BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

#365daysofbiking Miles of steel over wood

Saturday January 16th 2021 – I had to pick up a ticket from Lichfield Trent Valley Station, and it’s always nice to visit this funny little station in the dark.

It’s not salubrious, well equipped or liked, and lacks glamour. As a station, Lichfield Trent Valley is as desolate and grim as mainline stations get, the regular passing of high speed trains without stopping makes you feel lonely in the darkness.

Yet, for all the wires and concrete, the place is lit brilliantly at night, and I love it. The signal lights, exaggerated perspective and feeling of emptiness make for great photos…

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#365daysofbiking Abridged

Friday January 15th 2021 – Just hopping on the canal on the way home from work, I turned to look behind me at the bridge whose challenging climb I was avoiding by taking the towpath of the canal it crosses.

The Black Cock bridge – comedically named after the nearby pub – has suffered subsidence in the early part of its current incarnation and is still monitored closely for cracks and fissures. It’s approaches are now dangerously steep, and a later footbridge has been added alongside to accommodate pedestrians.

I don’t think in it’s current form this sore abused, but not yet dead bridge will survive long now. I suspect it’s fate may be similar to Hollanders Bridge further up the Line in Walsall Wood – renovated in the 80s with a lightweight metal deck and blocked to vehicular traffic.

It’s a fascinating bridge with a remarkable history, it really is.

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#365daysofbiking Ain’t nobody home

Thursday January 14th 2021 – One of the toughest bits of the pandemic for me personally – and I am, of course, aware there are much worse things going on – has been the darkness in roadside pubs and restaurants during lockdown.

Never a great pubgoer, I do like the atmosphere when you pass a busy pub at night. They always seem so warm and welcoming. And this winter that’s been largely absent.

I’m glad to note though up on Chester Road North, the Hussey Arms, although well and truly shut, has kept the lights on.

It’s like a little beacon of hope in the darkness.

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#365daysofbiking A low blow

Wednesday January 13th 2021 – Someone complained to me today that my 365days was a bit down in the dumps of late. I guess it is, a little. It’s always hard to stay positive when you’re in midwinter and inspiration, and daylight, are hard to come by.

I will try and make it a little more positive in coming days and weeks: but that shouldn’t be as hard, because we’ll soon have lighter nights, daylight commutes, and spring flowers.

On the way back to work after an errand I spotted this roadside daisy in Pleck. It was open, beautiful, and optimistic.

I think I should learn by it’s example.

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#365daysofbiking A shot in the arm

Tuesday January 12th 2021 – If we’re ever to escape the awful pandemic sweeping through the world, we need mass inoculation and fast – and for once, it’s good to see the UK government responding faster than the rest of the world.

The Oak Park Active Living Centre in Walsall Wood – what used to be termed a leisure centre – is open again in lockdown, but not for swimming or gym activities. It’s open for business as a mass vaccination centre.

When I passed in the evening all was quiet, but it had already been in use for some days, with the elderly and vulnerable arriving by appointment for a swift and courteous vaccination.

I’m not daft enough to think this will bring back normality quickly, but it’s certainly the beginning of the fight back and I salute it. I too will be there when called with my boots blacked.

My thanks to all working on this program, a true demonstration of the power of science.

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#365daysofbiking All things must pass

Monday January 11th 2021 – Life is grim in the UK right now: The pandemic is claiming higher and higher numbers of people every day, and the economy is taking sustained hits from it and Brexit. It’s taking superhuman levels of self discipline to be able to just listen to a radio news bulletin.

But all is not lost: The darkest hour comes before dawn and the vaccine is being distributed quickly and professionally. It’s nice to see science working so well.

In the midst of all this I ride my bike to and from work as usual, in an often alienating world of masked up, hostile fellow citizens. Some days it feels like normality will never return.

But it will, and the spring flowers know it. Jack in the Green has tapped the ground with his cane, and everywhere you look fresh green shoots are optimistically shooting skyward, in anticipation of the warming spring sun.

They know like we must all  know deep down, that these cold, grim days will pass. And so they will.

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#365daysofbiking Ghost town

Sunday January 10th 2021 – I was on another test ride late and had to drop off a package to an isolating relative, so I nipped to Burntwood after tea.

This current pandemic lockdown isn’t like the first: People are having to continue working, many more kids are at school as the children of key workers and it’s just not as quiet as the first.

But right in the centre of Burntwood at 7pm on a Sunday, and it was like the proverbial ghost town.

It felt very eerie indeed.

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#365daysofbiking Looking for peace


Saturday January 9th 2021 – I’d been busy getting financial and administration things in order and dealing with a tricky bike problem all day and slid out late on a fast, quiet circuit of town and ended up at Chasewater.

There was no moon visible and the photography was poor, if I’m honest.

But I did find the peace, fresh air and solace I needed in the quiet solitude of one of my favourite places.

Even in the dark, Chasewater captivates me.

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#365daysofbiking Glad to be back

Friday January 8th 2021 – A warmer day, but not much: The snow was mostly melted and the frost slight as I headed home from work.

Between Catshill Junction and Anchor Bridge I opted to leave the muddy canal and hit the High Street.

I always like the end of the first working week after Christmas. The festivities seem an age away, it’s now not really dark until well past 4:30pm and things seem to be heading toward spring. Of course, the pandemic is a huge worry, as is Brexit and problems it’s causing at work, but I think we can endure.

It’s actually nice to be back in my routine.

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#365daysofbiking Whitening

Thursday January 7th 2021 – I slipped out of work as Paul Simon might have said, onto a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow. It was fun to ride home in, but very cold. We’ve not had a cold snap in several years now and this is being quite a shock to my ageing system I can tell you.

Heading up the Spot Path across Clayhanger Common the snow was pristine, and nothing except owls and the sound of snorting deer in the wood nearby dared disturb the peace.

I love evenings like this, but my knees don’t!

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