July 5th – Passing the locks in Walsall, I noticed yet another heron; they are absolutely profuse this year and I see 6-8 on every journey to and from work. Whilst their diet is predominately fish, they will take young waterfowl chicks, and Mrs. Mallard was hurrying her fresh brood away, while the crow, for unknown reasons, squawked abuse at the grey fisher.
I love herons but being one of these extraordinary, comical birds today wasn’t a great gig, clearly.
December 15th – I was in Leeds on a trip, but not on the bike, but this sad sight was worth noting and sharing. Think about your locking strategies.
Someone’s steed – a good quality one, judging by the wheel that remains – was attached to that wheel, left by thieves d-locked too the Sheffield stand. The D Lock had a cable loop around the frame. The thieves cut the cabe – easy to do – and left the wheel.
In all probability they stole a wheel from another bike parked nearby, and rode off.
If you’re looking your bike, use the cable to secure the front wheel, and the D-lock on the frame. Thieves will rarely come tooled up for both locks. Get a set of quick releases that require a tool or key. Look for unusual locks that may not be any more secure, but may require unusual tools to defeat, like disc brake locks. Make your bike a pain to steal.
As to the missing bike, ah to the sadness of things…
August 20th – Also on the A515 just a bit further on, south of Yoxall – well, beside it really – a solitary, lone love-lock on the old Trent Bridge that still stands beside it’s newer replacement.
The lock – Wilko brand, so no expense spared – is marked N ❤️ Z with surprisingly deep carving.
I don’t know who placed it here, but I hope they have a long and happy life together, and I do hope more locks appear to keep this one company.
July 21st – At Birchills on the Walsall Canal, an odd one. Someone has cleanly cut off the balance beam on one of the lock gates. I have no idea why they might have done this, and the indications that this isn’t the normal vandalism are clear.
This was severed by a machine in one cut with no messing around. Whatever power tool was used, it was wielded with even pressure and the cut is square. clean and smooth.
I’d love to know what’s going on here.
May 11th – Another rainy commute in both directions, although it did dry out a little for the second half of the journey in.
I did promise to bring my friend some sunshine. On a dull day in Walsall, this will have to do. What a lovely looking boat!
December 24th – An unusual if not unique thing for 365daysofbiking – a photo taken when I wasn’t on my bike; but it’s about cycling, so I figure it’s OK just this once.
I was in Derby for the day, and for once, it was better I was without the bike. I didn’t know what cycle security would be like, and needed to visit lots of places where it would have been parked in the open for long periods. On Christmas Eve, that’s not a good idea as someone unscrupulous may be looking for that last minute cycling gift..
As it happened, I needn’t have worried; in Derby they’re taking cycling seriously; outside the rail station astounding, secure double-deck weatherproof bike park. Dotted about the city, good quality Sheffield stands and even free to use bike pumps.
We need some of this love in Birmingham – I’ll be back, and next time, with the bike!
October 19th – At Telford, the cycle rack at the place I was visiting had this bike locked in a corner. When inside, I found the owner and warned them about their locking technique; the cable lock only secures the rear wheel to the stand. A sharp thief would just pop the quick release, leave the wheel in situ, and nick an unlocked rear wheel from a nearby bike. Hey presto, complete steed ready to go in seconds, no tools required.
Always use two different locks. Always secure through the frame. Nothing will make your bike thief-proof, but you can make it time consuming, or bothersome to steal.
August 31st – I rode out via Canwell and Middleton to Middleton Hall for a cup of tea and cake, all the while in steady rain. I nipped down to Bodymoor Heath, onto the canal and up to Fazeley Junction. Back along the old A5 to Weeford, then home via Shenstone.
It was warm enough, and there wasn’t much in the way of wind. The roads were quiet and the riding fast; but it was very, very grey and very, very wet. The countryside dripped silently little droplets of grey summer sadness.
As ever on grey days, there was fun and beauty to be found; the architecture of the canals – not just the bold redbrick house, but the small lock-keeper’s hut with the chimney for a stove (how cosy must that have been in winter?); the Kingsbury lock flight and greenery of the canalside reed bed. Fungus is growing well in the damp, and those polypores were huge.
Middleton Hall was as stunning as ever.
I just loved the hound tied up outside the cafe. He had an endearing way of looking at you with his head to one side. He was muddy and wet and had clearly been having lots of fun.
The red and orange spiny, furry growth on the rose stem that looks like a ball of thread? That’s a robins pincushion or Diplolepis rosea – a gall formed, like the oak galls by a wasp.
I asked a few weeks ago why only the oak is bothered by wasp galls; it’s not only the oak, but mostly. Lime trees, conifers and roses suffer too. Here, a wasp lays 60 or so eggs in a tiny, developing leaf bud, surrounded in a chemical which causes the plant to mutate and grow this furry aberration, which is internally quite solid with cavities for the larva to hatch and feed.
Nature is quite horrific in it’s fascination sometimes. Find out more about this curious parasite here.
March 26th – Love locks seem to be becoming a thing in the UK now, which is an interesting cultural phenomena. If you’re not aware of the principle, lovers take a padlock and close it over a fixed structure, like a bridge, railings or other urban feature. The lock is often marked with a message of love.
I note the aluminium bridge over the canal at Gas Street Basin has become a focus for this craze in Brum, and I’ve noticed other locks in other places.
I’m not bothered by it, and think it’s quite sweet, if a bit contrived now. It’s not destructive, and it’s interesting to see the variety of names and approaches.
A fascinating urban cultural affectation, and it’ll be interesting to see if it’s a passing fad or a more lasting feature of city life.