BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘creative’

#365daysofbiking A ghost of a chance

Thursday April 1st 2021 – Riding home late afternoon, I spotted this amusing tribute to science by local street artist Ghost on a canalside wall in Pleck, Walsall. It’s beautifully executed, and marks a trend of the pandemic often inspiring street art. I think if covid has done anything positive, it seems to have engaged street art and counterculture in a way that current affairs have generally failed to do for two decades.

But that’s a bit of a side issue. This post was suck in draft from April until Christmas because I was so undecided what to do with this journal. As I noted in my last post, I was tired, and ill. And not able to raise the energy to continue it at the time with the passion it needed. So I entered three quarters of a year of writers and creative block.

The reason for April 1st being significant is that on this day in 2011, I started this journal as part of the worldwide #30daysofbiking project, prodded into taking part by fellow utility cyclist and top Dutchperson Rene Van Baar on Twitter. 30Days was a commitment to ride every day of April. It still happens, and one thing that’s always amused me is that the organisers over in the US, upon hearing that I just carried the project on for years, showed nothing but indifference. I never quite worked that out.

I didn’t quite do a decade continuously though, over new year the following Christmas I missed two days due to a really nasty bout of food poisoning – but other than that, I rode every single day for a decade, and documented every day with a photo post (or occasionally, a bit of video). I’m proud of that. There are a lot of words in the archive. A lot of images; a lot of my life, and this area as well as others I visited along the way.

My first post was matter of fact, and terse. It took me a month to develop my style. You can read it here.

Since then there have been 6,955 entries, and somewhere around 11,000 media items – mostly images, but around 70 videos and even the odd bit of audio.

So with all that behind me, where am I going now?

…Nowhere, that’s where.

I’m just going to post when I have something to share. So it’s be less frequent, but I will be aided by a riding companion whom many of you will already be familiar with, who deserves a voice and to be heard too.

This means hopefully there will be less filler, and more passion. I think you’ll prefer it in the long run, And it’ll be easier for me to keep up.

One thing that has changed in recent years is street photography has got really hard. Nobody used to bat an eye if they saw you with a camera. These days, you get noticed. Curtains twitch. People ask what you’re doing. You half expect to be on the local neighbourhood watch group as a suspicious individual. So the new format will be probably more picturesque stuff I think.

I find that a bit sad but it’s the way the world is at the moment.

So, are you coming with me? Let’s ride into the blue together… Hopefully it’ll stop raining soon.

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#365daysofbiking – Chalk mark before a rainstorm

April 26th – With the sudden burst of lockdown shaming, finger wagging and the boom of the morally prurient social media shamers, it’s really easy to miss small little things at this time that are actually encouraging acts of community between, mainly it has to be said, children.

Painted rainbows and teddies in windows, garden displays and other curiosities created during long, isolated lockdown days are treats and ways of communicating the shared confinement without breaking the rules, and they put a huge smile on the faces of kids out for their daily exercise, parents and me, too.

There’s been a really fun trend to revive chalked games on pavements and paths for other kids to find and participate in. More than just the old fashioned hopscotch (although most incorporate it, almost as a tribute), these courses are linear with a start and end, incorporating line following, instructions to hop or jump or do some movement, reciting games, spins, pebble target throws and races.

They are a shared happiness, but shared from a distance – the separation being time. They are an utterly joyous thing and this one, on the Spot Path over Clayhanger Common, was a brilliant one.

Sadly I think it’ll probably be erased by the oncoming rains, but I hope that won’t deter the creation of a replacement.

Well done to the creators of these, and my best wishes. Life will be normal soon and we’ll all look back on these days, and smile when we think of how we all loved the chalked games…

This journal is moving home. Please find out more by clicking here.

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#365daysofbiking Off the wall

February 19th – I don’t find myself in Digbeth much these days, but on my return from Sparkhill I had a quick spin around the Custard Factory and creative quarter to admire the street art and giggle at the hipsters.

When the Custard Factory opened as an arts Centre in the 90s it had a very slow start, but over the subsequent three decades it’s developed an inertia and community of it’s own, with businesses here selling vintage and fashion clothes, art, art materials and all kinds of stuff like that – punctuated by fashionable cafes and business places for startups.

The art here is indeed stunning and the atmosphere fascinating and engaging. It’s like a world within, encased as it is in industrial, backstreet Birmingham. The surrounding grit seems to reinforce the impression of a down at heel but humming artist’s quarter.

Another place I must return to when I have time.

This journal is moving home. Find out more by clicking here

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September 25th – I spotted this by change in Butlers Passage, Walsall. A dark, dingy alleyway, it’s not a pleasant place, and I normally scoot the bike through here to get on the road home if I’ve been in the town centre. 

Today, I happened to glance left, and there was a beautifully executed partial stencil of Snow White apparently drinking coffee with a lad in a baseball hat. 

I guess it’s a visual joke based on the Italian cafe a few yards to the right.

It’s beautifully executed, and seems to be by the same hand as the now erased ‘Class War’ stencil that was nearby until very recently. The art is confident yet cursory, and beautifully thought out.

A wonderful thing that brought a real smile to my face. My compliments to the artist.