BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘memories’

#365daysofbiking Lane’s end

Monday March 8th 2021 – I was discussing online the other day a local lost stub of a lane that used to be Bullmoor Lane. Bullmoor Lane ran from Raikes and Chesterfield, a mile or so north of Shenstone, shadowing the Watling Street, to a junction near Wall Butts at Hilton, where it met Cranebrook Lane and Boat Lane. As a kid it was one of my first local discoveries. I loved that quiet, undulating backway, and still do.

When the M6 Toll came through at the turn of the millennium, the last half a mile of Bullmoor Lane was diverted south, to meet Cranebrook Lane without building a second flyover, leaving the old stub abandoned.

It still exists, and is now gated, but when nostalgic one can push past the gate and ride the crumbling asphalt to the edge of the new motorway, echoing in my childhood tracks.

I always find these dead, divorced and orphaned lanes a bit sad: Dark Lane at Longdon is one, just closed as out of use, like School Lane at Norton. But other lanes were lost to the toll, especially around Hammerwich and and Shenstone Park.

It’s the feeling that they hold memories, which cannot be put back, I think.

A curious bit of melancholia on the exercise ride.

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#365daysofbiking Greetings from the side street

Monday February 1st 2021 –  The year ticks by, faster than I’d have imagined, given the circumstances. My beloved spring will not be far off now.

On the way home from work I had to drop a letter coffin Brickiln Street, and as I returned to the High Street, I stopped to put my gloves back on, and realised the view was oddly Hopper-ish.

I don’t know what it is, it just appealed to me. These quiet side streets are still very much my Brownhills: I know them as well as I did when I was a kid, I frequently came up here to the long-moved Library, my second home, the site of which is still a vacant plot years from the old library’s demolition.

There was nobody around much on this Monday evening, but Brickiln Street was very much crowded with my memories.

I put the gloves on, had a wistful last look, and rode off, all the time wondering where all the intervening years had gone.

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#365daysofbiking Tinseltown in the rain

Wednesday, September 30th 2020 – Unusually of late, I was working over, and came home in the dark, but also it was raining steadily, which felt almost alien to me as it has been such a dry autumn really.

The towpaths weren’t yet swamped and riding them wasn’t too bad as I paused at Catshill Junction to text home.

This view has changed a lot in the last few years – I remember a second tower block here, where the new apartments are now, and life never felt so close at night – but it’s still a lovely spot for a breather.

Not a soul around, only the sound of a TV in one of the dwellings, the cough and tobacco scent of a nearby garden smoker and the rain rattling musically on the surface of the canal.

Wet rides can be really enjoyable if it’s not to cold, not too windy and you’ve decent waterproofs.

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#365daysofbiking On the spot

January 2nd – Crossing Clayhanger Common on the New Spot Path, it occurred to me suddenly that this was an anniversary for 365daysofbiking.

I started this madness on April 3rd, 2011 resolving to cycle every day of April, to do the 30 days of biking project. I enjoyed it so much I vowed to do 365days continuous.

The following New Year 2011/12, I was very very ill with food poisoning, and slain for 2 days in which I didn’t ride. So I restarted the clock in embarrassment.

So this is the eighth year of cycling very day, rain, snow or shine. That’s 2,922 days, on a bike every day, sometimes with multiple journeys.

It’s fair to say I like keeping the journal and love to ride a bike. I’m slowing up and getting more cautious as I age, but I’m still rolling down the hills and panting up them on the way back.

And I’m still haunting the locality at night, on my way home from work, unafraid to stop in the loneliest, creepiest places… Like Clayhanger Common – to document my life on two wheels.

I’m glad you’ve been there by my side. Thanks. It makes me less afraid of the dark. Not the dark of the night, but the dark of the loneliness of the commuting bike rider.

Here’s to another 365days under the wheels…

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#365daysofbiking Post haste

January 1st – In the grey murk of an overcast, darkening evening, the McLean Way really is more rewarding than one would think: There are delights along it’s length from the A5 to Walsall, from hand made benches, to spectacular views and curios like the landmark restored signal post at Clayhanger Marsh.

For me, it always looks better on a grey day, the better to imagine locos hauling coal, rumbling through here, climbing to the peak by the rear of the Swan pub before coasting down to Lichfield.

There might have been a young boy on the Brownhills Bridge, waving to the driver and giggling at the ground shaking.

But that’s all in the past now, ond on a dull new years day, this is a great place to take a breather and remember what was lost, and what was found.

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#365daysofbiking Old haunts

July 11th – I had an appointment near Brieley Hill in the morning. The weather was grey and the Stourbridge trains were having a cowturn but I got to Cradley Heath and cycled up the canal through Saltwells.

Years ago, I spent a lot of time in Cradley and its environs. It’s still a busy little town, but it’s changed, suffering the same economic and social pressures as anywhere else.

This is of course, deepest Black Country and I was pleased to see the chain makers still behind Cradley station.

The goats at Saltwells were a pleasant surprise, too.

It’s been a while since I was back here, and it’s still a decent old place. I should come back when I have more time, I think.

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#365daysofbiking Iron man:

June 28th – Been a while since I was last at Ironbridge. A long dayride with a companion I don’t ride nearly enough with was great: Miles of chat, fun, company and relaxation were just what the doctor ordered.

Arriving at the gorge and bridge at 5pm, ice creams were had, coffee and… Pork pies. Well, it’s a Ironbridge thing.

We explored old haunts, stopped at a riverside pub, marvelled at the bridge (now a lovely deep red colour following extensive renovation) and enjoyed the river, gentle atmosphere and evening warmth, before climbing out of the gorge at the east end and riding home via Ryton and Albrighton.

A lovely place I don’t go nearly enough, with someone I really should ride more with too.

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#365daysofbiking A solved mystery

May 18th – Cutting back over Brownhills Common I remembered that I’d not recorded a mystery I solved a couple of months ago (because my photos then were too poor) – so I paid the site of a recovered childhood memory a visit.

When I was a child I remember walking over the common many times with my father, between the Chester Road, Parade and Watling Street School. I remember back then there being a fair sized, man made pool, surrounded by crunchy gravel, that in spring had frogspawn in it. At one end of the pool was a concrete rectangular bulkhead with a blue pipe protruding that trickled clear water into the pond.

There is no pool today, no gravel. I have looked for evidence of the pool on maps, aerial images and spoke to people about it. The only person I ever found who recalled it was fellow Brownhills historian David Hodgkinson.

Mooching over the common in spring, I nearly suffered a spill coming off a track by the corner of woodland into a ditch. Seeing a concrete block formed the edge of the ditch, I made a discovery.

It is certainly the concrete bulkhead I remember. It has a ten inch vitreous pipe in the centre, the protruding part smashed away, although it clearly once projected from the surface. The inside of the pipe is blue.

The site of the pond is now a copse, and bone dry. but it’s still a hollow.

I was astounded to find the site of this, which I’d convinced myself was a false memory.

Now, the site and pipe are clearly many years dry. I wonder who created it, and why?

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#365daysofbiking It must be yew

May 5th – Still suffering, but a cold, grey ride up through Weeford, Whittington and Croxall to keep moving. Passing Shenstone Church on the way, something was missing.

I had an attachment to that old Yew: shelter in rain when I was a child, shady in summer and totally imperious, I’m sure it was felled for good reason, but it’s still sad.

And the mock gothic, dark and foreboding church of St John now looks even more harsh.

A great sadness, but everything must pass I guess.

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June 11th – For the first time in absolutely ages, I found myself in Redditch on a business call, and for old times sake I rode through the gorgeous Arrow Valley Park that bisects the town, with the still quaint little hamlet of Ipsley in the centre of it.

I used to come here week in, week out but the customer changed hands and moved out fo that line of business, so I really find myself here now. But it’s still lovely.

But that climb back up from the south of town to the station is still an absolute killer…