BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘canal’

#365daysofbiking Shroom to manoeuvre

Monday, September 28th 2020 – This journal is now so venerable that I feel it has seasonal traditions, and one of the most important to me is it’s devotion to documenting the fungus season with the many photogenic and interesting varieties of toadstool, ball, mould and slime that abound in autumn.

The mycology is tragically overlooked – it’s a huge kingdom completely different to any other, and without it life on earth could not function at all. And when it blooms and fruits, it’s stunning in its otherworldly beauty.

So far this dry autumn, there hasn’t been much fungal action but with showers in recent days hopefully the shrooms will have the trigger they need to emerge.

I’ll kick it all off this year with these humble but beautiful honey fungus, spotted by the canal in Darlaston on my way to work. Hopefully the first of many this year.

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#365daysofbiking All conkering

Saturday, September 26th 2020 – As I mentioned at my recommencement last week, there are some subjects that are staples of this journal, and I can’t believe I’m a week overdue mentioning my favourite tree: The handsome, gorgeous horse chestnut at Home Farm, Sandhills, visible from the canal at Catshill.

This noble bearing of my life is an integral part of that fine view, and has just started to get on its autumn jacket.

I tell the seasons by this tree, and I judge the weather. I’ve photographed it dawn and dusk, rain, snow, hail and shine. It’s one constant, lovely thing I rely on and feel a great sense of topophilia for – yet I don’t think I’ve ever been closer than a few hundred yards to it.

In a chaotic world, we need anchors. This tree is one of mine, and long may it remain so.

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#365daysofbiking Bleat it

Wednesday, September 23rd 2020 – I note sheep are grazing on some fast growing crop planted swiftly after the late summer harvest at Home Farm, Sandhills. It looks like some brassica or other, probably kale.

Sheep are an unusual sight here, as the land is solidly arable, but every now and again, a winter crop like this is grown and sheep from another farm are let loose to feed upon it for a few weeks. I guess it must me a good earner; last time was Christmas 2018, I think.

Nice to see them. Wonder if we’ll get the escapees again on the canal towpath this time?

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#365daysofbiking Overnight mooring

Sunday, September 20th 2020 – The closing in of the evenings means that there will be more night shots here as the season advances, and there are a few favourites I return to, for no other reason than I love the images they make.

At the top end of Brownhills, on the border between there and Walsall Wood, the Anchor Bridge is lovely at night. I adore this view.

The colours and light of a night shot can, counteiintuitly, be gorgeously vivid.

Quiet, contemplative scenes like this moor me through the winter until the light returns. Therapy, I think.

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#365daysofbiking Inhaling green:

Wednesday, September 16th 2020 – While I’ve been away the canals have continued as they ever were, with small changes. They got very busy with pedestrians and cyclists for a while, a product of fair weather and lockdown, so the towpaths were well worn, and the cessation in mowing gave my beloved orchids a sporting chance this year. But the waterfowl, plants and colours were broadly as ever.

Reassuringly, beautifully, peacefully as ever.

The one change that’s been interesting is the azolla bloom that dominated the water surface in 2019 has largely faded, and in its death left sporadic patches of more traditional clumping algae, which must be a pain for waterfowl and boaters alike.

There are still traces of azolla, which was a surface invasive surviving a mild winter, but it was non-stringy and readily parted for birds and watercraft, but it’s mostly gone.

On a dull, grey autumn afternoon, the green and peace here were so welcome, I felt like I was inhaling them.

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#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 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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#365daysofbiking Scum

May 12th – Again, the local canals were thick with organic scum – not just the usual azolla bloom, which is still persisting but has mostly died back now, but detritus and dead bloom heads from sallow trees that border the canal there.

It looks awful but will soon disperse, and it just one of several reasons the canal forms natural organic layers throughout the year.

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