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.