BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘CLayhanger Common’

#365daysofbiking Tilt

February 22nd – Something that has got steadily worse over the wet winter has been the imminent collapse of the canal embankment bear the Pier Street bridge. Much of the wall here has been rebuilt, but the older section here has been tilting for years, caused no doubt by the creation of the mound on the common adjacent, settling and pushing it over.

At the moment the angle is perilous and I doubt it will be long before the brickwork gives – it won’t be disastrous but will require a lot of work to fix.

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#365daysofbiking Yellow favourite

April 9th – Another welcome sight indicating the ever-rolling season’s wheel are cowslips, my favourite flower in the whole world.

Cowslips were very, very unusual when I was a kid. These days they grow everywhere like weeds – and I collect the seeds when they go over and spread them anywhere I think needs a bit of yellow in the spring. And there are very few places that don’t benefit from a bit of yellow.

These hardy but delicate looking members of the primrose family are scattered over Clayhanger common – many from the result of my guerrilla seeding – and are truly divine. I love them.

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October 22nd – A very decent, dark sunset descended on Brownhills. The day was still very windy, an rather wolfish so not really great for riding, really. But I can live with clear skies, a little sun and strong wind.

Sunsets like this, now hovering around 6pm before the end of British Summer Time next weekend, remind me that winter will soon be upon us.

October 14th – I’ve noticed in the last three days or so that autumn has finally arrived, painting her beautiful colours on the trees, hedgerows and landscape. I guess it’s the fact that the temperature has suddenly dropped, but now there can be no doubt we’re careering toward the shorter days, darker nights and colder weather – even though some late summer flowers are still remarkably holding on.

Holding on like I do.

Every year, I get to this point and wonder if I can face another season of darkness – the absence of light and growth and leaves I hate so much. But every year, as if jumping into a cold lake, once I stop struggling and fighting it, the dreaded experience becomes quite enjoyable.

There’s no stopping it now, in any case.

July 27th – On Clayhanger Common, there is a thriving population of teasels. A spiky, spiny, purple, prehistoric-looking plant, our ancestors used the dried seed heads to tease wool and fabric. 

Some of these plants – once a very rare sight in these parts – are six feet tall now and in rude health. A fine symbol of the biodiversity and health of the common here – which only 35 years ago was a polluted, barren and filthy refuse tip.

June 4th – I’m seeing a lot of this plant at the moment – there’s loads on Clayhanger Common, where these photos were taken – but also lots along the canal banks around Tamworth and around the moat at Middleton Hall.

Please put me out of my misery – what is it?

May 29th – Meanwhile, further on near the Pier Street Bridge, a chance to catch up with the flowers whose photos turned out badly the day before. Clover, the unsung hero of the pasture, meadow and verge is always beautiful, but very overlooked. Nutritious in fodder and attractive to bugs and butterflies, clover does it’s violet thing pretty much unnoticed. 

Another very common flower that goes unremarked is the ribwort plantain – it’s brown flower heads with the white corona don’t look like flowers, but they are. Exceedingly prolific this year, they’re everywhere that grass grows. As kids, we’d pick them at the base of the stalk and play conkers with them. I think they’re fascinating, and demontrate the utter diversity of plant life in the UK.

The damp conditions may not be improving my humour any, but that slug looks in fine fettle. Much misunderstood creatures, that I think are actually rather interesting.

January 25th – A horrid day. A stomach bug, too much work to do, bad weather and a migraine that kept coming back when I thought it’d finished.

The daylight was headache grey and the night wet and very dark. I spun out early evening, trying to clear my head, to no avail, but I did feel a bit better for the exercise.

This month seems to have been so long, and so very, very wet; I despair of ever seeing the town light, aired and dry again. I rode the high street, Hussey Estate and looped around Clayhanger. I barely saw a soul.

Ravens Court is particularly grim these days. So many promises, and so much talk, yet it still stands, rotting. I love Brownhills with all my heart – I really do. But today, my lack of wellbeing, the weather and the endless dark made it hateful, tense and forlorn.

September 26th – Winging back along the canal to Brownhills, I took another scout along the fringes of Clayhanger Common. Locals will know that 40 years ago, the was a benighted site of contaminated land used as a refuse tip. Careful and brave reclamation in the early 1980s saw the lad reclaimed and planted, and this is the result. Even with autumn on their heels, still the thistle, bindweed and meadow cranesbill are flowering strongly, teasels stand tall and ripe, and the shiny black gloss of elderberries hang heavy on the boughs. This is such a long way from how this land was, and something everyone in Brownhills should cherish and be proud of.