It’s been a long, dry and warm spell. Today was fraught, stressed, tired, sweaty. I was struggling against the urge to just go home, the heat, tiredness, irritation. But I could smell the rain on the wind. Sweet, distant, but present. I stood on the threshold of an open fire escape at work and filled my lungs with the smell of moisture on the wind.
As I left work, it began. I enjoyed it. Not torrential, but steady. Gently saturating the plants, refreshing the greenery, and making me feel if not less tired, more alert.
A sensory delight.
I was glad the week was over. And welcomed the rain.
May 24th - There’s probably some fancy photographic name for it, but some days seem naturally high-contrast. Something about the light. I spun around very wet towpaths out of Brownhills to Chasewater, and noted that part of Sandhills was dark, and another part was remaining in light. It really was quite beautiful.
Newtown’s bunny population were out enjoying the lush wet vegetation, and could be barely bothered to run away as I approached, and the view to Hammerwich was as wonderful as ever now it’s wearing it’s summer jacket. At Chasewater, the view from the dam was remarkable, with a rather threatening sky.
As I headed home, the heavens opened again.
But it’s summer, and warm rain is better than cold…
May 1st - I had to pop out in the morning, but worked from home for most of the day - which was just as well, as the weather was wet and miserable. Going out to meet a couple of pals later in the evening, I found myself chaining my bike up in a pub beer garden. Once the preserve of summer afternoons and rare, balmy evenings, pub terraces, beer gardens and play area have changed subtly in recent years, becoming a haven for smokers.
None here tonight, though, so the heaters on the parasol stayed untriggered. An odd, wet, otherworldly atmosphere pervaded the evening. Curious.
April 7th - Yay! The cowslips are here. Heading back to Brownhills from work, I took advantage of a gap in the rain, and spinning up a sodden towpath, I spotted the recurring patches of cowslips on Clayhanger Common near the Pier Street Bridge.
I’m sure I guerrilla seeded these a decade ago, and they’ve spread beautifully. Since then, further bands of these dainty little primroses have appeared all around the common. Seeing them in flower brings me enormous pleasure.
Cowslips are my favourite flower. To me, they symbolise spring; yellow, hardy, and they appear when the worst is passed. This year, they’re a good couple of weeks early.
March 25th - Further up Green Lane, I glanced to my left as I winced and grunted my way over the Black Cock bridge, which was harder work than usual. This solitary house, possibly at the end of what may have been Pepper Alley years ago, continues to fascinate me. Back behind here was once a sewage farm and the municipal mortuary. Today, it’s just fields and scrub.
It wasn’t really near sunset, but it was dark, grey and damp. Like October.
March 23rd - The Chase is still very muddy. This is a normal speed clip, from Castle Ring to Stonepit Green this afternoon. Top speed about 30mph. I was absolutely plastered in mud. But by heck, it was funn.
February 17th - I had to be in Burntwood in the late afternoon for a meeting. After the spring of the day before, it was drizzly winter again, although the wind was still low. I quite like Burntwood, and more so Chasetown, although I’ve still yet to receive a funding offer for my planned remake of the chase scene from Bullit, on bicycles, down the sharply inclined High Street.
It occurred to me today why the place looks more prosperous than Brownhills - it’s the fact that a high percentage of buildings on the High Street are homes, not shops. Therefore, there’s a normal, bustling, lived-in atmosphere. It’s an interesting effect.
I love the Old Mining College, too. It’s long since abandoned it’s mining role, and is a community centre. Sadly, many of its services and staff are falling victim to budget cuts, which is a tragedy. It’s a wonderful thing, and well-loved by the community.
February 11th - After the snow stopped the day in Telford was dry and sunny.
'Never mind' they said. 'It'll be dry for the journey home' they said.
I left Walsall in the dry, without putting waterproof trousers on. 5 minutes later, when it was too late, the heaven opened, and then the rain turned to snow. For the second time today, I was wet, cold and fed up.
At least no one can ever accuse me of being a fair weather cyclist.
February 11th - The weather is getting worse, not better, but did hold an unexpected surprise for me today. I set out in the morning to the station, and the rain was heavy with a harsh wind. Even with waterproofs, I got soaked, and sat on the train dripping, miserable and cold. Fortunately, the subsequent train I caught to Telford was very warm, and dried me out a treat. This was by far the worst commute I’ve had for ages.
At Cosford, the torrential rain had become heavy snow, and was setting fast. When I alighted, there was about 10mm. Although wet and cold, it was a delight to see and cycle in, and I enjoyed the scenery and spectacle.
A couple of hours later, the sun was out and all the snow melted away. Glad I caught it, though.
February 6th - I’d been in Telford, in a building with no windows. When I came to leave, I realised it was raining fairly heavily. Nothing to do, but don the waterproofs and go for it. The journey was pretty miserable, really; delays at Telford and Birmingham made for a long, damp trudge home, but at least the wind was behind me.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a continuously warm, wet winter like this. Last year was bad enough, but at least we had variety with the snow. This is just getting boring now…
February 5th - One step forward, two back. I was again out early, and returned mid afternoon, and unthinkingly clashed with the school run yet again. I hopped on the canal as I did the previous afternoon - but the the day’s downpour had transformed the drying out towpaths of the day before into slimy, slurry-smothered watercourses once more.
Whoever’s doing the rain dance, you can stop now. Honest, it’s OK…
January 30th - The return was equally wet and grey - but did have the added excitement of wet, sleety snow. The sluices are still shut at Chasewater, and everything is still sodden and muddy. The photography was awful. I was glad to get home.
It was nice to see Morris in the snow though, even if it was very short lived…
January 29th - The rain finally caught me as I left Walsall. The wind had changed, too, and I found myself mashing into driving drizzle and a distinctly cold headwind. Is this the beginning of a cold spell, I wonder?
As usual on rainy days, every good photo was into the wind and therefore impossible. But I did notice the lights of the service station in Shelfield, which always look attractive, but I never stop to photograph it.
It loos so welcoming - I fuss that’s the idea. It’s one of the way markers of my commute - when I see it, I know I’m halfway home.
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. Over three years down the road, he's still cycling every day and recording a little bit of every journey.