BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘interesting architecture’

#365daysofbiking Roadside repairs

Sunday March 7th 2021 – Sometimes when your bike ails you, the only thing you can do is pack a big bag of tools, and ride it with an ear attuned to the sounds it may make in complaint.

I set off for a ride over to Hopwas, Syerscote, Clifton and Lullington, returning via Whitemoor Haye. Fortunately I nailed the problem with the bike at Hopwas.

In the shadow of that farmhouse-like, remarkable church, I found my rubs and rattles were due to a slightly loose brake calliper, which was mobile when braking but not loose enough to be obvious.

Secured and adjusted, I rode out with renewed vigour. After all, newly fixed up bikes always go faster.

Sadly, the light wasn’t with me, and spring still hadn’t kissed Syerscote or that gorgeous view back to Clifton from the hill to Lullington, where the Mease Valley separates you from it.

But it will.

In these strange times I am impatient for the comfort and openness of better days, as are we all. But for now, we must just press on.

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#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 All for the best

Wednesday March 3rd 2021 – Returning from work again in the middle evening, it was a much clearer night as I crossed the Pier Street pedestrian bridge back into Brownhills, a traditional homecoming when the canal towpaths are not too wet.

Thankfully, they seem to be drying out a little, at last.

I love the look of the new housing along the canalside here at night. This used to be such an empty, desolate area, especially in the dark. It looks so much more alive and inhabited now, almost cosy in the streetlight.

Definitely change for the better.

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#365daysofbiking Somnambulent streets

Friday February 5th 2021 –  I was coming home at the end of a long week, tired and hungry. The weather was again unpleasant and it felt like snow might be coming in again. I just wanted to be home with a mug of tea and the family.

At the bend of Borneo Street in The Butts, Walsall, just before it joins the Lichfield Road, one can pause at the allotment gates and look up the terraced street of Victorian houses towards Walsall.

On this night it was dark, and maybe a little bit spooky, with so few folk around. The blue-white LED lights contributed to the ghostliness, but the contrasting house lights here and there made me realise there was warmth to be found within.

Taking that as a cue, I took a quick snap, and rode home to the warmth and comfort of home.

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#365daysofbiking Failed dreams

Wednesday February 3rd 2021 –  It was a wet, cold and intense commute home – and I had to go somewhere I rarely do – Bentley Mill Way, which bisects old industrial land beside the M6 motorway, between Junction 10 and Darlaston.

This is a place where there’s a faded showcase cinema, some of the usual out of town outlet formula stores, a restaurant, and the derelict remnants of an odd attempt to create a night time economic centre here.

At one point there was a pub and a couple of night clubs, and the council were trying to expand it as a leisure area. But the nightclubs closed: When drunken revellers emerged into the cold night onto what was a remote, barren trading estate with no transport and little distraction, there was regular trouble. Development stalled. The project died.

So now the road is a hinterland, lined by scrub, factories, the remnants of the leisure and retail dream, and some dereliction. And now the burghers are trying to get industrial investment here, so have thrown money at improving the local road system, including the odd scheme of lowering the road beneath the 1700s canal aqueduct that limits large vehicle movements to the south.

The millions spent have so far yielded nothing, and the lights under this unusual aqueduct cycle most of the day unwatched by anyone.

But at night, it’s got that wet sheen and urban light thing going on, and it’s strangely captivating.

And there’s always this grimly fascinating, faint smell of failed dreams.

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#365daysofbiking Greetings from the side street

Monday February 1st 2021 –  The year ticks by, faster than I’d have imagined, given the circumstances. My beloved spring will not be far off now.

On the way home from work I had to drop a letter coffin Brickiln Street, and as I returned to the High Street, I stopped to put my gloves back on, and realised the view was oddly Hopper-ish.

I don’t know what it is, it just appealed to me. These quiet side streets are still very much my Brownhills: I know them as well as I did when I was a kid, I frequently came up here to the long-moved Library, my second home, the site of which is still a vacant plot years from the old library’s demolition.

There was nobody around much on this Monday evening, but Brickiln Street was very much crowded with my memories.

I put the gloves on, had a wistful last look, and rode off, all the time wondering where all the intervening years had gone.

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#365daysofbiking Going underground

Tuesday January 19th 2021 – After the stress and drain of the day before, I went for an easier day and pottered to a meeting in Lichfield in the afternoon. On my return, I unusually came across Jubilee and Festival Gardens, and traversed the odd subway that links the two under the A51.

I had thought this subway to be old from the corrugated steel construction and bizarrely primitive square headed bolts used in its construction – but no, it dates from the 1960s. I can only assume Lichfield Council knocked it up from stuff that had around at the time.

It is oddly lit, and feels constrained inside. But the lighting, and surrounding environment make it captivating to me. It’s like some kind of portal to the underworld, and it’s almost disappointing when you emerge back into the same Lichfield you left seconds before…

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#365daysofbiking Miles of steel over wood

Saturday January 16th 2021 – I had to pick up a ticket from Lichfield Trent Valley Station, and it’s always nice to visit this funny little station in the dark.

It’s not salubrious, well equipped or liked, and lacks glamour. As a station, Lichfield Trent Valley is as desolate and grim as mainline stations get, the regular passing of high speed trains without stopping makes you feel lonely in the darkness.

Yet, for all the wires and concrete, the place is lit brilliantly at night, and I love it. The signal lights, exaggerated perspective and feeling of emptiness make for great photos…

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#365daysofbiking Abridged

Friday January 15th 2021 – Just hopping on the canal on the way home from work, I turned to look behind me at the bridge whose challenging climb I was avoiding by taking the towpath of the canal it crosses.

The Black Cock bridge – comedically named after the nearby pub – has suffered subsidence in the early part of its current incarnation and is still monitored closely for cracks and fissures. It’s approaches are now dangerously steep, and a later footbridge has been added alongside to accommodate pedestrians.

I don’t think in it’s current form this sore abused, but not yet dead bridge will survive long now. I suspect it’s fate may be similar to Hollanders Bridge further up the Line in Walsall Wood – renovated in the 80s with a lightweight metal deck and blocked to vehicular traffic.

It’s a fascinating bridge with a remarkable history, it really is.

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#365daysofbiking Quick Silver

Tuesday January 4th 2021 – A better evening commute, but I was in a hurry to get home. We’re now back in full lockdown, and the world felt that little bit more hostile to be out in, so I just swept through the Silver Street Marina area, and took some quick shots looking up the canal to the Watermead Estate.

It’s not a bad spot this, but the paving at the waterside desperately needs some love – it’s uneven and breaking up. The view is nice though, and a bit of welcome calm in a mad world. You’d never believe this was central Brownhills.

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