December 9th - After some years of the awful skeletal Christmas tree - literally a lighting column with a wigwam of lights strung from it - it’s nice to see Walsall has returned to the tradition of a real tree, and this years looks great to me. Tonight was the first time I’d seen it, and I must say, it’s a nice one.
Considering a couple of years ago the outrage when the tradition was threatened, it seems to be surviving well.
Welcome to Walsall, the land of political u-turns…
December 7th - The sunset was even better than I expected. I caught it from the west shore and the old norton pit mound. As darkness fell, it became richer and darker, but by heck it was cold. Thankfully, though, there was a bit of a distraction…
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…
December 5th - Without a functioning rail service, there was no alternative and I cycled home from Tyseley. The wind was strong, but it had died back considerably, and the rain - apart from a brief shower as I hit Park Hall - had cleared. I didn’t fancy the traffic up the main drag over Kingstanding with a side wind, so hit the canal all the way home. It got dark in Aston, and the front light - my trusty Hope R4 - was plenty good enough all the way. The going wasn’t fast, but it was steady, and much of the time I was sheltered from the wind.
Reality checks came at Tower Hill, where rocks had tumbled from the steep cutting embankment onto the towpath, and Park Hall, where a tree had similarly come to a sad end.
There was a cracking sunset, too, but I missed most of it, hidden behind the cityscape. The views over Hamstead were great though, and it made a change to see them at this time of day. I must head here for a sunset when I get chance.
I arrived home tired, but just pleased to be back, and safe. Many, many people had a far worse time with floods, the tidal surge and severe gales. My tribulations were nothing, and I did get in a decent ride, after all.
December 3rd - An evening ride up to Walsall Wood had me crossing the High Street at the Ogley Road junction, just by the former Warreners Arms, after checking out some of the old names scratched into the brickwork of the former pub.I noted in an instant how much this view had changed in a decade; ten years ago, there would be two tall high-rises on the right, and a row of grim maisonettes on the left. The intervening years have seen them all carried to dust, a period of dereliction, followed by new build. On the right, Knave’s Court, a care complex for the elderly, and on the left, Ogley Hay Court, modern flats and houses.
Change happens slowly. Occasionally, something snags on your memory, and you realise how much changed without you registering it.
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?
November 30th - A terrible day beset by daft problems, but mainly by a rather upset stomach. I shot out for a brief ride as I saw the sunset was so good, and caught the tail end of it. I headed up onto the old railway line at Clayhanger, and even climbed the old signal post for a decent shot. A fine atmospheric sunset, and the ride made me feel better, too.
November 29th - I was out early, as the sun rose. I had to go to Telford, and the morning skies were great. It was a shame I was running to close to time to stop and take more pictures. I’d forgotten how wonderful a winter sunrise could be.
At the other end of the day, I returned to Shenstone on a very black, cold and damp night; the weather couldn’t make it’s mind up to be wet or dry. There was a keen breeze that teased me all the way home.
Although it was Friday, the homeward journey was hard, and seemed to take ages. I’m slowly getting into winter mode, but it’s still tough.
November 27th - I came back to Brownhills late, and on an oddly warm evening. I was knackered, frankly; I hadn’t had lunch and my energy reserves were very low. I’d fought what seemed like a devilish headwind from Lichfield but it was, in reality, nothing extreme. I pulled over on Anchor Bridge to get a shot down the High Street, which turned out lousy due to headlights. However, this quick image of the canal didn’t turn out too bad.
When I last looked, those trees had leaves… my, how the year has mached on.
November 25th - Sorry, but it was a great sunset. I was late for my train, and took a short cut through an industrial park. As I cut through the access tunnel, the sun pulled me up short. In the winter days, light is short and precious, which is why I think the sunsets are so much more beautiful to me. Within ten days, I’ll miss the sunsets completely.
November 23rd - I hit Chasewater for the sunset, which looked to be pretty decent, but sadly, wasn’t as great as I’d hoped. The light was good though, the park pretty much deserted. The gull roost - despite the last few boats only just leaving the water - was absolutely huge, with what must have been thousands of birds bobbing on the lake. I even saw an angler - the first I’ve seen on the main body of water since the reservoir refilled. It’s still a wonderful place to be, more so now the park has recovered.
The street light through that footbridge still fascinates me. It’s like a portal.
November 21st - I returned to Shenstone quite late, and the night was fascinating here, too. I never tire of that station; it’s got no facilities whatsoever, but the atmosphere and architecture make it one of the most lovely stations in the Midlands.
I’m fascinated by the feeling of isolation here at night, the islands of light and the elegant perspective.
I was captivated, too by the chap waiting for his lift under the streetlight on the corner of the car park. A long range, grainy shot, but there’s something about it I can’t explain.
November 21st - At the other end of the day, it was even colder. But the air had developed that hard, glassy-clear quality that it only really develops in winter; when even sounds seem sharper. I noticed as I hopped between stations that the view of the mid-renovation New Street Station, Bullring and Smallbrook from the access bridge was quite stunning, so I stopped to photograph it a while.
Quite surprised I wasn’t collared by the ever-present security as I took these, to be honest…
November 20th - Just the one picture today, as the commutes were horrid and wet, ad the images I took in the morning were spoiled by rain on the lens. I grabbed this as I left the station at Walsall in the early evening. The rain had stopped, but everything was wet and cold. The traffic seemed tetchy and aggressive tonight, too, but nothing really matches the glisten of a wet urban night scene. There wasn’t much business for the taxis tonight, but it’s nice to see Station Street undergoing a bit of a revival.
Even on a cold wet Wednesday in Walsall, there’s beauty to be had.
November 19th - Yesterday’s sunset was clearly unfinished business. Sorry for the repetition, but I do love this view. Tonight, there was less cloud, and more smog, which sat as a band over the distant city centre. I love the gradual colour transitions and trains, like a Hornby set in the dusk.