May 20th - A small result. The bike racks at Birmingham New Street Station - relocated to a dark corner on the the opening of the new concourse - were formerly only bolted to the ground and could easily be disassembled by thieves to steal users steeds. I noticed this morning that the ordinary nuts securing the Sheffield frames had been replaced with shear nuts, which are nigh-on impossible to remove. For added security, they’ve been bonded on with thread lock adhesive. This makes them much more secure.
I hope Network Rail have learned something from the bad publicity here. It ain’t rocket science really, is it?
May 7th - On the subject of other people’s bikes, just when did children’s trikes evolve into bonkers apparatus like this? It requires a HGV license to push, I’ll bet.
These things seem to be following the same trajectory as baby buggies; once a small thing born of convenience and fun, they’re now hugely complicated pieces of kit that don’t seem to fit anywhere easily.
April 12th - I love Moor StreetStation in Brum. Not only is it a lovely, light airy and atmospheric station, but on the whole the staff are more relaxed and customer focused than their competitors. Coming through tonight, I noticed some inconsiderate muppet had locked their bike to the security railings by the ticket barrier inside the station. If this had been a Virgin Station, the bike would have been removed and it all would have been rather tetchy. Here, they sellotape a warning notice to the bike, which considering it’s not actually a trip hazard, makes sense. That’s a nice approach.
March 14th - Monkeying through the back streets of Walsall Wood on an errand today, I traversed Hollanders Bridge, the pedestrian-only canal crossing next to Binary Wharf. Closing the bridge to through traffic years ago cut off Queen Street from the Lichfield Road side of the canal, and created an orphaned stub of road that was of no consequence until a new housing development was constructed adjacent to it, on the site of an old computer business. Somewhat cringingly, the road-stub was christened “Steep Bridge Way’.
March 13th - Anyone know the number of a good plumber? On the southeastern side of Tyseley Station, there’s a train wash, where trains from the nearby depot are cleaned after daily service. When I passed this morning, there appeared to be something of a malfunction. Water (I assume it was water) was issuing from a pipe joint on the control cabin right onto the track.
Looks like a split pipe. I wonder how long it had been going on? It was fixed by my return, 7 hours later.
February 16th - On the Dam path, at Chasewater, I gladly hung back to watch this pair of great friends enjoy what must be a regular game…
If you’re a Border Collie, all you need in life is a large stick (or small tree branch), some open space, strong teeth and a willing freind to join you in a tug of war. How wonderfully happy is this dog?
January 28th - Birmingham New Street Station is undergoing huge alterations at the moment, and is overrun buy people involved in the reconstruction. Sometimes, they almost seem to match in number the passengers; they emerge from hatches and previously unnoticed doorways, often surveying, taking measurements or gazing at ceilings. There’s clearly a lot of thought going on.
I keep noticing these tiny target symbols in odd locations about the station. About 20mm square, they have a precision cross-hair on them and a unique number , and they’re printed on reflective material. They’re vital to operations here, but I suspect few ever notice them.
They’re measurement datums. A theodolite - either placed in position by an engineer, or permanently sited in an out of the way spot - will focus on this target, and accurate geometrical measurements can be made, indicating if the target, or the wall it’s attached to, has moved, or to precisely locate some other measurement. Automatic systems will do this across multiple visible datums repeatedly, unattended, and alert engineers if there’s any change.
I suspect this is part of an automatic monitoring system as it’s above normal working, and therefore, crowd height, just to the left of the telephone kiosk roof.
Civil engineering is getting more and more sophisticated.
January 19th - Out on Cannock Chase, with plenty of pictures on the main blog - but something in the current patch of cold weather is really making me smile: the art of snowman making is returning. Never used to see good ones when I was a kid. Nowadays, folks are getting creative. The little fella was sat at the side of the track down Abraham’s Valley in the middle of nowhere on the Chase. He was perfect. I loved him.
Meanwhile, at Seven Springs, another was taking a breather on a picnic table. Shame about the leg. Let’s hope the government disability assessors don’t spot him loafing with that missing leg, or they’ll have him working for free in Tesco within the week…
January 10th - I got the train back to Blake Street - I’m not really sure why. The disabled ramps there fascinate me - rather than being assembled, manufactured things, as the station is built on a hill, they’re just footpaths that meet the southerly ends of the platform. They’re at a fair incline, and have several dog leg bends in them. Shrouded by tress and shrubs, they are emerald green arcades on summer days, but dark, ethereal ginnels at night. I find the harsh lights, fencing and shadows fascinating.
At the bottom end tonight, however, a classic illustration of unthinking, selfish idiocy; several times this week I’ve come this way to see a bike-shaped object locked to the plastic down pipe at the foot of the ramp. It must belong to a commuter, and is blocking access to the ramp for people in wheelchairs and mobility scooters (there are a fair few who use this station). The staff have left a note attached to the bike. Odd really - there’s proper racks not ten yards away.
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 15th - Have you found yourself short of your pumpkin? If so, yesterday at 9:00am, it was taking a breather on the wall outside the Baptist Church Hall in Acocks Green, Birmingham. Untouched, in perfect condition, this lonely gourd made an odd sight on the way to work…
BrownhillsBob biked every day for the thirty days of April 2011, part of the #30daysofbiking project, but enjoyed the process so much that he carried on. @ years down the road, he's still cycling every day and recording a little bit of every journey.