BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘canal’

365daysofbiking On a lost day like this

Sunday March 28th 2021 – I had errands to do for a relative. They did not go well, but that didn’t matter really as the weather was windy and often wet, and the wasted time did not matter so much.

The only splash of colour in a grim day – The first of British Summer Time – was found in the forsythia growing by the canal at Catshill that I noticed on my return at dusk, at a pleasing 7:40pm.

Forsythia – immortalised in a great song by the band Veruca Salt that US college rock fans of a certain age will know well – used to be really popular in the UK as an ornamental shrub, but seems to have gone out of fashion. It forms a mass of yellow blossom before coming into leaf, and is truly gorgeous.

The reason for it’s decline I can only guess at, but wonder if people confused it with the highly poisonous and similarly yellow laburnum, which flowers much later but there was much anguish over in the 80s and 90s, leading to it’s steady decline.

It’s nice to see, especially on a lost day like this.

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#365daysofbiking The run of the mill


Thursday March 25th 2021 – Another beautiful spring day with a little sunshine warmth – but wrapping up was still necessary.

For the first time in a good while I came back from Darlaston to Goscote on the canal and flipped to the McClean Way (formerly the Goscote cycleway): I avoid this route in winter as the towpaths tend to be very slippery and hazardous despite their recent resurfacing.

But they’ve dried up now, and a lovely potter back through Walsall getting acquainted with old friends. No sign of swans nesting yet, though.

Birchills lock flight looked splendid in to the low sun, as did the millennially constructed flats complex forming part of Smiths Flour Mill, which up until the 1990s was a functioning flour producing plant.

Outsiders would never suspect Walsall had such splendid spots right in its heart like this.

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#365daysofbiking Light in the distance

Monday March 15th 2021 – I’m spending more working time actually at work now, and things seem to be getting more back to normal, albeit a different form of normal with social distancing and masks.

Things after the pandemic will never, of course, be the same again but as spring comes, and I find I’m starting to commute in light at both ends of the day it feels like the world is waking up again. Just a little. Infection rates are falling, less people are being lost and hospitals are less full with virus victims.

The vaccine seems to be having an effect and things look positive, for the first time in twelve months.

Crossing Catshill Junction on my way to the High Street in the dusk, I stopped to capture the dying light and reflected on what a difficult year it had been – but also, on how at last, there was light in the distance.

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#365daysofbiking Going with the flow:

Sunday March 14th 2021 – An errand over to Burntwood meant crossing Chasewater dam for a second day running. I note that the water level in the Nine-Foot pool is still high and overflowing into the spillway.

With the lack of boat traffic on the canals due to lockdown, there has not been the demand for water in the canals, and Chasewater has filled and been in overflow for most of the last twelve months. Over winter particularly, through very wet weather, releasing water into the canal to flood the upper Tame overflows would be problematic, so the excess has been steadily feeding the alternative path via the spillway to the Crane Brook, to some local consternation.

An odd effect of the pandemic, it’s worth remembering that when water is released in large volumes it doesn’t just affect us locally, but all the way down the drainage system.

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#365daysofbiking Downtown lights

Thursday March 11th 2021 – Still very windy as I pressed home the following evening, once again battling a wind with an edge forged on Satan’s own back step. It was grim.

Passing Silver Street on the canal I was confused why Tesco was emitting not only the usual red, blue and white light, but also a piercing green, which the picture doesn’t capture too well.

It turns out it’s the traffic lights to let shoppers into the store.

If nothing else, they’re making for some lovely reflected colour on the choppy canal.

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#365daysofbiking Buffeted

Wednesday March 10th 2021 – The warmer weather bought with it high winds. I’m less tolerant of these than I used to be, and find them more of an issue when riding. I’m not sure why; perhaps I’m more risk averse as I get older.

Coming back from work against a very unpleasant headwind which was peppered with raindrops, I stopped on the canal near the Black Cock bridge to take a picture – and realised there was no moonlight.

So I improvised with the bike headlight.

Not a David Bailey, but for such a horrid night it would have to do…

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#365daysofbiking Drying out

Tuesday March 9th 2021 – It’s a little bit warmer, a little bit lighter later, and it seems to have finally stopped with the continual drizzle.

As a consequence, the towpaths and trails are drying out, and the riding is getting a little bit easier, and less messy.

This stretch at Catshill has been swampy, mushy and slippery all winter. Good to finally see some improvement.

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#365daysofbiking Unfixed

Saturday March 6th 2021 – The bike was giving me problems I was finding it hard to fix, so I snatched a quick test ride to Chasewater as the sunset looked decent – I really wasn’t disappointed.

It was one of those brooding, dark evenings when you don’t expect much of the dusk but it surprises you – and so it did.

It was still cold though, as the smoke from the narrowboat moored in Anglesey Wharf attested. I know it’s only really just March, and not even too late for snow, but some warmth wouldn’t go amiss.

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#365daysofbiking Pushing on

Thursday March 4th 2021 – Home again, and a chance to catch the sunset on the exercise ride.

It was an interesting one: A decent sky colour, but not terribly dramatic. I took lots of pictures, but it looked best from the canal at Catshill over the trees.

I could feel maybe a little – just a little – warmth in the air and warm long days are not far away now. For now, I’ll keep pushing on into the dusk, and think longingly of them.

These things, like good sunsets, get me through.

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#365daysofbiking All for the best

Wednesday March 3rd 2021 – Returning from work again in the middle evening, it was a much clearer night as I crossed the Pier Street pedestrian bridge back into Brownhills, a traditional homecoming when the canal towpaths are not too wet.

Thankfully, they seem to be drying out a little, at last.

I love the look of the new housing along the canalside here at night. This used to be such an empty, desolate area, especially in the dark. It looks so much more alive and inhabited now, almost cosy in the streetlight.

Definitely change for the better.

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