#365daysofbiking The sound of music:
November 20th – This is the coolest bloke I’ve ever seen on a commuter train.
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.
October 28th – There was another trip out though – with only moderate success. I wanted to photograph the Chasewater Railway halloween ghost train at Chasewater Heaths – this event for kids takes place every year and is great fun, and very challenging to photograph. This was the only usable picture, but it turned out well, I think.
This halloween spectacular – they turn the lights out, actors dress as ghouls and ghosts, and ghost tales are told on the train – is really popular and always fully booked.
Trying to capture the essence of it, like the event itself – is a bit of a tradition now.
March 22nd – A rainy, horrid day: I found myself at New Street waiting for a delayed train mid-morning, in a frankly foul mood. Nothing was moving and I felt stuck. As I looked out from the end of the platform, I spotted this train driver, heading to his post in the rain, and felt an instant sympathy.
Rainy day commutes are horrid.
February 2nd – I went into Birmingham late in the day, and 2very tired, I picked my return station to give me best wind advantage.
As I got out my gloves and sorted the lights and things at Blake Street, I watched a second train come through, a blur of light.
Sometimes, that’s exactly how I feel.