My day has been dictated by the weather and thrown me into a black hole of unpredictability. My plan was to cycle across Walsall and explore the Barr Beacon but once again, it has been cancelled due to this freak weather! My friends say the awful summer is down to global warming, others say it’s typical British weather but I can whole-heartedly say this summer has been a total washout! Sun, rain, hail and sun, all in the space of five minutes! This fluctuating madness is offering me too many options. Do I cycle with or without waterproofs? Do I strap cameras onto my bike? Are my cameras waterproof, if not is this the right time to test them? Should I wear sun cream or an overcoat! These aren’t the sort of questions an artist would readily ask. But, alas, when you’ve opted to become a ‘cycling artist’ anything goes, especially the weather. One thing for sure, nothing can be pre-planned, journeys happen organically, which is ‘for sure’ one of the best weapons for an artist.
I woke up this morning in high spirits, eager to jump onto my bicycle and seek out my next adventure. The sun was shining and my hay fever was streaming, predicting a dry day ahead. I was hoping to cycle to Walsall and recount the story of Charles Holland. Charles Holland was the first British man to compete in the Tour de France and represented the country during the Olympics in 1932 and 1936. A true local hero. In his memoirs, he recalls cycling up to the Barr Beacon and enjoying the view thinking about his accomplishments. I have gathered many stories about the Barr Beacon. Residents have similarly disclosed melancholic experiences, sharing fond memories about family outings and enthusiastic courtships.
Looking out my living room window, I decided to take a chance with the weather and left my Birmingham home for the Barr Beacon. Cycling through the city, I was on the home straight until the clouds broke my pace and threw me into a torrent of rain. I dipped my head in misery, wading through puddles of water, gritting my teeth each time a lorry drove past and drenched me. I didn’t suffer alone. My despair was mirrored in the faces of the cricket supporters. I cycled past huge crowds walking towards Edgbaston cricket ground. They looked cumbersome carrying what seemed to be their entire homes in each arm. I cycled past an array of picnic baskets, coolers, chairs, blankets and several mandatory ‘tornado resistant’ umbrellas. Cricket supporters are resilient. Well versed with the British weather, they bring absolutely everything they need to withstand every climate eventuality.
I reached my studio at the Jewellery Quarter, sodden and uninspired. I had a change of clothes, which cheered me up but once again the weather had changed in an instant. The sun decided to make an appearance. Like watching the late arrival of a Best man at a wedding, I was both relieved and angered at the same time!
Plagued with the decision to cycle to the Barr Beacon, I quickly reassessed my options. Do I get the train to New Street station, or do I stay in my studio and create some work. Within a shadow of that thought, a grey cloud appeared and I made my decision. I will stay in my studio today and work on my new ‘Cycle Dialogues Walsall’ film. Undoubtedly the best plan of the day.