April 6th - Still not feeling too great, and with similarly dismal weather, I took a spin out around Brownhills late afternoon. I noted that despite the grey and blustery weather it was quite warm, and the oilseed rape was coming on in leaps and bounds. At Sandhills looking towards Springhill, the crop was nearly in flower, and the fields towards Hammerwich weren’t too far behind.
They’re going to be gorgeous this year when the sun shines.
This must be the signal that winter was over. I told you that buying new snow tyres would stall a bad winter - and so they did.
March 5th - The nascent spring seemed to tone it down a bit today. It was a nice enough day to commute, but the light wasn’t as good as it has been for the past few days, and it felt chilly. I really wasn’t inspired at all by the light, until I was coming through Walsall Wood and noticed that Jockey Meadows hadn’t really started spring yet. Whilst other places were greening up, it still looks grey and lifeless here. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen the deer here for a while, either.
In these deciduous woods, hedgerows and water meadows spring always comes late.
March 3rd - Great skies this evening, after a quite middling day. I can feel colder air coming in, and the wind has changed. I don’t think this is a burst of winter, but I think it might be a rude awakening; we are only just out of February, after all.
Of late, the clouds and sundowns have been really excellent, and it is the season of fine sunsets. The skyline at Tyseley always captivates me, but tonight, over Shelfield, the salmon-pink tinged clouds were astonishing.
February 19th - Meanwhile, at the other end in Telford, another sign of spring: daffodils are growing well on the verges and along the cycleways. I love to see them, and last year they seemed so late. I notice crocuses out, too. I’m a bit concerned, really; the heavy snows of last winter returned in late March. Although it’s wonderful to see such early signs of spring, I hope they’re not wiped out by a return to winter… but this is churlish. The weather is such an improvement, as is the cycling.
Hopefully, the weather will open out a bit now.
February 13th - An unlucky day for a number of reasons, but at least it was dry and relatively pleasant. The wind had dropped, and on the way to Telford, looking up from the platform at New Street Station, a beautiful blue sky.
Riding from the station at Telford, I was fortunate enough to spot the black ice - frozen surface water like glass, the width of the cycle path uphill from the station, dusted with what looked like the residue of a brief snow shower.
Had I not noticed, I could have gone a purler there - one of my nine lives, i think.
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 10th - Then, there’s beauty. Just down the road in Walsall Wood. A peaceful, lovely canal view. There is beauty in the dullest, saddest, most grey days, after all…
February 9th - The day was pretty grey, really, but had it’s moments. Fed up of the mud and slurry of recent haunts, I cycled down into Lichfield to pick up some shopping, and I returned via the back lanes around Wall.
The winter panorama of Hammerwich was stunning, but the wind was evil, and it blew me down Pipehill at a fearsome speed. Passing through Sandfields, I stopped to look at the Pumping Station, an architectural gem marooned in a sea of modern mundanity. I wish the preservation campaign every success.
At Wall, as the sun was beginning to set, I found my first snowdrops of the year growing in the churchyard.
Spring will come, I can feel it now. It wasn’t dark until gone 5:30pm..
February 8th - I took a spin up to Burntwood in a fearsome wind. It was the first time in my life I can actually say I was blown off my bike. Fortunately, only against a fence, and no harm done.
The day was grey, periodically squally and oddly warm, really. Chasewater was pretty much deserted. Even the bargee Alsation dog, keeping watch onAnglesey Basin was finding the wind a bit harsh.
The outlet valve is still closed, and water continues to flow down the spillway.
There has to be an end to this soon.
February 2nd - It was a gorgeous day, much better than of late, but I was sadly confined to sorting out the computer for most of it. I slipped out for a quick spin around Chasewater at 4pm and caught a good sunset. Everything was still dripping with mud, of course; the going on the towpaths and trails is chewy, to say the least; but there was a chill and hardness in the air that suggested the warm, wetter weather might be on the way out.
The canal sluice is still closed and Chasewater is still overflowing into the spillway.
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.
January 20th - It was an awful day for travelling (and work generally, really). I went a long way on a fools errand, and on my return, got tangled up in travel chaos on the Cross City line.
In between, however, the day was misty, bright and cold with a beautiful frost. Sadly, I spend most of my cycling time dashing late from one place to another and didn’t get chance to take many pictures.
I’d like a few more days like this if possible…
January 10th - Time for another cycling tip. This is one I repeat often, and is very important, so it bears repeating. Following the rain we’ve had, the roads are currently filthy. This isn’t just country lanes, but major roads, too; the Chester Road up to Shire Oak from Stonnall northbound has a band of wet silt stretching nearly a metre from the kerb for several hundred metres, and it’ as slippery as hell. In the country lanes, the wash down has deposited grit, marbles and hedge-flailings containing sharp thorns into the road, right where we cyclists normally ride..
Watch where you’re going. Beware of puddles that could hide deep potholes. Corner carefully, and maintain your space on the road, so you have somewhere to move to if an unseen hazard appears. Carry spare tubes or a means of repair.
Take it steady out there, folks.
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.