BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Lichfield’

#365daysofbiking Shades of grey, shades of blue

Sunday 16th January 2022 – I was planning on a longer ride, but I got bogged down in changing my tyres. I’m still experimenting with studless winter specific ones, but wasn’t happy with the current set and had been given some Pirelli to try. By the time I’d changed them, and sorted other maintenance matters arising, there was little left of daylight; but it didn’t matter much because rather than being bright and pleasant as forecast, the weather was cold and grey.

I slid out for a tentative test ride in the twilight, heavy hearted – I’d been looking forward to a decent ride all week and it just hadn’t happened. The tyres, thankfully, felt much better: Even after this short 13 miler I felt I had more trust in them.

I did a speedy loop of Stonnall, Footherley, Shenstone, Wall, Pipehill and Hammerwich. The weather was very cold and closing in, and the atmosphere felt hostile. Riding was hard work, and my hands were cold.

I stopped at the top of Pipe Hill; to record a darkening Lichfield, the sprawl of which has slowly edged towards Pipe Hill in the four decades I’ve cycled here. Where there is now a large Waitrose supermarket, there was once fields, a small hospital and a cricket ground. The new houses are now spreading up Deans Slade towards Aldershawe and Harehurst Hill.

It’s sad, but that’s progress and I don’t lament these things: Such is wasted energy, as they can’t be changed or retained, and time will continue to march on. The spires I marvelled at as a boy are still there, and the impact of that view on me is just as great as it always was, I could study it for hours, even in this bitter chill.

I felt a little blue in this grey landscape. There was little sign this evening of the premature spring we found at New Year, and longer days and warmth seemed impossibly far away from me in the here and now. Whilst the view and the lanes were lovely, today they didn’t soothe me, they just made me long for better days.

They will, of course, arrive: And not a moment too soon.

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/3nLjqdy
via IFTTT

#365daysofbiking Back to earth

Sunday 2nd January 2022 – The warmth and fine weather departed as suddenly as it arrived, in the way that saviours generally do.

On an errand displaced from New Year’s Eve, I was in Lichfield during a sunset break in the rain. It was cold, and still windy. I went for the Lichfeldian photographer’s cliche: The Cathedral across Stowe Pool. It rewarded me suitably, with a moody, dark sunset.

I wonder what was happening in the single lit room before the Cathedral. Perhaps there was a lone cleric, forlornly asking the management for another blessed burst of better weather.

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/3r41xaL
via IFTTT

#365daysofbiking The thinness of the air, and turning for home

31st December 2021 – It’s been a weird old Christmas. The weather has been the worst over the holiday period I’ve known in many years: Pretty much constant rain and drizzle for over a week.

The festive period is normally an opportunity for us to get out on some seriously nice rides – often in the lead up to Christmas, the traditional Christmas and Boxing Day rides, and there’s usually good fun to be had in the period up to and including new year.

But not this time. The ceaseless downpour has meant that although I’ve been cycling every day, it’s been for utility only; delivering presents or cards, seeing friends and relatives, going to the pub, getting shopping in or getting fresh air.

Every journey has been in waterproofs, and I’ve come back sodden. It’s not been nice.

But on New Year’s Eve, a day I usually hate, the rain stopped. The sun came out. But odder than that, it was warm. And I mean, really warm: 14 degrees. It was like spring out there.

I set off later than I’d planned with my young pal for a loop around the local area, as we had an errand to do in Lichfield, and another in Burntwood.

The riding was fast and easy: There was a strong wind, but frankly, it didn’t matter. Up over Stonnall, Thornes, and the backlanes into Shenstone – but as we neared the village on the hill, we realised something was different. The old, ruined thirteenth century church tower – a remnant of an older, nicer church before the gothic horror that stands today was born of Victorian hubris – was sheathed in plastic sheeting and scaffold. It seems to be undergoing renovation. This is interesting, as it’s been derelict for all of the 40 or more years I’ve been riding around here.

It seems that a group have got together, raised money and are renovating the tower to save it out of charity and community spirit. Yet again, communities pay for Church of England neglect, it seems. But the plan is good and seemingly very competent. Searching when we got home we found the tower has a website here which is pretty useful on history, but not on the future. For that, we found Lichfield Live had reported plans to add a viewing platform to the tower last March. To my surprise, these have been approved.

I do hope this will be open to the public periodically. I bet the view is incredible. I salute those undertaking this project – it’s remarkable. This has largely passed me by over the summer and is an indication of my failure to ride much that ways on last year. I must rectify the neglect.

Further on, we caught a fair sunset up at Chesterfield, between Shenstone and Wall – any sunset is a bonus right now. Pickle caught it well, as she did a somnambulant, subdued Lichfield. The bars seemed busy but the streets less so. As ever, the festive lights and night sky combined with the muted, orange street lighting to make a magic that Pickle was all too keen to capture.

Returning down the wonderful Chasetown High Street, Pickle noted that the Christmas lights were switched off, but it didn’t matter, as it’s always festive at night on the beautifully lit, inclined High Street. I don’t really know what it is about Chasetown, but it shares the phenomena with Walsall Wood. At night, it always seems much busier than it actually is, and has a lovely homely, soft glow to it.

As New Year’s Eve rides go, this has been the best for a few years. We both enjoyed the absence of rain, and the thin, clear air. Such a change from the last couple of weeks… But as we stood at Chasewater, with nothing but the sound of water lapping against the dam, we reflected on the year gone. It’s been hard. There have been times when I wondered if I’d ever do another long ride again. But there has also been great joy: Recovery, the longed for autumn long rides, the return to the outdoors, the sharing of moments like this.

So we turned for home feeling positive, and light with the optimism of a new riding year ahead. There will be winter yet, yes – but spring and the daffodils and cowslips. Long rides on the Moorlands and Peaks. Green on the trees and hedgerows. Summer days and cafe stops and ice cream, and even the odd pub garden. It’s all to come. It was impossible not to face the prospect with an open, happy heart.

Happy new year to you all.

Thank you too for all of your messages of support and encouragement over the last week. Dry Valleys summed it up when he said you cannot serve from an empty vessel. For a while, I was empty. But now… I am feeling somewhat replenished.

Thank you to the wonderful community that support me here.

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/3qBBO9z
via IFTTT

#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…

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/2YXluT0
via IFTTT

#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…

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/3syEzZf
via IFTTT

#365daysofbiking Contrasting views

Saturday December 19th 2020 – A ride out with my friend though Canwell to Hints, and up through Tamhorn returning to Lichfield after dark for a photographic explore.

The countryside was wet and sodden, and I don’t think I’ve seen Hints Ford that swollen in a decade. But it was good to get back there, even with the shock of works ongoing for HS2.

Lichfield itself was lovely: It rained as we got there, and after a heavy but thankfully short shower, it was great to catch the diminutive city at Christmas with few people around.

Most lovely, though was my first sighting of spring flower shoots. There will be a spring, and nature knows that better times are on their way.

Such a strange year.

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/39727vJ
via IFTTT

#365daysofbiking Across the water

Saturday November 6th 2020 – A trip to Lichfield on an errand was necessary and it looked like a decent sunset so I headed to the pools – Stowe and Minster – to catch the Cathedral and misty salmon-pink views of the city.

I wasn’t disappointed.

It’s such a local cliche – those spires over the water, the reflection, the windows. But it is gorgeous and it’s never really the same twice. I love it, I really do.

Sometimes, it may not be original but you just have to do it…

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/3lTbCDV
via IFTTT

#365daysofbiking Under the cloak of darkness

Tuesday, October 27th 2020 – Another cycleway, beautiful in the autumn night, but very treacherous as I found out, very nearly taking a spill on a corner.

This is the shortcut between the A51 near Beacon Park and Leomansley, a great way of cutting off the Friary island that pops you out further up the Walsall Road, giving a great route through the park when coming back from Lichfield.

The leaf mulch here was very wet and slippery, and despite taking care, my summer tyres still failed to grip as I skirted the anti-vehicle barrier.

Thankfully I held it and no harm done, but a timely reminder that there’s danger in the darkness.

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/2GruYAs
via IFTTT

#365daysofbiking A break in the weather

May 23rd – Over to Lichfield for some essential shopping and the closed state of the city was expected, but dragged me down. There was only one thing to rectify the gloom: A return via the country lanes of Wall, Chesterfield and Hilton.

On Bullmoor Lane I was caught in the briefest of short, sharp and intense showers, and it passed as quickly as it arrived, leaving nothing but sightly damp lanes and a beautiful partial rainbow.

Summer is fantastic.

This journal is moving home. Find out more by clicking here.

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/3eLJ8bA
via IFTTT

#365daysofbiking Sky watching

May 16th – A day with little wind, beautiful skies and clear air, bathed in beautiful sunshine. There was nothing for it but to saddle up and head for my favourite haunts in East Staffordshire.

Heading out of Brownhills up over Shire Oak, a favourite view was captured, then through the lanes of Chesterfield and Shenstone, Weeford and Hopwas. From there, Wigginton, Rickerscote and Syerscote for one of my favourite lanes of all.

There’s something gorgeous about a summer day lane with open fields and no hedgerows.

I went then to Honey Hill and No Mans Heath, Netherseal, Lullington, Coton in the Elms and back through Catton, Whitemoor Haye, Huddlesford and Lichfield.

Not a massive ride by any stretch, but the skies and villages were perfect, and I’ll treasure my hours on these lockdown traffic-free roads for the rest of my life. I hardly saw a soul.

Times have been very hard indeed. But the sun and constancy of my beloved countryside is healing me with every ride now.

This journal is moving home. Find out more by clicking here.

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/2AnKvOu
via IFTTT