BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Walsall’

#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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#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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#365daysofbiking I want to see the bright lights tonight

December 12th – Walsall’s Christmas lights are not ostentatious these days, but Walsall always looks sort of Christmassy at night anyway.

Whether it’s Bridge Street or Leicester Street, the street lighting, vehicles, building lights and architecture combine to make something quite festive and magical.

For all the stick it gets, Walsall isn’t a bad old place.

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#365daysofbiking The Christmas list

December 12th – The Christmas tree in Walsall is usually very nicely done. After a few grim yers in the early 2000s when lighting contractors synthesised something akin to a tree from a lighting column to universal derision, then a year or two without, we now get a pretty decent tree in the square between the bus station, bank and the Crossing at St. Pauls.

This year’s tree is excellent – but following blustery weather, developed an unfortunate tilt. It’s now fixed, but still not quite plum.

I think it adds character.

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#365daysofbiking Waiting on the line

December 10th – I spend a lot of time waiting at traffic lights, and of all of them, I think I like the ones on the Arboretum Junction on Walsall’s new ring road least of all.

Ostensibly heuristic and adaptive, the loop sensors here don’t always pick up my bike, and often I watch a whole cycle take place before the lights allow me to go.

Tonight was just such a night – because the controller didn’t find me, my phase of the lights was completely absent first time around.

Nothing to do but shuffle the bike on the loop and swear…

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#365daysofbiking Sky gazing


December 3rd – Returning to Walsall a little earlier than usual from Birmingham, I was just in time to see a most beautiful sunset descend upon Walsall – but not in the best place to catch it on camera. Standing on the steps at the station side entrance. the view down Station Street and back over the empty station platforms was much better than I expected.

I’m glad I caught this one – but by heck, it felt cold…

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#365daysofbiking On a green hill

November 29th – I nipped into work for a short while in the morning, and out of necessity, went through Bloxwich and down through Bentley, the sprawling suburb that separates Walsall From Willenhall.

Bentley has a fascinating landmark: A church on a large hill.

Emmanuel Church is a modernist, almost brutalist design by Richard Twentyman in the mid 1950s, and although interesting, I’ve always found it to be a stark, unsettling building. Twentyman was an acclaimed church architect who had also designed pubs and crematoria, so perhaps the stark nature of his work was appropriate.

The church though plays second fiddle to the Bentley Cairn, something I’ve never really stopped to look at before – it’s simply put an extraneous rock with some debate over the actual origin, but it marks the site of three halls which were historically significant. The cairn was restored and enhanced a decade or so ago, and now is a bit of an out of the way curiosity.

The views aren’t bad, but are not quite as good as one would expect, either; interestingly, the green hill with the striking tower atop looks far better from below than the surrounds do from atop it.

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#365daysofbiking A prickly observation

November 25th – Some things that are seasonal are always a shock when you find them, as they remind you of a year passing. Snowdrops and acolytes after Christmas, the first daffodil, the first berries and galls, etc.

One that always catches me up short is holly berries.

That’s Christmas – it is after all, a great element of Yule symbolism. But they do appear a ways before Christmas and tend to be around long after. I don’t know why, but holly berries never seem that attractive to birds.

These, spotted on a wet Monday morning on the cycleway near Ryecroft Cemetery quite took me by surprise – but then, it’s only a month to go…

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#365daysofbiking That was a bit nippy

November 18th – It was a cold, thankfully dry journey home. The roads were glistening with ice, and the main ones, a fresh scattering of road salt.

The first icy commute home of the winter is always hard. My hands and face were cold. It hurt.

Stopping at a shop in the way home, I noticed that the temperature was marginally still above zero degrees Celsius.

That was a shock. it felt much colder.

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