BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

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#365daysofbiking Sky gazing


December 3rd – Returning to Walsall a little earlier than usual from Birmingham, I was just in time to see a most beautiful sunset descend upon Walsall – but not in the best place to catch it on camera. Standing on the steps at the station side entrance. the view down Station Street and back over the empty station platforms was much better than I expected.

I’m glad I caught this one – but by heck, it felt cold…

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#365daysofbiking The kindness of strangers

December 2nd – Again on the far side of Hortonwood in Telford, I was returning from a meeting using the Silkin Way national Cycle Route 81 that runs along the A518 between Trench and the massive industrial park I had visited.

On a cycleway that I would have thought might have been almost forgotten, and some way from houses or nearby factories, a makeshift bird table at the side of the track, apropos of nothing.

On it, a selection of fruit and seed – all fresh with a nearby audience I’d disturbed of birds and squirrels.

Someone tends this lovingly, regularly. It’s well kept. It’s a thing of dedication, love and kindness for them.

Stranger, I have no idea who you might be, but for looking after a small corner of your world so beautifully, I wish you the very best my friend.

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#365daysofbiking On the western skyline

December 1st – Looping around and back up Walsall Wood, I became aware I was in the midst of a gorgeous sunset. Chasewater would have been my place of choice to catch such a vivid one, but sadly I wouldn’t make it in time, so I headed up Shire Oak Hill.

The view downhill to Walsall Wood, Walsall and the wider Black Country is always stunning, and it’s a good while since I saw it in a good sunset. It was worth it.

This is one of the greatest local views and very much unappreciated.

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#365daysofbiking No through road

December 1st – Green Lane is a major rat run between Walsall Wood and Sheffield, and has been closed for some weeks for drainage work. Theoretically supposed to be reopening the next day, I went to see how the works were progressing.

Oh dear, I don’t think that’ll be open for a while yet. I guess bad weather must have really held them up.

Since there’s no pedestrian way around, looks like I’ll be coming back along the A461 for a week or so yet…

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#365daysofbiking Conical

November 30th – Chasetown has Christmas lights for the first time in a long while too, which is nice to see. Oddly though, their two Christmas trees (which appear identical, which must be a clue to their origin) are artificial, conical arrangements covered in some kind of canvas.

There’s one at usual near the former police station, and one outside the new offices of Chasetown Civil Engineering.

They’re interesting things, not entirely sure I like them but they are very striking.

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#365daysofbiking Fade from grey

November 30th – A misty, murky day definitely not conducive to good photography. It had been very frosty, but by the time I had change to get out with time on my hands, the frost had gone.

I had business in Burntwood and went via Chasewater and Brownhills Common – the dam looked really eerie in the fog. Spiderwebs on gorse caught water droplets and became precious.

A cold, grey but starkly beautiful day.

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#365daysofbiking Fruition

November 29th – Popping up the hHigh Street at teatime, I noticed the first community funded Christmas tree for Brownhills was now up and lit for the season.

This is a real proof of the power of community – volunteers raised the money and paid for the tree to be erected entirely on their own volition and it’s a beautiful testament to the power of community.

Our first Christmas tree in a decade, I think… well done to all involved: Take a bow!

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#365daysofbiking On a green hill

November 29th – I nipped into work for a short while in the morning, and out of necessity, went through Bloxwich and down through Bentley, the sprawling suburb that separates Walsall From Willenhall.

Bentley has a fascinating landmark: A church on a large hill.

Emmanuel Church is a modernist, almost brutalist design by Richard Twentyman in the mid 1950s, and although interesting, I’ve always found it to be a stark, unsettling building. Twentyman was an acclaimed church architect who had also designed pubs and crematoria, so perhaps the stark nature of his work was appropriate.

The church though plays second fiddle to the Bentley Cairn, something I’ve never really stopped to look at before – it’s simply put an extraneous rock with some debate over the actual origin, but it marks the site of three halls which were historically significant. The cairn was restored and enhanced a decade or so ago, and now is a bit of an out of the way curiosity.

The views aren’t bad, but are not quite as good as one would expect, either; interestingly, the green hill with the striking tower atop looks far better from below than the surrounds do from atop it.

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#365daysofbiking All kinds of wrong

November 28th – For once, the trains weren’t too bad.  It was, of course, still a rain-sodden day and I was tired and wanting to be home.

I stood and waited and took three shots of what I could see: The exaggerated perspective and vanishing points – the people, crowding tensely but oddly patient – the train, engorging with people wanting to be home like me – the sleek, dripping machines waiting peacefully beneath their feast of wire.

New Street Station is still, and probably always be a conundrum to me. I both adore it, and loathe it. It’s like a bad mother to me: It may be all kinds of wrong, but it’s still mine.

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