BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘bridge’

#365daysofbiking Hardened

Wednesday December 30th 2020 – I was less keen to ride far today – overnight the partially thawing snow had frozen solid, formed hard pack-ice and I needed to gently find out how the tyres I’m currently using – Continental Top Contact II Winter – would cope.

I needn’t have worried. Not as good as studs, but perfectly acceptable without the noise and rolling resistance. A run up the canal and back through Clayhanger after night fell was enough to find out what I needed.

I think I can happily commute on these now.

The canal is partially frozen – about a IC2 on the Dra Marland canal scale.

Be nice if we had a real snowfall, I think. We’re due a really cold winter.

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#365daysofbiking Sensations in the dark


Boxing Day Saturday December 26th 2020 – Unusually, we’d had a family walk in the morning, in the Needwood Valley and around Hoar Cross, which was lovely but grey and very muddy. So instead of the usual Boxing Day afternoon blowout, I grabbed my pal and we headed back to The Slough and Old Cement Works bridge to try the new camera on the canal scenes there.

From the eeriness of the former railway trail in nothing but bike headlight, to the pool of spilled illumination on the canal footpath near the Jolly Collier Bridge, it was great fun.

A storm was coming in and the cellphone masts rattled and whistled in the wind. The whole ride filled the senses and felt edgy and intense.

The results speak for themselves. This camera loves low light. That’s the first digital camera in 22 years experience I can truly say that about.

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#365daysofbiking Thank god that’s over with

Wednesday December 23rd 2020 – The end of work for another year, and surprisingly late. I normally aim to finish at least a week before, to better enjoy the build up to Christmas, but this year, with so much shut and not happening, little point but to stay at work.

I did, however, feel relieved it was over. It’s been a long, hard autumn-winter period, and at least from now the evenings would open out and the days become lighter.

As I crossed the Silver Street Bridge I glanced back, and felt my solitude in the dark, and quiet. This pandemic year has been a hideous, scary, awful year at work.

Thank god it’s over with.

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#365daysofbiking The changing skyline

Thursday December 17th 2020 – Another classic muse for me in winter is the view from Catshill Junction Bridge towards Brownhills, over the wide of the junction to the new flats in the foreground.

When I started this journal, only the tower block to the left was here and the rest was mostly derelict scrub, cleared of a large tower block in 2004.

As the years passed, new housing appeared and the skyline has totally changed – you used to be able to stand here in a feeling of solitude, but not anymore. Humanity is close now: You can smell cooking, cigarettes. Hear chatter, TVs and kids playing.

The skyline has changed, for the better, and I think makes for a more interesting photo. But I do miss the solitude a bit.

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#365daysofbiking Dark light

Monday December 14th 2020 – I have no idea why, but sometimes, just sometimes, there’s a strange twilight that conveys not light, but darkness. It happens at dusk, often with low, patchy cloud on days that have been changeable.

The light takes on an almost oily quality. The view here is normally fairly open over the canal to Clayhanger Bridge, but this evening’s light, in it’s contrast and dingy shadow, make it look confined and closed.

I’ve no idea what this is technically about, but it’s fascinating.

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#365daysofbiking Halfway up the junction

Tuesday December 1st 2020 – As you come up Green Lane from Shelfield at night, through the darkness of Green Lane, you come to a small hamlet at the foot of the Black Cock Bridge, the bridge itself being named after the pub on its southern flank.

The hamlet is one of the oldest parts of Walsall Wood, once known as Bullings Heath, but now just part of the greater township. Bullings Heath itself stretches on up Hall Lane, and ends at the junction with the Lichfield Road in an area of factories and industrial units that were once the site of a sprawling slum formed largely of canal workers and ex-navvies.

The junction between Hall Lane and Green Lane sits somewhat oddly halfway up the slope of the bridge, now accentuated due to mining subsidence, but always pronounced.

Looking down it at night gives a wonderful village feeling, and you could be in almost any rural community.

I often thought about the dairy farm in Hall Lane, whose buildings and great barn are still extant – and how the carter must have cursed at having to drive his horse uphill to go back down immediately when going to Shelfield with his milk.

I often wonder how much milk got spilled there…

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#365daysofbiking Anchored in the canal

Thursday November 26th 2020 – I’ve spoken a lot about anchors in the last few weeks – constant things that act as a reference point and help me get through the rough times of winter, illness, sadness or stress at work. One of the biggest is the canals that snake their way through the town in which I live, the Black Country and Birmingham which I love, the countryside I ride in and through my life like rich, flowing vein of natural energy.

Whether it’s the Tollhouse loop under the M5 Viaduct in Smethwick, the Trent and Mersey in Rugeley or the good old Wyrley and Essington at Anchor Bridge, I watch the canals in all weathers, and any time of day or night. They are a peaceful, nowadays clean haven of calm and wildlife, where I can enjoy my own company or that of close friends and get fresh air, solace and inspiration.

With a slight mist, the merest hint of an inversion, no sound of traffic to distract me, a late loop up the High Street to Anchor Bridge and back around to Newtown was just what I needed after finishing work late.

I’ve posted many shots of this view over the years, but this is my favourite yet. I like the colours.

My canal. My Anchor Bridge. My anchors.

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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 Light on the surface

Wednesday, October 14th 2020 – The darkness, as I’ve pointed out, allows me a different selection of subjects, often ones which aren’t particularly interesting in the daylight, yet come to life at night or in twilight.

One of those is my old muse of Clayhanger Bridge and the canal overflow nearby.

I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about the way the streetlight on the bridge, the reflections on the water and the sky and skyline combine. And the whole thing seems to vary hugely depending on the weather and time of evening.

I’ll never tire of it, even if readers do…

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