BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘lonely’

#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 Thank god that’s over with

Wednesday December 23rd 2020 – The end of work for another year, and surprisingly late. I normally aim to finish at least a week before, to better enjoy the build up to Christmas, but this year, with so much shut and not happening, little point but to stay at work.

I did, however, feel relieved it was over. It’s been a long, hard autumn-winter period, and at least from now the evenings would open out and the days become lighter.

As I crossed the Silver Street Bridge I glanced back, and felt my solitude in the dark, and quiet. This pandemic year has been a hideous, scary, awful year at work.

Thank god it’s over with.

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#365daysofbiking Just resting

Wednesday, October 21st 2020 – Also looking good in the royal blue dusk that’s been coinciding with my evening commute is Coppice Lane, alongside Brownhills Common.

A lonely, quiet and often desolate part of Brownhills, an edgeland populated mainly by silver birch copse on scarred industrial land, it has a ghostly, haunted atmosphere at night.

But in the right light, the sky, trees, road and streetlights combine and make it special.

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#365daysofbiking Splendid isolation

May 8th – I’d had to ride into Brum to check out something for work. Public transport is unusable, and the day was lovely so I rode all the way on the canal.

At Aston Junction there’s a garden ruin of mown grass just by the canal bridges there, and within, I noticed an artist.

Clearly busy under his straw hat, he seemed engrossed in his work.

I didn’t think he had noticed me at all, and the dedicated, solitary pursuit of his art was fascinating and just a little sad.

As I left, I bid him a cheery goodbye and without looking up, he wished me a good ride.

Lockdown is doing odd things to us as a society, and I kind of like it.

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#365daysofbiking Fallen silent

April 3rd – A dusk ride out on a Friday at 7pm and there’s an unnatural silence descended on the area. The Shire Oak Pub should be alive, homely, lit up and buzzing with activity.

Because of the Coronavirus restrictions, it is silent, and shut.

Curtains drawn, it’s fallen silent, like the roads around it, in which I feel like an alien intruder.

These are very strange days indeed.

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#365daysofbiking Living in another world

January 25th – Of course, I came back through Chasewater for a reason. I wanted to get Chasewater and the area surrounding in mist, when I actually had time to experiment.

As it happened the experiments pretty much all failed, but some notable successes – mainly by accident – were evident. The glass-hard Nine-Foot pool; Chasewater pier looking like something from a film set. The curing wall of LED streetlights over the distant sweep of the deserted M6 Toll. The eerie otherworldliness of the Black Path with its sodium and skeletal trees.

It did indeed seem like another world, but in that one my photographic talents sadly remained as erratic and hit and miss as in this one.

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#365daysofbiking Sleeping silence

February 21st – I’d been in Lichfield meeting friends, and came back late in the mild evening. Cresting Shire Oak ready to roll down the long hill into Brownhills, the quiet interested me.

Shire Oak junction was dark, the pub shut and almost eerily somnambulant. There was little traffic and nobody around.

Always strange to see such a usually busy junction deserted.

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#365daysofbiking Hunkered down



December 31st – I’m so not a fan of New Year’s Eve. The forced jollity, camaraderie and excuse for overindulgence just depresses me, so I tend to sit it out at home, until the madness passes.

Today, I slipped out after dark for a windy, cold spin to Chasewater, which was peaceful but resounding to the call of thousands of unseen, roosting gulls.

The M6 Toll was beautiful in it’s eerie emptiness too.

Happy new year everyone, here’s to a better 2019 and I wish you all the best – and thanks for following along.

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#365daysofbiking That same old feeling:

October 15th – A slightly late commute back from a meeting in Birmingham – thankfully mostly dry – was brightened up by the realisation that with the dark commutes come the return of my beloved stations in the dark obsession – what I call Late Night Feelings, after a lost record label.

Coming back to Shenstone after a round of delays, holdups and frustration, stepping into the chill night air, I realised how enchanting the lights, signals and reflections were. 

Shenstone Station is always lovely at night in that kind of nether worldly, desolate way, but also it pulls at the homecoming, journey’s end vibe rather well too.

This is my favourite little station – always a joy to start out from, but even better to return though!

March 28th – Daffodils. We all love them. I don’t think it’s possible to dislike these jolly, bright spring staples; yellow, white and orange, growing in gardens, verges, hedgerows, woodland and wasteland.

I adore them because they symbolise a new year beginning of light, long days, good rides and beautiful nature.

They are stunning in the huge displays they form, but while those are undoubtedly wonderful, I’d like to hear it for the solitary soldiers of spring – the loners, the brave, singular blooms you see dotted about.

Often on verges or poor ground, they may be the tentative start of a new patch in coming years, destined to multiply and impress from a single bulb that got there – who knows how?

They may be the last remnant of a patch decimated by disease (as large daffodil colonies often are) or disturbed by man.

They may not be perfect. They may be tatty, small or distorted. They may be eking out the last scrap of nutrition from a poor clump of soil, or harassed by traffic, animals or the wind, but they’ve done it, the lonely, single flowers. They put on a show for us.

Let’s hear it for the tenacious, bold one-offs!