BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Centre’

#365daysofbiking Finally telling the truth

Saturday November 14th 2020 – Snatched photos of a grim, blustery evening, but I’m glad to see after a long period without hands, the Brownhills Parkview Centre Clock – erected by public subscription on the then Council House in 1914 – is now telling the correct time again.

It’s never been a reliable timepiece and for most of my lifetime it’s either been broken or incorrect, but in recent years this rather lovely old thing has been well serviced and has been pretty accurately chiming the hour across the town, be it busy weekday noons or somnambulant summer midnights.

I’ve always found the council house impressive but a bit ugly, built in very orange terracotta, but it is an impressive landmark, now overshadowed in colloquial directions by the metal miner on the nearby island.

The lovingly nicknamed ‘three faced liar’ is another of my constants that I look to for stability – even if inaccurate. It’s as much Brownhills as the common or the canal.

So glad to see it fixed,

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#365daysofbiking A complex question

May 1st – Not far away, just a few tens of yards up the Chester Road, the new nursing home, built on the site of a former quarry and blockworks seems open.

Castlehill Specialist Care Centre seems to cater for people with quite marked dementia and it seems to be intended to serve a growing market – and it’s a very decent looking building, which now appears staffed, and open.

I found myself wondering if they were admitting residents yet, what with coronavirus being so pronounced in such places.

But it’s a fine looking place and I wish all concerned with it – residents and staff – well.

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#365daysofbiking The quiet city

December 14th – I stuff to do in Lichfield on a Saturday afternoon, so left it late to catch the gathering night.

I wasn’t disappointed.

It took me ages to work out what’s special about Lichfield City Centre after dark: It’s the lack of normal streetlights. The lights there are – on buildings, mainly – are verbally low press ion, very yellow sodium which combine with the often far more intense shop lighting to give an illusion that the streets are darker and more suffused than they are.

I notice that Ye Olde City has again been invaded by those bloody creepy, sinister nutcracker figures again. Enough to give a man nightmares.

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#365daysofbiking The place I love

August 15th – Some things make a place what it is, although one may not be fond of them in themselves.

And so it is with the Parkview Centre in Brownhills for me.

The former council house and for many years seat of Brownhills Urban District Council became redundant after our absorption into Walsall in 1974. After a good few years as head office for a building company, this four square, red terracotta building stood empty and decaying.

It is imposing, handsome, I guess. Very civic. It’s got a clock that used to be famously and notoriously wrong (but the clock runs to time now, remarkably). It’s part of the fabric and soul of Brownhills, but I’ve never been fond of it architecturally.

After years empty it was extended horribly insensitively and converted into a health centre and library. The extensions are hideous and completely out of step with the building, and the library, although functionally fine, is boxy and dull.

However, in recent years the flowerbed out front before the Miner Island has been beautifully maintained by a local older couple and it is a credit to them, and looks beautiful. It brings a smile to my face every time I see it.

On a decent but clouding over afternoon, it was a joy to the heart. For better or worse, this building is Brownhills, and is my hometown – and I may not be it’s greatest fan but it’s part of the place I love.

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#365daysofbiking Dark centre

July 18th – Yesterday, I found a plant that I considered may be wild carrot due to the presence of a tiny, dark flower in the centre of it’s otherwise creamy white umbrel. I wrote:

The reason I think this is wild carrot is the presence of a tiny dark flower in the centre of the head to attract insects – I’ll have another look tomorrow to verify this.

That is definitely a tiny, dark purple flower, so this plant is indeed wild carrot. Another baffling, wondrous feature you have to wonder the path towards.

This lovely wildflower was certainly keeping the overflies busy too.

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January 6th – Getting better with the Canon. Actually beginning to like it, which is something I thought I’d never say. That’s a bit sad, as the TZ100 is clearly a cracking piece of kit too and deserves further exploration. I think in a week I’ll take that out exclusively and learn about it.

I was in Brownhills late, collecting a takeaway. Brownhills was quiet, sleepy and I had the peace and quiet to try again at some shots I thought I’d fudged before. This camera is odd – it really isn’t that great at Morris, as the zoom isn’t there I think, but the classic Anchor Bridge night scene was a boster. I also liked what it did with the Commutiy and Parkview Centres. 

Brownhills at night has some really great pictures. Get your camera out and explore.

November 24th – Taking a shortcut up Pier Street, I noticed that the boiler in the OAP club was running, and the plume of water vapour generated was drifting into the night illuminated by the sodium floodlight above.

At long exposure, it looked ghostly, but probably looked better in the shorter shot. 

I watched it for a while, the patterns and colour were oddly mesmerising.

March 5th – Back to the wet, blustery weather. Escaping after a period of spannering the bike in the afternoon, the rain held off as I rode to the Orbital Centre at Bridgtown on an errand. I used the new road that curls through the industrial area that’s being developed there. It’s fast, but soulless.

This is a good area for such development – former brownfield, with mining and historical contamination issues, this land is scarred, ugly and ideal for the warehouses and factories it’s sprouting. But bless me, it’s a dull ride.

Nothing is on a human scale. Everything built here is huge. Everything is massive, and punctuated by huge amounts of open space.

Modern development is a curious thing.

May 20th – I’d had enough. The week had been tough and I needed time out – so taking advantage of a temporary lull at work I left early and headed out. The weather wasn’t great, with an insistent southwesterly and generally overcast skies, but it was warm enough and the sun did make it out on occasions.

I headed  up to Rosliston, hoping to catch the Honeypot cafe, but the opening hours were shorter than those listed online, and it was shut. Having a brainwave, I went instead to the cafe at the Rosliston Forestry Centre, which was decent and is open daily until 5pm. From there, Linton, Caldwell, Gresley, Netherseal, then back via No Mans Heath, Haunton, Syerscote, Hopwas and Weeford. 

This was just the thing my soul needed, and 75 miles later, I felt much better.

January 6th – A fair commute in both directions for once, in fact almost sunny.

On the way, the sun was trapped above low smog but I didn’t mind – as I came through central Walsall on the ring road, it made everything look beautiful. I don’t know if it was just in the haze or my mind, but everything was suffused in a delicious yellow, soft light.

The Workhouse Guardian’s Office in front of the Manor Hospital may still be derelict, and gradually being carried to dust, but it’s at times like this it regains some of the lost stature.

Could do with a few more days like this, please.