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.
November 28th - Christmas is bearing down upon us. Last week, I recorded the unlit Christmas tree, ready to be decorated in St John’s churchyard, Walsall Wood; a week later there are lights in the tree and wrapped round the lampposts down the high street. It’s not the fast return of Christmas that bothers me, it’s the increasingly short gaps between them that bothers me. Humbug.
November 24th - Tonight, as I came from Walsall Station (always go home with the wind behind you if possible), I noticed the Christmas lights had been switched on. This is a long way from last year, when council leader Mike ‘Blofeld’ Bird was making a big show that there was no budget for Christmas, before u-turning and passing around the upturned flat cap of councillor Anthony Harris and begging enough from business to pay for a tree. It seems our leader has realised austerity is not a vote winner, as this year there’s a full timetable of events planned. The switch on this year seemed to involve a crowd of happy young kids singing round the tree, which does look rather decent in front of the Crossing at St. Pauls. So much better than the lamp-post based wigwam Amey took the piss out of the town with for a few years…
October 16th - I found myself cycling after dark tonight. This will happen almost daily as the nights draw in over the winter. Good lights - front and rear - are essential for being seen, and also to see by. I have a Hope Vision 4 on the front, and this is my field of view with it on medium output. It’s a good LED light which has seen a lot of use, and enables me to spot night time hazards before it’s too late. These vary from potholes to puddles and even animals like foxes, pheasants, rabbits and badgers. Riding at night is a visceral experience, but exhausting as the concentration required is huge.