BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘High Street’

#365daysofbiking Inclined:

Tuesday March 5th 2021 – I had to nip to Chasetown on an errand in the afternoon and caught the twilight.

I still can’t – and probably never will if I’m honest – get used to the empty high streets of pandemic Britain (how odd to type that phrase in 2021…) This street should be busy with late stops for supplies, people visiting pubs and takeaways and the general activity of Friday night urban life. It isn’t. It’s desolate.

It is, however, beautiful in a haunting way, and this is a period I shall never forget. I think what makes this street particularly dramatic is the hill, and the way it stretches the emptiness.

These are very strange days, and unlikely as it seems, they will pass.

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#365daysofbiking Lighting up time

Saturday January 30th 2021 – I had to nip to the shops on an errand, but wanted to miss the worst of the lockdown queues, so went as late in the day as possible, and then headed up to Walsall Wood to get some bits for a DIY project, I realised it was still just about light at 4:45pm.

Spring really can’t be far away now, the light is flooding back.

Even on this grey, chilly winter day, it filled my heart with joy.

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#365daysofbiking Downtown lights

Friday November 13th 2020 – Having been up to Burntwood on an errand, I came back down Chasetown High Street in the middle evening.

As usual, this small area of shops and houses built on a steep hill was looking festive, even though the Christmas lights were up, but not switched on.

Nearly deserted, but with an air of quiet activity that always baffles me. It’s one of the most beautiful local urban settings at night. I adore it.

There is perhaps, as a friend speculated, a Hopper feel to this scene, but I think it’s more than that. But I just can’t say what it is.

A beautiful mystery.

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#365daysofbiking Shine

Saturday, October 24th 2020 – Another wet day, and it was raining heavily as I nipped out for shopping in the evening.

This weekend, the clocks go back and I hate the loss of evening light with a fierce passion. The wet Saturday just compounded that and I felt miserable.

But something about the lights of the town, the fresh air and sounds of the rain combined and I actually began to find it quite soothing.

The shine of rain at night is very underrated, and it can make the most mundane places beautiful. But also this year I am determined not to be brought down by winter. I must keep on, must keep finding the beauty in the everyday, and try myself to shine through the gloom.

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#365daysofbiking Brutality

Friday, October 16th 2020 – I’ve long been an advocate of Brownhills, my hometown, and the fact that it has some beautiful parts. Way more than many outsiders would ever expect.

But it’s also a fact that some bits are a bit grim, like with any town, particularly post-industrial ones in desperate need of regeneration.

Silver Court is not terribly unpleasant. It’s nothing like say, Windmill Lane in Smethwick West used to be, or some of the forlorn, decaying 1960s parades of shops in big city suburbs like Longbridge or Castle Vale. But it’s very much 60s, brutalist and in its final stages.

Ingeniously built clinging to a pronounced slope with a very split level design, it’s an odd, partially prefabricated row of shops with maisonette houses above, each with a small yard above the back of the shop premises accessed by a rear thoroughfare on top of the lowest level, the garages.

The shops are now about 50% occupied. The homes have problems with leaks and poor construction. There are issues with flytipping, and the parade frontage is grubby and dark.

But I’ve always love the view along it at night, deserted, with just the light of the ATM halfway up.

One day this edifice will go, and I’ll be glad I recorded this otherworldly place by night.

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#365daysofbiking Tones of home

Sunday, September 27th 2020 – It was a lovely autumn day of sunshine, and I wanted to be out: But fate had blessed me with a bad cold (yes, it really IS a cold…) and I felt enervated and weak.

I tried, but I just managed a slow, lazy loop of Chasewater and Chasetown, and trundled home.

The colours of the season were gorgeous in the soft sunlight, the tonal palette of which seems to be mainly shades of dark green and brown, but also blue, too.

Chasetown High Street and that remarkable hill still captivate me. It manages to look frenetic and busy even when there are few cars and even less people. An impressive achievement.

Some days you go a long way, some you barely orbit home. Today was not a day for venturing far, but near home was reassuring and gave me all I needed.

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#365daysofbiking Downtown lights

February 28th – Brownhills High Street. The rain was still perched upon my world as I came home, looking for a takeaway and some solace in the gloom.

A couple of minutes later I met an old pal, we dived into Costa for a coffee, and rolled the years back.

Brownhills isn’t nearly as depressed as it was; things are improving, slowly.

It almost looks beautiful in the rain. Or have I got meteorological Stockholm syndrome again?

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#365daysofbiking Wood and heart


January 26th – And there it were – gone. With neither a thank you nor a goodnight, the mist upped and left, and Sunday was damp, wet but mercifully clear with an appreciable wind.

The air was clearer. I could breath again without feeling that grip on my chest from traffic fumes.

I came back from helping a pal in the early evening, and stopped for the cashpoint in the High Street. It was quiet. The takeaways were doing trade, the pubs seemed alive, but traffic was light and this still identifiable ex-mining village straddling the Walsall to Lichfield Road slumbered peacefully.

I like Walsall Wood. I always have. It’s not prepossessing, exotic or flash. But it has soul and warmth and always looks welcoming at night.

It’ll always have a bit of my heart.

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#365daysofbiking A beautiful approach

December 26th – I love Chasetown High Street – day or night, it’s actually a great little thoroughfare: Busy due to the mix of housing and shops, the hill combined with the mixed architecture makes it fascinating.

On a wet Boxing Day evening, on the way back from seeing family it was nice to stop and take a picture.

I’d still like to make a low rent version of the Bullitt car chase here. But on choppers or BMX bikes. It’d be fab.

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#365daysofbiking Conical

November 30th – Chasetown has Christmas lights for the first time in a long while too, which is nice to see. Oddly though, their two Christmas trees (which appear identical, which must be a clue to their origin) are artificial, conical arrangements covered in some kind of canvas.

There’s one at usual near the former police station, and one outside the new offices of Chasetown Civil Engineering.

They’re interesting things, not entirely sure I like them but they are very striking.

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