BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘canal’

#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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#365daysofbiking Splendid isolation

May 8th – I’d had to ride into Brum to check out something for work. Public transport is unusable, and the day was lovely so I rode all the way on the canal.

At Aston Junction there’s a garden ruin of mown grass just by the canal bridges there, and within, I noticed an artist.

Clearly busy under his straw hat, he seemed engrossed in his work.

I didn’t think he had noticed me at all, and the dedicated, solitary pursuit of his art was fascinating and just a little sad.

As I left, I bid him a cheery goodbye and without looking up, he wished me a good ride.

Lockdown is doing odd things to us as a society, and I kind of like it.

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#365daysofbiking Slim slow slider

May 8th – It’s always nice to welcome seasonal characters back into one’s life and none more so than the local canal’s resident reptile, Mr. Miyagi, the yellow-bellied slider.

Clearly a discarded pet, many canals and pools in the UK are home to these gentle, but surprisingly speedy vegetarians. The will live happily in our climate although being native to the Americas, but will not breed, even if they managed to find a mate. These turtles were popular a while back and sold as small animals, many were set free as they grew.

Mr. Miyagi is the size of a dinner plate, and likes to sun himself on the bank or any suitably buoyant drifting debris he can find on warm days, and his statuesque, head raised posture marks him as a real sun worshipper.

However, get a bit close or make a sudden movement – as I did today by sneezing – and he darts into the water with remarkable acuity.

I thought last year someone may interfere and ‘rescue’ the dear old soul, but he remains, reactions as sharp as ever and it was good to note his presence for another season.

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#365daysofbiking Hoked on sunsets

May 7th – It was a decent sunset and I was in Walsall Wood. That’s always frustrating, because there aren’t any very good vantage points to take one in around that area.

Then I caught the sunset over Walsall Wood Bridge past Rod, the Walsall Wood angler, who bears an uncanny resemblance to David Evans, gentleman of the parish.

It didn’t work out so bad. Shame they never sorted out the purloined fish…

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#365daysofbiking Family values

May 7th – It may be just me spending more time by the canal this year, but we seem to have a larger number than usual of waterfowl chicks about. It’s lovely and heart warming to see – and let’s face it, we all need a bit of cute and heartwarming at the moment.

The Canada geese have been particularly prolific, and everywhere I go on local canals I see gorgeous balls of fluff bobbing along between proud, defensive parents, or I meet hissing, protective aggression that requires careful negotiation.

A beautiful and very positive reminder that life goes on.

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