A crazy day of community & guerilla gardening on Saturday - here are some examples of guerilla gardening interventions, it was great fun! 

Tough paths. Had an ambitious cycling plan to get from Walsall to Rugeley via tow paths… The weather was delightful and I really enjoyed my ride until (more or less) Coven Heath), where gravel or earth path started giving way to grass. Cycling on the grass turned out to be quite an ordeal but hey, it got better from Gailey where I stopped for an ice cream in a lovely canal shop. 

My plan was to go until the very end of Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal (seeing Tixall Wide on they way) and then turn right on Trent & Mersey Canal, going up until Rugeley and then taking a train home. Unfortunatelly, I got a puncture somewhere around Weeping  Cross! To be fair, I was lucky because it was only 3 miles away from Stafford railway station, so it wasn’t too much of a walk. Serves me right, because I should have carried a puncture repair kit - and known how to use it! Next time…

All in all, I think it was a bit of a reality check for me and my canal cycling enthusiasm. It works great in the city, but cycling on grass on countryside tow paths really did my knees in and took most of the pleasure away. So, more research before I go and choosing only the paths that are more suitable for cyclists? Or giving them up altogether and going on country roads instead?

Oh canals, I love you so much…

One of my favourite places - Tame Valley Canal right next to Tame Bridge Parkway. So much space, with the canal up above the rail tracks and the M6 looming on the horizon. 

Gentle 1 hour run, and the tow path wasn’t muddy at all which was a nice change. 

Went for a gentle run in Palfrey Park yesterday evening. I am trying to get back to my healthy-ish life after all the pub food and eating out while on holidays.
I do not usually take photos while running - to much of a hassle to take my phone out of the armband - so I am posting an old one, taken in December, when I still had no idea Palfrey Park would become my regular running place in few months time, after moving to the UK. 
I love this little park. Especially Asian muslim ladies exercising in a very dignified way - in lovely clothes, head scarves or full veils, walking briskly in groups or doing gentle runs, with no sign of sweat at all. And me, face red, sweaty, in my tight running clothes.
I wish I could have a picture of that. Everything interesting is about contrast. 

Went for a gentle run in Palfrey Park yesterday evening. I am trying to get back to my healthy-ish life after all the pub food and eating out while on holidays.

I do not usually take photos while running - to much of a hassle to take my phone out of the armband - so I am posting an old one, taken in December, when I still had no idea Palfrey Park would become my regular running place in few months time, after moving to the UK. 

I love this little park. Especially Asian muslim ladies exercising in a very dignified way - in lovely clothes, head scarves or full veils, walking briskly in groups or doing gentle runs, with no sign of sweat at all. And me, face red, sweaty, in my tight running clothes.

I wish I could have a picture of that. Everything interesting is about contrast. 

More flowers in the Guerilla Garden

Yesterday we finally got on to plant new flowers on the patch that had been dug up about 2 weeks ago. It’s looking good, isn’t it?

We also did some weeding, spread some slug pellets out and did our best to kill the ants eating the dahlias!

New plants have been donated by Walsall DIY or sold to us with a huge discount. Thank you, Walsall DIY.

I don’t think there is any space to plant anything left at the moment:-) Still, would be great to have some really beautiful and well kept grass there - but maybe it’s something for the next year? 

What is the best way to get a nice grass lawn, cheap?

One night, right in front of the Black Country Arms…

How long must it take to repair the paving at the top of the Walsall market? This fence has been here for at least 3 weeks and no work has been done so far - walking in the night there feels like you are in some kind of ghost town, with a huge supermarket looming over closed shops and crumbling infrastructure. 

Grim image indeed.

And while we’re at it and if it’s a question of money, couldn’t ASDA contribute to the renovation? The cobbles are right there, in front of the big ASDA logo.

And here is the bit that still looks alright, but might soon start deteriorating:

Here. You’ve got me. Complaining. 

Few hours of work and the garden looks much better… We will be planting something this weekend, if the weather is fine. The owner of Caldmore Timber assured me that he’ll be still building the new fence, he’s just been very busy and hasn’t had time yet. Some guys were curious whether I was doing community service for shoplifting. Hmm, interesting! Had a chat with some Polish members of the community who promised they’d never throw anything on the ground now that the garden’s there. A lady asked (after 4 hours of gardening) if I liked doing it. Again, didn’t quite know what to answer…
 Yours sincerely, knackered gardener

Few hours of work and the garden looks much better… We will be planting something this weekend, if the weather is fine. The owner of Caldmore Timber assured me that he’ll be still building the new fence, he’s just been very busy and hasn’t had time yet. Some guys were curious whether I was doing community service for shoplifting. Hmm, interesting! Had a chat with some Polish members of the community who promised they’d never throw anything on the ground now that the garden’s there. A lady asked (after 4 hours of gardening) if I liked doing it. Again, didn’t quite know what to answer…

Yours sincerely, knackered gardener

Somewhere in Wednesbury - scribbled on a gate at Walsall Canal.
You can’t quite argue with it, can you?

Somewhere in Wednesbury - scribbled on a gate at Walsall Canal.

You can’t quite argue with it, can you?

Urban gardening in Moletai, Lithuania

I am sorry for the long break, but I’ve just come back from a study trip around Lithuania organised within the international project Localise. The aim was to get to know Lithuanian cultural institutions, ngos and other organisations running projects and initiatives with and for local communities. We travelled around Lithuania in a group of 15 artists, community arts and culture animation practitioners from three countries: Poland, Lithuania and the UK. 

It was a very fruitful and inspiring experience in many ways, but I really didn’t expect to see this in a little town of Moletai, about 60 km north of Vilnius:

I don’t know if it is a guerilla gardening project, a local school initiative or an activity that was a part of the 650 years of Moletai festival, but look at the effect! It’s easy, it’s cheap and very very impressive. 

I am starting to collect 1,5 l bottles. Let me know if you have any and are planning to be in Caldmore anytime soon.

Walsall to Chasewater Reservoir and back

I met with my mate Q yesterday for some cycling around Walsall - I had been planning to go to Chasewater & Hammerwich for a while so I proposed following National Route 5  to the reservoir. I don’t think he expected such a long ride - we ended up doing 40 km in a bit more than 3 hours. 

But hey, the sun was shining and everything invited us to go for a ride!

Everything is in bloom now and the canals look amazing - both the industrial and wilder fragments. It was quite muddy on the tow-path alongside Daw End and Rushall Canal. It was quite difficult to cycle on that bit between Aldridge and Rushall when the path is very narrow and can be wet. Still fun, though!

Chasewater itself was a bit of a disappointment - even though I’m not even sure what I expected, a lake, maybe? There wasn’t that much water in it and we learnt that it was due to the two years’ works being done on the dam. They’re supposed to finish by the end of the year, so I am already looking forward to the next!

We saw a lot of ducks and swans with their young, a dead dog lying by the tow path right opposite Brownhills’ Tesco and a crazy heron on Rushall Canal that kept on flying off and landing in the middle of the path in front of us. 

Ah, and we had a short stop at Manor Arms pub in Rushall. What a great place for a break on a day out.

It was a delightful day. The National Route was good, so I will be exploring other parts soon - Lichfield, anyone?