BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘canal’

#365daysofbiking Stuck in the mud

February 15th – Another weekend, another storm, this time the more mundanely named Dennis.

Dennis was a sod though, bringing heavy rain and high wind.

Slipping out on a foul afternoon to get shopping I hit the saturated towpath to Burntwood. An attempt to plough has been made at Home Farm, Sandhills and seemingly abandoned due to muddiness.

The wind howled and rain sang on the surface of the water.

The only bright spot was the Millfield Commemorative Stones – over 130 of them – that had been driven over by a Canal and River Trust contractor – have been lovingly recovered, washed and placed back in position by local man Micheal Newton Turner, who saw my blog post on the matter.

I sent him an Amazon voucher to thank him for his hard, selfless work.

Brightness in unexpected places is always a joy.

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#365daysofbiking Always a disappointment

February 13th – And on the canal further on, the usual characters are regrouping for the spring rituals. Soon, shady aggressive beggars like this lad will be building nests and chasing off any unwelcome visitors.

For now he was grumpy with me because I had no food.

He glared and honked at me from the water, his contempt at my lack of largesse painfully clear.

To swans, I will always be a disappointment.

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#365daysofbiking – A new cat of Cathsill

February 7th – Passing through the appropriately named Catshill Junction on the canal near Anchor Bridge, a handsome, dapper puss on the far side of the canal.

I think he’s a new resident. I saw him a few days ago having a standoff with a tabby in the same spot. I’m also thinking I’ve seen him on the towpath side too, which may mean he’s jumping the canal at the toll narrows, or crossing at Anchor Bridge.

Whatever his status, he wasn’t too keen on me taking his picture!

A lovely cat, clearly. I look forward to seeing him more as the days lengthen and warm up.

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#365daysofbiking – Out for a duck

February 6th – My wellbeing is steadily improving, and so is the weather. Finally, it’s seems like spring is on the way and summer might be a thing, too. It’s been a long winter.

I’m still building myself up gradually with rides increasing in length as my energy, and capacity to process food, improves.

It was nice to pause at the Clayhanger canal overflow and chat with the mallards. Unlike the swans, they aren’t fussy about the company they keep.

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#365daysofbiking – Better days

February 5th – My energy didn’t give out so I went full circle and attended to an errand in Walsall Wood.

I passed under the Black Cock Bridge, named after the nearby pub. A familiar if ramshackle affair, the bridge has been lifted several times due to subsidence and now exists in a sort of limbo: It’s not got much life left, yet replacement of the structure, on a notorious rat-run, would not be easy and due to the aforementioned subsidence, would probably be better and an under bridge with and aqueduct above.

I suspect eventually it will be closed to through traffic and left, like Hollanders Bridge further up in Walsall Wood.

It’s seen better days, as have I, but I hope there’s a few more to come yet for me. For the first time in weeks, I feel like there might actually be a summer eventually, and wellness might once again be mine.

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#365daysofbiking – Interregnum

February 5th – In that odd, vague and lifeless interregnum between ‘rather ill’ and ‘quite a bit better’ I found myself bumbling around the canals of Brownhills on what was not an altogether bad day.

Here at Middleton Bridge – overlooking open farmland not a ringtoss from where the Staffordshire Hoard found a local metal detectorist – it’s hard not to look at this view and reflect.

On the left was a chemical works in the late Victorian period, that made tar and other such products; latterly an alloy smelter that seemed to process war scrap. Local kids were attracted to the yard full of warplane fuselages and engines for scrap, and for fun, but down in the valley, real metal riches lay just below the surface in a ploughed field.

This stretch of canal is still called ‘The Chemical’ by older locals.

It looks a damn site better now the scrapyard has gone, mind…

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#365daysofbiking Anchored down

February 4th – When you can’t got far the routes are limited, so one thing to do is the same route in the other direction – so that’s what I did.

I love the view of the Anchor Bridge by night and it’s just right for a long exposure photo.

That bridge has seem some life over ther years, and been widened and rebuilt many times.

A real quiet spot for me, and a place for a breather as I get my riding legs back.

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#365daysofbiking Night lines

February 3rd – My short local bimbles continue as I build strength back up – and a run up to Catshill Junction, then to Ogley Junction and back up the Lichfield Road was about my limit on a chilly Monday evening.

I enjoy the canal at night. The sounds of waterfowl, the quick glance from foxes and rabbits suddenly illuminated by my bike light. The peace, quiet and the sky.

Hopefully soon my range will start expanding a bit more.

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#365daysofbiking Unusual colour

February 2nd – The Azolla bloom in the local canal, and as it matures patches of the waterway have turned a deep red.

Azolla is a small but populous growth that although strange and invasive, does little harm – it will disappear in spring as the weevils gorge on it. Winter normally sees its death, but after a very favourable summer, the winter has not been cold enough to kill it.

It’s not stringy and parts easily for passing boats and waterfowl.

But it does look very unusual.

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#365daysofbiking Please avenge my death if necessary

February 1st – Later, returning with some shopping and wheeling my bike up the canalside on Silver Street, I met these aggressive beggars.

True, I had a bag of shopping which included a French loaf. I guess they know what a human with food looks like. They thought I’d come to feed them.

They were wrong. There was a bit of a standoff, lots of hissing and a fair bit of irritated swearing. By me, not the geese, it has to be said.

Thankfully, I found some emergency corn in my coat pocket, and that distracted the hungry assailants.

If by chance one day I do not survive one of these encounters with the Canada geese, I expect readers of this journal to avenge my death if necessary.

Thank you.

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