BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Walsall’

#365daysofbiking Splendid isolation:

Monday December 21st 2020 – I can’t get used to Walsall deserted, especially at peak times. The effects of this pandemic will resonate socially for years, in ways we’re only just beginning to see – the death of town centres is clearly being accelerated.

The town’s Christmas tree, today standing in splendid isolation in St Pauls Square is an excellent specimen, though and cheered me up. The twenty year out of time, brutalist, newly renovated bus station beyond it looked welcoming, too, if only for the want of passengers. Must say the warm white lighting in there was a clever choice.

It’s hard to believe that this is 4pm on Monday before Christmas. Strange days indeed.

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#365daysofbiking Lit for nobody in particular

Friday December 18th 2020 – I had to pass through Walsall as I headed home from work. I had an errand to do, and I left as night fell. I thought I’d take a look at Town Wharf, the canal basin at the top end of town that was always intended to be the heart of Walsall’s millennial rebirth that wa in reality a slow developing child that 20 years later is still immature.

The Wharfingers cottage, rebuilt after it’s accidental demolition (!) is a good example: Empty for pretty much 15 years, it was finally occupied by a restaurant. Sadly, as we are in lockdown, they are confined to take-away only.

The lighting though, is gorgeous, and makes for a lovely photo. I always find this area bittersweet: It photographs beautifully but there’s always the vague smell of lost horizons here.

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#365daysofbiking I want to see the bright lights tonight

Sunday December 6th 2020 – I had something to do in Walsall, and went on a damp, grey afternoon with trepidation. With the Pandemic it’s become an oddly desolate place in retail terms: An already suffering town centre has become more desperate.

However, I took the new camera and a good friend, and we explored familiar places with not many people in them as night fell – and it was refreshing and beautiful. Particularly Church Hill and the Arboretum.

The Panasonic loves the dark, and is much more responsive to low light in a way I’ve never known previous Panasonic cameras to be. This is a revelation.

I loved the bold colours and the way it picked them up in night scenes.

Going to have some fun with this one! It turned out Walsall was far more beautiful than ever I might have expected.

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#365daysofbiking Crosstown traffic

Tuesday November 24th 2020 – I’ve got hold of a GoPro Hero 9 action camera: The last model I used was the Hero 5, I was never particularly impressed with, so I drifted out of using it.

I decided to revisit ride cams and managed to borrow a Hero 9 from work, and it’s quite a bit more complex and more polished than the 5. I have to work out how best to mount the thing for a start, so this cam is cropped down from a 4k shot in portrait. The image quality considering that is remarkable.

The light balance, exposure and colours are better, and I have to say the image stabilisation is remarkable. It’s really quite impressive. Once I can work out how to mount it on the bike securely in landscape, we’re off on some adventures. Be interesting to see the low light quality, and if they’ve sorted the formerly lousy reliability of the flash card interface.

Here’s an unedited, real time journey from an appointment near the Arboretum back towards work through the ring road of Walsall on a grey, dull Tuesday afternoon. The music is Bent’s lovely bit of electronic blippery ‘Exercise 6′.

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#365daysofbiking Suffocation

Thursday, October 29th 2020 – I had to visit a store at Walsall’s Crown Wharf shipping Centre – a peculiar, strip parade out of town centre that was curiously built in the town centre.

Crown Wharf is awful: Like all parade malls, it surrounds it’s own car park and seems isolated from the town outside, and has sucked the life and larger stores from Park Street a hundred yards away, which is the town’s Main Street.

It’s incredibly brightly lit at night, and the trees on the Wolverhampton Road frontage have lights in all year around, giving a night-time feel of the worst kind of Christmas shopping all year around.

Crown Wharf is one of those odd, turn of the millennium regeneration projects that didn’t regenerate anything much, and seems cursory and contemptuous of it’s host town and environment, almost as if the architects and designers had learned nothing from Merry Hill twenty years before: A mall surrounded by industrial decay that only served to further suffocate the small towns around it.

I did what I had to, and left. I hate this place.

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#365daysofbiking Hawkish

April 1st – Every day now there’s a new flower to see on every journey – even the short ones.

Adding to the bright yellows of spring, a flower at first glance often mistaken for dandelions. Hawkweed.

This beautiful spring soldier is generally yellow but does come in a variety of colours and types. All dwell on edge lands, verges and in hedgerows.

This profusion of flowers is just what I need right now.

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#365daysofbiking Dripping with life

March 23rd – A wet morning, and with the Prime Minister and clown in chief due to address the nation in the evening. Life was not feeling positive.

The morning was wet, and dripping. Rain stalked my journey to work and seeped into my clothing.

However, there were fresh leaves shooting everywhere, and early, very early cherry blossom, so it wasn’t all bad.

Some days getting to work and home in one piece and in good shape is enough.

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#365daysofbiking Hello, you

February 18th – on my way through Pleck, I spotted this clump of daffodils, a welcome addition to my currently grey and grim commute.

I note daffodils are gradually emerging in parks, hedgerows and gardens, and not just the traditional early patches I’m familiar with – they seem a bit early this year but I’m not sure if they really are.

Whatever they are, they are most welcome. Spring is definitely here when these beautiful characters appear.

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#365daysofbiking Changing times

January 17th -Slowly, imperceptibly almost, Walsall is changing. After many years in a state of flux, buildings are springing up around the north of the town centre.

Land that was, I think, a car park in the days when Walsall College was on Wisemore is now a smart new Travelodge hotel, with a beauty salon to be in the basement, and an odd kebab chain takeaway adjacent.

Further toward the new Tesco is a brand new drive thru Macdonalds, much to the chagrin of the dietary purists.

But this is the new economy – retail is dying, the new town centre is about entertainment, food and convenience. Over at the waterfront, a new cinema and restaurants are doing well and I wish hem success.

It’s time Walsall moved forward, and although slow progress, I’m glad to see it.

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