September 8th - I hit Birmingham again mid afternoon. I was drained, and feeling a bit groggy, but couldn’t waste the good weather. I rode out of town on the canal to Spaghetti Junction, then eastwards to Castle Vale and hopped on the Plantsbrook/New Hall Valley cycleway. It was gorgeous, and well worth what seemed like a Herculean effort.
The Himalayan balsam is thick by the brook for almost the entire cycleway, making the air smell of hot tin, but for all the damage it causes, it is rather beautiful.
When I got to Sutton, I was beaten, and hopped on the train to Shenstone. IBS can be a pain sometimes.
April 18th - Between Harlaston and Clifton Campville, there’s a small, Catholic hamlet called Haunton. There’s a church, a small convent, a huge old folk’s home that used to be a private school and a lot of odd architecture. This is a tiny place, but it has surprising corners.
In the churchyard today, I noticed this railing remnant being consumed by two separate trees engaged in a slow, determined tug of war. I was fascinated in the distortion, and wondered how old the railings were.
I swear that if you put your ear close, you could hear the trees grunting…
June 5th - Glad I spotted this advert at the junction of Footherley Lane and Hollyhill Lane on the way back from Shenstone. Footherley Hall - a home for elderly ladies run by Catholic nuns - always puts on a great fete, and if you’re in the area on Sunday I recommend you pop in for a while. You couldn’t get anything much more English than this - tea, cakes,tombola, bric-a-brac and sunshine if they’re lucky, all in great, rural gardens. A fine thing.
November 13th - Later, in Acocks Green, I was surprised to note some old and rather wonderful architecture I hadn’t noticed previously. I was so busy looking for old cottages last week, that I never spotted some rather wonderful examples of civic buildings in Alexander Road. The Baptist Church Hall is a classic Birmingham terracotta brick building, and puts me very much in mind of the Magistrates Court in Corporation Street in the city centre. It seems to have an attached caretakers house, and next door appears to be an attractive former schoolhouse. I must look into the history of these buildings - they’re very grand for a small suburb. There must have been a fair bit of money here once…
March 15th - Hard to get a good shot of Hanch Hall, and today was no exception. It is, after all, a private residence, and it’s well screened by trees, even in winter. I did, however, note this fine fellow strutting his stuff. You don’t see may peacocks around these days… every hall should have a few.