BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

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#365daysofbiking Here it comes


January 15th – In Kings Hill Park not ten minutes later, a vital discovery, my first snowdrops of the year.

Not hugely populous yet, just the early ones, the advance party; but strong, bold and yet delicate. There are here in enough numbers not to be a fluke, and instead cheering me with the realisation that there will soon be glades of these gorgeous flowers all over the place, and that yes, it may still be dark, mostly wet and chilly, but spring? Yeah, it could well be a thing.

How fantastic!

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#365daysofbiking I love this post

January 15th – Passing through Darlaston’s Victoria Park on a journey back from the hospital in Walsall late morning, I met this tidy, glossy coated very black cat, languid and sleepy on a fencepost at the Wednesbury Road end of the path.

He wasn’t particularly pleased that I disturbed his sleep, but welcomed my chatter, chin and ear tickles, for the first few minutes barely opening his eyes.

A cat of clearly senior years, I think he must live on the new esate over the back.

And adorable, aloof yet affectionate fusspot, whose acquaintance I was pleased to make.

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#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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#365daysofbiking Cubic

January 13th – I’ve been given a new rear light to try out, a Bontrager Flare RT. it’s a funny little black cube, about an inch square. It’s eye-burningly bright, with multiple modes, an ambient light sensor, and a shocking degree of intelligence and connected features.

It’s got bluetooth and ant+ wireless communications, so it links to my bike computer and a nifty app lets me control the light, change it’s pattern and have it detect deceleration and work like a brake light too.

The instructions are bizarre and opaque. It’s not got great battery life, but it does recharge via USB. But it’s certainly bright and very, very red.

I not sure what problem it’s trying to solve, but it’s a fun, impressive thing for sure. And it’s actually pretty cheap for the huge amount of tech it’s bristling with.

I’ll report back when I’ve got a feel for it’s quirks.

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#365daysofbiking Trapped in my steelwork

January 13th – Spring ended with a bump. Leaving a meeting in Birmingham late afternoon it was wet, windy and cold.

On a deserted platform at New Street I waited for a train home. The service seems to have improved a little. It was only five minutes late. And mercifully warm. Praise the lord.

I was half expecting to be buttonholed by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street on the train on the way home, explaining how hard he’d worked to sort the trains out and how I should therefore vote for him.

Thankfully, I wasn’t harassed by Brum’s very own Charles Hawtrey tribute, but it did take a while to get back. As I stood with my bike on the train, gently and rhythmically rattling over miles of steel through the January night, I felt down that there were still weeks of wet, cld and dark commutes like this still ahead.

But they will end, the light will always creep through. The steel, light and shine of New Street by night will once more be a rare treat, and not the trap it seemed like this evening.

Tonight it just looked frighteningly inevitable.

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#365daysofbiking Ever falls the twilight

January 12th – I made it to Lichfield in good time, thankfully, and had a 30 minutes to mooch around the city at twilight with my companion.

The classic Stowe Pool twilight shot is always too good to resist, even though it’s a local cliche.I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.

The heron on Minster Pool was a rare treat, as were the chimneys of Leomansley.

It was a day of dramatic skies, and until the English winter cold kicked in, a beautifully springlike afternoon.

Dare I dream?

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#365daysofbiking Beginning steps

January 12th – A better day to complete the errands I utterly failed at the day before.

I noted that on the Anglesey Branch Canal where it crosses the South Staffordshire Railway via an elegant Victorian cast iron trough aqueduct, contractors working for Back the Track had started to build a much needed and welcome stairway between the canal towpath and the cycle and walking route below – the McLean Way.

I’m glad I’m not building that. It looks like hard, precarious work. It also occurred that there’s no easy access to get the hardcore to the site, either.

My best wishes to the people building these steps, and thanks to the folk from Back the Track for dedicating so much time and effort to make things better for us all.

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#365daysofbiking Facing rock

January 11th – I needed to collect something in Burntwood, then get something else in Lichfield. I was delayed. The wind was horrific and it rained on me. And when I got to Lichfield, the place I needed to go had closed early and I was thwarted. One of those days.

Hurrying down Abnalls Lane to Lichfield unaware of the oncoming disappointment, I rounded a bend on this ancient Holloway to find there had been a rockfall.

It looked like it had been there a while, and was largely sandstone and vegetation from the bank; here, water has eroded the rock the lane is cut into, and the undercut eventually causes the overhang to collapse.

Surprised nobody’s come a cropper there, to be honest. It’s not lit or barriered well.

One wonders how extensive the problem is. I cycled on my way down the middle of the road, just in case…

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#365daysofbiking Life in all it’s forms

January 10th – At this time of year, I desperately scan the world around me for signs of the oncoming spring, however small or odd. Today, I spotted one.

This floating root in the canal at Walsall Wood spotted on the way to work is just such a sign. It looks like a random piece of flotsam in amongst the maturing algal bloom which in recent weeks has turned red from green. But this root is actually the front guard for a larger movement.

It’s a water lily rhizome.

These roots break from last year’s dead growth and sink to the floor of the canal, then as spring comes, they gain buoyancy and begin to float. They move with the currents, boats, winds, waterfowl moments and eventually settle and sprout roots.

In high summer they will provide a new carpet of the familiar huge leaves and bright flowers for us to enjoy.

So it’s good news: Lily thinks spring is coming!

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