BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘grey’

#365daysofbiking Shades of grey, shades of blue

Sunday 16th January 2022 – I was planning on a longer ride, but I got bogged down in changing my tyres. I’m still experimenting with studless winter specific ones, but wasn’t happy with the current set and had been given some Pirelli to try. By the time I’d changed them, and sorted other maintenance matters arising, there was little left of daylight; but it didn’t matter much because rather than being bright and pleasant as forecast, the weather was cold and grey.

I slid out for a tentative test ride in the twilight, heavy hearted – I’d been looking forward to a decent ride all week and it just hadn’t happened. The tyres, thankfully, felt much better: Even after this short 13 miler I felt I had more trust in them.

I did a speedy loop of Stonnall, Footherley, Shenstone, Wall, Pipehill and Hammerwich. The weather was very cold and closing in, and the atmosphere felt hostile. Riding was hard work, and my hands were cold.

I stopped at the top of Pipe Hill; to record a darkening Lichfield, the sprawl of which has slowly edged towards Pipe Hill in the four decades I’ve cycled here. Where there is now a large Waitrose supermarket, there was once fields, a small hospital and a cricket ground. The new houses are now spreading up Deans Slade towards Aldershawe and Harehurst Hill.

It’s sad, but that’s progress and I don’t lament these things: Such is wasted energy, as they can’t be changed or retained, and time will continue to march on. The spires I marvelled at as a boy are still there, and the impact of that view on me is just as great as it always was, I could study it for hours, even in this bitter chill.

I felt a little blue in this grey landscape. There was little sign this evening of the premature spring we found at New Year, and longer days and warmth seemed impossibly far away from me in the here and now. Whilst the view and the lanes were lovely, today they didn’t soothe me, they just made me long for better days.

They will, of course, arrive: And not a moment too soon.

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#365daysofbiking Another grey Sunday

Sunday February 21st 2021 – For some reason we aren’t getting many bright, cold days this winter – but we are getting lots of dull, middling, anonymous, colourless days. Which is a shame, but at least it’s not continually wet like many recent winters have been.

There’s always a reason to be positive, after all…

On a test ride around Stonnall after some bike fettling, I stopped on Cartersfield Lane to make some adjustments and noticed there was a little brightness to the end of the day, albeit colourless: The sun was just retreating behind the woodland and electricity line up towards the quarry further up the hill.

On days like these, you take the beauty where you find it.

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#365daysofbiking Roadside delicacy

Sunday February 14th 2021 – The snowdrops are shaping up excellently this spring, I must say. I had thought the cold weather might stunt or harm them, but that’s not the case.

Coming up a very windswept and damp Barracks Lane, these delicate little flowers growing beside the vet’s paddock at Warrenhouse were just the beautiful thing I needed to see on a grey, late winter Sunday.

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#365daysofbiking The twilight hour

January 28th – I was due to have a medical procedure next day.I’d left work early so I could make a start and prepare – I had medicine to take soon which meant I wouldn’t be able to stray far from home for long for a while, so a quick loop up the canal to Newtown and back.

At Ogley Junction, the scenery was stark and bleak as night descended.

I like this spot normally. Admittedly, far nicer on a sunny, warm day, but tonight it left me feeling empty and tired.

Perhaps it was the anxiousness for the following day kicking in – I couldn’t really tell.

The twilight hour can be such an unreliable friend.

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#365daysofbiking Post haste

January 1st – In the grey murk of an overcast, darkening evening, the McLean Way really is more rewarding than one would think: There are delights along it’s length from the A5 to Walsall, from hand made benches, to spectacular views and curios like the landmark restored signal post at Clayhanger Marsh.

For me, it always looks better on a grey day, the better to imagine locos hauling coal, rumbling through here, climbing to the peak by the rear of the Swan pub before coasting down to Lichfield.

There might have been a young boy on the Brownhills Bridge, waving to the driver and giggling at the ground shaking.

But that’s all in the past now, ond on a dull new years day, this is a great place to take a breather and remember what was lost, and what was found.

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#365daysofbiking A hidden gem

December 27th – It was a grim, grey afternoon and I had to go to Erdington – of all places – on an errand. I saddled up and headed my usual route over Shire Oak, down the Chester Road and through the leafy private estates of Little Aston to Sutton Park and on.

It was a foul, wet afternoon, with little to commend it. But I did stop for a breather at Little Aston Church, a really fine example of GE Street’s devotional and elegant design in an interestingly bright stone.

I have to say, it was the most handsome thing about the day.

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#365daysofbiking Tilt

November 10th – The morning had been sunny and the afternoon grey but clear – a better day for sure than the washout of the previous one. But everything was sodden, and cycling was still…. Challenging.

Wet leaves, mud, huge puddles made the going tough but it was nice to be out.

The rain had washed most of the leaves off the trees at The Parade, meaning the really beautiful period had been transitory, like so many times of beauty this year. Such is life.

My companion went for a low angle and tilted the camera noting that the trees all had a windswept tilt, too -, and although not mine, this shot encapsulates the feeling so well, it would be a crime not to use it.

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#365daysofbiking Up the junction


November 2nd – Busy this weekend with stuff at home, so I’m mostly riding out on errands to get materials and suchlike. At lunchtime I had to head over to a DIY store in Chasetown, so in steady drizzle, I took to the canal. The towpaths were sodden, but the riding surprisingly fast.

I’m glad I’ve got stuff to do, this autumn has been terrible for cycling generally, and we’ve had more lost weekends than Lloyd Cole. Were I stuck inside without occupation, I’d be going stir crazy by now. I’m sure of it.

Crossing Ogley Junction over that imperious old iron footbridge, the canal looked grey and foreboding. But I was wrapped up well, warm and dry underneath. Getting past this may take what seems like an age, but better days will come, the sun will return and in a few months, we’ll have daffodils and daylight once more.

All I’ve got to do is hang in there.

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