BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘ugly’

#365daysofbiking Down amongst the derelict

Monday November 30th 2020 – The weather remained bad, and heading home late up Brownhills High Street, I stopped to check a text, and then looked to my left.

Ravens Court was never a success. Opened in 1964, this dystopian, anonymous shopping precinct was mostly empty until 1970. It enjoyed a period of being mostly fully let for about 15 years, then it began to go to seed. A failed development by Tesco and its acquisition by property speculators sealed the fate of this dingy, concrete shopping parade. It’s owners never re-let the vacated shops and for the best part of a decade it’s been deserted and decaying, right in the heart of Brownhills.

It’s shape as a plot is bad. It’s on a pronounced gradient. There’s a lot of demolition to do. The site is unattractive, and this is not a time for retail investment.

In private ownership, the council are powerless to duo anything, much, and to the town’s frustration, we are left with this rotting monument to opportunist modernism.

Hopefully something will change here, soon. But I’m not optimistic.

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#365daysofbiking Monumental controversy

July 22nd – I’ve been riding through Bloxwich more often since the Chase Line upgrade, and I keep passing the remarkable sculpture of Lady Diana Spencer outside the monumental Masons that commissioned it. It’s certainly an unusual landmark.

The sculpture was made around the year 2000 in tribute to the deceased Princess, but when unveiled, it was black, shiny granite and was ridiculed for looking more like Diana Ross (according to a local politician of the day) or Dennis Nordern in the view of a local news commentator.

It was donated to Walsalls Council, who refused it, declined to place it in the local art gallery, and ended up back with the donor after plans to put it on display were apparently vetoed by the palace.

Since then, it was sandblasted to remove the sheen, and it stands outside the Masons being, well… Somewhat incongruous.

I think it’s absolutely bloody awful.

You can criticise almost every aspect of it – but the one thing nobody ever comments on that has always baffled me – the shoes.

Has she just come from welding on a ship and forgot to change her boots?

A curious bit of local legend.

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#365daysofbiking It must be yew

May 5th – Still suffering, but a cold, grey ride up through Weeford, Whittington and Croxall to keep moving. Passing Shenstone Church on the way, something was missing.

I had an attachment to that old Yew: shelter in rain when I was a child, shady in summer and totally imperious, I’m sure it was felled for good reason, but it’s still sad.

And the mock gothic, dark and foreboding church of St John now looks even more harsh.

A great sadness, but everything must pass I guess.

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#365daysofbiking Scum

May 2nd – There are many reasons why the local canals develop an organic, natural scum throughout the year. From pollens to seeds, from tree-mast to algae, all kinds of unpleasant looking but natural detritus develops and dissipates throughout the seasons.

Due to the early spring warmth and extended spring, at the moment there’s a very heavy scum  on much of the local canal, but particularly in the wind-traps around Walsall Wood and Clayhanger. At he moment it’s mostly appearing to be a combination of reedmace detritus, algae, sallow seeds, disintegrated hazel, alder and birch catkins and hawthorn blossom petals. I’ve never seen a scum so heavy at this time of year.

Given time and sun it should dissipate and fade away. but for the moment, it’s quite ugly but perfectly natural.

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#365daysofbiking Slippery customer

March 30th – Spotted on a recently cropped tree stump near the canal by Birchills locks, some impressively horrid-looking slime mould fungus that looks for all the world that it might spring to life and try to take the country by force at any minute.I’ve not seen any of this stuff for years. It was clearly living off the tree sap and the general moisture on the stump.

Stomach-churning and fascinating at the same time.

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August 11th – I had to pop to Shenstone on an errand on my way home from work, and the chance to ride these sleepy, familiar lanes, even on a dull day is wonderful. 

I crossed Church Hill through the churchyard of St Johns, purely as I hadn’t been up there in a while. I have to say, the grounds maintenance at the rear in the old graveyard is currently not a patch on what it was, but I guess the wildlife appreciates the lack of disturbance.

The church remains what it has always been to me: A remarkable building in a beautiful spot, although not to my taste: A competent, muscular design in Victorian dark gothic that screams foreboding at me, not praise.

However, always good to see this landmark of my life. Love or hate it, it’s a remarkable thing.

January 16th – On my return, I came through Shenstone, and was reminded of s simple fact…

A village can be awash with money. A parish council can be very good at getting grants. But neither of those facts mean the village has any taste.

I think this clock is hideous. Sorry.

November 19th – The Queen herself today travelled to Birmingham (by train, which won’t have been delayed and will have had a working toilet) to open a station that hadn’t closed and has merely been subject to having a retail opportunity badly assembled on top, and is still unfinished.

Brenda won’t have had to walk up a static escalator, or pull a pushchair up the stairs. She won’t have seen the dingy, grim end of platforms where the 1980s access bridge hasn’t even been granted a clean down.

Someone once said that Royalty must think everywhere smells of fresh paint. In Birmingham tonight, on a late journey from home, the overpowering smell was more reminiscent of the farmyard.

Oh, and Phil – we do speak English. Chances are Shakespeare would sound more like our tongue than the fabricated received English of the Windsors (and spousal attachments).

November 1st – Gentleshaw Church, like that of Kings Bromley, shows something that I think deserves wider attention, but makes me somewhat outspoken.

Victorian architectural hubris wrecked many fine churches with utterly horrible extensions – sadly an abomination that went on for another century.

(I know the extension is 1903 – but it was planned in the late victorian period).

There, I said it. What was the architect thinking here?

August 13th – A bit better today, and I’m on the mend, and out and about earlier. Time I note for another periodic explanation…

This isn’t pollution at Catshill Junction, or anywhere else it’s happening. This time the scum film at wind traps and bends on the canal is caused by rose bay willow herb plants, which are currently going to seed and producing oodles of the white fluff. 

Just like the sallow earlier in the year, it looks horrid as the chaff and hairy detritus forms a film on the water – but it’ll soon be gone.

Another curious little marker of the passing seasons.