BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Brownhills’

#365daysofbiking Flagging it up

May 21st – I adore flag irises. They are lovely yellow harbingers of summer, and when they appear at the margins of the canal I know the peak of the very best of seasons is upon us.

Unfortunately they give me appalling hay fever and consequent sneezing fits.

I tolerate them though, as you cannot avoid the waterways when everything is just so beautiful.

So if you see a cyclist with streaming eyes, sneezing his head off and cursing profusely, it could well be me enduring my love for flag irises…

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#365daysofbiking Across the middle-distance

May 20th – I have featured the view over the Watling Street valley between the canal at Chemical Hill, Brownhills and Hammerich many, many times on this journal over the years.

It’s a view dear to me, and the skyline above the rolling slopes of Meerash, punctuated by that elegant church spire and former windmill make for a remarkable view from a former industrial town on the very edge of the Black Country.

I think what makes it special is indeed the in-between: There’s a busy dual carriageway, of course, a well hidden toll motorway too, and a former railway.

But this land also bore the Staffordshire Hoard and I’m sure is still holding on to great secrets.

It’s a fantastic thing to behold.

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#365daysofbiking The angler

May 20th – Wednesday was better. Things are easing up and I can see light in the darkness, and hopefully, a path back to work, and hopefully a little normality.

Out earlier than usual, I was held up by an angler on the towpath. Nothing unusual about that – one often has to stop and wait for a rod to be lifted or some gear to be be pulled in – but this one was lightly equipped.

I just couldn’t bring myself to disturb it, and it wasn’t being moved by anyone.

I’m more used to herons now – there are so many about, especially in hatchling season – that seeing them is no longer a shock and reach for the camera moment. But seeing one this confident and reluctant to move was a real treat.

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#365daysofbiking Silly things

May 19th – I’m finding working from home impossible, if I’m honest. It’s very hard to keep focus with family life happening around me. There is no separation, I miss the commute; and I constantly find myself needing things from my den, or elsewhere in my workplace that would make tasks easy but without them they take forever.

I need to go back to work.

In the mean time, my daily outdoors fix is essential, and this evening I spent probably longer than necessary admiring my favourite tree, at Home Farm, Sandhills. This handsome horse chestnut is currently in bloom and looks gorgeous in the Tuesday golden hour.

Some things are markers in the madness. These fields, the canal, the sun, and that tree. They save me from nosediving. Silly things, but there you go.

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#365daysofbiking Fame at last

May 18th – A spin up over Clayhanger Common and a delight to see the chalk fairy had been active again and drawn a new game on the Spot Path over the common.

Just as the previous one, it’s a long trail with lots of physical activities to do to complete it – from walking squiggly lines, to hopping and counting, it really is a lovely, fun activity for kids and parents alike.

It’s lovely that people are doing this for each other in lockdown and I hope it continues beyond, too.

Oh, and it seems I’m locally famous. I’ve got my first, physical hashtag.

Good lord, I’m flattered. Thank you, chalk fairy!

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#365daysofbiking Down the tracks

May 17th – At the other end of Brownhills, since the weather has dried out, the McLean Way is looking and riding rather well at the moment, I must say.

This is the new trail created by volunteers on the trackbed of the defunct South Staffordshire Railway that ran from Walsall to Lichfield.

It’s alive with wild flowers like vetch, birdsfoot trefoil, buttercups and all manner of rarities. There are birds from wrens to buzzards, and you even get foxes and deer down here.

With people taking exercise during lockdown, it can get quite busy but when you do catch it quiet, it’s a lovely spot.

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#365daysofbiking Life’s better by water

May 15th – As I get older and older, I find it much harder to explain to those younger, or newcomers to this town just how much things have improved here since I was a kid.

This is not trivial, or frivolous: The town I grew up in was poor, suffered terrible pollution from industry and and refuse tip at it’s heart, the waterways were rubbish filled ditches and there were very few of the trees here there are today.

I grew up in a smelly, wildlife-free post industrial wasteland.

Now, the waterways are limpid, but full of life; the smells and pollution have all but gone. Everywhere is green with trees and hedgerows. I regularly see deer, foxes and all manner of birds and bugs.

On a sunny, beautiful Friday evening in the golden hour, quiet in lockdown, it was hard to believe what this place once was.

But the memory will never fade.

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#365daysofbiking A prickly customer

May 14th – One of the animals that wakes up at twilight is the humble and much-loved hedgehog.

Now in sharp decline due to traffic and destruction of habitat, it was good to find this busy character searching the grass on Clayhanger Common for worms and other tasty morsels.

Large and healthy, I hope the reduction in traffic from lockdown will give this unassuming but essential creature a bit of a much needed break.

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#365daysofbiking As the light begins to fade

May 13th – I have come to the conclusion over the years that my favourite time of day in summer is the hour or so straddling sunset. The twilight time is when the wildlife starts to stir, when people drift home and the landscape shimmers in the evening cool.

I headed back from Chasewater to Brownhills as the light was fading, and was reminded of how beautiful the canal is here: The green overhanging trees, the reflections and peaceful separation from the road traffic.

If the saying is true that it’s always five o’clock somewhere, then it must always be twilight somewhere in my heart, too.

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