August 25th - One thing that is good about a wet ride is that it speeds up the bedding in of new brake pads. Last week I changed the ones on the front, and although greatly improved, that hadn’t yet reached best efficacy. A ride in the wet - with some nice hard stops from speed - works wonders, and the rain on the disc mingles with the metal dust from the disc and pads, forming a grinding paste that wears everything together quickly.
On my return, I swill out the brake calliper and disc with a hose.
The brakes are loads better now than they were before. I’ve never seen this documented anywhere, but seems to work a treat.
August 22nd - It was an odd day at work, after a very early start, I had little to do except for one late task at 4pm. Coming home, it spotted with rain most of the way, and the sky was threatening. I shot up Brownhills High Street to get to the cashpoint, then couldn’t get any money as my card had expired - I dimly remembered opening the new one the month before, and promptly forgetting about it.
An odd, frustrating day. But hey, it was Friday…
August 10th - I realised I hadn’t really done a circuit of Brownhills like this for a while, and despite the grim weather warnings, it’s wasn’t a bad day at all. The light was bright, and the scenery good. It was a good day to photograph landscape, I guess.
A the Pelsall Road bridge on the canal, I discovered how the otherwise inaccessible flowerbed was being maintained - formerly I’d wondered if it was from the boat so often moored nearby.
At Chasewater, the lake was very, very choppy. The wakeline had been abandoned for the day, and only a few very brave windsurfers were out.
I note that the valves are currently open, and the water level at the reservoir is steadily lowering, probably to the lowest level since last summer, the high watermark evident on the spillway bridge in a line of white surface scum.
An unexpectedly great day to be out.
August 10th - A remarkable season, and now the fruiting begins in earnest. The wind was gusting hard, and the threat of rain not far away, but I slid out mid afternoon in defiance of Hurricane Bertha (spit). I let the wind blow me along the wet canal to the cyclway over the common - on the way, I noticed what I think are cherries growing ripe on a tree by the Pier Street Bridge. They look rather fat and large to be such gems in Brownhills. Can anyone help there?
There’s also been a remarkably prodigious crop of hazelnuts from the hedge thicket opposite the Watermead estate - but what wasn’t already squirrelled was blown down in the wind; the towpath is thick with nobbled and wind-fallen nuts.
On the cycleway, a similarly bountiful crop of blackberries, and the elderberries too are ripening to a beautiful black-crimson gloss.
Summer coming to an end is always sad, but how can one remain so in the face of such wonderful fruits?
August 8th - I came to the top of Shire Oak Hill in light rain, and stopped at the quarry entrance to look at my beloved view to Lichfield. Rain was sweeping in along the Trent Valley, and the hills to the west were obscured by low rain clouds.
It had been another tough week,and I was glad to crest the hill and be nearly home. I love my job, but sometimes it’s tough to keep everything going.
But knowing home was downhill from here, the promise of good company, the family and a decent mug of tea was strong, and cheering.
Home is where the teapot is.
As it happened, the rain never really reached here.
August 8th - In contrast to recent days, it was dark and overcast with a very threatening atmosphere for most of the day. Racing home, I could smell rain on the wind, and it felt ominous.
A bit of rain is welcome; it’s needed. But we haven’t had weather like this for any length of time for a long period, and this felt dramatic and alien.
As I rode down Mill Lane in Stonnall, I noticed a flock of starlings had settled on the field, hedgerow and overhead lines. Perhaps it’s just the Hitchcock thing, but even those little birds in silhouette felt menacing…
August 1st - My return journey was weary, wet, grey and warm. Again, it felt like being in the gust from a hair-drier, so warm was the breeze. It was raining steadily, and having popped in to Brum, I returned from Shenstone down quiet, greasy country lanes, dodging a whole host of slippery hazards in waiting, now hydrated.
I note most of the harvest is done here, but for a couple of fields. In the UK, I guess it pays not to dither, and as I was waiting at Shire Oak I reflected on the wonderful unreliability of the great British weather.
August 1st - I arrived at work early, before the rain came, but had to nip across town midday. There was a soft drizzle that made my beloved Black Country smell beautiful, and the trees and greenery, washed of dust and grime, looked splendid in their shimmering emerald wetness.
July 19th - I was still suffering with my left foot, so rest was in order and I didn’t do anything except cruise out for a bit of fresh air and some shopping. It was an odd evening - at 6pm on Saturday, Brownhills is usually dead and deserted, but it had rained nearly all day, and right now, from the Pier Street bridge, the town was coming alive - people were walking, jogging and getting shopping in.
All the time under a dramatic, somewhat threatening sky.
May 29th - Just over a week ago I noted that the honeysuckle bush overgroing the barrier at the Black Cock Bridge was in bud. Today, on another wet, grey commute, I noted that the shrub was now coming into flower. Already, it smells delightful, and is becoming a riot of colour, from yellows to dark, dark crimson, and every shade inbetween.
Honeysuckle grows like a weed these days in many hedgerows, scrubs and canal embankments. It’s delightful, and the insects love it. It fascinates me and always looks a little prehistoric.
May 28th - A foul commute to and from work, characterised by constant drizzle, wet greasy roads and drivers not concentrating. Nearly wiped out on the way to work, a lady pulled out on me from a factory forecourt so closely her car snapped the reflector off my rear mudguard. Had I been slightly slower, she’d have clipped my wheel and I’d have been off. She didn’t even stop.
Returning on a no less intemperate journey home, I was cheered to see the cows still on Jockey Meadows; a fair-sized herd, there seem to be about 12 or 15, and they were looking wet and fatalistic as only cows can.
I’m convinced they’re here to maintain the meadow and churn it up, whilst spreading the fertile love in the form of cowpats. They certainly seem to be having a good go.
They were fascinated by me and my bike. I’m sure they’d all have come to the gate had I waited long enough.
May 24th - There’s probably some fancy photographic name for it, but some days seem naturally high-contrast. Something about the light. I spun around very wet towpaths out of Brownhills to Chasewater, and noted that part of Sandhills was dark, and another part was remaining in light. It really was quite beautiful.
Newtown’s bunny population were out enjoying the lush wet vegetation, and could be barely bothered to run away as I approached, and the view to Hammerwich was as wonderful as ever now it’s wearing it’s summer jacket. At Chasewater, the view from the dam was remarkable, with a rather threatening sky.
As I headed home, the heavens opened again.
But it’s summer, and warm rain is better than cold…
May 24th - Still feeling a bit ropey, and with dreadful weather, I didn’t get out until late afternoon when the sun decided to make an appearance. Sadly, the heavy rains have again blathered the towpath at Anchor Bridge. Where the water streams down the embankment, the shale footpath has washed from the side of the concrete drain cover again,leaving an 8-10 inch deep channel, 6 inches wide across nearly the full width of the towpath.
This is deep and large enough to wedge a bike wheel in, or lose a foot down - especially with inexperienced cyclists or kids. Take care. The rest of the path northwards to the bridge is also eroded badly and is quite hazardous.
Horridly enough, that’s a used syringe in cavity. I suspect it washed down with the storm water, possibly out of a drain.
I shall contact the CRT on Tuesday.
May 23rd - A horrid day. Rainy, wet, and the warm summer air seems to have left us for a while. I slipped out in the evening to Mill Green to run an errand, and coming over Shire Oak, stopped at the quarry gates to capture my familiar muse in the murk.
A horrid, headache grey day. I didn’t feel great, either. Summer, come back soon, please…
May22nd - I left Leicester early in the afternoon, when it was still a pleasant day; I’d set off in light morning rain, which had cleared. I did what I had to, then nipped over to Spinney Hills to pick up Indian snacks, and headed home. As the train pulled from Leicester, the rains came.
I had an inkling from passenger information that there was disruption to northbound local services out of Brum, and changed trains at Nuneaton for a service to Lichfield Trent Valley, which was also heavily delayed. It was the right decision though, which was a relief.
I alighted at Lichfield in a thunderstorm and torrential rain. Waiting it out, I gave up, and cut a run for it.
I got soaked. The roads home were like rivers, and progress was slow. I hadn’t been that glad to get in, and have a hot shower for a very long time.