December 2nd - Still unwell, I had important stuff to attend to in Leicester, so off I went. Headachy, still with an upset stomach, the going was hard, and I didn’t take photos today except in the one place there that never, ever disappoints: South Wigston station. Everywhere else is shades of grey, black, ochre and slate; here there are crimson rose hips, orange cotoneasters and some dainty yellow flowers I couldn’t identify. Such a lovely bit of colour on a murky, overcast, grey day. And all growing from a small parcel of wasteland. A wonder to behold.
December 1st - First of all, my apologies. On my main blog I advertised the Chasewater Christmas Fayre for the day heavily; the press release from Staffordshire Council read well, and it looked to be a great event. When I turned up for a look around at midday, it was dire. 5 stalls, one of which was promoting the Forest of Mercia did not a great Christmas event make. My apologies to anyone who attended after reading my advert - I do try to promote decent events. I shall be more careful in future.
Disappointed by the Fayre, and still suffering with a stomach bug, I set out around Chasewater on a pleasantly sunny winter day. The North Heath looked pleasingly dramatic in it’s winter jacket, but sadly, no sign of the deer. Returning, I headed back over the Common and noted some management works in progress, which was good to see.
A pleasant ride, and I would have been out longer but my energy just wasn’t there.
November 29th - I was out early, as the sun rose. I had to go to Telford, and the morning skies were great. It was a shame I was running to close to time to stop and take more pictures. I’d forgotten how wonderful a winter sunrise could be.
At the other end of the day, I returned to Shenstone on a very black, cold and damp night; the weather couldn’t make it’s mind up to be wet or dry. There was a keen breeze that teased me all the way home.
Although it was Friday, the homeward journey was hard, and seemed to take ages. I’m slowly getting into winter mode, but it’s still tough.
November 27th - I came back to Brownhills late, and on an oddly warm evening. I was knackered, frankly; I hadn’t had lunch and my energy reserves were very low. I’d fought what seemed like a devilish headwind from Lichfield but it was, in reality, nothing extreme. I pulled over on Anchor Bridge to get a shot down the High Street, which turned out lousy due to headlights. However, this quick image of the canal didn’t turn out too bad.
When I last looked, those trees had leaves… my, how the year has mached on.
November 26th - Heading off to work on a less than inspiring morning. I’m glad to say I’m used to the chill again now, but the greyness is still a bind. As I sped down through Stonnall, I passed Grove Hill. Last time I looked up there, it was a field of oilseed rape, and the tree, now barren, was in full leaf.
There’s a winter crop grown in the surrounding field now, which was young and vivid green, perhaps the only splash of natural colour on an otherwise dismal grey morning.
That hedge still demonstrates soil erosion beautifully, mind. The folks that planted that knew exactly what they were doing.
November 25th - Ladies and gentlemen, I can make an announcement. This coming winter will be warm, without much snow or ice.
I have guaranteed this by purchasing new snow tyres for this season. Therefore, fate dictates that I won’t need them. Which will probably be a shame, as they look like they mean serious business.
This has been a public service announcement to 365daysofbiking readers.
November 25th - Sorry, but it was a great sunset. I was late for my train, and took a short cut through an industrial park. As I cut through the access tunnel, the sun pulled me up short. In the winter days, light is short and precious, which is why I think the sunsets are so much more beautiful to me. Within ten days, I’ll miss the sunsets completely.
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 22nd - The great sunsets continue. Sadly, I was in the wrong place to catch today’s properly. On my way home from work, I had to pop to Aldridge, and dived onto the canal to avoid the traffic. As I came back through the wood, the dying sun set the sky ablaze. Just wish I’d had a better view. Bet it was spectacular at Chasewater.
November 22nd - Passing through Aldridge on the canal on my way home, the scent of woodsmoke was never far away. There are few things better than seeing an occupied narrowboat with a nicely smoking chimney. The sight and smell are a joy to behold - and the whole scene was set off beautifully by the autumn colours.
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 3rd - Today, the season’s wheel clicked round another notch. The wind that so harangued me the day before had died right down, but the temperature had dropped, too. Today, I realised once and for all that winter, if not quite on her throne, was certainly waiting in the wings.
I left mid afternoon, with grand ideas of tearing up the Chase, but I was dressed too lightly and I felt cold and despite the sun, quite down in the dumps, if I’m honest. No reason to be, other than the passage of warmth and the advancing of the seasons; this time of year I always wonder if I have the strength inside to face another winter of dark nights, cold commutes and lifeless countryside.
I headed up over Chasewater and Cuckoo Bank, down Rainbow Hill and over Slitting Mill. A quick coffee at sunset, and back over Penkridge Bank. I saw deer, but it was too dark to get a good picture. Returning cold and in darkness, I felt a world away from warm, sunny afternoons. I was heavy hearted and my very bones ached.
I bloody hate this time of year.
November 2nd - I left for Lichfield at a quarter to four, and was there by five. The wind today was crafted on Satan’s back step, and blew me there at a wonderful speed. Sadly, it took me forty minutes to get back.
The headwind on my return, loaded with the occasional burst of rain for good measure, was evil. I had my suffer face on all the way back. Winter is truly here now. I wondered how all those bonfires and fireworks parties would go in such blustery conditions.
I stopped for a breather on the M6 Toll bridge at Summerhill, and decided to have a play with the long exposure setting on the camera. I’ve found this one has a 15 and 30 second setting, so popped it on the handrail and had a go.
Not too shabby, and nice colour in the sky.
October 28th - The shift from BST to GMT and the earlier fall of darkness is always depressing, but it did allow me to catch a great sunset sky over Birmingham on my way home tonight. The inclement weather had left the door open for the cold, and it felt like winter out there, cold, dark and intemperate.
Better get used to it quickly, I guess…
October 26th - A sad day for me, the closing of summertime, and the descent into early darkness. The background susurration of gloom I now feel will not lift until the shortest day in December. Once things start to open out again after December’s nadir, I will feel better.
It was a day that didn’t work out; I left late and had to go to the cycle workshop at Birches Valley, up on the Chase. In my hurry, I decided against all apparent sense to take a shortcut over Cuckoo Bank. It was a disaster. The tracks were boggy and hard going, and once up there, the paths didn’t go where I thought they did. Were I exploring and not actually trying to get anywhere, this would have been great, but I emerged a good 45 minutes later at Wimblebury, way too late to get to my destination.
Instead, I headed up over Rainbow hill, down to Moor’s Gorse and back via Upper Cliff and Lodge Bank. The wind on the way back was merciless. I was glad to get home.
There was light in the darkness though, one last hanger-on from late summer; a single, beautiful foxglove growing in the otherwise dead forest floor at Parson’s Slade. Delicate, perfect and quite alone, I doubt it’s purple flowers will ever see a bee, but they did cheer me up.
It was a great summer, for me. I’m ready for the winter now, I guess. Bring it on.