June 12th - An awful commute from a weather point of view. The wind was dreadful in the morning, and the rain caught me on my return. I only took photos in Tyseley, in a rainstorm. Everything was wet; the station, the commuters, the trains. I felt miserable, and didn’t enjoy the journey at all - yet strangely, the Tyseley photos have an odd, lonely kind of charm.
May 29th - I had expected to get very wet on my return home. As it happened, it was merely a light drizzle, in the gap between downpours, but there was a significant headwind, and the going was grim. Cowparsley and hawthorn buds line the verges and hedgerows, and the cheesy scent of rapeseed hangs heavy. But there’s little sun about, and the lanes look grey and dull. Even the rabbit that darted in front of me, causing me to brake sharply was soaking wet.
may 28th - After a dreadful day of travelling - 7 hours of commuting just to get to Telford and back - I came home from a day unusually not on my bike. Hopping out as dusk fell, I shot up the Parade to Chasewater, then back along the canal. After a very wet, miserable day the air had begun to clear, and the rain ceased. The sunset wasn’t great, but after the murk, the crack in the clouds seemed heaven-scent. The Parade looked great with the fresh foliage, but I think we could do with some sun now. I need to feel more of the summer warmth.
March 21st - I returned from Walsall in the beginnings of a storm of wet, heavy-flaked snow. It soaked through my jeans, and made me cold, wet and miserable, a mood not helped by the utterly relentless and unforgiving easterly headwind.
Walsall Wood church looked good in the cold night, and the lights of the new Co-op store on Streets Corner - only opened that morning - were cheering.
March 8th - There’s not much, photographically, you can do with a day like this, except record it as it was. For the second day running, it was wet and foggy. The traffic was still acting strange, and I was glad to get home. It’s not really cold, and the cycling was surprisingly good due to the still conditions - but the flat, grey outlook, devoid of decent light, is relentless.
Please, spring, come back! What on earth did I do to scare you off?
February 13th - oops, I forgot my gorilla pod. Sadly, I only discovered this unfortunate fact in the dark, in Walsall Wood on my comment home. It was raining, and the air had suddenly become quite warm. My planned shots for the two sets of today were therefore lost, and I had to improvise. I don’t have steady hands, and the shake correction on the camera is vicious in it’s manipulation of images. These shots were all ⅛ or ¼ exposure, hand held. Quite pleased, really, although they are quite poor. Time was I couldn’t do 1/60 exposure without blurring the shot, so something is improving, I’m not sure what.
Walsall Wood itself looks great at night, and always has; the pubs and shopfronts cast a great light, and in the wet, the vehicle lights sparkled. Amazing that after so much change, and so much expansion, this place still retains a village atmosphere.
February 6th - A grim commute. It started dry, and with a decent enough day forecast, left the waterproofs at home. On the way to Blake Street, the drizzle intensified and I arrived somewhat soggy. I haven’t had much luck with the morning commutes this week.
There’s still something captivating, though, about wet stations in the half-light. Oh well, here’s to a better day tomorrow. Hopefully.
December 4th - Another gorgeous morning immediately after rain. As I headed to Shenstone to get the train, the countryside was beautiful and dramatic, and put me in mind of Joni Mitchell ‘…shivering trees standing in naked rows’. I noted that the twin towers of Shenstone are now visible on the skyline again, the smaller tower - the ruin in the churchyard - is hidden by the trees in the summer months. I love the way the gargoyles on the heavily gothic modern church tower are visible from some distance away…
October 31st - I came back to Walsall as the Cross City was broken again, and it at least meant the wind would be at my back. The ride was as bad as I expected; people were driving like morons and the road conditions were dreadful. Still, I had good waterproofs on, and it was just a matter of mashing away until I got home. The arboretum Junction was spray-central: I don’t know what it is with the asphalt here, but it retains a layer of water that just doesn’t dissipate, resulting in a permanent traffic haze while it rains.
September 25th - After a bright start, I’d braced myself for a very, very grim commute home, the forecast was awful. As it happened though, it was just drizzly wet, and the wind was behind me. I think I must be getting inured, but I haven’t noticed webs developing between my toes yet. Coming up the ramp at Walsall, I looked, as I often do, at the overhead supply catenary for the railway. The complexity of this system fascinates me, and today, I could hear it crackle and buzz in the wet. Years of design refinement have made this system generally very weatherproof, and that’s a remarkable thing. The 25,000 volts coursing over that metalwork doesn’t take prisoners and will arc long distances in the damp. Railway people are given to calling the overheads ‘knitting’, and you can see why.
July 19th - The rains didn’t stay way for long. I was working from home, drowning under a shedload of paperwork. Late afternoon, I popped out to get some shopping in. As I left, the soft drizzle that had been falling turned into a downpour.
There are few places greyer than Brownhills when it rains. I’m currently wondering whether it’s worth having my whole body waterproofed, like you can with tents…
June 3rd - The weather was atrocious today. It rained solidly for most of the day. Finally hauling myself out in heavy waterproofs late evening, I took a spin round Brownhills and noticed that Laburnum Cottage was now empty. This building, stood prominently on the junction of New Road and High Street, was built in 1871 and has served a variety of purposes, it’s last being as a print shop, which it had been for at least three decades. The long lost - and much missed - local free sheet, ‘The Brownhills Gazette’ was produced here in the late 80s and early 90s by Brian Stringer. I note now that the building is empty, with all signage and even the advertising hoarding on the side removed. There’s no planning applications outstanding, so it’s fate remains a mystery. At 141 years old, I hope the building is accorded the respect it deserves in any future use.
April 29th - Late evening, then rain ceased and the skies brightened, so I ventured out. In a damp, oddly-idiot strewn ride down the High Street, I realised that, due to relatively light traffic, I was recording the water features by Knaves Court and Morris Miner, and a good few of the serious potholes in-between - some of which have been there so long that they’ve evolved their own weather systems. It’d be really, really nice if we could get some of this stuff fixed for a change.
Apologies for the singing disc brake: I’m bedding in new pads.
April 25th - April is certainly the cruellest month of 2012 so far. Maybe I just got used to life in the dry, but commuting this week has had it’s difficult moments. I headed to Lichfield at dawn in a rainstorm, wrenching myself up the A461 against a merciless headwind. Making the train just in time, the inclement weather seemed to follow me to Leicester, where it hung around menacingly outside, like some school bully waiting to beat me anew on the way home. Fortunately, the trip home wasn’t so bad, just drizzle, really. But whatI did notice was the trees: clearly thirsty, there has been a sudden explosion in foliage and blossom. It’s an ill wind, and all that.
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.