BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Erdington’

#365daysofbiking Mallow moments

July 5th – Spotted just in the shadow of Spaghetti Junction on the canal, a glorious lavatera or mallow. This shrub grows here every year completely untended by humans and is always absolutely gorgeous.

I still find it stunning that such beauty can be found in such urban spaces.

A true wonder of nature, and good to see it’s still in rude health!

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#365daysofbiking Back in the city

March 2nd – After the bike jumble, the traditional ride into Birmingham on the canal for tea, cake and to marvel at the the art and history.

The towpath quality has improved vastly since last year, the architecture, including the wonderful view of St. Chad’s Cathedral, newly liberated by the demolition of the insulation factory, was stunning near Snow Hill. And oh, the faded grandeur of those imperious Birmingham pubs.

Pleased to see Bill Drummond has a new message for Birmingham, and the lovely calm of Brookvale Park and Witton Lakes was as wonderful as ever.

I returned a way I haven’t been for quite a few years – up the canal through Tyburn and Minworth to Middleton. Formerly the towpath through Minworth was dreadful in the winter, but now the bad stretch is limited to about a mile or so, and is ridable on a decently stout bike.

One shock though: The formerly monolithic and impressive Cincinnati works – empty and subject of great development promises by Urban Splash – has gone, including it’s iconic entry bridge over the canal. It’s now a perfectly decent but dull housing estate, so the Urban Splash dream was hot air. The bridge has gone Now only dull units remain to the east to say this huge factory ever existed.


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#365daysofbiking Good tradition

March 2nd – The first Saturday in March is always the Erdington Bicycle Jumble, run by North Birmingham Cyclist’s Touring Club.

Sadly, last year it was cancelled due to heavy snowfall, and as a consequence, suffered a little for numbers this year – and I was a little late.

But it was still good to meet old friends and acquaintances, remember old bikes and old riders. The memory-jog provided by some of the stuff there cannot be understated.
A fine, traditional social event I’m pleased to see continuing.

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March 4th – Lovely to see the jumble still popular – it’s a yearly tradition, and much of the stock has been coming to this longer than I have – and that’s been a good few years now!

As ever, I bought a few things, but the enjoyment is seeing old faces (’The wagons not got you yet, Bill?’) reawakening old scores and shooting the breeze. And of course, studying the steeds and curious solutions of other utility cyclists.

It was nice to spot a John Perks original. Older readers may remember his shop in Aldridge.

I very rarely miss this – it’s the closest thing cycling in these parts has to culture.

March 4th – A much better day, when it felt spring had arrived. It was the day of the annual Erdington Cycle Jumble, so a chance to rummage some tat, bag a bargain, scoff bacon rolls and talk to old faces. Following, I rode the canals of Birmingham, down through Brookvale, Witton Lakes, Aston, up over the Hockley Flyover to Soho for lunch, back along the canal to Small Heath, then via the Cole Valley and Plants Brook back to Sutton Park and home. 

I was particularly intrigued by the wonderful Jonathan Meades immortalised in stencil underneath Spaghetti Junction.

It was a great ride with periods of lovely sunshine, spring flowers and only one heavy downpour.

And the cats, particularly the monocular marmalade munchkin in Erdington, were great, as ever.

A restorative and lovely ride.

March 5th – I met these two interesting characters whilst returning in the morning from a trip into Walsall on an errand. I had planned to go to the annual bike jumble at Eddington, but my health was still not great and the weather – windy, with periodic showers – was so damned unpleasant, I just couldn’t be doing with it. Which is sad, but we usually get a better day for it.

Tacking into the wind, I decided to try the cycleway down the Goscote Valley on the way back, which was a bit of a mistake. Nipping down Cartridge lane to join the cycleway, both the donkey and horse were stood by the fence, so I said hello. The donkey was grumpy and walked away, but the horse happily had his nose stroked and seems sad when I made to go. 

That donkey is a lovely animal, but I don’t think it likes me very much!

March 7th – Spring was here. It was warm, but with some serious wind. I cyclied to Erdington through Sutton and Boldmere, then on through Witton and the canals; then back out of town via Saltley, Tyburn and up to Sutton via the Plants Brook cycleway and Pipe Hayes Park.

It was a great 44 mile ride in conditions that warmed the heart, as wells the face.

Georgina’s Way is just by Brookvale park: there’s a story there that should be known, I feel. Anyone know what it is?

March 7th – Ah, the first decent ride of the year is always the day of Erdington bike jumble. Held at a church hall, it’s a chance to say hello to stuff I see at every such event (mainly bald tyres and old shoes), but also to old mates, acquaintances and to collectively jog each others memories.

Last year had been a muted affair due to a conflicting event, an I had wondered if this thing’s time had passed; but I arrived late for this one and it was still very busy. The usual old hands were there, but also the fixie kids and utility cyclists. There was also strong beardage from the hipsters. 

This is the kind of place where you find really, really odd bits you can imagine nobody ever needing again – like an ancient eccentric bottom bracket. I’ll let others work out for themselves what purpose that bizarre bit of cycling design serves. For cottered cranks, no less.

It was nice to see a venerable event back up to full health again.

May15th – I finished up early, had something to eat and then returned to Birmingham on the Snow Hill line. I used to trave that service a lot, but for five years now I’ve barely troubled it. Many of the landmarks from the line I knew have gone, or changed. 

When I got to Brum, it was too nice to hop on another train, so I dropped onto the canal, and rode home through Bordesley, under Spaghetti Junction, over to Pipe Hayes and along the Plant’s Brook Cycleway to Sutton. From there, I rode through the park home. A great ride – Brum canals are at their best in sunshine, and even the heron was out sunning itself. The dogroses at Tyburn were beautifully scented, and the canal limpid and lazy. 

Plant’s Brook cycleway is lovely, and I shall use it more often. Even the rabbits in Sutton Park performed for the camera. 

A wonderful afternoon.

March 1st – one of the markers of spring is leaving early on the first Saturday in March to visit Erdington Bike Jumble. A lovely ride in spring sunshine through the Roman Way estate, Sutton Park and Boldmere, then an hour or so browsing tat (mostly) spending huge sums (£3 this year) and chatting to old pals, passing acquaintances and debating bike stuff.

This year it clashed with a similar event in Long Eaton, and it was a little poorer than usual. However, the catering this year was ace – fresh fried pakora and samosas as well as the usual bacon rolls. Don’t mind if I did.

Always nice to see other people’s rides, too. That Major Nicholls fixie is a lovely bike and well loved – you can just tell.

I did like the Moser frame. Whoever bought that got the beginnings of a nice bike there.