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Cycling cynic from Brownhills.
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A field of poppies is always a joy to the heart... this delightful meadow was spotted on the 8th June 2008 near Whittington.

On the opposite side of Maker Lane from Hoar Cross church stand the twin, back-to-back memorial benches; one remembers the fallen of the great war and the other, donated by Noel Woodford, bears that beautiful quote from Keats, 'But still will keep a bower quiet for us and a sleep full of sweet dreams.' The view from that very bench is recorded here; a stunning, shady panorama of the Needwood Valley.

British Waterways have pumped a great deal of investment into the canal network around Brownhills in recent years - the canal is now far from the polluted, unpleasant eyesore it was for much of the preceding 30 years. Towpaths have been resurfaced, making them more user friendly, the water is clean, full of life and bridges have been repaired and in one case, replaced completely. A prime focus of this development has been the canoe and outdoor centre, a popular attraction which often sees children canoing in the area... it's truly wonderful to see kids enjoying the outdoors.

Although Walsall Council likes to bask in the reflected glory, most of the money came from British Waterways, The Lottery Fund and European grants.

This parcel of land is all that remains of the meadow, most of which is now, in the words of one of the comments here, 'a large Luxury David Wilson Housing Development' - in other words a modern, pattern built estate.

Often, when one runs out of cash, the family silver is first to go, then lesser stuff finds its way onto eBay and then the junk ends up at a car boot sale - it was at the metaphorical boot sale that Walsall MBC sold the meadow to raise cash. It was pitched to the residents of Brownhills that although we'd lose green space, we'd also be getting a leisure development on a corner of the site - maybe a cinema, shops, that kind of thing.

The rabbit hutches were built, but any attempt to get the leisure development for the rest of us has met with stony disapproval by the luxury residents and their councilors who seem rather concerned that their peace shouldn't be disturbed. Presumably, the original statements were a sham and the land will eventually go for... more housing.

This is galling for those of us who liked the greenery - our objections were ignored, but now we can't satisfy the original promise as it may upset the new residents... most irritating of all was reading a report in the local press in which a local councilor detailed exactly what they would accept on the site.

Some of our representatives need to remember tat they speak for all of the community, not just the bits of it they particularly favour.

Much appreciated, incidently enjoy reading the comments in the BrownhillsBob gallery, I wonder if anyone in the corridors of power at Walsall council has got access to Google Earth.

A spring view eastwards down the Severn from the remarkable Iron Bridge. A great spot for a snack and a little cycling contemplation.

The floods of summer, 2007 caused havoc. The already engorged rivers Tame & Trent spilled over the floodplains of Staffordshire regularly throughout June and July. This flood - on the 17th June - stretched from Croxall to Whitemore Haye to depths of nearly 3 feet in the centre of the roads. Cycling through it was an interesting experience, but not one I'd choose to repeat...

Deer are becoming a common sight around the commons and heaths around Brownhills. These ladies were spotted at 2.20pm on a Thursday afternoon. They seemed quite confident around people and were quite interested in my camera.

These cheerful characters were spotted at Joslins old waterworks cottage during a snowy day in February 2007.

On a frosty 23rd December, 2007, a beautiful, ethereal mist fell on the Trent Valley. Whilst cycling over this bridge, the low sunlight caught the mist and made the whole scene precious.

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