BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

#365daysofbiking Bright in the dark

Wednesday November 18th 2020 – Another place that looks beautiful at night like Chasetown is Walsall Wood.

Whatever the time of year or weather, the High Street always looks welcoming and bright at night, and despite being a town these days, still retains a village atmosphere.

Stopping on the canal bridge and taking a few minutes to admire the combination of shop lights and traffic is a nice restorative on a grim commute home.

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#365daysofbiking Devotional

Tuesday November 17th 2020 – One of the nice things about lockdown Remembrance has been the impromptu and additional devotional displays in towns and villages throughout the country. Decorating of railings, parks and war memorials have been undertaken lovingly and in line with guidelines, creating a sense of community endeavour that has sustained even in lockdown.

One beautiful example are the tributes at Darlaston Town Hall I passed while nipping to the post office on my lunch hour.

I particularly liked the purple poppy dog, the purple poppy symbolising the the sacrifice of animals in war.

My compliments and thanks to the people who created this. It’s gorgeous.

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#365daysofbiking Downtown lights

Sunday November 15th 2020 – As another wet, grim weekend drew to a close without a decent ride I pottered down the Black Path and stopped to watch the local fox travel back to his nearby set carrying a discarded chip wrapper, sadly too hastily for a picture.

It’s been a few weeks since I last came down here and the leaves will soon be all gone, instead littering the path and creating a slippery but fun hazard for the unwary cyclist.

It’s stark, but a beautiful spot at night with a surprising amount of wildlife.

Can we have some decent weekend weather soon, please?

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#365daysofbiking Finally telling the truth

Saturday November 14th 2020 – Snatched photos of a grim, blustery evening, but I’m glad to see after a long period without hands, the Brownhills Parkview Centre Clock – erected by public subscription on the then Council House in 1914 – is now telling the correct time again.

It’s never been a reliable timepiece and for most of my lifetime it’s either been broken or incorrect, but in recent years this rather lovely old thing has been well serviced and has been pretty accurately chiming the hour across the town, be it busy weekday noons or somnambulant summer midnights.

I’ve always found the council house impressive but a bit ugly, built in very orange terracotta, but it is an impressive landmark, now overshadowed in colloquial directions by the metal miner on the nearby island.

The lovingly nicknamed ‘three faced liar’ is another of my constants that I look to for stability – even if inaccurate. It’s as much Brownhills as the common or the canal.

So glad to see it fixed,

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#365daysofbiking Downtown lights

Friday November 13th 2020 – Having been up to Burntwood on an errand, I came back down Chasetown High Street in the middle evening.

As usual, this small area of shops and houses built on a steep hill was looking festive, even though the Christmas lights were up, but not switched on.

Nearly deserted, but with an air of quiet activity that always baffles me. It’s one of the most beautiful local urban settings at night. I adore it.

There is perhaps, as a friend speculated, a Hopper feel to this scene, but I think it’s more than that. But I just can’t say what it is.

A beautiful mystery.

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#365daysofbiking Sheen

Thursday November 12th 2020 – Heading home from an afternoon at work and the weather was grim: Blustery and damp.

I took a different route home to usual, to tack along the wind. I stopped on the crest of Clayhanger Bridge to adjust my jacket and looked behind me towards the Lindon Road.

That night-sheen of wet tarmac. It doesn’t matter how bad things are, or how grim the location, there’s something attractive about it. It fascinates and captivates me.

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#365daysofbiking Saville glow


Wednesday November 11th 2020 – Working from home I don’t seem able to get out in actual daylight. It’s like a mental block: I want to, I just don’t seem able to manage it. I think it’s some kind of guilt reaction for feeling like I’m skiving.

However, on a quick blast around Chasewater and over to Chasetown, there’s a great night-time photo spot on the green footbridge over the Chasetown bypass that has been a muse for some years, due to the way it interacts with the nearby road lighting.

The effect of the yellow sodium light falling through the wonderfully geometric bridge steelwork is thoroughly gorgeous, and reminds me a lot of designs by that icon of Manchester and Factory Records, Peter Saville.

So perhaps coming out after nightfall has it’s positive aspects, then…

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#365daysofbiking These days will surely pass

Tuesday November 10th 2020 – Autumn seems to have lasted for ages this year, and at the same time, seems to have passed in the blink of an eye; but then, it doesn’t seem five minutes since I was delighting in daffodils here in Kings Hill Park, but this most unusual of years has passed quickly.

I’m hoping the future holds a return to some kind of normality, but for now, my traditional anchors keep me stable, and as November ticks away and turns to my least favourite season Winter, I look to the changeless things to keep me going.

My beloved twin sisters are still watching over Wednesbury and the last of the golden leaves are now falling. They have seen this season many times, those spires and they will yet see many more. They have witnessed war, disease, boom and recession; Christenings, weddings, funerals and the Sunday worship of generations. They know as I do that these days will surely pass.

So I look to them and feel comforted that in unsteady times, there are still my anchors to rely on, here in my beloved Black Country.

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#365daysofbiking Local and socially distant

Monday November 9th 2020 –Remembrance Sunday had been much different this year, but perhaps that made it even more poignant.

There had been a ban on gatherings to remember the fallen due to coronavirus, but many war memorials saw spontaneous gatherings and small, socially distant, local ceremonies, which given the current conditions, was perfectly appropriate.

Because of the situation, many memorials and displays this year had been more devotional, like my favourite in Darlaston. Always an intimate, beautiful memorial, the statue of the lone Tommy on this plinth had more going on at his feet this year than wreaths and crosses when I called by on Monday.

Decorated stones, roses, envelopes, tributes to the NHS and the 75th anniversary of VJ Day.

Life in the pandemic has been strange, and it’s changed a lot of things. But it’s good to see traditions and respect being upheld, even if in unusual ways  and circumstances.

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