BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘canal’

#365daysofbiking A ghost of a chance

Thursday April 1st 2021 – Riding home late afternoon, I spotted this amusing tribute to science by local street artist Ghost on a canalside wall in Pleck, Walsall. It’s beautifully executed, and marks a trend of the pandemic often inspiring street art. I think if covid has done anything positive, it seems to have engaged street art and counterculture in a way that current affairs have generally failed to do for two decades.

But that’s a bit of a side issue. This post was suck in draft from April until Christmas because I was so undecided what to do with this journal. As I noted in my last post, I was tired, and ill. And not able to raise the energy to continue it at the time with the passion it needed. So I entered three quarters of a year of writers and creative block.

The reason for April 1st being significant is that on this day in 2011, I started this journal as part of the worldwide #30daysofbiking project, prodded into taking part by fellow utility cyclist and top Dutchperson Rene Van Baar on Twitter. 30Days was a commitment to ride every day of April. It still happens, and one thing that’s always amused me is that the organisers over in the US, upon hearing that I just carried the project on for years, showed nothing but indifference. I never quite worked that out.

I didn’t quite do a decade continuously though, over new year the following Christmas I missed two days due to a really nasty bout of food poisoning – but other than that, I rode every single day for a decade, and documented every day with a photo post (or occasionally, a bit of video). I’m proud of that. There are a lot of words in the archive. A lot of images; a lot of my life, and this area as well as others I visited along the way.

My first post was matter of fact, and terse. It took me a month to develop my style. You can read it here.

Since then there have been 6,955 entries, and somewhere around 11,000 media items – mostly images, but around 70 videos and even the odd bit of audio.

So with all that behind me, where am I going now?

…Nowhere, that’s where.

I’m just going to post when I have something to share. So it’s be less frequent, but I will be aided by a riding companion whom many of you will already be familiar with, who deserves a voice and to be heard too.

This means hopefully there will be less filler, and more passion. I think you’ll prefer it in the long run, And it’ll be easier for me to keep up.

One thing that has changed in recent years is street photography has got really hard. Nobody used to bat an eye if they saw you with a camera. These days, you get noticed. Curtains twitch. People ask what you’re doing. You half expect to be on the local neighbourhood watch group as a suspicious individual. So the new format will be probably more picturesque stuff I think.

I find that a bit sad but it’s the way the world is at the moment.

So, are you coming with me? Let’s ride into the blue together… Hopefully it’ll stop raining soon.

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/343U3Nl
via IFTTT

#365daysofbiking Just this side of midnight

 

26th December 2021 – I will post a fuller explanation in coming days, but I came to within two days of this journal’s ten year anniversary on March 30th, 2021, and just stopped, because I couldn’t decide what to do with it.

It was a sort of creative block. At the time.

But it was a bit more than that. I was very ill, but didn’t realise it at the time. It’s taken most of the year to get past those difficulties both physical and mental, and find my ease again. It’s not been a comfortable journey. Part of it will be that the nature of this journal will necessarily change.

I still cycle, every day pretty much. But documenting every day was becoming hard. I’m a decade older. I’m well into my 50s. My health has not been great. When I started all this, I would regularly not go to bed until 4am and be up for work at 6am and be fine. Now, I don’t have that energy, and it was getting harder and harder to find things to photograph, and street photography has got harder. Again, more on that later.

Way back in the spring I was quite ill with my bowel again. This was making me tired, and getting that sorted at the height of summer was such a boon – but within weeks, while my immunity was suppressed, I caught a skin infection. My leg swollen, I couldn’t ride some days – not because of any pain, but because I couldn’t get trousers on. Sorting that out properly took until the autumn.

Autumn brought me a gradual, day by day recovery: Not just of my physical power, but of my sense of mischief and desire to explore things.

Then came the debate: How do I deal with 365? I don’t want it to die. It’s been a huge part of my last decade, and it’s probably the least-read but most heartfelt writing I do publicly. I don’t want to lose that, but I can’t post every day: It’s become repetitive, I’m not sure anyone’s reading it that much and It’s too rigid a format to say things I want to say now.

So this journal is going to change. But also, sort of stay the same. You’ll see what I mean in coming days, weeks, months.

As I type this on Boxing Day at just my favourite side of midnight – 1:30am in a darkened house – I post a photo taken from Ogley Junction footbridge 3 hours before on one of the most unpleasant Christmas nights I’ve known – heavy rain for hours and all was sodden, but curiously, not my spirit. I was full of a great family Christmas Day, and the subsequent evening pursuit of solitude for a while, also hoping to burn off some of the digestive load. It was, at least, warm. The nights are opening out. I survived a particularly vile Autumn suck. It’s OK. All shall be well.

One of the oddest features of this year is that although this journal withered, my passion for riding bikes actually grew to a level I’ve not experienced for years. Although I was sporadic for a week here or there, I’ve actually ridden far more miles this year and had many more long rides than usual. it was rediscovering that joy that helped make me well again, a fact I am certain of.

So here I am, just on the morning side of midnight, on the light side of the dark, on the well side of ill, ready to journey onward, but only documenting rides when I feel I have something to share.

Hopefully that will work for you.

But there’s something I have to do first.

Stay tuned. Please. And I beg you to accept my apologies. I didn’t want to let you all down. But something had to give. I have written a huge amount on this journal. I think I’ve earned a more relaxed role.

Stay tuned.

This journal is also on WordPress, where the pictures are in higher resolution and the search box works! Click here.

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/32rAnT5
via IFTTT

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.

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/3u7w1sq
via IFTTT

#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.

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/31ze3Tr
via IFTTT

#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.

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/3rff9hF
via IFTTT

#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.

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/2OX6fIk
via IFTTT

#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.

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/3rdL164
via IFTTT

#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…

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/3cVJa0R
via IFTTT

#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.

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/3tQb2ub
via IFTTT

#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.

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/3rd99pm
via IFTTT