BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘canal’

#365daysofbiking Glad to be back

Friday January 8th 2021 – A warmer day, but not much: The snow was mostly melted and the frost slight as I headed home from work.

Between Catshill Junction and Anchor Bridge I opted to leave the muddy canal and hit the High Street.

I always like the end of the first working week after Christmas. The festivities seem an age away, it’s now not really dark until well past 4:30pm and things seem to be heading toward spring. Of course, the pandemic is a huge worry, as is Brexit and problems it’s causing at work, but I think we can endure.

It’s actually nice to be back in my routine.

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#365daysofbiking Quick Silver

Tuesday January 4th 2021 – A better evening commute, but I was in a hurry to get home. We’re now back in full lockdown, and the world felt that little bit more hostile to be out in, so I just swept through the Silver Street Marina area, and took some quick shots looking up the canal to the Watermead Estate.

It’s not a bad spot this, but the paving at the waterside desperately needs some love – it’s uneven and breaking up. The view is nice though, and a bit of welcome calm in a mad world. You’d never believe this was central Brownhills.

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#365daysofbiking Not fade away

Monday January 3rd 2021 – Back to work, with the country seemingly in limbo, with a government unsure whether to put us in full lockdown or not. Another year, more dire politicians.

I came home on a wet evening along a very wet canal, and hopped off the towpath at Anchor Bridge. As I rounded the corner onto the High Street, it occurred to me to try a photo of the canal – another semi-regular night photography muse I hadn’t tried with the new camera.

I love how the colours are strong here at night, and never really fade. It’s one of those timeless views I guess.

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#365daysofbiking Not what I had in mind

New Years Day, Friday January 1st 2021 – I had this daft idea to go up Barr Beacon and catch a great, frosty winter sunset – the first of the year – with a big zoom camera. So I charged up the Nikon P990 and headed off.

I was soon up on the Beacon, it’s not far. I was pleased with myself: My fitness was well up to the long climb, unusual at Christmas. Especially with my advancing age.

Just one snag.

The sun went down with barely a whimper, and everything was dull. The photography was terrible.

Not only that, the melting snow up there had seen so many feet – it wasn’t even attractive to photograph. Cursing, I left, and did a lazy loop of Queslett, Streetly and Aldridge.

On impulse, I headed for the canal between Aldridge and Walsall Wood, and I liked the marina boats, smell of woodsmoke from stoves and soft lights. The ride was saved, sort of.

As I ploughed back towards Brownhills – the towpaths were hard going, not with ice, but unrelenting mud and sludge – I thought I’d have a go at Clayhanger Bridge with the Panasonic. Not too bad considering the lack of moonlight. A lot of colour in a very dark scene. I liked it.

Some days, you don’t get what you want from a ride, but you do get what you need. And that’s totally OK.

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#365daysofbiking Hardened

Wednesday December 30th 2020 – I was less keen to ride far today – overnight the partially thawing snow had frozen solid, formed hard pack-ice and I needed to gently find out how the tyres I’m currently using – Continental Top Contact II Winter – would cope.

I needn’t have worried. Not as good as studs, but perfectly acceptable without the noise and rolling resistance. A run up the canal and back through Clayhanger after night fell was enough to find out what I needed.

I think I can happily commute on these now.

The canal is partially frozen – about a IC2 on the Dra Marland canal scale.

Be nice if we had a real snowfall, I think. We’re due a really cold winter.

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#365daysofbiking Sensations in the dark


Boxing Day Saturday December 26th 2020 – Unusually, we’d had a family walk in the morning, in the Needwood Valley and around Hoar Cross, which was lovely but grey and very muddy. So instead of the usual Boxing Day afternoon blowout, I grabbed my pal and we headed back to The Slough and Old Cement Works bridge to try the new camera on the canal scenes there.

From the eeriness of the former railway trail in nothing but bike headlight, to the pool of spilled illumination on the canal footpath near the Jolly Collier Bridge, it was great fun.

A storm was coming in and the cellphone masts rattled and whistled in the wind. The whole ride filled the senses and felt edgy and intense.

The results speak for themselves. This camera loves low light. That’s the first digital camera in 22 years experience I can truly say that about.

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#365daysofbiking That old razzle dazzle

Tuesday December 22nd 2020 – There’s a photographic effect you can get with some cameras whereby if you open the aperture wide, bright lights at night develop a starburst.

I’m pleased to say the Panasonic LX100MII I’m currently using does this – previous Canons really didn’t: I think it was processed out. The best cameras I ever had for this effect were Nikon, with which you could reliably get the most wonderful sparkles.

You don’t want it on many photos, it can be a bit cheap and tacky, and I’ve not the remotest idea what is actually happening to cause it. But as an occasional side-salad of night photography, it’s an interesting dish to experiment with.

Here on the canal at Silver Street on my way home from work – it did pretty well. Except for the green lens flare in the lower right centre of the image.

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#365daysofbiking Lit for nobody in particular

Friday December 18th 2020 – I had to pass through Walsall as I headed home from work. I had an errand to do, and I left as night fell. I thought I’d take a look at Town Wharf, the canal basin at the top end of town that was always intended to be the heart of Walsall’s millennial rebirth that wa in reality a slow developing child that 20 years later is still immature.

The Wharfingers cottage, rebuilt after it’s accidental demolition (!) is a good example: Empty for pretty much 15 years, it was finally occupied by a restaurant. Sadly, as we are in lockdown, they are confined to take-away only.

The lighting though, is gorgeous, and makes for a lovely photo. I always find this area bittersweet: It photographs beautifully but there’s always the vague smell of lost horizons here.

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#365daysofbiking The changing skyline

Thursday December 17th 2020 – Another classic muse for me in winter is the view from Catshill Junction Bridge towards Brownhills, over the wide of the junction to the new flats in the foreground.

When I started this journal, only the tower block to the left was here and the rest was mostly derelict scrub, cleared of a large tower block in 2004.

As the years passed, new housing appeared and the skyline has totally changed – you used to be able to stand here in a feeling of solitude, but not anymore. Humanity is close now: You can smell cooking, cigarettes. Hear chatter, TVs and kids playing.

The skyline has changed, for the better, and I think makes for a more interesting photo. But I do miss the solitude a bit.

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#365daysofbiking That’s enough for now, please

Wednesday December 16th 2020 – Talking of water, the overflow at Clayhanger Bridge, safely conducting the excess canal water to the Tame via the Ford Brook is at a fair pelt in this wet season. I really am getting fed up of the mud and rain and would like a dry spell for a while.

With everything that’s going on in the world, would it be really be too much to ask for a cessation in the mud and wet grime of urban life with daily rain?

I shan’t hold my breath but I fear I might be getting webbed feet.

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