BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘urban’

#365daysofbiking Inhaling green

August 16th – Another place I love is Kings Hill Park in Darlaston, one of Walsall’s little known, minor parks.

Sadly in the last couple of years it’s not had the maintenance it formerly had, with resources going to the borough’s ‘Green Flag’ parks instead: We no longer get the planters maintained as beautifully, and the attention to upkeep is more cursory.

However it’s still beautiful and has some gorgeous flowers – just not so many as it did, sadly.

To be here, seeking space from work on a wet, blustery summer day, in peace and quiet with industry just metres away, is bliss. You can stand here, take five and just inhale the green.

A beautiful park, a credit to the town and those who care for it, but it needs more resources sparing for it.

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#365daysofbiking I know it’s under here somewhere

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August 13th – Spotted at lunchtime on an excursion from work to the hospital, a heron loafing on a wall in one of the most urban, industrial bits of Walsall: Pleck.

I adore herons for their impressive fishing ability, their shabby, almost mad appearance and their raw, appreciable character and individuality. They are endlessly entertaining to watch.

This large adult bird was preening, being slow, methodical, and thorough. It paid me scant attention as it picked at whatever underwing irritation was troubling it, but for all the world it looked like it was searching for a misplaced wallet or pair of glasses.

A welcome distraction on a lovely day.

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#365daysofbiking Browsing

July 26th – I’ve lost track of most of the local swan families in Walsall this year – there were a fair few and they’ve all been quite mobile and most have suffered attrition from predators, so I’m not sure which family I’m seeing where now.

These hungry characters were feeding near the old copper works, just west of the motorway flyover at James Bridge, on the Walsall – Darlaston border.

They look healthy and well, but I’ve no idea if this is the family that hatched just a little way up the canal from here or another family.

Never mind, it’s all good…

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#365daysofbiking Into the blue

July 23rd – I was in Birmingham for work and was planning on catching the train home. But there was trouble with the signals and all trains I could have caught were messed up.

I decided to ride home – it was a nice evening, after all. I decided to hit the canal near Lancaster Circus, but heading out of the centre I found the new segregated cycleway up the A3 to Perry Barr. It’s absolutely brilliant. I was so enamoured, I kept on it and rode home over Kingstanding.

It’s fast, largely well thought out, has it’s own traffic signals (with repeaters at bike eye level) and was really quite busy.

Some of the routes over major junctions are a bit tortuous, but it’s far better than I’d ever have imagined.

Sad to see it ends abruptly at Perry Barr, but I suppose with the junction being remodelled there it would be folly to continue it yet.

A fine thing, very pleasing to ride.

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#365daysofbiking Route canal

July 12th – Wanting to ride the city canals the day before but unable to, I broke out of work, collected a mate and went for a spin down the Plants Brook/Newhall Valley and into Brum, returning via the Tame Valley.

The canals were as wonderful and peaceful as ever, and the wildflowers – those that have escaped the fanatical dedication to mowing the Canal and River Trust seems to have – are looking fabulous.

As was the Gas Street black cat, disturbed from it’s slumbers by our happy chatter.

Summer is all about rides like this.

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#365daysofbiking Change is continual

July 11th – Returning to Birmingham, I had another meeting, but found time to have a look at the new Centenery Square water feature, the perennially unfinished Paradise Circus project and just marvel at the pace of change.

Arriving at Snow Hill I remain fascinated by the decay of the old metro stop there: Bypassed and left unused by the city centre extension,  it remains closed off and inaccessible, gently being reclaimed by nature. I remember when that stop and the line was new. What a revolution it was, but I forget that was nearly 20 years ago.

The line extension to Five Ways looks to be coming on well, and the formerly busy Paradise Circus – romanticised and cherished by Stephen Duffy so beautifully – is completely changed, and free of traffic. The views are currently opened up and it’s fascinating to be able to appreciate the city architecture without traffic.

Birmingham is doing what it does best – changing. I’m only a casual, occasional observer these days, but it still feels like home, and a city doing it’s damnedest to move with the times.

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#365daysofbiking What lies beneath

July 7th – It was indeed a better day. The sun was out, the wind had subsided as had the discomfort in my stomach.

I headed out on the canal to Wolverhampton, taking a slow but enjoyable potter down the mainline canal to Birmingham. From there to Aston, where I left the canal and got on a train back to Shenstone.

I noted the Dudley Tourist Board had been working hard to improve it’s customer service at Coseley Tunnel, where I doubt I’ll ever negotiate the southern portal steps with a bike again, although it was certainly an adventure.

Calling at the heavily secured, ghostly Rattlechain Pool, the lagoon concealing many thousands of tonnes of the worst toxic waste was a strange experience: It looks so serene and peaceful, yet the pool – itself just a cap to the material beneath, separated by a thick impermeable skin – is securely fenced and covered by many cameras.

It’s a ghostly and controversial place.

Under the M5 viaduct and Telford’s magnificent Engine Arm aqueduct, the canal is a peaceful, gentle and serene refuge from the mad urbanity above, and the street art is, as ever, fascinating.

Passing on the canal down the Snow Hill flight, I see the view is a matter of opinion. But why? What’s that all about?

A great restorative ride.

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