BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

#365daysofbiking A complex question

May 1st – Not far away, just a few tens of yards up the Chester Road, the new nursing home, built on the site of a former quarry and blockworks seems open.

Castlehill Specialist Care Centre seems to cater for people with quite marked dementia and it seems to be intended to serve a growing market – and it’s a very decent looking building, which now appears staffed, and open.

I found myself wondering if they were admitting residents yet, what with coronavirus being so pronounced in such places.

But it’s a fine looking place and I wish all concerned with it – residents and staff – well.

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#365daysofbiking Climbing, slowly

May 1st – A ride down into Stonnall and the lanes. It had been a rollercoaster of a week emotionally, but at least we seem to be getting the virus under control. Things don’t seem as terribly threatening as they did.

Winching my way up Castlehill out of the village onto the Chester Road, the lanes here – severed by the straightening of the Chester Road many decades ago – are leafy and peaceful, and diverge oddly.

But in the quiet of a lockdown spring evening, with birds singing and soft sunlight coming through the leaves, this was close to heaven, and like my body, my mind was climbing, slowly.

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#365daysofbiking Flower power

April 30th – Nature gets me through times of no hope more reliably than hope gets me through times of no nature – and throughout the pandemic, for all the horror of the news and social media, the simplicity and beauty of the world continuing to turn about it’s seasonal axes is really keeping me going.

The hedgerows, waysides and edgelands are alive with ragwort, bluebells, green alkanet, forget me nots, dandelions and a whole host of others.

And on that daily exercise ride, they really bring joy to a troubled, concerned soul.

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#365daysofbiking – Urbane

April 29th – Also nice to see the return of cats to my world. Largely absent in winter, these indolent, sleepy, warmth loving characters don’t bother so much in winter, but come spring and a young feline’s fancy turns to… Well, lounging in the long grass, hunting things and generally monitoring the human activity of their neighbourhoods.

This urbane and smart black and white puss was on the far bank behind Humphries House and was quite interested in my activities.

Looks like a lovely puss! Someone loves that one very much.

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#365daysofbiking – It’s easy being green

April 29th – And, despite a downturn in the weather, nature still keeps me going day to day, and it’s particularly splendid right now.

On an afternoon exercise ride, I didn’t stray too far due to stomach cramps, but stood on the Pier Street bridge, one of my favourite views now has a gorgeous bright green jacket on.

The canalside trees, now so tall they can obscure the view to Humphries House are looking bright and fresh, as are the woodlands dotted over Clayhanger Common where the different species, leaf types and shapes make for a wonderful tapestry.

And on the water below? Blossom petals drifting lazily of the water surface.

It might not be much, but after those dark days and wet winter, it looks wonderful to me.

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#365daysofbiking – May bee

April 28th – Almost bang on schedule, the may blossom – Hawthorn – is coming out along the lanes, towpaths and hedges of the area.

This outwardly white blossom which was bad luck according to my grandmother if brought into the house, is actually quite colourful if you look at the small flowers closely.

It’s one of those that is really beautiful, but few ever look at closely. A boost for bugs and bees too, who adore the blossom.

It never looks better then when bejewelled with rain and catching the light.

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#365daysofbiking – Back to earth

April 28th – The welcome warm, dry spell ended with a crash with a very cold-feeling day and seemingly endless rain. But it is still only April.

On a sodden evening exercise ride, I rolled and splashed up the towpath – mercifully quiet – and noted the very beginnings of a surface-air inversion, with barely perceptible rolls of mist sweeping along the canal. Sadly the wind was a little to strong for it to persist.

I suppose the water was probably warmer than the air by a tad.

It is lovely though to see the green return though, even on such a grey, wet day.

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#365daysofbiking – Watching the world go by

April 27th – A brief loop around Brownhills, and I spotted this charming floof on a garden fishing platform just near anchor bridge.

Peacefully watching life go by, this gorgeous tabby would not turn to look at me for ages, so engrossing was it’s neighbourhood watch shift.

Always nice to see a puss when out and about. And this was a very gorgeous one!

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#365daysofbiking – Chalk mark before a rainstorm

April 26th – With the sudden burst of lockdown shaming, finger wagging and the boom of the morally prurient social media shamers, it’s really easy to miss small little things at this time that are actually encouraging acts of community between, mainly it has to be said, children.

Painted rainbows and teddies in windows, garden displays and other curiosities created during long, isolated lockdown days are treats and ways of communicating the shared confinement without breaking the rules, and they put a huge smile on the faces of kids out for their daily exercise, parents and me, too.

There’s been a really fun trend to revive chalked games on pavements and paths for other kids to find and participate in. More than just the old fashioned hopscotch (although most incorporate it, almost as a tribute), these courses are linear with a start and end, incorporating line following, instructions to hop or jump or do some movement, reciting games, spins, pebble target throws and races.

They are a shared happiness, but shared from a distance – the separation being time. They are an utterly joyous thing and this one, on the Spot Path over Clayhanger Common, was a brilliant one.

Sadly I think it’ll probably be erased by the oncoming rains, but I hope that won’t deter the creation of a replacement.

Well done to the creators of these, and my best wishes. Life will be normal soon and we’ll all look back on these days, and smile when we think of how we all loved the chalked games…

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