May 16th – One thing that was a real surprise on a late return from work was that the lupins on the canal at Clayhanger are in bloom already.
After a really brutal, hard day and a weary, late evening battle home into the wind, finding these beauties next to the towpath was a real spiritual boost.
Sometimes, you just need a little beauty in your life. And something a wonderful shade of purple.
February 28th – A day with two of the harshest commutes I’ve ever known – both sub zero, both punctuated by snowstorms and ferocious winds.
On the way to work, I followed the canal somewhat unusually for me, all the way down through Moxley, and on the way noted the dagger-like icicles on Scarborough Road Bridge in Pleck, and the hardiness of the animals I saw – mainly birdlife defying Dry Marland’s IC scale, but also a sad but stoical horse tethered by the Black Country Route. At least it had plenty of hay to eat, poor thing.
Snow squalls came and went, but during them, visibility was poor. I don’t think I’ve ever known commuting on a bike this hard. The winter as it moved on from Christmas has been bloody endless.
September 7th – Spotted as I cruised towards Brownhills just off the Lindon Road, a fine crop of bright red, hard crab apples, so ripe they were falling untouched from the tree.
Like previous apples of this type, scraping them with a fingernail revealed the smelled bitter and acidic, explaining the lack of takers.
I suppose it’s a thing to grow trees and shrubs for the beauty of the fruit and flowers, with no regard to utility of the crop. Which is a bit sad; whenever I see fruit rot like this I feel it’s a pity it can’t be readily used or consumed.
April 10th – Cycling the Netherton Tunnel is a genuine challenge. The towpath is now deteriorating badly; it’s full of wheel-snatching potholes filled with obfuscating water that conceals their depth and severity. Water continually drips on you, and occasionally pours. Although you can see daylight, it’s a long time away. And then, the relentless, unforgiving task of riding for twenty minutes or so in a 4-foot gap between a wall that curves closely over your head and a corroded, week handrail.
The relentlessness of it, the eyestrain and psychological effort of keeping alert enough to keep everything flowing is a real challenge.
But I love it every time I do it. I’d say it’s for the experienced cyclist only, and take a hat, jacket and good light. But it is fun.
December 22nd – A day at work in Darlaston, then nipping into Brum on an errand. New Street Station is mad at this time of year, and the lousy revamp is crippling passenger flows. Stood at the end of the platform for blessed space waiting for the train to be made available, I took a couple of shots. I love the differing lights here, the colours, surfaces, angles and textures.
I guess most folk would dismiss it as ugly, but I think it’s curiously beautiful.
August 7th – A great day – sunny. warm, still – great Indian Summer stuff. After around 6 weeks of nursing a foot injury, it was time to push it again – a long ride and some strenuous climbing was in order.
For too long, I’v been doing only work rides, or short stuff; dropping gears to climb hills and generally riding like an old man.
I utterly punished myself on and off road; sharp climbs, speed, and plenty of honking (pedalling stood up). I was surprised at my energy. I seem to be losing weight at the moment, too, and was pleasantly surprised at my stamina considering.
Hopefully, this isn’t summer’s last yahoo and I can get some decent riding in at last before summer’s last breath.