#365daysofbiking The softness of the hour:
September 14th – Passing through Walsall in the late evening, in a rain-soaked golden hour. Just after a heavy downpour, the light was lush, soft and suffused with gold.
The merest hint of a rainbow over St Matthews reminded me why I love this town so much.
February 9th – I was in town past six, in the early darkness, and the light had that blue, luminescent quality to it you don’t often get. Wandering in town from supermarket to supermarket, the urbanity glowed beautifully.
The Canon really loves an urban electric evening, I have to say, and I still do love Walsall.
February 8th – Passing through Walsall and running some errands, I crossed Church Hill in a golden hour. Always a bit conflicted about the view from here these days – it’s obscured by tree growth now which is a bit of a shame, but the trees are lovely in summer.
A bit of a trim wouldn’t hurt I guess. All the better to se a town glowing in winter sun…
May 12th – The rest of the day was marked with damp natural beauty and curiosity; the wild-growing roses were out in St. Matthews churchyard in Walsall, and they fit this decaying corner of God’s Acre beautifully, while not far away, also decaying, the oddity that is Highgate Windmill was standing sentry over the quiet, respectful urbanity as it has done for centuries.
I noted all along the journey that marble oak galls are surprisingly prolific this season, and last year must have been very good for the parent wasps who create them. They hang like red fruits in the oak trees.
Sad to see the Swan and Mitre in Aston still empty: A remarkable terracotta late Victorian pub, hideously beautiful in mock gothic in that way only Victorian boozers can be, this spectacular building holds many memories for me. Many a time I leant on that railing one a summer evening with a pint in my hand watching the comings and goings to late-shift local factories.
Reflecting, I have little physically to show for the few short years I spent haunting this place, but I do have a lifelong friendship and some truly wonderful memories.
The past is best thought of in terms of what was found, not that which was lost.
February 26th – Really not well at all, I did a few hours of necessary stuff at work and crawled home mid-afternoon. I wanted a change, so I came over Church Hill, and stopped to take some photos while up there.
Church Hill is one of those conundra that I find troubling. St. Matthews is as beautiful as ever, and the views would be splendid were they not obscured by mature, beautiful trees. I want rid of some of them for a better view, but I also don’t…
No sign of the peregrines on the bellcote, but this is the first time I realised you can see the Workhouse Guardian’s offices from up here – and they look better from such a distance, and also, terribly out of place. Marooned.
St. Matthews itself is suffering the rogues of the weather, and desperately needs some love. I hope the CofE can get around to giving this venerable old church a bit of love soon.
July 4th – Independence day, but sadly not from work. To my annoyance, called in on a fool’s errand at 12 noon, my plans for R&R were scuppered. However, taking the slow way back to Walsall, my weariness was cleared by the bright sun, azure sky and pleasant atmosphere.
Walsall has many faults and far too many detractors, but it’s not a bad old place.
November 29th – Feeling better, we headed up Church Hill for a spot of atmospheric stuff. Taking photos in a solitary fashion everyday makes the process mundane; I’d forgotten the joy and mischief of working with someone else. And up on Church Hill at night, you really need someone else for security. It’s bloody dark.
Yes, there is a Late Night Feelings thing going on – well spotted. That’s for Pedro Cutler.
Go on, I dare you, tell me this place isn’t beautiful;. Just try it.
Eager to see the results, we got on our bikes, and rode home.
November 10th – I had to leave work mid morning and head up to Great Wyrley, which was a longer ride than I expected – but very enjoyable, all the same. On the way, I went up Green Lane, but on the way back, came through Leamore. I’d forgotten just how great the view was from the top of Pratts Mill Bridge; on a clear day a great view of St. Matthews, but even on this hazy, smoke-fogged day the view across the terrace rooftops was ace.
It makes me think of Douglas Dunn’s ‘On Terry Street’.
Walsall – always a surprise in store.
August 20th – I had to pop into Walsall for some bits and pieces on my way home, and so I rode up Church Hill and down the marketplace.
Walsall may have changed beyond recognition in many ways, but that view of the yellow sandstone church at the top of the steps is gorgeous, iconic and unique.
Some things are timeless.