#365daysofbiking Hello darkness my old friend

August 26th – it was a dreadful, wet day and I still wasn’t well. I was busy at home with things that had needed doing for ages, and I slipped out after dark for a spin around a dripping, sodden town.

I hate this weekend, every year; it’s OK if the weather’s good and you can ride, but if it’s grey and horrible it’s so depressing. It always feels like the end of summer, even if it’s nowhere near.

Riding was actually good, and the somnambulant town was quiet in the gathering night. With the new houses, Church Road is probably the most atmospheric it’s been for years, and Coppice lane wears it’s loneliness like an old jacket.

Still can’t get a night photo of Morris I’m happy with, though…

January 19th – My health doesn’t seem to be improving. After getting over the worst of the fever of last weekend, I’m left with a rattly chest, a cough and a head cold.

It feels like it’s never going to go. My average speed is down to a miserable 10-10.5mph. I feel unfit and lost. And the weather? It’s lousy. It’s been like it since before Christmas, and right now I could do with sun, some warmer temperatures and some spring flowers. And the ability to do 15mph without feeling like I’m about to collapse.

‘Tain’t too much to ask, is it?

Meanwhile, in a chilly Darlaston, a view I’d not noticed before – with no leaves on the trees, looking over that splendid, dignified war memorial, the whole range of Darlaston architectural history: The Post Office, Rectory Avenue, The Columbarium, St Lawrence’s Church. What a fine set of buildings on that skyline…

January 18th – Back to work, and very slow on the bike, but the fresh air and feeling of purpose helped me lots.

Passing through Kings Hill Park whose solace and peace I could have done with in the past few days, I was encouraged to see that despite the cold and grey, spring is arranging the furniture and getting the staff ready for another performance.

Can’t wait. Hopefully I’ll be a bit better on the bike by then…

January 17th – Still off, but thankfully brighter if still sporting a rather productive cough, I headed up to Aldridge for a change of scenery.

I was feeling much brighter about myself, and looked for snowdrops, but was sadly unable to find any. But one winter reliable did please me with it’s colour – the gorse is looking stunning, particularly welcome in a little weak winter sun.

Going to have to watch the macro mode on the TZ100, it’s quite limiting at the moment…

January 16th A second day off sick. My congestion was better, and my strength a little greater but I have a cough and a chest thing that tightens like a bear-hug on my chest when I undertake even lightly arduous tasks.

I can honestly say this is the illest I’ve felt, possibly since the food poisoning in 2011. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

Again, slipping out at dusk, I pushed for Chasewater. It hurt. It was bitterly cold, or at least, seemed it. But I still have a camera to test and new images to find in a limited range for now.

Hammerwich looked good, in the gloom.

January 15th – I went to work. Really battled in. They sent me back home again, or rather, put my bike in a van and gave me the keys.

I’m not a malingerer. I don’t do time off sick. I feel unnatural, separated, spare and deceitful.

I went out for fresh air as dusk fell. The loop: Up past Silver Street on the canal, Catshill, Anchor Bridge, back through the centre. I nearly didn’t make it.

I noted that the waterside looked great in the half-light. Even the rotting, derelict husk of MacWarreners still had an air of dignity about it; like a ruined actor decaying in a faded, out of season end of the pier pub.

I think I know how it feels.

January 14th – I experimented in an area where Panasonic have always been streets ahead – very long exposure. The interface for this on those cameras is so much nicer than the Canon, but there is one caveat: if you have the device set to silent – meaning it uses electronic shiutter – the mode is castrated. That confused me last week and I couldn’t work it out until I read the manual.

The toll road was quite busy as I shivered and stomped in the cold.

I’m really not well.

November 11th – I wasn’t well following the procedure I’d had in the week, as I’d  neglected my medication, so I took a short spin out for some air after dark.

It was a good chance to try long exposure photography, and the results weren’t too bad. But my heart wasn’t in it: I was cold, tired, fed up, and returned home with a heavy heart.