BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Sutton COldfield’

#365daysofbiking A late arrival

January 14th – A grim, mostly wet journey to Telford and an even wetter one coming home that really wasn’t conducive to photography.

One thing I did notice in the morning though was that after about two years of being out of order, the information display on the Birmingham bound platform of Blake Street Station is finally working again.

Excuse upon excuse was made, with vvarious parties blaming each other yet nothing seemed to get fixed. Occasionally someone would clearly have a go, as the garbage the screen displayed would change, or it would throw up network status mesages.

At long last, due to the late arrival of the display, we can now see how late the arrival of the train is.

I suppose this is progress, of a sort…

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May 1st – Today, I did something I’d been meaning to do for years – I paid a visit to Balleny Green, a little-known narrow gauge railway layout run by Sutton Coldfield Model Engineering Society at Little Hay, between Lichfield and Sutton Coldfield.

I’ve known this place was here for years, but never caught it open. This time, I made a concerted effort to find out when it was a ‘steam up day’ and popped in.

This was just so English. No entry fee. No charges to ride. Just a bunch of people sharing their love of a fascinating, beautifully engineered hobby in the middle of rolling countryside in gorgeous grounds.

There is a long layout consisting of several tracks – including a miniature one – but on the larger one, which interestingly is dual gauge – passengers sit in or on carriages and are conveyed by small locomotives – today one steam, one electric – through tunnels, over junctions, level crossings, past ponds, signals, signal boxes. It’s gorgeous.

The whole thing is clearly a labour of love.

There were no other attractions, and none were needed: tea and biscuits, and a tin for donations to cover running costs.

All right here on the doorstep, and few know about it. A wonderful thing.

Find out more about Balleny Green at their website here. I’d like to thank the members for a beautiful, life-affirming thing.

September 28th – Although not as dramatic, the following sunrise was also beautiful as I rode through Mill Green. I love the shape and drama of pylons and radio masts at any time, but against a good sky they always look fabulous,

It was a good ride into a challenging wind, which is developing an all too familiar chill at the moment.

The year really is closing in fast now. 

December 18th – Heading off to Birmingham early again, I shot through Mill Green late, but I couldn’t resist photographing that gorgeous sunrise. The past couple of days have shown the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets – and arriving at the station too late for the train, it gave me chance for a better go at the view of Hill Hook I took from the train yesterday.

The weather of late has been awful, but sights like this make the misery of cycling in such wet weather totally worth it.

July 10th – Slowly, but surely, the temporary mast at Sutton Coldfield is being dismantled. I explained a month ago how a crane was fixed to the upper stages, and the structure was dropped carefully, piece by piece. 

Today I noticed the DAB antenna were in the process of being stripped. These are the spiky structures clustered around the main mast in one spot, for about a 6th of the total height. If you look carefully at the bottom picture, you can see where cables, once connected to the elements are now hanging free.

It was a dull, overcast day, and I was hoping to catch a team at work up there, but have still yet to see one. 

This is remarkable, painstaking work by very, very uniquely skilled people.

June 11th – What goes up… must come down. It’s been a few years now that we’ve had two TV masts at Sutton Coldfield. Normally just one, the second was erected before the digital switchover, to act as a temporary stand-in while the main one was increased in height and re-equipped for the digital age. The upgraded transmitter has now been functional for 12 months or so, and the substitute – built on the foundation of an older one – is being dismantled.

To achieve this, a crane beam is bolted to the penultimate section, the upper being unbolted. When it’s free, the upper part is lifted clear, swung around 90 degrees, and lowered to the ground.The technicians who work up there have balls of steel, and very large pay packets.  they deserve every penny.

September 11th – For the hell of it, today I got off the train at Four Oaks and rode back from there. On my way back through a sunny Little Aston, I noted the TV transmitters at Hill Hook. Having recently converted to digital, there are currently two masts – the taller one was first, then the one on the right was erected to substitute for it when the original was upgraded for digital. Now the switchover has taken place, I’m looking for signs of the temporary mast coming down, but nothing yet. 

I love these structures. So elegant, so beautifully engineered. Visible for miles around.

November 23rd – The rain had gone this morning, and it was the first truly clear morning for a week or more. There was a hint of frost, but the breeze and air were oddly warm, yet hard and clear. The lights of Lichfield and Shenstone sparkled in the distance as I poured myself liquid down the Chester Road to Blake Street. There were many good photos I could have taken of this dawn, but sadly, I was running late and had a train to catch, so I settled for a dawn shot of the twin Sutton Masts and Hill Hook from the station platform. The sky really was like this, is was gorgeous. Now the digital switchover is done, wonder when they’ll take down the temporary transmitter?

November 22nd – Oh look, another station. This time, it’s Blake Street near Sutton Coldfield at about 7:00am, after what must have been the worst commute in four years. I saw data recently that suggested a very low percentage chance of ever actually having to commute in the rain – which, in my experience, stacks up. Today, however, it rained solid and heavily into my face for 30 minutes. I was wearing good waterproofs, but I was still damp and dejected when I got to the station. Still, it wasn’t as bad for me as it must have been for the guy I passed pushing a stricken motorbike up from Mill Green towards Shire Oak. He looked really, really pissed off…

April 7th – Little Aston Church looks like a rural idyll, one wouldn’t imagine it to be on the edge of the city, but it is. It has managed to maintain it’s sandstone beauty and air of isolation. A lovely scene to pass on journeys to and from work…