BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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 24th - I enjoyed today’s ride more than I was expecting to. When I left home, it was cold and the air was murky. For some reason, the chill didn’t seem to get to me today - I just wrapped up warm and went for it. The leaves are beautiful now - this is the kind of scene I always expect in late October, but doesn’t seem to happen until later. I shot around Hilton, Wall Butts, Chesterfield, Shenstone, Weeford and Hints. From there, I dropped onto the canal at Hopwas and returned via Whittington and Wall. Between Weeford and Hints, I cycled Dog Lane, a green lane I try to ride at least once a year. The colours were great, and had this been a sunny afternoon, would have been stunning.

If you get chance this week, go for a walk in your nearest countryside, before the next big winds. It’s gorgeous.

November 23rd - I hit Chasewater for the sunset, which looked to be pretty decent, but sadly, wasn’t as great as I’d hoped. The light was good though, the park pretty much deserted. The gull roost - despite the last few boats only just leaving the water - was absolutely huge, with what must have been thousands of birds bobbing on the lake. I even saw an angler - the first I’ve seen on the main body of water since the reservoir refilled. It’s still a wonderful place to be, more so now the park has recovered.

The street light through that footbridge still fascinates me. It’s like a portal.

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 18th - I left for work a little early today, I took the backlanes for a change. Despite the grey, overcast weather, they were beautiful in late autumn colours. A good wind now, and these trees will be stripped of their last leaves.It really is gorgeous out there at the moment.

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.

November 10th - I was still tired, and it took me a long time to get moving, but it was a gorgeous afternoon. I headed to Hopwas Hays Wood, again to test my mettle on the downhill there that fascinates me. On the way through, I stopped at Wall in a gorgeous golden hour. I studied for the first time the new milepost erected there in 2012. It’s an impressive thing, but like a lot of statuary these days, it’s so inoffensive, I don’t really see the point; commemorating the Queen as it does, it’s neither historically accurate or informative, but the carving is lovely. On the post’s crown, a last ladybird seemed to be enjoying the sun. I hope it found somewhere decent to hibernate. 

The real star of Wall for me is not Roman but Victorian - the church, with it’s gorgeous, well-kept terraced churchyard. It’s always peaceful here, and the golden light rendered the light Sandstone church and all else it touched golden. 

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.

November 4th - Only one set of photos today, as my others went badly wrong, such was the theme of the day. A day of missed connections, late arrivals, things not working and bad chances. I got a puncture on the way to work, and cursed. I had a mechanical issue on the way home.

Still, it was a pleasant enough day weather-wise, and on my way I took the cycle path from Pelsall to Goscote. Pelsall looked great from the Mill Lane Bridge, as it always does this time of year, and the Goscote Valley was equally pastoral. I can think of far worse journeys to cycle.

Here’s a thing, though, if a shard of glass embeds itself in your tyre and pierces your innertube, why is it always coloured glass and not plain clear? Is coloured glass harder or something?

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.

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 29th - A the risk of being repetitive, now we have cooler, drier weather, the sunsets are great.  This was (again) the view from Tyseley this evening. I never tire of that view of central Birmingham - ever changing, yet changeless. Such a fine sky tonight, too.

October 27th - The fungus, on the whole, is great this year, but the fly agaric remain elusive. My usual best spots for finding this most fairytale of toadstools - up on the canal behind the Terrace at Newtown, on the common opposite Birch Coppice and at Chasewater just by the bypass have all shown poor examples this season. These few decent ones were spotted on the canal bank at Anglesey Basin.

The puffballs - a fine crop - were all growing near Fly Pool on the North Heath at Chasewater. In a few weeks that green gunk inside will be dry, powdery spores, and the fungus will pop open on contact and scatter them on the wind.

The mystery large toadstool was on the canal embankment near Lichfield Road. I have no idea what it was, but it was very large and alive with bugs. 

October 24th - At the other end of the day, I came back at 6pm, and noticed it was already coming on dark. I stopped briefly at Shire Oak to sort my lights out properly, and reflected on the fact that next week, after the clocks go back, I’ll be doing this in the dark. I’d better start remembering my tripod…
I hate this time of year with a passion.

October 24th - At the other end of the day, I came back at 6pm, and noticed it was already coming on dark. I stopped briefly at Shire Oak to sort my lights out properly, and reflected on the fact that next week, after the clocks go back, I’ll be doing this in the dark. I’d better start remembering my tripod…

I hate this time of year with a passion.

October 24th - In Tyseley, I left the station in the mid-morning, with a bright autumn sun cheering me up and making me feel positive rolling the past few days of rain, mud and wind. I stopped on the bridge in Wharfdale Road to look back up the line towards the city. I’ll nvere tire of that view over the rooftops of Small Heath and Bordesley. 

The pall of smoke was from a steam locomotive under test at the rRailway Museum. I couldn’t see it from where I was, but I could hear it and it’s lovely steam whistle.