BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘summer’

#365daysofbiking Flagging it up

May 21st – I adore flag irises. They are lovely yellow harbingers of summer, and when they appear at the margins of the canal I know the peak of the very best of seasons is upon us.

Unfortunately they give me appalling hay fever and consequent sneezing fits.

I tolerate them though, as you cannot avoid the waterways when everything is just so beautiful.

So if you see a cyclist with streaming eyes, sneezing his head off and cursing profusely, it could well be me enduring my love for flag irises…

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#365daysofbiking In our nature

May 16th – Oh, the flowers. Maybe it was the wet, grey winter. Maybe it’s the horrible, ongoing pandemic. But something made me notice the sheer diversity of blossom, garden and wildflowers.

From rhododendron to cornflower, from horse chestnut to roses, the colour and variety is endlessly fascinating – and most are alive with bugs and beebuzz.

I must point out here that I have never before this year noticed how beautiful and multicoloured horse chestnut blossom is. Old pal Linda ‘Mad old baggage’ Mason pointed it out to me, so I took a look. She was right. It’s absolutely stunning. Worth enlarging those photos.

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#365daysofbiking Life’s better by water

May 15th – As I get older and older, I find it much harder to explain to those younger, or newcomers to this town just how much things have improved here since I was a kid.

This is not trivial, or frivolous: The town I grew up in was poor, suffered terrible pollution from industry and and refuse tip at it’s heart, the waterways were rubbish filled ditches and there were very few of the trees here there are today.

I grew up in a smelly, wildlife-free post industrial wasteland.

Now, the waterways are limpid, but full of life; the smells and pollution have all but gone. Everywhere is green with trees and hedgerows. I regularly see deer, foxes and all manner of birds and bugs.

On a sunny, beautiful Friday evening in the golden hour, quiet in lockdown, it was hard to believe what this place once was.

But the memory will never fade.

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#365daysofbiking As the light begins to fade

May 13th – I have come to the conclusion over the years that my favourite time of day in summer is the hour or so straddling sunset. The twilight time is when the wildlife starts to stir, when people drift home and the landscape shimmers in the evening cool.

I headed back from Chasewater to Brownhills as the light was fading, and was reminded of how beautiful the canal is here: The green overhanging trees, the reflections and peaceful separation from the road traffic.

If the saying is true that it’s always five o’clock somewhere, then it must always be twilight somewhere in my heart, too.

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#365daysofbiking These lanes are mine

May 10th – It’s been a long time since I was out this way, and it was wonderful to be back. From the old bridge at Handsacre to the rugged charm of the church at Hoar Cross, the afternoon and evening were thoroughly gorgeous.

It was lovely to see the wildflowers in that churchyard, with the bugle putting on a particularly fine showing this season. But the view over the valley and the residents keeping careful watch on me were all part of a fantastic, rejuvenating ride.

Most summers, these lanes are usually mine, yet somehow in the chaos, illness and fatigue of recent months, I’ve let them slip from my grasp.

It’s time to rectify that.

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#365daysofbiking A king’s ramson

May 10th – The weather was still excellent the following day so I decided to ride out to another of my great restoratives – the Needwood Valley and Hoar Cross.

On the way, I came through Hanch, the tiny hamlet between Longdon Green and Handsacre.

This small cluster of large houses is old, and there’s a brook flowing noisily alongside the tree-lined lane. In the margin between the two, a veritable forest of wild garlic, or ramsons.

The smell of garlic was strong and heady, and very appetising. This common wetland plant can be used as a substitute for normal garlic and is tasty in stir fries and can make for lovely jams and sauces.

I picked a little for later…

A treat for the senses.

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#365daysofbiking Happy valley

May 9th – A run into Birmingham the day before had me hankering for the Sandwell Valley. I had errands to do, and the park is on the route between West Browmwich and Rushall Junction on the Tame Valley Canal, so what better chance to pay it a visit?

It was on my return I chose to visit the park: With snacks in the saddlebag and a cooling alcohol free G&T I enjoyed a small, private picnic overlooking Swan Pool.

It was busy with walkers, runners, cyclists and promenading families, but everything was well distanced and pleasant.

And while I sat cross legged and munching, the late afternoon sun warmed my soul and the azure blue sky, reflected in the water, was gorgeous.

A very welcome afternoon of clarity and peace.

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#365daysofbiking Family values

May 7th – It may be just me spending more time by the canal this year, but we seem to have a larger number than usual of waterfowl chicks about. It’s lovely and heart warming to see – and let’s face it, we all need a bit of cute and heartwarming at the moment.

The Canada geese have been particularly prolific, and everywhere I go on local canals I see gorgeous balls of fluff bobbing along between proud, defensive parents, or I meet hissing, protective aggression that requires careful negotiation.

A beautiful and very positive reminder that life goes on.

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#365daysofbiking Climbing, slowly

May 1st – A ride down into Stonnall and the lanes. It had been a rollercoaster of a week emotionally, but at least we seem to be getting the virus under control. Things don’t seem as terribly threatening as they did.

Winching my way up Castlehill out of the village onto the Chester Road, the lanes here – severed by the straightening of the Chester Road many decades ago – are leafy and peaceful, and diverge oddly.

But in the quiet of a lockdown spring evening, with birds singing and soft sunlight coming through the leaves, this was close to heaven, and like my body, my mind was climbing, slowly.

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#365daysofbiking Heliocentric

March 30th – The day was a little more summery than that previously and on my way home I nipped up the canal to see if the field of oilseed rape was out yet at Home Farm.

It’s getting there, it’s getting there. About another week to ten days, depending on how warm and sunny it is.

I love the smell, the colour and the spectacle of the sun-loving brassica. A real sign summer is coming!

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