BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

#365daysofbiking Just this side of midnight

 

26th December 2021 – I will post a fuller explanation in coming days, but I came to within two days of this journal’s ten year anniversary on March 30th, 2021, and just stopped, because I couldn’t decide what to do with it.

It was a sort of creative block. At the time.

But it was a bit more than that. I was very ill, but didn’t realise it at the time. It’s taken most of the year to get past those difficulties both physical and mental, and find my ease again. It’s not been a comfortable journey. Part of it will be that the nature of this journal will necessarily change.

I still cycle, every day pretty much. But documenting every day was becoming hard. I’m a decade older. I’m well into my 50s. My health has not been great. When I started all this, I would regularly not go to bed until 4am and be up for work at 6am and be fine. Now, I don’t have that energy, and it was getting harder and harder to find things to photograph, and street photography has got harder. Again, more on that later.

Way back in the spring I was quite ill with my bowel again. This was making me tired, and getting that sorted at the height of summer was such a boon – but within weeks, while my immunity was suppressed, I caught a skin infection. My leg swollen, I couldn’t ride some days – not because of any pain, but because I couldn’t get trousers on. Sorting that out properly took until the autumn.

Autumn brought me a gradual, day by day recovery: Not just of my physical power, but of my sense of mischief and desire to explore things.

Then came the debate: How do I deal with 365? I don’t want it to die. It’s been a huge part of my last decade, and it’s probably the least-read but most heartfelt writing I do publicly. I don’t want to lose that, but I can’t post every day: It’s become repetitive, I’m not sure anyone’s reading it that much and It’s too rigid a format to say things I want to say now.

So this journal is going to change. But also, sort of stay the same. You’ll see what I mean in coming days, weeks, months.

As I type this on Boxing Day at just my favourite side of midnight – 1:30am in a darkened house – I post a photo taken from Ogley Junction footbridge 3 hours before on one of the most unpleasant Christmas nights I’ve known – heavy rain for hours and all was sodden, but curiously, not my spirit. I was full of a great family Christmas Day, and the subsequent evening pursuit of solitude for a while, also hoping to burn off some of the digestive load. It was, at least, warm. The nights are opening out. I survived a particularly vile Autumn suck. It’s OK. All shall be well.

One of the oddest features of this year is that although this journal withered, my passion for riding bikes actually grew to a level I’ve not experienced for years. Although I was sporadic for a week here or there, I’ve actually ridden far more miles this year and had many more long rides than usual. it was rediscovering that joy that helped make me well again, a fact I am certain of.

So here I am, just on the morning side of midnight, on the light side of the dark, on the well side of ill, ready to journey onward, but only documenting rides when I feel I have something to share.

Hopefully that will work for you.

But there’s something I have to do first.

Stay tuned. Please. And I beg you to accept my apologies. I didn’t want to let you all down. But something had to give. I have written a huge amount on this journal. I think I’ve earned a more relaxed role.

Stay tuned.

This journal is also on WordPress, where the pictures are in higher resolution and the search box works! Click here.

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#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 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 Becalmed

Sunday December 27th 2020 – The storm passed overnight, with a lot of rain but thankfully the fierce winds didn’t last. I was itching to explore so headed out on the A5 and A51 to Hopwas, and on through Wigginton, Syerscote, Haunton, Harlaston, Edingale, Sittles, then through Fradley and Hanch, back home through Farewell, Boney Hay, Chase Terrace and Chasewater.

The real beauty was in the Croxall and Sittles area as the last of the sunset caught the trees and sodden landscape in almost total silhouette; but those Christmas Lights at Croxall Hall were truly stunning.

A great, exhilarating 50 mile ride that left me happier, and calmer. I really wasn’t expecting it to be so good!

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#365daysofbiking A maintained tradition

Christmas Day, Friday December 25th 2020 – There’s normally a short ride on Christmas Day – maybe over to Shenstone, or Hints; more often than not it’s up to Castle Ring and that’s where I headed on a frosty, sharp Christmas lunchtime.

There were one or two people about. The roads were quiet. The message not to hold gatherings seemed largely to be heeded.

I love Castle Ring – it’s an ancient hill fort, and a Pagan place. Sadly, the views it has commanded for the last 20 years are now slipping away as the woodland planted below it gets taller. I suspect it will soon be coppiced again and visibility restored.

I know the derelict cooling towers at Rugeley are due to come down in January: Those coming up here to watch the spectacle may be disappointed – the station is barely visible from Castle Ring right now.

There was one tradition I could not maintain – that of having a swift Christmas lunchtime pint in a pub on the way back – all the pubs are shut.

Never mind, it’ll wait a year more. Merry Christmas, everyone!

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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 Splendid isolation:

Monday December 21st 2020 – I can’t get used to Walsall deserted, especially at peak times. The effects of this pandemic will resonate socially for years, in ways we’re only just beginning to see – the death of town centres is clearly being accelerated.

The town’s Christmas tree, today standing in splendid isolation in St Pauls Square is an excellent specimen, though and cheered me up. The twenty year out of time, brutalist, newly renovated bus station beyond it looked welcoming, too, if only for the want of passengers. Must say the warm white lighting in there was a clever choice.

It’s hard to believe that this is 4pm on Monday before Christmas. Strange days indeed.

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#365daysofbiking Testing times

Sunday December 20th 2020 – As usual at Christmas, a few people have asked me to look over bikes before they gift them. On a wet, miserable Sunday I set about my charges with gentle precision.

A particularly fiddly job involved a bike in otherwise great condition on which the previous owner had badly threaded the chain through the rear derailleur: This had worn the side plate out and caused it to distort. A new plate was about a tenner, but no chance before Christmas. I removed the old one, cleaned it up and straightened it, sanded it smooth and sprayed it black.

It wasn’t perfect, but the new owner wouldn’t spot it until the one I ordered arrived from eBay after Christmas.

A bleak test ride up the canal with an adjustment stop on Silver Street Bridge proved the repair, but did necessitate another cleaning session…

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#365daysofbiking Contrasting views

Saturday December 19th 2020 – A ride out with my friend though Canwell to Hints, and up through Tamhorn returning to Lichfield after dark for a photographic explore.

The countryside was wet and sodden, and I don’t think I’ve seen Hints Ford that swollen in a decade. But it was good to get back there, even with the shock of works ongoing for HS2.

Lichfield itself was lovely: It rained as we got there, and after a heavy but thankfully short shower, it was great to catch the diminutive city at Christmas with few people around.

Most lovely, though was my first sighting of spring flower shoots. There will be a spring, and nature knows that better times are on their way.

Such a strange year.

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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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