BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘commute’

#365daysofbiking Sky gazing


December 3rd – Returning to Walsall a little earlier than usual from Birmingham, I was just in time to see a most beautiful sunset descend upon Walsall – but not in the best place to catch it on camera. Standing on the steps at the station side entrance. the view down Station Street and back over the empty station platforms was much better than I expected.

I’m glad I caught this one – but by heck, it felt cold…

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#365daysofbiking The kindness of strangers

December 2nd – Again on the far side of Hortonwood in Telford, I was returning from a meeting using the Silkin Way national Cycle Route 81 that runs along the A518 between Trench and the massive industrial park I had visited.

On a cycleway that I would have thought might have been almost forgotten, and some way from houses or nearby factories, a makeshift bird table at the side of the track, apropos of nothing.

On it, a selection of fruit and seed – all fresh with a nearby audience I’d disturbed of birds and squirrels.

Someone tends this lovingly, regularly. It’s well kept. It’s a thing of dedication, love and kindness for them.

Stranger, I have no idea who you might be, but for looking after a small corner of your world so beautifully, I wish you the very best my friend.

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#365daysofbiking On a green hill

November 29th – I nipped into work for a short while in the morning, and out of necessity, went through Bloxwich and down through Bentley, the sprawling suburb that separates Walsall From Willenhall.

Bentley has a fascinating landmark: A church on a large hill.

Emmanuel Church is a modernist, almost brutalist design by Richard Twentyman in the mid 1950s, and although interesting, I’ve always found it to be a stark, unsettling building. Twentyman was an acclaimed church architect who had also designed pubs and crematoria, so perhaps the stark nature of his work was appropriate.

The church though plays second fiddle to the Bentley Cairn, something I’ve never really stopped to look at before – it’s simply put an extraneous rock with some debate over the actual origin, but it marks the site of three halls which were historically significant. The cairn was restored and enhanced a decade or so ago, and now is a bit of an out of the way curiosity.

The views aren’t bad, but are not quite as good as one would expect, either; interestingly, the green hill with the striking tower atop looks far better from below than the surrounds do from atop it.

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#365daysofbiking All kinds of wrong

November 28th – For once, the trains weren’t too bad.  It was, of course, still a rain-sodden day and I was tired and wanting to be home.

I stood and waited and took three shots of what I could see: The exaggerated perspective and vanishing points – the people, crowding tensely but oddly patient – the train, engorging with people wanting to be home like me – the sleek, dripping machines waiting peacefully beneath their feast of wire.

New Street Station is still, and probably always be a conundrum to me. I both adore it, and loathe it. It’s like a bad mother to me: It may be all kinds of wrong, but it’s still mine.

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#365daysofbiking Waiting to fall

November 27th – In contrast to the cotoneaster, nobody seems to want the sour, hard crab apples growing just up the way from them.

The leaves on the tree have nearly all fallen, and so has most of the fruit, which lies on the ground rotting, untouched even by foxes.

I wonder how bad the winter would have to be before these were eaten by something?

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#365daysofbiking Orange aid

November 27th – In Telford again, more berries, but unlike the holly ones on Monday, these laden boughs of cotoneaster will be very much appreciated by the songbird population.

Cotoneaster are really appreciated by blackbirds who will defend a discovered bush for weeks if need be. The berries are bitter, but laden with sugar and a read aid to the birds over a cold winter.

If the adage about heavy crops of fruit meaning we’re due a cold spell is true, looks like we’re in for. a bad one this year…

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#365daysofbiking Puddled

November 26th – And in Telford, the lift on the Shrewsbury side of the new bridge had failed again, so I had to shoulder my bike and clime up the stairs.

It seems the drainage holes added still haven’t cured the formation of puddles on the deck of this ‘21st Century Bridge of which any town would be proud’.

I wonder if this is the shallow end?

Is it me or is everything connected with modern railways in this country utterly crap these days?

In the place that was made famous by a state of the art bridge, the state of this art is appalling.

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#365daysofbiking A careless display

November 26th – Just lately, local rail travel in the West Midlands operated by West Midlands Railway has been a shambles. Not enough staff, cancelled services, late running. The service this autumn has been atrocious, and little does more to sum up the careless attitude to customer service than the sage of the passenger information board at Blake Street on the Birmingham bound platform.

It’s been out of action now for about 18 months. Possibly longer, and displays an error message with completely the wrong time.

When asked why it has not been fixed, customer service waffle about overhead lines needing to be off to undertake the repairs and other stuff, blaming Network Rail. It doesn’t wash.

It would be relatively trivial to fit a working, temporary display in the safe zone nearby. That the company cannot do this, or make a proper arrangement with Network Rail within 18 months tells us much about the attitude of the operator to its customers, that pretty much they don’t care.

As long as they can blame someone else, who cares that your punters aren’t getting service information?

It might be amusing, but we’re paying for this crap.

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#365daysofbiking Dark is the night

November 25th – Returning home, I took the canal from Walsall Wood, but the towpath was horribly waterlogged and muddy, so I headed back towards the Anchor Bridge to get to High Street.

I was struck by the almost ethereal appearance of the pub, it’s reflection in the canal and the effect of the mist gathering on the water.

It was very, very dark, but so very beautiful too.

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