May 7th - I rode back from Darlaston under the threat of rain, but took to the canal for a change. Coming through central Walsall, I stopped to look back at the sky, and remembered the Majorfax chimney, one of the last Victorian skyline landmarks walsall has outside it’s churches. There’s something curious about it that’s barely visible until you look closely.
Someone, at some point, has erected a modern, tubular flue inside the chimney - It’s rain-cowl can just be seen poking over the top. Why would you do that? 25 metres of pipe, in a confined space designed as a flue in the first place. Why not just fit a roof vent next to the stack?
Is it a real flue, or a steeplejack’s joke? Whatever it is, it’s a curiosity.
April 7th - I’d spotted a good sky in the offing, and hopped onto the old rail line at Coopers Bridge, then headed towards Ryders Mere. On the way, I spotted something I’d not noticed before; you can actually get a clear view of Walsall and the Black Country to Turners Hill at Rowley Regis from the old bridge at the rear of what used to be Binks Bullows.
The sky was great, and I was fascinated - there are all the landmarks of Walsall, visible over Ryders Mere and Clayhanger Marsh. A great view.
It just goes to show - you can pass the same spot loads of times, and still notice something new.
February 25th - First time in Tyseley for a while. Leaving in a mediocre golden hour, I was reminded of the view from Wharfdale Road, and it caught my breath.
Somewhere over the terraces, chimney pots and quiet suburban streets, there’s my city. Right there.
January 9th - The first decent morning for ages, really, and it was a pleasure to be speeding along dry roads without too much wind. I could get to like this, I really could.
The journey was reasonable too, with the trains, for a change, running well. Only the Christmas tree, still inexplicably up and fully lit on New Street Station’s concourse caused me to frown.
I stopped on the bridge at Tyseley and took photos of the skyline, over the yards and gantries of suburban Birmingham, It looked great in the sunshine.
I’d really like a bit more weather like this, please.
December 27th - The same photo-expedition also saw me returning from Walsall Wood and heading to Stonnall. This meant climbing Shire Oak Hill from the Walsall side - whenever I do this, I always stop to look at the view. This is a fantastic urban skyline, and one I’ve always loved.
Beauty can be found in the most mundane, plain landscapes if one looks.
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 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.
October 29th - A the risk of being repetitive, now we have cooler, drier weather, the sunsets are great. This was (again) the view from Tyseley this evening. I never tire of that view of central Birmingham - ever changing, yet changeless. Such a fine sky tonight, too.
April 12th - Back in Brum for the day, and I loved it. I don’t mind commuting further afield at all - an enjoy it when the trains work OK - but it’s nice to be in Birmingham, my city is always a joy. Today started damp, and somehow I managed to just miss the rain all day. But every leg of my travel was threatened by dark, heavy cloud.
It was lovely, though. The skies were dramatic and photogenic, and the air of grim threat made my legs spin a tiny bit faster. But most of all, it was warm. I don’t think it reached ten degrees, but after recent weeks, the wind was warm. The air was warm. I cycled with an open jacket.
That’s what was lovely, even though the wind was against me all the way from Walsall.
March 18th - A day of misty light and skyline silhouettes. My journey this morning was shrouded in a thick fog of the variety that condensed into frost on my clothes and bike, yet once on the train to Birmingham, it was as clear as a bell and sunny by Four Oaks.
At Moor Street, the morning light was hazy and yellow. Digbeth looked beautiful as the train glided above it on the viaduct towards Small Heath.
I left work late, and caught the view from Tyseley as darkness was falling. Again, the light was lovely; the city skyline was enchanting, and the station remains fascinating in its faded, jaded, days-of-the-empire style. Down on the platform, as a high-speed intercity shot through, I really got the Late Night Feelings vibe again.
Jewels in an otherwise awful day.
March 5th - A beautiful, late winter/early spring day. I left when the morning fog was thick and cold, and headed to Telford. As I got nearer the station, the mist was gradually burned off by the sun. I came back to Tyseley later, and it seemed the colour of the day was gold. The mist lingered, and made for beautiful skylines.
This spring thing? I think it could be a goer…
February 16th - I hadn’t been to Lichfield since Christmas. It was nice to visit at sunset, and feel the chill coming in, reminding me not to get too cocky and that it was still February. The sky was gorgeous, and the city skyline more so. As I walked the streets pushing my bike, I reflected on how depressed the city centre was; so many closed shops I used to love. But the place is still gorgeous, for all that.
February 15th - I hopped off the canal and along the old railway line towards Clayhanger. It’s an interesting spot at dusk, and the views over the rooftops on a clear night are wonderful, as is the view down towards the village. As I arrived, there was a familiar rustle in the undergrowth, and out strolled the old dog fox. He looked at me, as if in recognition, then trotted off down the path.
It was good to see him, I was worried he wouldn’t survive the winter. He must be getting on a bit now.
February 14th - Today was spring-like again. When I went to bed the night before, there was still snow on the ground. When I awoke, the snow had gone and we’d rebooted into spring again. An odd season, this.
As I dashed late from work, I noticed the sun over the city, and a decent sunset. Snatching a couple of quick shots, I dashed for my train.
The season’s wheel is really turning now; when I got back to Walsall, it was just about still light. I think there’s hope awhile yet…
January 30th - The sun came out today, and it felt springlike, which I didn’t mind at all. I guess I’d been mourning the passing of the snow - at night, it makes the landscape light in a way that’s almost joyful, and when the thaw comes, it’s like being plunged back into darkness. I’d felt it keenly since Sunday; the weather has been bloody grim, and to turn out on a sunny morning - even with a wind crafted on Satan’s back step - was a joy to the heart.
I’ve actually found a ramp down to the Solihull platform at Moor Street, which I thought had been closed years ago. As I made my way to it today. I looked at the road system, and the buildings around. I can remember the old Bull Ring well, the network of 60s subways and overpasses. But I can’t place any of it, which I find sad. I know Manzoni Gardens was here somewhere, but…
Brum was also showing beautifully from the overbridge at Tyseley. With decent light, I could zoom right in, and I noticed something I’d not done before; before the mosque, and the shiny modernity of the city centre, there are rows of terrace roofs and chimneys in Small Heath and Sparkbrook. I found it fascinating.