February 6th - I’d been in Telford, in a building with no windows. When I came to leave, I realised it was raining fairly heavily. Nothing to do, but don the waterproofs and go for it. The journey was pretty miserable, really; delays at Telford and Birmingham made for a long, damp trudge home, but at least the wind was behind me.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a continuously warm, wet winter like this. Last year was bad enough, but at least we had variety with the snow. This is just getting boring now…
January 27th - I was stood on platform 5 waiting for a train at New Street Station. I looked up at the odd, tube-like access bridge hastily added as a second access system here in the early 1990s, in the wake of the Kings Cross Fire; because New Street was classed as a subterranean station, it had to have separate access. So cranes added this monstrosity, now out of use.
Looking up in my early morning fug, I noted the arrangement of walkways, barriers, rails and safety harness mounting points spanning the top of the structure.
The only purpose to be up there is to clear the skylight windows.
If you design something, and most of the complex steelwork is to ensure the safety of a window cleaner whose job is to clear less than 15 square meters of glass, you’ve failed as a designer.
Sadly this monstrosity looks set to survive the renovations.
July 12th - Crossing Shire Oak with a saddlebag full of food, I was caught by the lights. The junction is quite, quite horrid, and desperately needs resurfacing. Later on that evening, there would be a serious road accident here, blocking the junction for several hours.
It really was about time something was done to improve this junction or all users.
July 11th - My dislike of the Arboretum Junction in Walsall knows no end. It seems difficult for most users - be they motorised or human powered. It’s particularly bad for pedestrians, who have to use multiple crossings to cross one road - so a simple negotiation can involve four or five waits. It’s horrid.
I noticed this lady yesterday evening. She was still negotiating the junction when I crossed, and I felt quite sorry for her - by road is the easiest way, but it’s very, very intimidating. Nice bike, though, and it looks well used.
The traffic engineers who thought this batshit crazy junction up should be forced to cross in on foot for perpetuity.
November 29th - Walsall Station is an odd, ugly place. The original, stunning and imperious victorian station was demolished in the 1970s and the current concrete and steel afterthought bolted into the then new Saddlers Centre shopping mall. Partially in a tunnel, visually the external aspect is very busy and jarrs the eye. To use, it’s grey, dingy and unpleasant, full of dark spots and blind corners, which multiply and threatenn at night.
An awful place.
September 22nd - a bright, sunshine autumn day. A ride through Staffordshire. My goodness, it was nippy as evening fell. It’s been one hell of a bad year for the oaks. I’ve previously recorded the absolute plague of knopper galls around Brownhills, devastating the acorn crop, and I’ve hardly seen any unharmed ones at all. Out in Staffordshire the story was the same. The ones that aren’t victim to the tiny, drilling wasp are small and sickly, affected by the lousy summer.
I hope they (and we) have a better time next year. To me, oaks are the epitome of the English tree, and when they suffer, I feel we all do a little bit.
July 10th - There’s no end to the rain and grey weather. The light was so poor all day that my photos were all drab, lifeless and depressing. I’m sorry about that, it’s just the conditions. However, it’s July and high summer, and I’m commuting in high viz, full waterproofs and with lights on in daytime. This can’t go on: we must get the sun back eventually. Stuff Chasewater for a week or two, I want to feel the sun on my back and the freedom of cycling in a teeshirt and shorts again.
June 16th - First time I’d been to Walsall on a Saturday for over 18 months, and I quickly remembered why. It may have just been the rain, but the lack of anything decent in the town centre, the grinding misery of the shoppers, and the general air of shabbiness the place wears just ground the joy out of me. I walked up Chuch Hill, and then cycled to Caldmore to pick up my favourite sweets and savouries, then back to Crown Wharf and Maplin. Not finding what I was after, I went for a coffee in Starbucks, and locked my bike to the railings out front, as many others were doing. As I left the retail park, I noted with a wry smile that the cycle parking provided - a large quantity of Sheffield stands - was unused. Hidden away, with no CCTV cover, you’d be mad to lock your ride there. These town planning types just don’t get it, do they?