from.
As I got closer, I discovered there had been some kind of house fire in the terraces there, and a couple of engines were in attendance. I have no idea what happened, and the incident doesn’t seem to have made the news.
Everything seemed generally calm and under control. I hope nobody was hurt and any damage wasn’t too bad.
June 3rd - I’ve often thought that one of the most attractive things in a person - male or female - is if they don’t realise just how attractive they are. As I’ve got older, I’ve begun to realise this applies to places too.
One of the reasons Walsall is such a gem architecturally - and it is, despite the abuse of it’s more conventional historic assets - is that it doesn’t realise just what a wealth of diverse riches it has. Stop in any suburb or part of town. Look around. Somewhere, close by, there will be something remarkable - not necessarily beautiful, but always engaging. And the town as a whole doesn’t really know.
I came into Walsall from Aldridge and took a route through Highgate. This house caught my eye while I waited for a reversing driver to complete their manoeuvre - just study it; take it in. Possibly not at it’s best, but from the chimney pots down to the front wall the detail is incredible. A fantastic roofline and gables, and the detail in the window arches.
There are treats like this all over this town, and Walsall just doesn’t know about them.
May 7th - I rode back from Darlaston under the threat of rain, but took to the canal for a change. Coming through central Walsall, I stopped to look back at the sky, and remembered the Majorfax chimney, one of the last Victorian skyline landmarks walsall has outside it’s churches. There’s something curious about it that’s barely visible until you look closely.
Someone, at some point, has erected a modern, tubular flue inside the chimney - It’s rain-cowl can just be seen poking over the top. Why would you do that? 25 metres of pipe, in a confined space designed as a flue in the first place. Why not just fit a roof vent next to the stack?
Is it a real flue, or a steeplejack’s joke? Whatever it is, it’s a curiosity.
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.