BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Ogley Junction’

#365daysofbiking Just this side of midnight


26th December 2021 – I will post a fuller explanation in coming days, but I came to within two days of this journal’s ten year anniversary on March 30th, 2021, and just stopped, because I couldn’t decide what to do with it.

It was a sort of creative block. At the time.

But it was a bit more than that. I was very ill, but didn’t realise it at the time. It’s taken most of the year to get past those difficulties both physical and mental, and find my ease again. It’s not been a comfortable journey. Part of it will be that the nature of this journal will necessarily change.

I still cycle, every day pretty much. But documenting every day was becoming hard. I’m a decade older. I’m well into my 50s. My health has not been great. When I started all this, I would regularly not go to bed until 4am and be up for work at 6am and be fine. Now, I don’t have that energy, and it was getting harder and harder to find things to photograph, and street photography has got harder. Again, more on that later.

Way back in the spring I was quite ill with my bowel again. This was making me tired, and getting that sorted at the height of summer was such a boon – but within weeks, while my immunity was suppressed, I caught a skin infection. My leg swollen, I couldn’t ride some days – not because of any pain, but because I couldn’t get trousers on. Sorting that out properly took until the autumn.

Autumn brought me a gradual, day by day recovery: Not just of my physical power, but of my sense of mischief and desire to explore things.

Then came the debate: How do I deal with 365? I don’t want it to die. It’s been a huge part of my last decade, and it’s probably the least-read but most heartfelt writing I do publicly. I don’t want to lose that, but I can’t post every day: It’s become repetitive, I’m not sure anyone’s reading it that much and It’s too rigid a format to say things I want to say now.

So this journal is going to change. But also, sort of stay the same. You’ll see what I mean in coming days, weeks, months.

As I type this on Boxing Day at just my favourite side of midnight – 1:30am in a darkened house – I post a photo taken from Ogley Junction footbridge 3 hours before on one of the most unpleasant Christmas nights I’ve known – heavy rain for hours and all was sodden, but curiously, not my spirit. I was full of a great family Christmas Day, and the subsequent evening pursuit of solitude for a while, also hoping to burn off some of the digestive load. It was, at least, warm. The nights are opening out. I survived a particularly vile Autumn suck. It’s OK. All shall be well.

One of the oddest features of this year is that although this journal withered, my passion for riding bikes actually grew to a level I’ve not experienced for years. Although I was sporadic for a week here or there, I’ve actually ridden far more miles this year and had many more long rides than usual. it was rediscovering that joy that helped make me well again, a fact I am certain of.

So here I am, just on the morning side of midnight, on the light side of the dark, on the well side of ill, ready to journey onward, but only documenting rides when I feel I have something to share.

Hopefully that will work for you.

But there’s something I have to do first.

Stay tuned. Please. And I beg you to accept my apologies. I didn’t want to let you all down. But something had to give. I have written a huge amount on this journal. I think I’ve earned a more relaxed role.

Stay tuned.

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#365daysofbiking Well said

Thursday February 25th 2021 – The pandemic has been hard on all of us.

Locally, they area was plagued for a while by anti-inoculation, pandemic denial graffiti that was persistent and prolific.

I don’t know who finally snapped and replied to them in marker pen over the top of older conspiracy graffiti on Ogley Junction Bridge, but my respect to them.

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#365daysofbiking Looking the other way

Thursday December 3rd 2020 – On an evening ride on a night as the sky was clearing, I headed along the canal to Ogley Junction, and stopped as I usually do on the bridge there, for a moment of contemplation. Normally, I take a shot of the canal back towards Anchor Bridge, but today I turned to the right instead.

Here, the canal continues in a lazy arc to Anglesey Wharf and Chasewater, but before that is passes a notorious area of Brownhills called ‘The Chemical’.

The blue factory unit over there is stood on the site of a Victorian chemical factory and later, an alloy smelting works that poisoned the land, polluted the air and led to it’s descriptive nickname.

The Chemical stood as wasteland for many years until six years ago when the new unit was built as an extension to a local factory. The contaminated soil was encapsulated beneath the new building’s floor, and held safe.

Given a few years, I doubt many folk will ever know why we call this place The Chemical.

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#365daysofbiking The angler

May 20th – Wednesday was better. Things are easing up and I can see light in the darkness, and hopefully, a path back to work, and hopefully a little normality.

Out earlier than usual, I was held up by an angler on the towpath. Nothing unusual about that – one often has to stop and wait for a rod to be lifted or some gear to be be pulled in – but this one was lightly equipped.

I just couldn’t bring myself to disturb it, and it wasn’t being moved by anyone.

I’m more used to herons now – there are so many about, especially in hatchling season – that seeing them is no longer a shock and reach for the camera moment. But seeing one this confident and reluctant to move was a real treat.

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#365daysofbiking Cut both ways

May 5th – The art of the daily exercise ride is quite weird. Used to normally commuting for my daily bike fix, the ride for the sake of it is, I’m ashamed to say, usually short and local.

It has, however, enabled me to get a grip back on what’s wonderful about the place I love and call home.

Here at Ogley Junction, standing on the cast iron footbridge as I have many, many times, on this warm evening it was hard not to be filled with pleasure at the sight of the peaceful canal, the only movement being languid waterfowl and birds swooping for bugs.

Such rides are measured by weight, not distance.

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#365daysofbiking The twilight hour

January 28th – I was due to have a medical procedure next day.I’d left work early so I could make a start and prepare – I had medicine to take soon which meant I wouldn’t be able to stray far from home for long for a while, so a quick loop up the canal to Newtown and back.

At Ogley Junction, the scenery was stark and bleak as night descended.

I like this spot normally. Admittedly, far nicer on a sunny, warm day, but tonight it left me feeling empty and tired.

Perhaps it was the anxiousness for the following day kicking in – I couldn’t really tell.

The twilight hour can be such an unreliable friend.

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#365daysofbiking In the dying hours

December 31st – So it was in the dying hours of 2019 I found myself at Ogley Junction, where I spent much longer than expected. I watched, and listened and thought about my surroundings: An owl over the old boatyard, traffic on the A5. Headlights on Middleton Bridge. The flashes of distant fireworks.The chatter of waterfowl disturbed by a fox.

This year has been arduous, and in places, very hard indeed. Keeping this journal is and has been personally challenging in terms of time and effort required, but I’m so attached to it I wouldn’t dream of stopping now. It’s an addiction.

I may, however, do more days with one post rather than two when busy in future. But my aim is true, I still love this thing, this place and the environment I ride in.

Thank you for following me for another year. I have no idea why you do so, but it’s most welcome. And in the dark and quiet of that old bridge, it didn’t really matter: The attachment I felt was key in those fading, dying, terminal hours of 2019.

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#365daysofbiking Nicely dovetailing

November 24th – On the way back from Chasewater to Brownhills on yet another dull, wet Sunday afternoon following a frankly disappointing winter fair at Chasewater, I wasn’t expecting to find much: But I found something fascinating that’s been staring me in the face for decades and I have never once noticed.

It’s fairly well known that when Abraham Darby bullt the Iron Bridge over the Severn at Coalbrookdale, iron was such a new material that many of the jointing techniques used were adapted from carpentery, as that was the understood skillset of the day.

I noticed for the first time today that the Ogley foorbridge over the cut off stub of the Lichfield branch of the Wyrley and Essington canal – recently refurbished – holds it’s guard sides together with a neat, well fitted dovetail joint in cast iron.

The bridge, dating from around 1850 is a listed structure, and I’m beginning to see why. The rails are constructed in two half-crescents with a dovetail centrally, held rigid by a bolted mating sleeve.

It’s utterly beautiful and means the bridge is thoroughly rigid.

I only noticed due to the rust bleed into the ageing paint.

You can always find something, no matter how grim the weather…

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#365daysofbiking Up the junction

November 2nd – Busy this weekend with stuff at home, so I’m mostly riding out on errands to get materials and suchlike. At lunchtime I had to head over to a DIY store in Chasetown, so in steady drizzle, I took to the canal. The towpaths were sodden, but the riding surprisingly fast.

I’m glad I’ve got stuff to do, this autumn has been terrible for cycling generally, and we’ve had more lost weekends than Lloyd Cole. Were I stuck inside without occupation, I’d be going stir crazy by now. I’m sure of it.

Crossing Ogley Junction over that imperious old iron footbridge, the canal looked grey and foreboding. But I was wrapped up well, warm and dry underneath. Getting past this may take what seems like an age, but better days will come, the sun will return and in a few months, we’ll have daffodils and daylight once more.

All I’ve got to do is hang in there.

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#365daysofbiking The night in my veins

September 7th – I headed over to a silent, deserted Chasewater not optimistic that I could get decent results out of the new camera.

However, having been in this position before, I thought I might sort it out and get used to the foibles of the new device.

The G5X is actually great, and I think it was mastered. Apart from the toad shots, where a bike light was used for illumination, all of the images were taken in almost total darkness by a variety of means and mode settings.

I think I’m getting used to it.

Riding back along the canal after being scared senseless by a stag crashing through the scrub at Anglesey Wharf, I nearly squished poor toad, but it obliged as a model before I popped him into the hedgerow for safety.

I love the night, it’s a lot more beautiful than people would tend to think. Nosey, unsubtle deer excepted.

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