BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘fire’

August 17th – Well, we’ve had a little rain (but not nearly enough) and something becomes clear: Grass fires are dramatic and worrying and do lots of damage, but as can be seen here on Chasewater Dam heath where there was a fire a month ago, it’s recovering well. The fire has cleared the scubas and fresh plants are shooting anew, and the area, although still scarred, is taking on a green appearance.

The grass fires are awful and so unnecessary, but nature clearly heals, and remarkably quickly too.

July 29th – There have been mercifully few grass fires around our area in this tinder-dry hot spell, which has surprised me. Kids and discarded cigarettes, not to mention the awful disposable barbecue fad, seem to be causing a rash of fires elsewhere as they sadly usually do; but near Brownhills we have so far been impacted only lightly it seems.

One such fire was here on the heath between the dam and bypass at Chasewater; an apparently large fire when reported, it seems that quite a small area has been affected.

Whilst this is a pain, unnecessary and a scourge, it’s not the end of the world: The heath will quickly recover and for a time, smaller species should enjoy a boom, and it’ll soon there will be little sign the fire happened.

Better it hadn’t happened at all, but still…

July 10th – Popping from work into Walsall at lunchtime, it seemed the wasteland a the bottom of Bentley Mill Way had been the scene of a small scrub fire.

I first saw the lone fireman, tending the petrol powered pump extracting water from the canal, then saw the last of the smoke from the lads doing an excellent job, as ever.

These fires won’t harm the scrub much, it’ll soon grow back, but the commons, heaths and patches of wasteland right now are like tinder, and there will be many more such fires across the area if the fine weather continues.

And all the time, the good folk of the West Midlands, and indeed national Fire Service will be on hand to do their utmost to protect lives and property.

Thank you.

October 18th – A week or so, I posted a video ‘Welcome to the suck’ pointing out the dark winter commutes were upon us, and every year I note that when the dark nights come, the traffic behaves oddly until around Christmas, when drivers finally get used to the dark.

Tonight was a grim commute. All the way in not quite rain, a penetrating mist-drizzle soaked me; it was cold, and the traffic was awful. But seeing this was astounding. Sorry it’s so blurry with rain on the camera lens but I’ll explain.

I’m stopped at the cross roads of the Pleck Road (Ring Road) with Bridgman Street in Walsall, near the Manor Hospital. I’m at the front of my queue heading northbound straight on. The lights are red. 

Heading south in the opposite direction, pushing through the traffic which is moving aside are two fire appliances on blues and twos. I can smell smoke. Their shout is local.

The engines get to the the lights opposite me, attempting to turn down Bridgman Street to my right, their left – but are blocked by two cars, just resolutely unmoving. Eventually a small movement is made, one appliance takes the outside line, the other the inside line.

It’s not rocket science, and it’s in the Highway Code. Get out of the way of emergency vehicles when safe to do so. After all it might be your family, house or business these people are rushing to the aid of.

There’s a word for these obstructive people: arseholes. But totally symptomatic of the madness of the first dark evenings of winter.

January 10th – It seems the old Oak Park is finally coming down – after a sizeable fire in the derelict building last week, the council have at last acted decisively and it seems we will soon be rid of the old building and the antisocial behaviour it’s encouraging.

Built in 1974, it’s a bland, post Brutalist structure in pale block, but like many, I have memories here, and although we have a great new centre not 100 yards away, the change is tinged with just a little sadness.

It’ll be interesting to watch the building come down.

May 21st – Up on Cannock Chase, I went looking for a fire tower I’d heard had been rebuilt. These watchtowers are scattered throughout the forest, and I thought they’d slipped out of use; when I last visited this one up near Sow Street high on Wolseley Park in 2011, it had collapsed in the bad weather and was nothing more than a pile of rotten wood. Tipped off by fellow local historian Dave Fellows, I discovered in the week that it had been rebuilt – so I went to check it out.

Sadly, it’s gated at the top so you can’t get in, but it’s a curious thing with an otherworldly feel. As the rain began to fall, the clearing the tower sits in – on the junction of five or six firebreaks for best visibility – came alive. Solitary, quiet apart from the rain on leaves, I realised how much wildlife was around on a dull day; I could hear deer in the wood, and the fungus and flowers were wonderful.

Then the heavens opened – but dry in waterproofs, even that was a sensory wonder.

February 16th – No matter how grey, Victoria Park in Darlaston is always a joy to the heart – and since the Community Payback crew has been working here clearing the overgrown scrub, the surrounding architecture – itself remarkable – is now once again part of the overall atmosphere.

Thanks are due to Kate ‘Ganzey’ Gomez and others who pointed out that my wee, crumbling shed that I spotted last week – centre right – was actually for the town fire engine. Read about it here (scroll right down).

February 1st – Just on the rough side of Brownhills Common, a handful of yards from Coppice Lane, there’s a deep void in the land through the trees It may be the remnant of early surface mining, or the later evidence of hamfisted mineral exploration (the coal here was evident on the surface, so it was said; the grey clay also highly prized by potters), but it’s been here for decades; the spoil is piled up around it in mounds with fairly mature trees growing from them, which must date from around 1977, as the year previously, the whole of this side of the common had been flatted by a grassfire.

Every landscape tells a story This one tells of an industrial, blighted past, which we now sort of revere.

Brownhills holds some of it’s oldest secrets closest, but in plain sight.

November 5th – Bonfire night, and by chance I passed the Black Cock pub when their bonfire was well underway. I’ve never tried photographing a bonfire before, and these were handheld shots. It was an impressive burn-up and I was quite pleased with the results.

I’m not really into fireworks, but a bonfire always warms the soul as well as the skin.

June 6th – I came through Walsall at 4:30pm up the Wednesbury Road, and was met with a large degree of congestion. I’d been seeing smoke from way back in Darlaston and wondered where it was emanating from. 
As I got closer, I discovered there had been some kind of house fire in the terraces there, and a couple of engines were in attendance. I have no idea what happened, and the incident doesn’t seem to have made the news.

Everything seemed generally calm and under control. I hope nobody was hurt and any damage wasn’t too bad.