June 30th - I guess we’re halfway through the year now, and in high summer. It certainly seemed like it as I cycled home along the canal this evening - the greenery, the light, the still, clear water. The peace.
It also occurred to me that after 6 moths of opening out, we’re now closing in again, but summer will hopefully be around for another 10 weeks or so yet.
It doesn’t seem ten minutes ago since I was wrapping up warm and wondering if I needed to change to winter tyres.
Where has this year gone?
June 29th - Also showing well was the landscape. From the view down to Sandhills and Springhill over Home Farm, to the threatening skies over Hammerwich, the countryside looked gorgeous. Everywhere I surveyed was turning colour with ripening crops.
This people, is Brownhills. It has some remarkably beautiful views.
June 29th - I wasn’t feeling so hot, and after the canalside festival, headed for a spin up to Chasewater, just to get some air. I must say, the hay fever is playing havoc with me this year.
The canal is teaming with life at the moment, from the growing families of waterfowl - the swan family still stand at 7 and they’re getting huge now - to dragon and damselflies, water lilies and some rather large fish. It’s a fascinating place at the moment, and well worth a walk if you fancy it.
It didn’t help my hay fever in the slightest, but it did take my mind off the sneezing…
June 28th - At the Sandyway island on the A461 Walsall Road, just south of Lichfield, there’s a field of maturing oilseed rape stretching over to Maple Hayes, with poppies interspersed though it. It’s not as impressive as the fields were just up the hill last year, but it’s not bad; those fields have this year rotated to wheat.
I think the crop may be organic, as mixed in are all manner of wildflowers including thistles, poppies, ox eye daisies, cow parsley, and a purple blue flower I don’t recognise.
The most puzzling thing is the steel box marked ‘BT Property CC223’ hanging loosely on the gate post; it’s not fixed and can be opened, but theres little inside aside from the remnants of a mechanism in the lid.
I have a feeling it may be a cash box from an old-style payphone kiosk. Anybody know for sure? It’s certainly an odd thing in an unusual place…
June 28th - At Waitrose in Lichfield, an intriguing shopping list left on the clipboard of a discarded trolley. ‘Dr. P (Doctor Pepper, I assume), Cream Soda, Flake, Bounty, Marathon, D/eck (Double Decker?).
That’s a wicked chocolate and pop binge, or one hyperactive children’s party.
All these years, and Ye Olde City still can’t bring itself to think of Snickers either…
June 28th - I was in Lichfield on an errand. There was a parade of the Mercian regiment, which saw old soldiers and the public turn out in droves.
Later, there was drinking and high jinks including these two speeding characters.
I hope I’ve as much oil in my lamp at their age. Terrific fun.
June 27th - This post was inspired by top Pelsall geezer Matt Drew, who spotted a different clump of these fellows and posted a pic on Facebook last week, inspiring me to look out for them.
These delightfully spiky caterpillars are the larvae of the beautiful peacock butterfly. They really are rather impressively hostile-looking, but cute at the same time - I spotted them in a nettle bed at the top of Shire Oak Hill, near the old quarry there.
In summer, the adult female peacock will lay between 200 and 500 eggs at the very top of a stinging nettle in direct sunlight. 10 days later they’ll hatch, and the emerging caterpillars will spin a communal web-tent out of silk (see the top picture) which they’ll live in until large enough to leave; they live and grow in clumps at the top of nettles, and as they grow, they may move from nettle to nettle in a patch together as a group, before pupating separately.
They’re easy to spot as a dark infestation at the tops of the tallest nettles in a nettle bed.
Male peacock butterflies are very territorial, and can often be seen attempting to chase away birds that may be coming near their selected nettle patch.
I’m glad I found some - and thanks again to Matt for the inspiration to look.
June 27th - A hard day and an awful journey home for the last commute of the week. The trains were a mess and I came back from Four Oaks against a grinding headwind with little left in my reserve tanks. I was knackered.
Re-armed with the camera, I spied this field of high-quality, nicely ripening barley at the foot of Castle Hill. It’s a lovely crop, with plump, large grain and will make fine malt.
I love the satin sheen of an undulating crop of barley, as it bobs in the wind. It’s one of the great seasonal sights of the English countryside.
June 26th - Without my trusty camera, the phone was employed again on the way home - but I hate it, and inadvertently set it to take square images, which are no use to man nor beast.
I took some photos of a lovely black and white puss that walked out of the hedge in Green Lane, and mewed a greeting at me, but the images were terrible. Just as well that I noticed this impressive pile drilling machine on the building site near Catshill Juntion. It will be drilling foundation piles for the new maisonettes here.
That’s a large drill bit and an impressively complex piece of equipment. Bet it would be fun to play with…
June 26th - Work is a lot busier this week than I expected, and I /was/ keeping on top of things… until today, when I left my camera at work. I’d spotted these cute little violet flowers on a verge near Telford Railway Station and have no idea what they are, but they’re quite small.
Sadly, as I left my camera behind, it mean 365days got behind, too…
June 25th - As the summer winds on, the next stage of the season begins; moving from the flowering, to the fruiting and seeding. In Walsall Wood’s Green Lane, there’s a patch of comfrey that’s going to seed, and I was intrigued by the way it forms from the flowers, another almost prehistoric-looking plant. Intertwined with it, the white bloom of mid and late summer, bindweed.
Soon, blackberries will be forming on the brambles, and there will be hips, haws and berries ripening aplenty, and time for a new palette of colours; but at the moment we’re passing from the purple into the white for a while.
The advancing summer makes me a little sad, but the weather is fine ad warm, and everything looks splendid. I’m in my element, to be honest.
June 25th - One the way to work today in Telford, I passed, as I usually do, a tall beech hedge. My attention was snagged by the bright, crisp red-green new growth, and the intensely geometric nature of these gorgeous leaves.
Each leaf different, but similar. Macro, and fascinating. Never really studied them before, but these were remarkable.
Funny the things you sometimes see afresh by chance.
June 24th - The wildflowers have peaked now - as summer draws on, only the old familiars will really remain as the more showy specimens fade. One of my favourite long lasting flowers - up there with birds foot trefoil - is this vetch, an electric blue/violet delight. It’s growing in abundance on Clayhanger Common and near the Pier Street Bridge in Brownhills, and is really rather splendid.
It always seems alive with bugs, too, so it serves a useful purpose to boot.
June 24th - Hatherton House, one of the older, more dignified buildings of Walsall, situated on Hatherton Street. That was until it was converted into a nursery, and some arsehatted moron decided to do this to it.
I have nothing further to add.