BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘interesting architecture’

#365daysofbiking Haunted

March 30th – I had to nip to Walsall at noon. I was tired from a very demanding week, but the weather was nice and the riding surprisingly easy.

I don’t mind Walsall these days – I long ago resolved my conflict with my memories and learned to embrace the place anew. It’s never been a bad town. It’s just that many who live here hate it because it isn’t the same as when they were young.

Of course it isn’t – all places change, and what folk resent is not the change in the town, but the change in themselves, I find.

I pushed my bike up Church Hill and admired the view, I plodded around the town below aimlessly but enjoying it immensely. I stopped for coffee in the sun. Then out on the canal to call at Sainsburys in Reedswood, where I noticed the last (nearly) whole remnant of Reedswood Power Station – the old pedestrian bridge over the long gone railway, now orphaned and fenced out of use between a pub and and the retail park.

Walsall is haunted by it’s own past, let alone the half-imagined one it has projected upon it.

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#365daysofbiking Subterranean sunny station blue

March 28th – Always nice to get a glimpse of blue, sunny sky from the dark platforms at New Street Station in Birmingham.

Today I was waiting for a connection early, and although there were loads of trains, there weren’t seemingly too many people around. I killed time with a snack, and peered up out of the tangle of steel, concrete, wires and machinery to the surrounding architecture – always fascinating, always in transition.

And then beyond that to a blue sky – and even in this urban morass devoid of anything natural – the promise of a beautiful, sun-dappled spring.

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#365daysofbiking Sleepwalking

March 22nd – Working very late, a 14 hour day. I returned through a somnambulant Park Street in Walsall, the pavers shining in the electric light.

Walsall gets an awful lot of stick in some quarters, but looking tonight at the clean street and welcoming light, I was reminded that this isn’t a bad place, for all it’s detractors.

It certainly felt like home tonight.

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#365daysofbiking Slight return

March 22nd – Returning from Telford on an absolute bastard of a day, I couldn’t face the run from Walsall station and decided to get off the train at Bloxwich for a change.

Bloxwich railway station is functional – two platforms, two shelters, that’s it: A modern day, urban halt. But tonight, with stomach cramps and an aching head, it was good to arrive in fresh, cool air and look at my quiet, darkening surroundings and be thankful that I was nearing home.

I like this station, for all it’s dystopian desolation. Tonight, it felt like a homecoming, a return. The weekend ahead, peace and good company.

Sometimes, that’s all you need to make you feel better.

I made it home with the wind behind me in 22 minutes.

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#365daysofbiking Oddly empty

March 19th – Returning from work late, around 8pm I sailed through the Civic Quarter in Walsall and found it oddly bereft of people and even the roads were quiet.

Glad to see someone has finally painted over the horrid spots on Hatherton House which although painted by the tenant, were nothing short of an act of vandalism to a historic building.

This place is always odd at night: I love the interrelation of the light, trees and built environment but will always hate those streetlights. Awful design.

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#365daysofbiking A lifetime away

March 17th – On Lea Lane, between Newton and Admaston, a nice country house. Rambling, large, with half its garden oddly over the road, it’s a curious building.

What casual passers-by don’t realise in many cases is that this house, up until very, very recently, was actually a pub called The Wicket. In the middle of nowhere, I guess the pub had a hard time surviving, and closed like so many others. And now, you’d never know.

I went in there once. It was nice enough, but quiet as you’d expect. It seems odd now that I sat with a Guinness in what is now a total stranger’s lounge.

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#365daysofbiking It’s about time

March 17th – Finally a day with a more manageable wind, although it was still hard work, and an afternoon mostly without rain, although it caught me on my evening return. But a good ride, none the less.

Rapidly going stir crazy, I was pleased to note a more temperate day – although it was cold the sun shone frequently and the rain was mostly short sharp showers.

I headed up to Cannock Chase for a decent 45 miler, Pye Green and Brocton Field, the dropped into Sherbrooke Valley and on to Milford. From there, up to Tixall, a place I’ve not been in far too long a time. The architecture and atmosphere of this gorgeous place cannot be overstated, yet it’s mostly missed as it exists in the shadow of tourist magnet Shugborough, just down the road.

I continued to Hixon and skirted Blithfield Reservoir via Newton and Admaston, and passed back through Rugeley and Longone as darkness and rain fell.

Spring is really coming on a pace now, with plump spring lambs in the fields and green evident on the hedges, woods and fields; and on Brownhills Common the deer were clearly currently entering the moult and will soon look like threadbare old rugs that nobody cares for, despite being in excellent condition otherwise.

I’d love to know what a solar loo is though…

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#365daysofbiking Maybe just a hint?

March 5th – A slightly better day, but the wind was still pretty evil. Crossing Kings Hill Park on a mission to B&Q mid day, I stopped to check out the view of the twin sisters – the two churches the overlook Wednesbury.

It may have been my imagination, but there seemed to be, just about, possibly the tiniest hint of spring in the view.

Whatever the season, it’s always gorgeous.

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#365daysofbiking Back in the city

March 2nd – After the bike jumble, the traditional ride into Birmingham on the canal for tea, cake and to marvel at the the art and history.

The towpath quality has improved vastly since last year, the architecture, including the wonderful view of St. Chad’s Cathedral, newly liberated by the demolition of the insulation factory, was stunning near Snow Hill. And oh, the faded grandeur of those imperious Birmingham pubs.

Pleased to see Bill Drummond has a new message for Birmingham, and the lovely calm of Brookvale Park and Witton Lakes was as wonderful as ever.

I returned a way I haven’t been for quite a few years – up the canal through Tyburn and Minworth to Middleton. Formerly the towpath through Minworth was dreadful in the winter, but now the bad stretch is limited to about a mile or so, and is ridable on a decently stout bike.

One shock though: The formerly monolithic and impressive Cincinnati works – empty and subject of great development promises by Urban Splash – has gone, including it’s iconic entry bridge over the canal. It’s now a perfectly decent but dull housing estate, so the Urban Splash dream was hot air. The bridge has gone Now only dull units remain to the east to say this huge factory ever existed.

Sad.

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