BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘change’

#365daysofbiking It’s all going on

Friday March 19th 2021 – Crossing Chasewater on a dull Friday with raindrops on the wind threatening a soaking that thankfully, never materialised, I stopped on the motorway bridge and looked down to the lake.

It was good to note the emergence of the leaves on the trees in the copses and hedgerows flanking Pool Lane. It didn’t feel like spring, but it was certainly coming.

Busily, quietly, the time of renewal is getting underway – it’s all going on.

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#365daysofbiking Lane’s end

Monday March 8th 2021 – I was discussing online the other day a local lost stub of a lane that used to be Bullmoor Lane. Bullmoor Lane ran from Raikes and Chesterfield, a mile or so north of Shenstone, shadowing the Watling Street, to a junction near Wall Butts at Hilton, where it met Cranebrook Lane and Boat Lane. As a kid it was one of my first local discoveries. I loved that quiet, undulating backway, and still do.

When the M6 Toll came through at the turn of the millennium, the last half a mile of Bullmoor Lane was diverted south, to meet Cranebrook Lane without building a second flyover, leaving the old stub abandoned.

It still exists, and is now gated, but when nostalgic one can push past the gate and ride the crumbling asphalt to the edge of the new motorway, echoing in my childhood tracks.

I always find these dead, divorced and orphaned lanes a bit sad: Dark Lane at Longdon is one, just closed as out of use, like School Lane at Norton. But other lanes were lost to the toll, especially around Hammerwich and and Shenstone Park.

It’s the feeling that they hold memories, which cannot be put back, I think.

A curious bit of melancholia on the exercise ride.

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#365daysofbiking All for the best

Wednesday March 3rd 2021 – Returning from work again in the middle evening, it was a much clearer night as I crossed the Pier Street pedestrian bridge back into Brownhills, a traditional homecoming when the canal towpaths are not too wet.

Thankfully, they seem to be drying out a little, at last.

I love the look of the new housing along the canalside here at night. This used to be such an empty, desolate area, especially in the dark. It looks so much more alive and inhabited now, almost cosy in the streetlight.

Definitely change for the better.

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#365daysofbiking A changed world

Christmas Eve, Thursday December 24th 2020 – I had a busy day – the errands mounted up, last minute shopping for groceries, dropping off presents and so forth. My last task was to nip into Walsall wo pick up some vegetables in the early evening.

It was a crisp, clear evening and the riding fast but easy in the nippy air. I decided to return through Pelsall, to check out their Christmas tree.

Unusual in the borough that it’s planted, it was handsome and looked lovely in the memorial garden.

But what a strange Christmas Eve this was: Early evening, nobody around.

What a changed world we live in at the moment.

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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 The sisterhood

Thursday, October 8th 2020 – It’s coming up to the best time of year to view the twin sisters – the churches on top of the hill at the centre of Wednesbury.

Another of my favourite subjects here, these gorgeous but differing spires – of St Mary’s Catholic Church and St Batholomews Church of England – nestling above the leafy, urban slopes are a maker for me, and an illustration that the Black Country is not quite as outsiders might imagine.

Of course, like many urban churches, time has been kinder to these sisters than one would imagine: They once shook to the thump of drop hammers and buzzed with the huge amount of industry they overlooked, but now their parishes are quieter and, dare I say it, nicer places to live.

To see this lovely view from Kings Hill Park in Darlaston is a joy, and as autumn matures the view will only get better, reminding me that however far I might stray, this is my place, the Black Country, and where my heart and soul lie.

Hope they can sort the clock soon…

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#365daysofbiking Inhaling green:

Wednesday, September 16th 2020 – While I’ve been away the canals have continued as they ever were, with small changes. They got very busy with pedestrians and cyclists for a while, a product of fair weather and lockdown, so the towpaths were well worn, and the cessation in mowing gave my beloved orchids a sporting chance this year. But the waterfowl, plants and colours were broadly as ever.

Reassuringly, beautifully, peacefully as ever.

The one change that’s been interesting is the azolla bloom that dominated the water surface in 2019 has largely faded, and in its death left sporadic patches of more traditional clumping algae, which must be a pain for waterfowl and boaters alike.

There are still traces of azolla, which was a surface invasive surviving a mild winter, but it was non-stringy and readily parted for birds and watercraft, but it’s mostly gone.

On a dull, grey autumn afternoon, the green and peace here were so welcome, I felt like I was inhaling them.

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#365daysofbiking Life’s better by water

May 15th – As I get older and older, I find it much harder to explain to those younger, or newcomers to this town just how much things have improved here since I was a kid.

This is not trivial, or frivolous: The town I grew up in was poor, suffered terrible pollution from industry and and refuse tip at it’s heart, the waterways were rubbish filled ditches and there were very few of the trees here there are today.

I grew up in a smelly, wildlife-free post industrial wasteland.

Now, the waterways are limpid, but full of life; the smells and pollution have all but gone. Everywhere is green with trees and hedgerows. I regularly see deer, foxes and all manner of birds and bugs.

On a sunny, beautiful Friday evening in the golden hour, quiet in lockdown, it was hard to believe what this place once was.

But the memory will never fade.

This journal is moving home. Find out more by clicking here.

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#365daysofbiking National pride

April 23rd – Something odd is happening. Well, lots of odd things really with the current pandemic that has seen changes that just six months ago would have been unthinkable.

But what’s interesting me is small, almost unnoticed shifts in national opinion.

The outpouring of wholly justified love and respect for the NHS is one such case in point. Rewinding that six months, I bet lots of folk in love with it now would have been at best ambivalent towards out state healthcare system back then..

Years of attrition from some political quarters had let to our National Health Service – something that’s saved my life on three occasions and I have always been a staunch advocate for – being treated as a Cinderella, and something to be improved or that was inadequate, or failing.

In a heartbeat, that’s all changed. Pro-NHS sentiment and memes are spilling off social media into real life. The UK is once again, painfully aware of the value of what we have and what we need to protect.

Here at the old Duckhams Bridge near Stubbers Green, an anonymous hand is echoing a love we all now share.

At a stroke, some political positions have become untenable overnight.

If nothing else about this awful time is positive, this new found regard for those who work to care for us and the service they work within may well be.

This journal is moving home. Please find out more by clicking here.

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#365daysofbiking On the waterfront

April 16th – Life may be on hold at the moment, but Brownhills has been steadily changing and improving for a few years now, and I can’t see that process slowing up much, even with the current unpleasantness caused by coronavirus.

A few short years ago the view up the canal from Silver Street towards Catshill Junction would have been blighted by the empty market place and waste ground where Silver Court Gardens once stood, a set of five tenement blocks that really were quite grim.

But now the view of houses and trees in blossom over limpid, peaceful water is a world away from those bad days.

And I continue to watch my community evolve.

This journal is moving home. Find out more by clicking here

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