December 27th – A cruise around Brownhills in the dark of a damp but moonlit night was odd. It didn’t feel like Sunday, in what must be considered the perineum of the year, this netherworld between Christmas and the return of normality at the turn of the new year. It felt like nowhere – there were no people about, the factories and homes were quiet. Only the pubs showed life, and the open, but deserted takeaways on the High Street.
This time of the year can either be really enjoyable, or purgatory. It’s never middling.
December 7th – it was a beautiful afternoon with a very unpleasant wind, but the sun and commons of Brownhills were a joy to behold. The heaths and scrub glowed beautifully, as did the canal embankments.
These days it’s hard to imagine these beautiful places have a harsh, lingering industrial legacy.
Looking for deer near the site of the lost Coombe House, at Coppice Side, I spotted this monitoring well, a int of a none-too-pleasant past; this is the edge of a former landfill and boreholes like this are regularly unlocked and ‘dipped’ to monitor contamination. The EX symbol warns of an explosive gas hazard – methane, mostly, from rotting refuse buried underground.
This is a problematic site and will require monitoring for many years to come.
I looked up from it to see the backside of a young hind disappearing into the the copse…
October 28th – Today, British Summertime ended, and darkness fell an hour earlier. Why we continue this silly ritual of clock changing, I do not know; but from now until the end of March, there will be lots of night shots. This always leaves me feeling down. Still, it’s only seven and a half weeks until the shortest day, and it’s opening out from there.
The weather was atrocious. Rain, wind and a keen nip in the air meant only a short ride was in order to bag some shopping and check a few things out around Brownhills.
Travelling up Coppice Side, I noted the fence and gates to the landfill that operated here for much of the 80s had been renewed. Problematic, both in operation and reclamation, the site isn’t secure and folk walk their dogs and explore the landscaped mound here. What few realise is the meaning of the warning sign on the gate – it indicates an explosion risk. The former tip still vents gas. For years, technicians came on a regular basis and ignited a flare to burn the methane off, but that practice seems to have stopped. Not the best place to enjoy a Park Drive while walking the dog, I’d tenure…
September 30th – A grim, wet and windy day. I went out about 6pm, and enjoyed a spin round a dark and deserted Brownhills. It felt very wintery, but the wet roads sang under my wheels and the unusual solitude on the streets was welcome. In Coppice Lane, Brownhills, I noted the scumbags have been flytipping again; 2 complete leather sofas and at the top, garden waste.
If you pay people to do jobs like gardening or rubbish removal on the cheap, you’re contributing to this problem. It costs everyone money, as our council tax has to pay for the cleanup.
The animals that do this are arseholes. No more, no less.
October 15th – A late afternoon spin around Brownhills, and my attention was snagged by the cellphone base station near the old cement works on Coppice Side. I recently featured a picture of Pye Green communications tower and noted that the microwave network was being dismantled. Whilst that’s true, Pye Green and others like it are still hubs of the telecoms network. Microwave transmission, rather than providing high bandwidth channels for live TV and suchlike like it used to, is till used for backhaul and interconnection purposes for the mobile phone network. The plethora of small drum antenna on this tower are pointing variously at Sutton Coldfield, Pye Green, Birmingham and Tameway Tower in Walsall. The shorter tower to the left is a Tetra unit providing support for emergency networks secure communications.