April 12th - I got a long ride in today, but the afternoon was dull and overcast and I hardly took any photos at all. I was just too busy, stoking the miles in. I left mid afternoon, and headed out via Stonnall, Canwell and Middleton, then on to the canal near Middleton Lakes. I headed into Birmingham against a fearsome headwind, along the canals of the city centre, then out via Smethwick, Great Bridge, Darlaston and back to Walsall. Picking up some shopping, I headed home early evening. It was a great ride - just about 50 miles in total.
As I came over the Arboretum Junction, I took this from the stopline. Walsall looks gorgeous in the dusk.
February 2nd - As I got back to the Innovation Centre at 5:25, I caught sight of the lights reflecting on the boating lake, and just had to take a picture. It was then I realised it was only just coming on to dusk. In January, we clawed back about an hour from the darkness, and all the time the rate of change is increasing.
Spring will soon be here.
December 29th - One of my favourite sets of Christmas lights is a simple run of coloured bulbs along Minster Pool in Lichfield. When I came here before Christmas, I was sad to see that weren’t on; fortunately, it appears to have been a fault, and the wonderful LichWheeld told me they were on the following day.
I returned, just to see them. I think the combination of light and reflection is magical. It’s my inner child coming out.
Dember 23rd - Further up the Watling Street, this house always pushes the boat out at Christmas. I quite like it; it’s a bit of a Brownhills institution. There’s no denying it now, Christmas is upon us for sure. Let’s hope the weather clears soon…
December 16th - on the Christmas card run again, this time in Chasetown. I also came to check out the Christmas lights here, which at least three people have asserted to me are way better than those in Brownhills. They might well be, had they actually got any…
They do, however, have a nice Christmas Tree. Shame about the ugly fencing around it though.
Chasetown remains as gorgeous at night as it ever does; the combination of close packed shops, a steep hill and quite a bit of character make this a lovely place, really. I still think it would be a great spot for a remake of the car chase from Bullit, but maybe on bikes or mopeds.
Steve McQueen, come back, we need you…
December 6th - I finished work early, and headed to Lichfield to get some shopping in. The weather was horrid - a constant not-quite-rain that soaked everything all the same and painted the city in shades of miserable.
I quite enjoyed it, all the same. Lichfield is quite Christmassy, but for me the magic here at this time of year is exemplified by Dam Street after the crowds have receded.
Sad to see there’s no lights up along Minster Pool this year - they normally look wonderful.
Sadly, at that point, the camera battery died. Think I might need a new one…
November 30th - Brownhills has been spoiled rotten this year by our municipal overlords at Walsall Council - they’ve brought us new Christmas lights. Likened to mint Cornettos, they seem to show holly sprigs and stars, or maybe snowfall. They complement the tree we no longer get beautifully.
Can we have another lump of coal for the fire, Mr. Bird?
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 28th - This somewhat poor photo was quite difficult to take, due to the traffic, but after yesterday’s photo of the splendid Walsall Wood Christmas tree, I thought I’d feature the festive decorations in Shelfield. Yes, that’s a normal tree, one quarter covered with colour changing lights. That’ all there is. Utterly bizarre.
November 19th - Country Gardens Garden Centre, Chester Road, Mill Green. Bugger off, it’s too early…
November 17th - Winter, cycling in darkness. I really can’t stress this enough, but lights, folks, lights. Lights are about being seen - creating a moving point of highlight in a dark world. In an urban environment, that’s all you need: to this end cheap LED blinkies and such are perfectly adequate. In rural environments, and for moving at speed off road in the dark, good forward illumination is essential. The better the light, the sooner you see hazards, the faster you can potentially go. I use an LED light by Hope, of Barnoldswick in the UK; it’s their flagship R4 model, and is very bright indeed. This is a non-assisted photo and shows the light spread on a medium setting. I have a very bright rear light from the same company. I love Hope’s stuff. They keep me safe at night.
March 6th - Further along the same road, this time in Pleck, a charming blast from the past. It was a pleasure to see this mod scooter parked up by the roadside. The owner has clearly worked on the details - lights, mirrors, horns, somewhat grubby foxtail and flag. I just had to stop and take a look. You don’t see many of those bikes about these days…
Christmas Eve - I dropped down into the city, not as a shopper, but as an observer. It was quite deserted at 5pm, nothing much was going on except the clearance of the market stalls. The sound of cathedral bells rang out and I was aware of a casual drift towards the close by those around me. I always feel odd at this time on Christmas Eve; it’s all over bar the shouting, and commercially at least, Christmas is over. Peace and best wishes to all those reading this, may Christmas bring you all you desire. See you on the other side…
December 9th - I like Christmas as much as the next man - that is, I generally keep my head down and enjoy the break. However, I don’t think I’ll ever match the enthusiasm of some of those who have adopted the odd suburban American tradition of decorating the outside of one’s house with lights. This example is in Rushall, and I quite like it. There are plenty of examples locally. I find the whole phenomena utterly baffling.