BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘graffiti’

#365daysofbiking Well said

Thursday February 25th 2021 – The pandemic has been hard on all of us.

Locally, they area was plagued for a while by anti-inoculation, pandemic denial graffiti that was persistent and prolific.

I don’t know who finally snapped and replied to them in marker pen over the top of older conspiracy graffiti on Ogley Junction Bridge, but my respect to them.

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#365daysofbiking to the point

Monday February 8th 2021 –  About the only thing the pandemic has been good for has been the re-emergence of political graffiti.

It’s everywhere – the angry, the conspiracy theorists, even satirists are having a go. They’re all a bit rusty but it’s coming along nicely.

Here at Catshill Junction, just on the bridge, some disaffected soul has expressed themselves. Blunt and to the point.

Generous offer but I’d rather not, cheers.

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#365daysofbiking Really Greet

Wednesday, October 7th 2020 – I was once again visiting a client near Tyseley, and the meeting was done and dusted quickly. I’d got there by hopping onto a train to Aston, and dropping on the canal. On my return, I visited one shops in the Balti Triangle for snacks, treats and ingredients, then rode back on the canal home.

Birmingham’s inner city captivated me as it always does – but the plight of it’s Victorian pubs is concerning me, with the Swan and Mitre in Aston up for auction again, and the Marlborough in Greet still decaying, slowly.

Few things comment more eloquently on urban decay than stopped public clocks.

It was, of course, the canal and its culture that was the star. Nice to see Anatomix’s Tangram Fox is still proud on the side of the Bond, and Bill Drummond has been at it again under Spaghetti junction. But the colour was not limited to the graffiti: Autumn is really setting in now.

A lovely ride on a nice day – but quite chilly.

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#365daysofbiking Behind the mask

Thursday, October 1st 2020 – I had business to do in Bolton so took the bike up on the train. In these bizarre, pandemic days trains are strange: Even early on a weekday morning the inter-city services and suburban commuter trains are next to empty, populated by wary, slightly suspicious, bemasked travellers. Rail ravel is really not a pleasant experience right now.

Bolton is one of the areas apparently in greater lockdown, but it seemed as relaxed and unperturbed by the outside world as usual.

I was amused and puzzled by this restaurant on the Wigan Road: How on earth did that come to happen? Top marks for the name ‘Steaks on a plane’ though.

Coming home, I got off at Stafford and rode home for the exercise, chance to enjoy the sun before oncoming rains next day and maybe a treat at Milford’s Wimpy. On the side of a boarded up pub in Stafford, the intellectual giants of the local conspiracy theory scene say more about their capacity for reason and mental acuity than any outsider ever could. Meanwhile, over at the frankly insane website mentioned, you can buy a promotional mask bearing the website URL…

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#365daysofbiking Making the best of things

September 22nd – Dejected and wistful, we pottered up the old line into Birmingham, through Oldbury. The rain held off. The flowers and berries that were out welcomed us and glistened in there coating of raindrops. The towpaths were wet, but made for good riding. There were few people around, and the verdant, still mostly green canals were a real tonic.

Past the old engine house, Tollhouse Loop, M5 Viaduct and engine arm, and into central Birmingham. The mood improved.

An interesting graffiti writer had been at work, leaving neat-script, cryptic phrases at intervals from the Soho Loop to the ICC. That was engaging and something to spot and ponder over.

At the city centre, food, drink, then up the A34 cycleway to the canal at Perry Barr, and home via Ray Hall and Rushall Junction.

A bad day had been pulled around. The rain held off. Deep down, it didn’t feel so bad. But I’m getting far too old to work weekends – I was exhausted.

But there was one inescapable thought – if those folk at Tipton had held on, they’d have had a decent afternoon.

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#365daysofbiking What lies beneath

July 7th – It was indeed a better day. The sun was out, the wind had subsided as had the discomfort in my stomach.

I headed out on the canal to Wolverhampton, taking a slow but enjoyable potter down the mainline canal to Birmingham. From there to Aston, where I left the canal and got on a train back to Shenstone.

I noted the Dudley Tourist Board had been working hard to improve it’s customer service at Coseley Tunnel, where I doubt I’ll ever negotiate the southern portal steps with a bike again, although it was certainly an adventure.

Calling at the heavily secured, ghostly Rattlechain Pool, the lagoon concealing many thousands of tonnes of the worst toxic waste was a strange experience: It looks so serene and peaceful, yet the pool – itself just a cap to the material beneath, separated by a thick impermeable skin – is securely fenced and covered by many cameras.

It’s a ghostly and controversial place.

Under the M5 viaduct and Telford’s magnificent Engine Arm aqueduct, the canal is a peaceful, gentle and serene refuge from the mad urbanity above, and the street art is, as ever, fascinating.

Passing on the canal down the Snow Hill flight, I see the view is a matter of opinion. But why? What’s that all about?

A great restorative ride.

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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 The grey way

January 20th – The McClean Way, the trail that follows the former South Staffordshire Railway out of Walsall and is now being extended by volunteers up through Brownhills is beautiful, even on a cold, grey Sunday afternoon.

Clayhanger Marsh, which the trail is embanked above, was brooding and deathly quiet, and I didn’t;t see another soul. The only colour was from the graffiti on the old railway over bridge at the Wyrley and Essington Canal near the Pelsall Road.

This is a fairly unique bridge and is actually a listed structure. I note it’s had it’s number re-stencilled recently, indicating that Network Rail, the ultimate owners, still regard it as an asset.

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