BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘lockdown’

#365daysofbiking A total bore

Thursday February 18th 2021 – Haring around Chasewater dam on a working from home exercise ride – for once in the daylight – I nearly came a cropper.

I was a shade off catching my pedal on this protruding piece of steel pipe.

It has a close fitting cap and is padlocked shut.

This erstwhile cyclist and walker boobytrap is not some idle lump of former mining equipment stuck in the ground, or a piece of scrap the local tatters have missed – but a monitoring well for the land around.

Ground engineers monitor the area around Chasewater Dam for groundwater pollution and signs that the dam may be leaking. To do that they have a number of these bores, drilled and sleeved, which are dipped and monitored regularly for changes in water level and the chemical composition of the water within.

These are a familiar sight around Chasewater, but also many of the public open spaces in the area that require ground monitoring – like Brownhills Common, Shire Oak Nature Reserve and Clayhanger Common.

So mind your step and watch out when cycling off road: They are quite sturdy and not very forgiving…

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#365daysofbiking Rather cross

Saturday February 6th 2021 – On an errand in Walsall, I found the deserted town annoying mid-day: It saddens me to see it so lifeless. I headed to Caldmore to get some more… Comforting shopping: Asian snacks and sundries.

It says something when what is effectively an inner town suburb is far more vibrant than the town centre by several factors.

Heading up over Church Hill, a decorative cross above fire exit on the monstrous aberration of architecture that is Asda. It’s a horrid, warehouse like building and the market never stretches this far up hill now, and hasn’t for many a year.

I have never spotted this in the 8 years it’s been up there.

You can almost hear the admin folk at the store saying ‘Oh, go on then, if that’s what they want: But nowhere prominent’ – so a piece of somewhat pointless vanity art gets stuck, barely to be noticed on the side of an ugly shed, above an anonymous unused doorway.

Two what actual purpose is anybody’s guess.

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#365daysofbiking Hard days

Monday January 18th 2021 – I’d had to go a long way for work. It was tough. I left early and called in to Birmingham on my way back to collect my bike which had been left in safe keeping for my return at a nearby work site, the better to avoid commuter trains.

It was around 6pm, and the city I’ve always loved, my home, my heart – was dead. After a day of travelling, empty stations, closed cafes and lonely trains, a deserted, almost post-apocalyptic Birmingham was very nearly the straw that broke me.

There were people about. People who were fearful of contact and closeness of others – understandably. I was like that too. Masked, hostile people.

Trams and buses swept past, nearly empty each one.

But then I stopped, and I looked: The lights were the same, the wet sheen on the tarmac. This is still my place. It’s still beautiful – if now more eerily so in it’s sparseness – but it will return. The spirit lives on. We’re just in hard days.

I did what I always do – got on my bike and rode home.

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#365daysofbiking Ain’t nobody home

Thursday January 14th 2021 – One of the toughest bits of the pandemic for me personally – and I am, of course, aware there are much worse things going on – has been the darkness in roadside pubs and restaurants during lockdown.

Never a great pubgoer, I do like the atmosphere when you pass a busy pub at night. They always seem so warm and welcoming. And this winter that’s been largely absent.

I’m glad to note though up on Chester Road North, the Hussey Arms, although well and truly shut, has kept the lights on.

It’s like a little beacon of hope in the darkness.

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#365daysofbiking Ghost town

Sunday January 10th 2021 – I was on another test ride late and had to drop off a package to an isolating relative, so I nipped to Burntwood after tea.

This current pandemic lockdown isn’t like the first: People are having to continue working, many more kids are at school as the children of key workers and it’s just not as quiet as the first.

But right in the centre of Burntwood at 7pm on a Sunday, and it was like the proverbial ghost town.

It felt very eerie indeed.

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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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#365daysofbiking This is not my homecoming

Friday November 20th 2020 – I’d been in Birmingham and returned early evening on Friday. It wasn’t late, maybe 7-7:30pm. Shire Oak Crossroads, a homecoming beacon for me for decades with it’s brightly lit pub, frenetic traffic and air of hilltop crossing has always been special to me.

For one thing, it means the journey from here is almost completely downhill and I can coast. But it also means I’m very nearly back home and I love to see the lights and busy but patient traffic at night.

Except at the moment, during the second lockdown, there is surprisingly little traffic and the pub whose welcoming lights I cherish sits in darkness, forbidden from opening.

This is not the homecoming I love. This feels desolate, empty and almost nightmarish.

I’ve talked a lot about steadying influences and anchors the last few weeks here. This is one I rely on usually that has sort of gone – well not gone, but been temporarily lost. And it affects me more than I would imagine.

It’s now like a symbol of the times.

Ah well, these days will pass. They have to.

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#365daysofbiking Home guard

Wednesday November 4th 2020 –  Working from home I left at sunset expecting to find a great sunset, but was thwarted by cloud; the disappointment was lessened, though by the lovely pink fading light over Home Farm at Sandhills.

Working from is difficult for me. I don’t mind it on odd days, but I need my commute and fresh air, and I need to be in my place at work with my things around me; during the first lockdown working from home made me very low indeed. I’m determined no to go there again.

I will continue to enjoy sights like this and must have my air and light. This time around, with another lockdown coming, I will of course obey the rules but I cannot allow myself to get as low as last time.I will continue to ride as long as I can.

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#365daysofbiking Fame at last

May 18th – A spin up over Clayhanger Common and a delight to see the chalk fairy had been active again and drawn a new game on the Spot Path over the common.

Just as the previous one, it’s a long trail with lots of physical activities to do to complete it – from walking squiggly lines, to hopping and counting, it really is a lovely, fun activity for kids and parents alike.

It’s lovely that people are doing this for each other in lockdown and I hope it continues beyond, too.

Oh, and it seems I’m locally famous. I’ve got my first, physical hashtag.

Good lord, I’m flattered. Thank you, chalk fairy!

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#365daysofbiking A prickly customer

May 14th – One of the animals that wakes up at twilight is the humble and much-loved hedgehog.

Now in sharp decline due to traffic and destruction of habitat, it was good to find this busy character searching the grass on Clayhanger Common for worms and other tasty morsels.

Large and healthy, I hope the reduction in traffic from lockdown will give this unassuming but essential creature a bit of a much needed break.

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