BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

September 17th - The Indian summer continues. It’s very dry, and the air quality is surprisingly poor, but it does make for a lovely atmosphere. Returning home through Shelfield in just a tee shirt, I was captivated by the soft light and landscape.

All autumns should be like this.

September 13th - I whizzed up to Walsall Wood in the morning on an errand. Coming back, I noticed the canal alive with small fish, and wondered if there was an oxygen problem there, but the fish seemed lively enough. No wonder the herons are so prolific here at the moment.
I stopped to look at the old Black Cock Bridge. Around a century old, I think, and in poor repair, it desperately needs some love. Since alternate routes exist, I think one day this steep and high crossing will be closed to through traffic like Hollanders Bridge in Walsall Wood, as replacement would be difficult and expensive.
Mind, a lick of paint and a good clean wouldn’t hurt…

September 13th - I whizzed up to Walsall Wood in the morning on an errand. Coming back, I noticed the canal alive with small fish, and wondered if there was an oxygen problem there, but the fish seemed lively enough. No wonder the herons are so prolific here at the moment.

I stopped to look at the old Black Cock Bridge. Around a century old, I think, and in poor repair, it desperately needs some love. Since alternate routes exist, I think one day this steep and high crossing will be closed to through traffic like Hollanders Bridge in Walsall Wood, as replacement would be difficult and expensive.

Mind, a lick of paint and a good clean wouldn’t hurt…

September 10 - Riding home along Green Lane between Shelfield and Walsall Wood. Just on the Walsall Wood side of the Mob Lane junction, I’m overtaken badly by 3 mopeds, or small motorbikes.

The first has three - yes three - hemetless neds sharing an unregistered machine, the rear one actually smoking. Bringing up the rear, two lads with helmets, but one on a bike with the registration deliberately blanked out.

To make matters worse, at the Black Cock Bridge they turned off and rode up the canal towpath.

I do hope they fell in the cut.

September 9th - As I rode home along the canal through Walsall Wood, I came upon a Mexican standoff. A small, black and white kitten one side of the canal, staring out a Heron on the other who was meeting the stare eye-to-eye.

They’d probably both still be there, but a clumsy cyclist with tea on his mind broke the moment.

September 1st - And theres the thing. Although I’m sad for the passage of summer, I’m returning home in the golden hour. Soon, the time of great sunsets will be here.

The sky was terrified this evening, and the dying sun caught the trees by the canal beautifully.

I always think I can’t do it, but I can. There’s beauty in every season - bring it on.

August 31st - It was a gorgeous afternoon - sunny, warm, with only a light wind. Sadly, I missed most of it due to being unwell. I finally left for a gentle spin at 5pm, and spun up the canal to Aldridge, then over Lazy Hill and back up the Chester Road over Shire Oak into Brownhills.

I had no energy at all. But it was a lovely ride, and I stopped to photograph the view at the top of Lazy Hill and at Shire Oak. I’m astounded how far you can see from Shire Oak on a clear day - those cooling towers are the derelict ones at Willington; inbetween, Burton and the huge Argos warehouse at Barton.

Note also the wind turbine at Whittington Hurst, seemingly very close in the shot of prospect house.

A great, short ride.

August 30th - From the top of Shire Oak heading into Rushall, I stopped to admire the view, as I often do. It’s worth clicking on that top image and checking it out closely - beyond Walsall, Dudley Castle is clearly visible to the left. From here one can see just how green and verdant our area is in Summer, and I do think this vista - with the church tower above the treetops - is rather beautiful in summer. I’m still no wiser as to what the tower central on the skyline is.

Further down the Lichfield Road the houses being built on the former St. John’s school site are making progress. Interesting to see the old roof truss still in use on the open gable. In time, the new houses will adjoin the remainder of the old school.

A dull, overcast day, but still plenty to see.

August 27th - Just on the canal bank between the Black Cock Bridge and Walsall Wood Bridge, a crab apple tree with lots of good fruit.

This is the first tree along here I’ve seen with fruit this year. Normally there are three or four.

A sad reflection on the season, which seems to have been a bit strange. But never mind, this will make a lovely jelly for someone.

August 27th - A run out mid afternoon on an errand. I headed up the canal from Pelsall Road to Silver Street bridge, then over Clayhanger Common and the new pond to Walsall Wood. 

The herons are getting really, really confident; this one was on the canal by the Watermead estate. He wasn’t a bit bothered by what was going on around him.

The Swan family were grazing by the embankment restoration near the Black Cock Bridge. The seven young I’ve followed since hatching are adult-sized now, and the first hints of adult, white plumage are beginning to show. I don’t know what the bank works have disturbed, but these graceful birds were very engaged with eating it!

August 23rd - I had to pop into Aldridge on an errand, and so I took the canal. There’s an autumnal nip in the air, and everything is ripening. A fine crop of elderberries, blackberries and haws will make some fantastic pddings and wine, and the rosebay willowherb is demonstrating beautifully why it’s know as ‘old man’s beard’. 

The only disappointment is the acorn crop, which is very, very bad. Only the second tree I’ve seen with any fruit this year - oddly, the acorns that grew are fat and in excellent shape, but the tree is mostly carrying the dead buds of undeveloped fruit. Most odd.

And then, that heron. He’s persistent, I’ll give him that. A fine bird.

August 20th - In late summer, in an overcast moment, Coppice (or Goblin) Woods between Walsall Wood and Shelfield are silent, dark and beautiful.

I think this is probably the oldest oak and holly deciduous woodland for miles and miles around. This is very traditional British woodland, of which there is precious little left.

If you fancy a walk out this weekend, why not pop down and explore it?

August 18th - He was only a kitten, really; a sharp eyed, keen whiskered black and white mog exploring his world. This is where I saw the smokey grey pedigree chap a few weeks ago, just on the far side of the canal at Barrow Close in Walsall Wood. 

Puss didn’t seem bothered about me, and was initially hunting something in the water. Foiled, he took a drink instead.

A lovely lad with a smudge-black nose and a remarkably long tail. Oh, to be an inquisitive young cat in summertime…

August 18th - If you haven’t noticed by now, I love herons. Adore them. I make no apology for featuring this one, just a day from featuring the last one - this was was on the restored embankment at the Black Cock Bridge in Walsall Wood.

Love the way he had his back to the water, and was stood on one leg, resting pensively.

I could never tire of watching these fellows.

April 16th - Spinning up to Screwfix in Walsall Wood, I noticed that the bank  restoration works near the Black Cock Bridge were still ongoing. It seems that after the sectional piling was installed, earth has  been spread to the level of it and dropped in front.

This work has primarily been to stabilise the bank and counter erosion, and is not to do with subsidence, as some have asserted. It is interesting to note at this point, that the fall from the embankment on that side is very steep, and the consequences of a breach on that side could be severe.

I do hope they get around to stabilising the brickwork on the other side, though, it’s falling away and is still hazardous to users.

August 13th - The wind had changed direction slightly, and the rains were scarcer, but conversely, the skies were far more threatening. As I headed home to Brownhills, I was struck by the drama of it. I’m not greatly struck by Humphries House in snow white, but it doesn’t half show off an angry sky well.

Hope it settles down a bit for the weekend.