BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘hill’

#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 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 The sisterhood

Thursday, October 8th 2020 – It’s coming up to the best time of year to view the twin sisters – the churches on top of the hill at the centre of Wednesbury.

Another of my favourite subjects here, these gorgeous but differing spires – of St Mary’s Catholic Church and St Batholomews Church of England – nestling above the leafy, urban slopes are a maker for me, and an illustration that the Black Country is not quite as outsiders might imagine.

Of course, like many urban churches, time has been kinder to these sisters than one would imagine: They once shook to the thump of drop hammers and buzzed with the huge amount of industry they overlooked, but now their parishes are quieter and, dare I say it, nicer places to live.

To see this lovely view from Kings Hill Park in Darlaston is a joy, and as autumn matures the view will only get better, reminding me that however far I might stray, this is my place, the Black Country, and where my heart and soul lie.

Hope they can sort the clock soon…

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#365daysofbiking Across the middle-distance

May 20th – I have featured the view over the Watling Street valley between the canal at Chemical Hill, Brownhills and Hammerich many, many times on this journal over the years.

It’s a view dear to me, and the skyline above the rolling slopes of Meerash, punctuated by that elegant church spire and former windmill make for a remarkable view from a former industrial town on the very edge of the Black Country.

I think what makes it special is indeed the in-between: There’s a busy dual carriageway, of course, a well hidden toll motorway too, and a former railway.

But this land also bore the Staffordshire Hoard and I’m sure is still holding on to great secrets.

It’s a fantastic thing to behold.

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#365daysofbiking Washed out

November 14th – Labouring up Shire Oak Hill from Shenstone in constant rain, I began to wonder if by the end of the winter I’d develop webbed feet.

It seems to have done nothing but rain for weeks. I’m itching for a long ride on dry lanes. The Chase and Chasewater are nothing but mud baths.

And we’re hurtling toward Christmas.

Hope things improve soon.

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#365daysofbiking The hiss of wet tarmac

October 25th – I seemed to have been cycling on water all day – the rain barely abated until evening. Returning from an errand in Stonnall, I stopped at Shire Oak to record conditions.

It had been raining all day. Everything was sodden. The forecast for the weekend didn’t look much better. We seem to have had a wet autumn (I’m not sure if we actually have or not, to be fair).

After a few good, dry days it wouldn’t be too much to ask for a few more, would it?

Ah well, down the hatch. I wiped the rain off my face, got back on the bike and coasted back home into Brownhills, listing to the hiss of my wheels on the wet tarmac.

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#365daysofbiking In need of an iron

June 3rd – Another day, another wildflower appearance, and one that although very common, is lovely if you look closely – the humble bramble, or blackberry blossom.

Very white, delicate almost as if mate from paper, and always creased. Fascinating little flowers hardly anyone pays attention to.

It might be me but they seem early this year…

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#365daysofbiking Unstoppable, now

January 29th – Despite an icing sugar dusting of snow and a very cold wind, the dates and emergent daffodils of the industrial estate where I work know spring is a thing.

Jack in the Green has tapped the ground with his stick and it’s all systems go.

The cold might slow things up a few days, but it’s underway now. It’s coming.

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#365daysofbiking Rolling downhill:

December 12th – On such a great day it would be bad form to to also list Kings Hill Park – not a mile away from Victoria Park. I’d come back from B&Q and rode over the top off the hill in the park, which is always exhilarating, and the stop for tea and contemplation on the memorial bench always welcome.

Gently rolling downhill, sending squirrels scampering away is always a delight here. The view towards the road always gives the feeling of being in a secret garden.

Darlaston’s parks are beautiful, lovely places. Yet what guide book tells of this? It’s a crying shame they are not better known.

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#365daysofbiking Where my heart lies:

November 21st – After a cold, slow ride through the lanes and up Shire Oak Hill, a quick breather on Shire Oak Hill looking toward the town I was headed into.

Brownhills may not be pretty. It may not be posh. It has it’s problems.

But as I contemplate getting back on the bike and rolling into town, I remember the place I love, the community, the characters, the history and how much I love it.

Nearing home is a wonderful feeling – especially when you’re so tired.