BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Train’

#365daysofbiking An unexpected flash of orange



August 21st – Returning from Birmingham, the train unexpectedly terminated at Tame Bridge due to a line fault or something, maybe the elastic band snapped.

I couldn’t be bothered with the ride home up through Walsall so hopped on the Tame Valley Canal and then home via Rushall Junction, Park Hall and Aldridge.

Passing through a nondescript bit of towpath near the Birmingham Road, a flash of bright, vivid orange caught my eye.

A gorgeous par of feral marigolds, just trying to make me happy.

They succeeded in their aim.

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#365daysofbiking Across the rooftops

July 29th – I came back from New Street to Shenstone, a run I do less these days since the Chase Line upgrade made those trains comparatively less crowded.

I forgot how much I love coming home through Shenstone, a great station to start and end any journey from.

I note that of the twin towers of St Johns, only the modern Gothic horror is visible above the rooftops; the older, earlier tower – the last remnants of a more handsome church – is shrouded by trees as is usual in summer.

I guess I’ll have to wait until autumn to see the twin towers again.

I’ve always adored this view in summer or winter…

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#365daysofbiking Exorcising ghosts

July 7th – The sunset was the culmination of a glorious golden hour.

Birmingham and Aston shone and shimmered in the gathering dusk.

A train caught the sky and was golden: Britannia fought a pitched battle on the former hotel roof with the TV antennas. The skylines and canal spoke of quiet dignity, worship and daily life.

I spent many hours as a young man in these streets, on the canals and at this station. The ghosts that haunt me here are not scary, or hostile, but warm and comfortable like enveloping sheets of memory.

My place, my past, present and future.

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#365daysofbiking Semaphore

March 11th – A trip to Droitwich made a pleasant change.It’s not often I come out here these days – the younger folk in the team generally do it those jobs now, but sometimes I like to pay a call for the adventure of it.

Droitwich Station is interesting – the line here hints at a much busier past, with derelict sidings and a large signal box, but today the line is pretty sleepy and rural.

I’m interested to see that here, old mechanical semaphore signals are still in use, which always seem terrifically heath Robinson to me. They are a masterpiece of rods, wires, rollers and mechanical interlocking and it’s a wonder how they keep working so long.

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#365daysofbiking The sound of music:

November 20th – This is the coolest bloke I’ve ever seen on a commuter train. 

Bar none. 

We were sharing the bike space on a Birmingham commuter service. He’s on an urban flat bar; partially consumed coffee in the cup holder. He clearly works in something musical as he’s playing a small, portable electronic keyboard of the musical variety, and listening on headphones whilst reading sheet music.

He was playing the keyboard in total silence to the outside world, pensively and in the considered way someone might type an email on a laptop.

I’m not sure if he was learning music, marking it or writing it, but I have to say, you are a seriously cool man. Fascinating.

#365daysofbiking Platform game:

October 25th – Unusually, I had stuff to do in Bloxwich, so returning from a meeting in Birmingham, I alighted there instead of Walsall. It was dark and the only lights on the platforms were in the waiting shelter.

So here come the late night feelings again…

#365daysofbiking That same old feeling:

October 15th – A slightly late commute back from a meeting in Birmingham – thankfully mostly dry – was brightened up by the realisation that with the dark commutes come the return of my beloved stations in the dark obsession – what I call Late Night Feelings, after a lost record label.

Coming back to Shenstone after a round of delays, holdups and frustration, stepping into the chill night air, I realised how enchanting the lights, signals and reflections were. 

Shenstone Station is always lovely at night in that kind of nether worldly, desolate way, but also it pulls at the homecoming, journey’s end vibe rather well too.

This is my favourite little station – always a joy to start out from, but even better to return though!

June 22nd – With the excellent weather we’ve been having, Friday night, post work rides into Brum have become a thing, it seems, and this evening I really needed it. Into the city by the main line from Darlaston to Great Bridge, then coffee, cake and out again vial Spaghetti Junction, Castle Bromwich and the Plats Brook/Newhall Valley cycleway – one of the finest, anywhere.

A lovely, gentle, restorative ride.

February 7th – Spotted on a city-bound train, the first instance of something common in the US and mainland Europe – a bike fitted with a Thule coffee cup holder.

This is a pretty good idea to anyone who’s tried carrying a take-out coffee with a bike. My only observation in this instance would be that on my bike, I’d be prone to catch it with my knee so the other side of the bars would be better. Also, that bracket looks a wee bit clunky and industrial.

Interesting sign of an urban commuter, though!

December 12th – Off to Telford in the early morning in temperatures pushing minus 6 with a fresh fall of snow the night before. Blake Street Station looked oddly eerie in the dawn light and pure white, and as the electric 323 train rolled in past a familiar view of the Sutton Mast going in the opposite direction, the pantograph pickup arced continuously and noisily due to the ice on the catenary wires.

A mesmerising sight,  I couldn’t help wondering if ithe 25,000 volt arc degraded the pickup carbons or just burnt of the ice. 

Something you don’t witness too often, that.