BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Green Lane’

#365daysofbiking Noir

Friday November 27th 2020 – I had been working from home but had to pop into work late afternoon for something that couldn’t wait the weekend out, so I grabbed the bike and went for it.

Returning in the early evening, I came along Green Lane and up the southern flank of the Black Cock Bridge at Bullings Heath, the tiny hamlet that was probably the genesis of the village of Walsall Wood – now a town of well over 10,000 people.

Bullings Heath, over a very high, daunting bridge from the rest of the urbanity it spawned still retains a bucolic feel and one of slight isolation at night; as you traverse Green Lane past Coppice Woods and Jockey Meadows where there are no streetlights, emerging into the sodium-lit hamlet is an almost cinematic experience, often replete with foxes, owls and bats.

Tonight, I stopped to hop on the canal and looked behind me in a moment when the moon was shielded by thick cloud, and there was very little natural light. It was really atmospheric and reminded me of a film noir.

It’s wonderful how moonlight, or the lack thereof can influence the feel of a place so dramatically.

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#365daysofbiking Persistence of the night

January 24th – But of course, the crippling thing about this time of year is that there’s great optimism in the morning light, when one can actually see the dying of winter.

But when the dark repossess the day on the way home, it feels like deepest winter again: Which being in January as we are, it actually is.

The persistence of the night – like here in Green Lane, Walsall Wood – is sobering, depressing, but essential. The dark may be retreating. But we’re a ways away from the death yet. We must keep pushing, keep going.

Until the persistence is no more. For another season.

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#365daysofbiking In the meadow

May 14th – Spring generally comes late to Jockey Meadow, the site of special scientific interest between Walsall Wood and Shelfield.

This year however, it’s looking very green and lush in the water meadows and farmed fields either side of Green Lane.

You wouldn’t think you were surrounded by heavy industry and urban development here, just peace, quiet and birdsong.

A lovely, under-appreciated bit of local greenery.

Wonder if the coos will be here this year?

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#365daysofbiking Waiting for a fluff explosion

April 17th – On the way to work near Greern Lane, Shelfield, I notice the sallows are flowering now, and this is one of the more interesting blooms of springtime.

Sallow or goat willow is a member of the wider willow family, and grows profusely hereabouts. After the initial pretty male catkins have passed – pussy willows – then come the female catkins that were so well on show today. Once these peculiar green flowers pollinate, they generate wind-borne seeds in a few weeks: these evolve in the form of a large cloud of fluff that for a few days will coat the canal, towpaths, woodland paths, verges and road margins.

For now though in the spring sunshine of a warm, lovely morning – they look like something prehistoric, and in reality, probably are.

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#365daysofbiking Everything counts

March 7th – It’s time for the periodic traffic survey in Walsall, and the sheer number of traffic counter units fitted across the borough’s roads is causing some comment on social media.

They aren’t sinister at all: By law local authorities have to take traffic counts for planning and other reasons and like most councils now, the work is deputised to a specialist contractor.

These Metrocount units – that use the familiar, traditional rubber air tube and pressure switch technique are surprisingly sophisticated and the manual for them was found online by The Stymaster – you can read it here.

I crossed at least eight between Brownhills and Darlaston. Just setting them all up and gathering them back must be a mammoth task, let alone analysing the data…

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#365daysofbiking An end to Police brutalism in Walsall

January 24th – There is a madness afoot in the country, and possibly the broader western world in the last 10 years or so, and I can see no solution in sight.

Governments come to power on the promise of austerity and cutting spending, yet close used and needed public facilities that took decades to be obtained – in a flash. And so we lost the police station in Walsall on Green Lane, built in the Brutalist period of the 60s, which was closed in response to spending cuts in 2016. Police now have to take suspects to Oldbury when arrested, which is impacting officer availability and causing great inefficiency.

The building itself – an unremarkable modernist structure – was sold to developers and is currently being demolished.

We will need a police station again. The situation as it is is not working.

And it will cost us far more than closing this one saved to sort the mess out.

And when some politician grasps the nettle and does it, they will be derided for financial profligacy.

But the real crime is cutting things communities need, in the interests of short term political gain.

It takes years to build communities, and days to destroy them with cuts. The recklessness seems in the axe-hand to me.

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#365daysofbiking That sinking feeling:

December 13th – Struggling up the Black Cock Bridge due to tiredness and another late night at work, my phone rang and I stopped to answer by the junction with Hall Lane.

This little, discrete hamlet was years ago called Bullings Heath and sitting in the lee of the bridge flank, there are many legends about the subsidence here caused by minewovrkings below.

Whilst there was sinking, it wasn’t a bad as purported, and these things generally never are, but legends persist and they suggest the houses on the left were once level with the canal.

Tonight, Bullings Heath nestled in the darkness, and was keeping it’s secrets to itself, and looking for all the world like a somnambulant, rural hamlet.

A historic conundrum.

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#365daysofbiking Night falls:

October 29th – Travelling back home in the first of the end of British Summer Time commutes is always hard: I wasn’t late, but it was dark, and cold. I got passed by two gritters. Progress was slow. 

Winter is upon me.

This means rejigging the photography a bit, as it’s had to find subjects in darkness, so the activity tends to shift to morning, or during errands or trips in the daytime.

Oh well, it’s here. Let’s do this.

#365daysofbiking Sucked under:

October 2nd – The Suck is brutal this year. The dark evening commutes are hard and the driving is bad. But today was unexpected, unforecast drizzle all the way, and with no waterproof trousers, I was soaked and miserable.

This is the hard bit of winter. Dark, wet and cold, it’s going to get a lot worse before it begins to improve.

Every year this gets more and more daunting.