BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘post’

#365daysofbiking Stone me

February 1st – Heading out to for a gentle spin and resolving to take it a little easier – after all, I’d now got a cold developing which seemed to feature a particularly unpleasant mouth infection as a side dish – I bumbled past the monitoring well sensor post by Pier Street Bridge in Brownhills. Something on top caught my eye.

A beautifully painted smile stone.

There’s a local culture (particularly in Clayhanger in recent years) of painting random found stones with patters, cartoons or any art you fancy, then hiding them for smile stone enthusiasts to find.

Frequently this is a fun activity enjoyed by families with young kids.

I left this one where it was, but it was lovely to see.

Find out more about smile stones here.

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#365daysofbiking Omnidiretional signals


January 19th – Some things are just nice.

I’m a big fan of Back the Track – the group of, it has to be said, mostly pensioners and older folk who have been determinedly converting the old South Staffordshire Railway trackbed through Brownhills into a cycling and walking route for all to enjoy.

This week they installed the new bench at the base of the signalpost by Clayhanger Marsh. The bench was always a personal dream of Brian Stringer, the group’s instigator and leader. Barry Roberts built the bench in his garage from materials he had, begged and were donated, and now it’s in place for all the trail users to ponder the great views on.

The McLean Way (MW) logo is made cleverly from track clips found discarded in the ballast of the old line.

What’s really neat is the backrest flips over, so you can comfortably sit facing the direction you choose.

It’s a lovely, creative and novel thing and I thank Barry and of course, all of Back the Track for their efforts.

It’s worth noting that there’s no road access to where the bench is sited, so those old guys must have manhandled the bench to it’s position. No mean feat.

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#365daysofbiking I love this post

January 15th – Passing through Darlaston’s Victoria Park on a journey back from the hospital in Walsall late morning, I met this tidy, glossy coated very black cat, languid and sleepy on a fencepost at the Wednesbury Road end of the path.

He wasn’t particularly pleased that I disturbed his sleep, but welcomed my chatter, chin and ear tickles, for the first few minutes barely opening his eyes.

A cat of clearly senior years, I think he must live on the new esate over the back.

And adorable, aloof yet affectionate fusspot, whose acquaintance I was pleased to make.

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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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May 6th – Riding back through Haunton to Whittington via Elford, I passed the derelict Royal Observer Corps bunker post at the top of Willow Bottom Lane, just in the corner of the field.

Someone has made a half-hearted attempt to lock it again: It won’t stay locked for long, it never does.

This underground nuclear bunker was intended to house 3 volunteers in the event of nuclear war; they would monitor damage after a blast, and report back on conditions if possible. Their monitoring was on a crude ‘If we survive’ basis, and this bit of Cold War history is obscure and grim.

Since being stood down in the early 90s, these posts – hundreds over the whole country – have been discovered, raided, trashed, demolished and sold; few survive intact and this one itself has been burned out.

But it remains, a grim memorial to a very paranoid time.

You can read more about ROC posts here.

July 11th – Today I noticed an odd little curiosity I’d not spotted before. On the canal at Clayhanger Bridge, the rope guards that were installed on the original bridge were transferred to it’s replacement in 1994.

These rusting metal posts were originally at the vertices of the brickwork on the towpath side of the underbridge. Back when narrowboats were horse drawn, the guards were fitted so that the horse towropes would not groove the brickwork, but the metal instead. The years of boats passing wore deep grooves in the metal, which are a sort of historical witness to the traffic that once passed under here. 

There are very few horse-drawn boats now, and the posts are merely there as an artefact. I note they were fitted slightly incorrectly in that they no longer protect the corners, and their positions have been exchanged (the wear would be on the right hand side of the post in the picture) – but well done to those who rebuilt this bridge two decades ago for preserving a little bit of industrial canal history.

How have I not spotted this before?

April 22nd – An electrical mystery I really have no clue about. An overhead three-phase line runs across the Carterfield Lane junction at the bottom of Sandhills, Shire Oak, supplying farms and homes with electricity. Recently, secondary poles have been installed at seemingly random intervals, actually between the conductors, and a little higher then them, whit a protruding object from the top. 

The tops of the poles are sheathed in plastic, and they support nothing.

The only thing I can think is they’re lightning conductors. Does anyone know what they are for? Installing them between the lines like that must have been a very tricky job.

A real head-scratcher.

March 6th – On roads across Cannock Chase, an experiment is underway. These wooden staves with white bags on top are a trial to see if they reduce vehicle-deer road collisions in the area.

It was discovered accidentally in the US that deer were apparently deterred by the sight of a white bag on a post, although nobody knows why, deer experts who’ve tried this have found it appears to work – it will be very interesting to see if the tactic works here, too.

My overriding feeling is the deer will probably get used to it, and they have to cross the roads somewhere, so I can’t see much long term benefit, but it’s a very interesting experiment and I salute the rangers for trying it out.

April 7th – Sad to see the decaying relics of a lost period of history I feel we shouldn’t let pass unrecorded. The old ROC post at Elford is in a sorry state. Open, vandalised, robbed. Once the pride of the volunteers who would man it in event of a nuclear conflict, it’s just now a lump of subterranean concrete and metal that nobody knows what to do with.

In similarly reduced circumstances but in better condition, the microwave relay tower at No Mans Heath is looking bare now. When I was younger, this unmarked, unacknowledged communications installation was bristling with horn antenna, dishes and drums; now it carries very little. A few telemetry and mobile data links, and that’s it. 

In terms of engineering complexity, the framework of the tower is hugely intricate, now to no purpose. I suppose, like the ROC post, eventually it will disappear; testament to times dangerous in a different way to our own.

March 24th – The plague of pink postboxes has spread to Wednesbury!

Fear not, people: there’s been a buzz on social media about these (and a surprising amount of people have asked me) over the past few weeks. The postboxes are pink because they’re being repainted, and the pink is an undercoat for the more traditional pillar-box red they normally wear.

Pink sort of does suit them, though…