BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Chasetown’

#365daysofbiking The thinness of the air, and turning for home

31st December 2021 – It’s been a weird old Christmas. The weather has been the worst over the holiday period I’ve known in many years: Pretty much constant rain and drizzle for over a week.

The festive period is normally an opportunity for us to get out on some seriously nice rides – often in the lead up to Christmas, the traditional Christmas and Boxing Day rides, and there’s usually good fun to be had in the period up to and including new year.

But not this time. The ceaseless downpour has meant that although I’ve been cycling every day, it’s been for utility only; delivering presents or cards, seeing friends and relatives, going to the pub, getting shopping in or getting fresh air.

Every journey has been in waterproofs, and I’ve come back sodden. It’s not been nice.

But on New Year’s Eve, a day I usually hate, the rain stopped. The sun came out. But odder than that, it was warm. And I mean, really warm: 14 degrees. It was like spring out there.

I set off later than I’d planned with my young pal for a loop around the local area, as we had an errand to do in Lichfield, and another in Burntwood.

The riding was fast and easy: There was a strong wind, but frankly, it didn’t matter. Up over Stonnall, Thornes, and the backlanes into Shenstone – but as we neared the village on the hill, we realised something was different. The old, ruined thirteenth century church tower – a remnant of an older, nicer church before the gothic horror that stands today was born of Victorian hubris – was sheathed in plastic sheeting and scaffold. It seems to be undergoing renovation. This is interesting, as it’s been derelict for all of the 40 or more years I’ve been riding around here.

It seems that a group have got together, raised money and are renovating the tower to save it out of charity and community spirit. Yet again, communities pay for Church of England neglect, it seems. But the plan is good and seemingly very competent. Searching when we got home we found the tower has a website here which is pretty useful on history, but not on the future. For that, we found Lichfield Live had reported plans to add a viewing platform to the tower last March. To my surprise, these have been approved.

I do hope this will be open to the public periodically. I bet the view is incredible. I salute those undertaking this project – it’s remarkable. This has largely passed me by over the summer and is an indication of my failure to ride much that ways on last year. I must rectify the neglect.

Further on, we caught a fair sunset up at Chesterfield, between Shenstone and Wall – any sunset is a bonus right now. Pickle caught it well, as she did a somnambulant, subdued Lichfield. The bars seemed busy but the streets less so. As ever, the festive lights and night sky combined with the muted, orange street lighting to make a magic that Pickle was all too keen to capture.

Returning down the wonderful Chasetown High Street, Pickle noted that the Christmas lights were switched off, but it didn’t matter, as it’s always festive at night on the beautifully lit, inclined High Street. I don’t really know what it is about Chasetown, but it shares the phenomena with Walsall Wood. At night, it always seems much busier than it actually is, and has a lovely homely, soft glow to it.

As New Year’s Eve rides go, this has been the best for a few years. We both enjoyed the absence of rain, and the thin, clear air. Such a change from the last couple of weeks… But as we stood at Chasewater, with nothing but the sound of water lapping against the dam, we reflected on the year gone. It’s been hard. There have been times when I wondered if I’d ever do another long ride again. But there has also been great joy: Recovery, the longed for autumn long rides, the return to the outdoors, the sharing of moments like this.

So we turned for home feeling positive, and light with the optimism of a new riding year ahead. There will be winter yet, yes – but spring and the daffodils and cowslips. Long rides on the Moorlands and Peaks. Green on the trees and hedgerows. Summer days and cafe stops and ice cream, and even the odd pub garden. It’s all to come. It was impossible not to face the prospect with an open, happy heart.

Happy new year to you all.

Thank you too for all of your messages of support and encouragement over the last week. Dry Valleys summed it up when he said you cannot serve from an empty vessel. For a while, I was empty. But now… I am feeling somewhat replenished.

Thank you to the wonderful community that support me here.

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#365daysofbiking Inclined:

Tuesday March 5th 2021 – I had to nip to Chasetown on an errand in the afternoon and caught the twilight.

I still can’t – and probably never will if I’m honest – get used to the empty high streets of pandemic Britain (how odd to type that phrase in 2021…) This street should be busy with late stops for supplies, people visiting pubs and takeaways and the general activity of Friday night urban life. It isn’t. It’s desolate.

It is, however, beautiful in a haunting way, and this is a period I shall never forget. I think what makes this street particularly dramatic is the hill, and the way it stretches the emptiness.

These are very strange days, and unlikely as it seems, they will pass.

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#365daysofbiking A symbol of love

Sunday February 28th 2021 – Another local treat to match the Chasewater snowdrop glade – and actually only a short walk away – is the yearly crocus display at St Annes Cemetery in Church Street, Chasetown.

This still maintained, beautiful cemetery is a carpet of purple and white flowers with a small number of yellow now creeping in. They are absolutely stunning, and always a must see locally.

A real token of love and memory to those dear souls interred within. Well worth a visit and a few contemplative moments.

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#365daysofbiking An annual treat for the initiated

Saturday February 20th 2021 – Just north east of Chasewater dam, behind the houses that were once the homes of mine managers, there’s an early spring spectacle every year that’s a must see for the initiated – the annual snowdrop glade.

Sadly, in all the vears I’ve visited it, I’ve never caught it on a sunny day.

But even on a dull Saturday, these carpets of what must be tens of thousands of tiny white wildflowers are stunningly beautiful, on land that was formerly industrial.

And visible from here, people pass by on the dam and nearby footpaths without realising the beauty they’re missing not 50 years away.

It’s just a secret for those who know…

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#365daysofbiking Ghost town

Sunday January 10th 2021 – I was on another test ride late and had to drop off a package to an isolating relative, so I nipped to Burntwood after tea.

This current pandemic lockdown isn’t like the first: People are having to continue working, many more kids are at school as the children of key workers and it’s just not as quiet as the first.

But right in the centre of Burntwood at 7pm on a Sunday, and it was like the proverbial ghost town.

It felt very eerie indeed.

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#365daysofbiking Snow… And a touch of colour

Monday December 28th 2020 – It had snowed a little, and I headed out before lunch to catch something I thought would be fleeting – I love cycling in snow.

It was very wet, and only an icing sugar dusting on the whole. It was noticeably less over Stonnall and Wall than it was back through Hammerwich, Chasetown and Chasewater, which I found interesting.

Be warned that the road is flooded to some depth at Cranebrook Lane, Hiton, between the Pouk Lane and Boat lane junctions, just before the rise for the motorway flyover. It’s deep. I suspect this may be rated to increased load on Crane Brook with Chasewater in spate.

Splashes of colour caught my eye: The robin in Stonnall Churchyard, and also the old, minimalist gravestone with partially coloured lettering.Wonder whose stone that was?

The snowman and postbox decorations at Hammerwich were lovely.

An interesting change in the weather!

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#365daysofbiking A synthetic approach

Sunday December 13th 2020 – Out delivering Christmas cards, I came back through Chasetown in the early evening.

Chasetown always looks lovely at night, even more so with it’s Christmas lights back to full strength after a few years when they were minimised to save money: But one thing I can’t make up my mind about is the artificial Christmas tree.

It looks the part, and is very commanding. But it’s not very… Traditional.

Impressive, but I’m not a fan, if I’m honest.

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#365daysofbiking Curtains


Saturday November 28th 2020 – A day of grim weather, and jobs and tasks going wrong. Things that were supposed to be half an hour, took three. The weather was lousy, headache grey and wet. It was a day to hibernate, and dream of a sunnier clime.

I left late and took a loop of Chasetown, but the weather was not conducive to good photographs. The High Street Christmas lights are up, but the rain and mist made photos pointless.

So I settled for a shot off the bypass Bridge on the old Paviours Road. I’ve never noticed before, but all the streetlights here are on one side of the road, which is unusual, but they do give a wonderful curtain effect on a murky, misty night.

As an aside I note that the lights on the M6 Toll where it passes near here and Chasewater have been turned off, which is interesting: It must be a money saving thing. Sad, really, as the lights made for interesting effects on a couple of the footbridges.

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#365daysofbiking Downtown lights

Friday November 13th 2020 – Having been up to Burntwood on an errand, I came back down Chasetown High Street in the middle evening.

As usual, this small area of shops and houses built on a steep hill was looking festive, even though the Christmas lights were up, but not switched on.

Nearly deserted, but with an air of quiet activity that always baffles me. It’s one of the most beautiful local urban settings at night. I adore it.

There is perhaps, as a friend speculated, a Hopper feel to this scene, but I think it’s more than that. But I just can’t say what it is.

A beautiful mystery.

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#365daysofbiking Saville glow


Wednesday November 11th 2020 – Working from home I don’t seem able to get out in actual daylight. It’s like a mental block: I want to, I just don’t seem able to manage it. I think it’s some kind of guilt reaction for feeling like I’m skiving.

However, on a quick blast around Chasewater and over to Chasetown, there’s a great night-time photo spot on the green footbridge over the Chasetown bypass that has been a muse for some years, due to the way it interacts with the nearby road lighting.

The effect of the yellow sodium light falling through the wonderfully geometric bridge steelwork is thoroughly gorgeous, and reminds me a lot of designs by that icon of Manchester and Factory Records, Peter Saville.

So perhaps coming out after nightfall has it’s positive aspects, then…

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