September 27th - Having visited the farm shop, returned via Weeford and Little Hay. Autumn is really kicking in now, and even on this very dull, overcast day, the colours were lovely. By the drainage lagoon at Thickbroom, you’d never realise you were less than 15 metres from the A38.
The rooftops of Weeford - John Wyatt’s exemplar village, built as an advertisement of his architectural prowess - still fascinate me. From the high cemetery near the community hall, the view is commanding and beautiful.
I noted that the land north of Park Lane, between Shenstone and Little Hay is now almost totally given over to free range pigs, snorting and rooting through the brown earth. They must outnumber local residents by a healthy number, and their produce - a quantity of which I’d just bought - is fine and tasty.
I couldn’t help thinking though that if they ever got together and rose up, we’d be under porcine rule within a matter of days… perhaps Animal Farm wasn’t a satire after all.
Setember 24th - My return from Walsall an hour or so later was similarly in a gorgeous, but darker golden hour that made the red bricks of north Walsall glow beautifully. The nights really are drawing in now, and I’ll soon be commuting with lights on. It actually tried to rain on me as I rode home, but the sun never went in.
I guess that just now, we’re entering the autumn period of great sunsets…
Bring it on.
September 24th - I had to nip over to Droitwich late in the afternoon, just to check something over for a client. It’s actually a lot quicker to get there than you’d think; catch the right trains and it’s only 70 minutes out of Walsall.
Droitwich has a lovely station, and as I waited on my return the light was beautifully mellow, but the sky had some very black clouds that looked awfully threatening. But the sun shone through, it was warm, and only the colour of the trees really gave any clue that this was autumn at all.
September 20th - Must have passed this garden backing onto the canal at Anchor Bridge hundreds of times - but never once noticed the apple tree, which this autumn has a fine crop of apples. The owner doesn’t seem to have noticed, though, as the windfalls are plentiful on the ground.
A lovely sight. Wonder if they’re eaters or cookers?
September 19th - After a languid Indian summer, the sudden dull, overcast weather was a shock, but other stuff was bothering me. The air quality seems lousy at the moment, and it was irritating my sinuses making me unusually reliant on decongestant. Visibility wasn’t great either, but the air wasn’t really damp. This is an odd season, to be sure.
The autumn is in full swing, and the colours turning from dusty, tired greens to oranges and golds. Around Clayhanger Common and the new pond, the beautiful, deciduous copses and thickets are a wonder to behold, yet I think few every really study them or note the diversity of species they contain.
If only for a bit more sun to make these colours sing!
September 18th - From the Indian, back to the Indian summer. Darlaston, in and around Victoria Park. The leaves are turning and falling, and the park as clean and perfect as usual. Surrounded by beautiful houses, I will not cease banging on about this jewel of a place until everyone gets it.
I was intrigued by the scarlet berries on the holly-like evergreen; copious and beautiful, they seem to be holly, but the leaves don’t look much like holly leaves; more like a cross between laurel and holly. A curious thing.
Anyone know what it is?
September 17th - The Indian summer continues. It’s very dry, and the air quality is surprisingly poor, but it does make for a lovely atmosphere. Returning home through Shelfield in just a tee shirt, I was captivated by the soft light and landscape.
All autumns should be like this.
September 16th - We’re in a real Indian summer at the moment - back to cycling around without a coat, with the sleeves rolled up. The sun has been shining, and the soft, mist-suffused light - particularly in the afternoons - has been a joy to the soul.
Autumn isn’t far away, though; the trees are turning, and when the sun goes down, there’s a distinctive nip in the air my chest and bones recognise only too well.
Here on the Lichfield Road at Walsall, the atmosphere and colour were gorgeous. I love how the trees are sculpted on the underside by the double decker busses that regularly pass under their boughs.
This has been a great season, and a good year.
September 12th - Conkers, by the shedload. The tree in Festival Gardens, Lichfield is laden with them again, despite being ravaged by leaf miner. Last year, due to the season, they were small, but this year, a better size. They’re thick on the ground in their shiny, brown glory.
Like all men, I’m programmed to pick up conkers whenever I see them. They are beautiful, like jewels in leathery, nutty perfection.
September 12th - I needed to pop into Lichfield, so I rushed there from work, then took a leisurely spin back. Festival Gardens are really nice at this time of year, and I wasn’t disappointed. The trees are now perceptibly turning, but still green. I love the willows here, and the purple flowers and bulrushes on the Trunkfield Brook were nice.
The odd subway here has always fascinated me. From the way its lined with corrugated steel, I think it’s very old. Don’t think I’e ever seen one like this before.
September 10th - I’m not on form this week, not even slightly. Yesterday I got in and complained the wind had been against me both to and from work, and it was pointed out to me that there was next to no wind. Today, I forgot my camera and had to use the phone. I hate that. Oh dear.
I stopped on the way to work to answer a call. Pulling over in Rushall, I realised how autumnal it looked. This is a lovely Indian summer, but I note the leaves starting to fall, and colours slowly changing.
As autumns go, this is up there with the best so far. I just need to get things a bit more together…
September 7th - More fungi today; spotted in open pasture near Longdon, glistening ink caps, and lycoperdon puffballs and rhizopogon earthballs (I may have some, all or none of that wrong, I leave fungi to experts). Considering the relative conformity of plant life in the UK, fungi like this looks almost alien and distinctly odd.
I think that’s why it fascinates me so much.
September 6th - Well, it’s coming on to autumn, and one of the positives about that is fungi. It looks set to be a bumper year, too - caps, toadstools, polypores, puffballs will all put in appearances in the coming weeks.
These gorgeous shaggy ink caps - edible when young - were growing on Brownhills Common, in a spot where I’ve not seen them before. Pretty much perfect specimens.
September 3rd - I’d been to Redditch for a meeting. I don’t go there much these days, and it made a nice change, to be honest. Nicer still was an early finish, and riding back from Sutton, I chose to ride up through Little Aston Forge, a route I also hadn’t ridden for ages.
I must have passed those lovely cottages on the hairpin loads of times over the years, yet I’ve never noticed the pear and plum trees in the hedgerow opposite. The plums - they seemed a bit large to be true damsons - were well over now, but it looked like there had been a decent crop.
The pears had suffered from pests, and some were frost damaged, but the ones that survived were large and beautiful.
I really don’t know why I’ve failed to notice these before…
September 1st - And theres the thing. Although I’m sad for the passage of summer, I’m returning home in the golden hour. Soon, the time of great sunsets will be here.
The sky was terrified this evening, and the dying sun caught the trees by the canal beautifully.
I always think I can’t do it, but I can. There’s beauty in every season - bring it on.