March 6th - The spring evaporated today. On the way home, it rained, and the the wind was horrid. It wasn’t a good day to be out on a bike and I found myself longing for the mild weather to return.
Sadly, the dry towpaths I’d been enjoying for a couple of weeks took a set back into muddy slurry again.
Ah well, there’s always tomorrow…
March 5th - It wasn’t until I hopped on the canal at the Black Cock Bridge and headed for Brownhills that I realised how still it was. The canal was like a millpond, and conditions were really quite silent. It hasn’t been like this since well before Christmas.
There’s definitely a change in the air. It really has been a detestable couple of months weather-wise; I really felt at one point that it was never going to stop raining.
Let’s hope the weather continues on it’s improving path for a while…
March 5th - The nascent spring seemed to tone it down a bit today. It was a nice enough day to commute, but the light wasn’t as good as it has been for the past few days, and it felt chilly. I really wasn’t inspired at all by the light, until I was coming through Walsall Wood and noticed that Jockey Meadows hadn’t really started spring yet. Whilst other places were greening up, it still looks grey and lifeless here. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen the deer here for a while, either.
In these deciduous woods, hedgerows and water meadows spring always comes late.
March 3rd - Great skies this evening, after a quite middling day. I can feel colder air coming in, and the wind has changed. I don’t think this is a burst of winter, but I think it might be a rude awakening; we are only just out of February, after all.
Of late, the clouds and sundowns have been really excellent, and it is the season of fine sunsets. The skyline at Tyseley always captivates me, but tonight, over Shelfield, the salmon-pink tinged clouds were astonishing.
February 28th - Returning from work mid-afternoon, with shopping to fetch, I came through Aldridge. Just opposite the Manor House I spotted these rings of crocuses planted around young saplings, themselves strongly in blossom. The sight and intensity of the flowers was a tonic, and the blossom beautiful in its delicacy.
Spring? This’ll do.
February 27th - I’d had a tough day at work, and just wanted to get home fast. I wasn’t in the mood to faff about, and got the first train I could in the right general direction. That turned out to be the service that terminated at Four Oaks. It was a cracking ride home - dry, clear, crisp - a great spring evening. The sunset wasn’t outstanding, but it was pleasant in it’s starkness, and Castlehill looked as beautiful as ever in the half light.
What intrigued me most, however, was growing on a small patch of neglected flowerbed alongside the access ramp at Four Oaks. Violet flowers, looking a bit like poppies. Just the one small group in an otherwise weed-srewn border. Anyone any idea what this delightful flower is, please?
February 25th - Caught in a short, sharp shower. The air suddenly went clear, and glass-hard. The traffic seemed to go a bit nuts, too.
Despite it’s attempts to kill me, I love the Chester Road. Night or day, summer or winter, sunshine or rain, it’s both often my route out of here, and my way back home.
February 20th - My morning commute was back to baby weather - wet and windy - but there was no heart to it, and the day soon cleared. I returned hume, still deliciously light at gone 5pm, in the most golden of sunset hours. The red bricks that seem to make up most of Walsall’s non-concrete architecture look great in this light, bringing magic even to the dismal design of the Saddlers Centre. Great light and great sunsets, and the extension of the day make for wonderful journeys right now.
February 19th - It feels like spring, and I welcome it. More than the cessation of rains, I welcome the dropping of the relentless wind. Setting out for Telford on a spring morning, the sky was still lovely from the night before, and the ride felt good. Even the usual poor performance from London Midland couldn’t dent my good mood…
February 14th - Valentines Day, but not much love from the weather, which was back to wet and windy. I ‘d been to Darlaston early again, and left in the mid-afternoon lull before the winds really got up. Unlike the ride in, the ride out was again wind assisted and fun.
The traffic was a bit frantic in the wet and I chose to hit the canal again in Walsall Wood. An interestingly wind-cleaved tree near the Black Cock, and cutting across the new Pond and Clayhanger Common the landscape was again sodden and dripping. But there was a kind of peace to it too, which I appreciated.
Crossing the bridge back into Brownhills, the moorings at Silver Street are busier than I’ve ever seen them before (except during a canal festival) - I’m curious as to why. The waterside has been unchanged for a good few years, now, and it seemed to take the boaters ages to discover us. Is it just a pure shortage of places to moor, or the fact that there’s no charge?
Really curious about it.
February 13th - It had been, by any measure, a dreadful day. Work had been a nightmare, the journey home more so. It appeared to be ‘drive like a maniac day’ too, and yet again, I’d not seen the memo. As I came through Bullings Heath on the edge of Walsall Wood, the lights of the Black Cock were like a welcoming beacon. The urge to pull up, lock the bike and have a pint was massive, and compelling. But I was hungry, and needed to eat and unwind at home.
I did the right thing. I took a photo, got back on my bike and rode on. Sometimes, you need to be amongst those you know and love.
February 13th - An unlucky day for a number of reasons, but at least it was dry and relatively pleasant. The wind had dropped, and on the way to Telford, looking up from the platform at New Street Station, a beautiful blue sky.
Riding from the station at Telford, I was fortunate enough to spot the black ice - frozen surface water like glass, the width of the cycle path uphill from the station, dusted with what looked like the residue of a brief snow shower.
Had I not noticed, I could have gone a purler there - one of my nine lives, i think.
February 12th - Will it never stop? Have we somehow opened a portal to weather hell? After a wet, cold and punishingly hard ride to Darlaston very early, I left in the afternoon with a 30mph wind behind me. In what was a heart-in-mouth ride, I rode up Navvys Hill into Rushall at 35mph and made it home in only a shade over 30 minutes.
Avoiding the danger of crosswinds, I tacked over Oak Park and noticed the bowling green here still flooded. I have been told by the Council that the flood is due to a broken drain, and will be sorted out. I was promised a press release, to no avail.
This still breaks my heart - this used to be such a fine little park. It’s like seeing an old friend become destitute.
February 11th - After the snow stopped the day in Telford was dry and sunny.
'Never mind' they said. 'It'll be dry for the journey home' they said.
I left Walsall in the dry, without putting waterproof trousers on. 5 minutes later, when it was too late, the heaven opened, and then the rain turned to snow. For the second time today, I was wet, cold and fed up.
At least no one can ever accuse me of being a fair weather cyclist.
February 11th - The weather is getting worse, not better, but did hold an unexpected surprise for me today. I set out in the morning to the station, and the rain was heavy with a harsh wind. Even with waterproofs, I got soaked, and sat on the train dripping, miserable and cold. Fortunately, the subsequent train I caught to Telford was very warm, and dried me out a treat. This was by far the worst commute I’ve had for ages.
At Cosford, the torrential rain had become heavy snow, and was setting fast. When I alighted, there was about 10mm. Although wet and cold, it was a delight to see and cycle in, and I enjoyed the scenery and spectacle.
A couple of hours later, the sun was out and all the snow melted away. Glad I caught it, though.