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 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.
March 10th - Catapulted back into winter, I set off to work off the excesses of the previous evening. It was a cold morning, with a biting east wind, and it was snowing well. I had somewhere to call in Burntwood, then I wanted to go for a decent spin. I noted on my way that although it was wintry, it looks like the swans who abandoned their clutch last year at Catshill are nesting again, in exactly the same spot. That nest is clearly being built up again - let’s hope there are cygnets this year.
Another returnee is Bob the narrowboat. Occupied by an artist painting watercolours, he was in the same spot for a short while last year, and was previously up at Longwood Junction, near Walsall. Sightings of Bob the Boat have been an in-joke on social media for a while, now. It’s good to see it back.
Chasewater itself was more like Prestatyn on a bad day. The water was choppy and there were few folk about. At the water margins, the breakdown of vegetation newly submerged was being accelerated by the waves, and making the periphery of the the reservoir frothy and soapy.
The level is now 4cm off full, and the water in the Nine-Foot Pool is now really close to overtopping the weir. Absolutely unbelievable, really, considering the lake was virtually empty this time last year.
Spring is getting ready to go; only the weather is holding it back. Let’s hope this is winter’s las breath…
February 25th - Stopping to make a quick mechanical adjustment on the Chester Road near Shire Oak, I took time to take a quick shot of the descent into town. I must have done that hundreds, if not thousands of times. Shire Oak is a very unkind hill: climb it from any direction and it’s a long, slow grind. Sadly, the only decent descents are towards Lichfield and Sutton, the one to Brownhills is constantly interrupted by junctions and hazards, and ends far too quickly. But I still enjoy it. No more so than when I’m going home on a cold, windy, dark night.
February 17th - As the sunset moved on, the golds turned to crimson and purple, and the birdlife settled peacefully, watched over by silent, reverent spotters. I went mooching over the north heath, where the boardwalk over Fly Creek seems to have sunk a little since the last time Chasewater was full. It really was a bit Indiana Jones - but nice to see the boardwalk now extended over the heath. As I returned along the Causeway, Jeffreys Swag glowed in the evening. You don’t get many days like this. I’m glad I was alive to witness it.
February 16th - I hadn’t been to Lichfield since Christmas. It was nice to visit at sunset, and feel the chill coming in, reminding me not to get too cocky and that it was still February. The sky was gorgeous, and the city skyline more so. As I walked the streets pushing my bike, I reflected on how depressed the city centre was; so many closed shops I used to love. But the place is still gorgeous, for all that.
February 14th - Today was spring-like again. When I went to bed the night before, there was still snow on the ground. When I awoke, the snow had gone and we’d rebooted into spring again. An odd season, this.
As I dashed late from work, I noticed the sun over the city, and a decent sunset. Snatching a couple of quick shots, I dashed for my train.
The season’s wheel is really turning now; when I got back to Walsall, it was just about still light. I think there’s hope awhile yet…
February 13th - oops, I forgot my gorilla pod. Sadly, I only discovered this unfortunate fact in the dark, in Walsall Wood on my comment home. It was raining, and the air had suddenly become quite warm. My planned shots for the two sets of today were therefore lost, and I had to improvise. I don’t have steady hands, and the shake correction on the camera is vicious in it’s manipulation of images. These shots were all ⅛ or ¼ exposure, hand held. Quite pleased, really, although they are quite poor. Time was I couldn’t do 1/60 exposure without blurring the shot, so something is improving, I’m not sure what.
Walsall Wood itself looks great at night, and always has; the pubs and shopfronts cast a great light, and in the wet, the vehicle lights sparkled. Amazing that after so much change, and so much expansion, this place still retains a village atmosphere.
February 12th - After a protracted and tortuous journey to Telord to undertake a five minute task, I needed to be in Tyseley that afternoon. The snow remained, and it was really quite cold and grey. A succession of delayed trains, grim light and relentless chilliness darkened my mood all day, so much so that when the time came to go home, I was glad.
I’ve been away from Tyseley for just over a week. I’ve really missed it. Looking from the Wharfdale Road bridge, I liked the snow on the terrace roofs stretching out beyond the railway to Camp Hill, whilst down on the platform, the railway signals twinkled in the mist.
Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day.
February 11th - I was expecting quite a bit of snow, but we only really had a dusting. I was again in Telford, and the transport, mercifully, ran to time and I got to my destination without hassles. Telford looked great with it’s white jacket. Normally quite dismal, the urban scenery looked great today.
Funny how snow can bring the dullest landscapes to life.
February 7th - I guess my hands must be getting steadier, or I’m getting better at this photography hoohah. Today was pretty much the inverse of yesterday; 24 hours before the morning commute was wet, and the evening rewarded me with a dry, beautiful sunset twilight commute. Today, the morning was stunning in it’s beauty, and in the evening, I got wet.
At the Arboretum junction, I was held, as usual, at the lights. Waiting to cross, I whipped out the camera, and took a couple of quick shots before the lights changed. Oddly for a ¼ exposure, it came out quite crisp even though it was handheld.
February 5th - By heck, it was nippy this morning. We’d had the merest icing sugar dusting of snow, but after the almost humid warmth of the preceding period, the cold was a shock, as was the ice on the roads, particularly Wallheath Lane. I stomped and puffed into my hands as the sun rose at Shenstone Station; it caught the clouds beautifully and I reached for the camera.
Some things are worth getting cold for.
January 28th - The weather continues to be warm and windy. Fighting it coming home from work, it was hard to believe that only a few days before, it was sub-zero temperatures and ling snow. No trace remained as I hauled the bike over Shire Oak Hill. The lights of the pub looked welcoming, and the temptation to pop in for a swift pint was strong.
January 27th - The snow, thanks to heavy rain and a sudden ramp in temperature - had gone. Only the remnants of snowmen remained, melancholy mementoes of the whiteness of the week before. The consequent darkness around St. James Church shocked me in it’s foreboding.
I’d been to drop something off to a friend, and the weather was wet, warm and inclement. I cycled up the dark pathway from School Avenue, up past the cemeteries and churchyard, and the church itself was unoccupied at 5:45pm on a Sunday, which I found oddly sad. Brownhills Church is one I’ve always had difficulty with architecturally; It’s not ugly, and it’s not remarkable. Apart from an odd spire and hideous extension, it’s pretty plain, really. It’s position, however, is excellent. It’s like the centre of the town was built around it, and the warren of streets take curious right angles around the grounds.