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?