May 31st - Summer finally here at last. After a week of dreadful, rain-sodden commutes, fraught with stress and delay, this was a real tonic. The rapeseed is still spreading the fluorescent yellow love, and nature rose to the occasion perfectly, with field margins and hedgerows ablaze with colour and resonating to birdsong and beebuzz.
May 30th - It hasn’t been commuting this week, it’s been a test of endurance. This morning, I left for work in heavy rain with a heavier heart. All week, the weather and travel has been grim. I’m fed up of it and would really like some summer, if that’s OK with you.
Thankfully, after my browbeaten, besodden and bedraggled journey to work, the return was in warmer, drier conditions. The air this morning held mist; this afternoon it was clear. As I came past Jockey Meadows on my way home, it was positively glowing and glistening, as only fresh green growth can.
Let’s hope this is the start of a dry spell.
May 15th - It was a dreadful commute on the way to the station this morning - driving rain, cold, windy. When I got to Redditch, the rain had lessened, but conditions were still challenging.
What a difference, then, when I emerged in the afternoon sunlight. The rain had gone, skies were blue and apart from an unpleasant westerly wind, it was a joy to cycle the backlanes home. Beware, though, if using Forge Lane in Little Aston tomorrow. There’s a tree fallen over the road near the old mill. Most cars would pass OK, but if you’re in a 4WD or van it might be difficult.
March 25th - It promised to be a thoroughly dreadful journey home. Checking travel information just before leaving work, there was chaos at New Street, with overhead line difficulties causing mass cancellations and a reduction to Sunday service on all lines I could get home from. Pitching up a the station, I went for a Walsall train, then heard an announcement for a Lichfield one. Just making it to the right platform, I easily climbed aboard a 6-carriage set which had seats to spare. I actually left New Street before I would normally. This was nice and rather odd. I was very, very lucky.
Alighting at Blake Street, I found the light to be fantastic and even the backlanes clear. The wind was still sculpting powdery snow into impressive drifts, and coming from the northeast, was a distinct and formidable crosswind.
As Laura Marling says ‘I’ll never love England more than when it’s covered in snow.’
February 19th - A beautiful, sunny, frosty winter morning. I love days like this. It was cold, but the warmth in the sun was tangible, and felt good on my shoulders. In Little Aston, mist quivered in the hollows, before being burnt up in the sun.
A great start to the day.
February 7th - None of these pictures have been doctored. Dawn, over Little Aston and Blake Street. It really was like this, one of the finest dawns I think I’ve ever witnessed.
This, my friends, is why I ride a bike.
January 22nd - A gorgeous morning. It was bitterly cold, but the sun was out, and small patches of mist hovered in the hollows. Today, it was a real joy to be cold, on such a fine winter’s day. The road through Mill Green was challenging, but better.
I couldn’t think of anywhere finer than here and now.
January 17th - If you’re bored of the winter pictures, it could be a rather long week ahead, sorry. I love them, and intend to bore you with loads.
It was dry and cold when I left home this morning, and the humidity had dropped, so the mist was lighter, but ice still crusted the surface of my gloves and eyebrows as I rolled into the station. Diving off the Chester Road at Wood Lane, I decided to chance my arm at Little Aston Forge, where the sheet ice had been. The sheet ice was still there, but I just glided down the powder-dusted lanes. I adore this weather - possibly not as much as a sunny day in high summer, but I relish the stark drama, and the knowledge that in 80 days of so this will be greening again once more. That’s what’s great about England: extremes.
January 14th - Well it snowed. A little, no more than an inch, really, and very, very wet; it was pouring with rain as I left for work. Taking care to avoid the school run, I wound my way around the backlanes, taking an undignified delight in the white landscape. I love the snow. Hope we get some more… but of the dry variety. Public transport held up, and there weren’t too many folks driving like idiots. I got very wet, but I had fun. Not bad for a Monday morning…
January 8th - The house that stands on the junction of Mill Lane and ForgeLane in Mill Green, Little Aston is still lying derelict, unloved and appears to be falling into ruin. This is a very large house in an exclusive, rural area. When occupied, it must have been worth at least £500,000, maybe more. I can’t even work out how such a property comes to be abandoned and left to vandals. This was once, clearly, a family home. Someone must own it, their must be a backstory. Nothing has changed here for years. Anyone know anything? It’s a crying shame.
December 13th - I lost a good friend today. It was a cracking morning ride - I had begun to think over the summer that Britain’s weather had forgotten how to make the country look good, but in the last few days - and this morning particularly - I realised that it’s just been dormant, resting, hopefully for a grand performance to come. It was cold, and black ice lurked in hollows, gutters and on bends, but riding was fast and the sky gorgeous in the late winter sunrise. I took loads of pictures, then made late by my fascination, I hurried to work. Coming up the steps at Tyseley, I performed a bounce-test on my trusty Panasonic camera, which was inadvertently hooked out of my pocket with my gloves. The little wonder was no match for the steps, and the case broke and the internal optics were shattered. Since this time last year when it was new it’s taken about 14,000 pictures, so it really doesn’t owe me anything. With a heavy heart, I ordered another.
Must be more careful in future…
December 12th - I had hoped for a few days of cold, clear weather - but it seems the mist and murk has settled back in. Still, I don’t mind as it makes for variety and the cold adds a welcome urgency to the commute. Today, I flew through the journey along icy backlanes, the hedges and skeletal trees dusted in rime. A peculiarly grey and silent day, it was an eerie commute, and the crystal-encrusted spiderwebs on the fence at Blake Street were fascinating.
December 3rd - A great journey to work. When I awoke, it was raining, heavily. But as I left the house, the rain ceased and the sun came out, making for a smooth a fast ride to the station. It felt warm and the wind was at my back. Passing Little Aston church, I noticed the meadow before it was wreathed in mist and looking rather beautiful.
All the time, the sky became more and more gorgeous. This was a great winters day. We’ve had way too few of these so far this season.
November 19th - An unexpectedly grim commute home. Late trains, packed in like sardines, rain and a gusting wind. It’s not looking much better for tomorrow morning, either. Alighting at Blake Street for a change (and hopefully a tailwind) the station looked grim and harsh in the drizzle. It’s about time we all gave this winter lark up as a bad job…
November 15th - Autumn - season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Well, we got the mists. Cycling on foggy days like this is unpleasant. in a short, 20 minute journey to Blake Street, 6 cars and 1 cyclist without lights at all. The usual selfish, aggressive driving. The discomfort of water condensing over your clothes and face.
It does, however, add a pleasantly enjoyable air of mystery to otherwise unremarkable scenes. A challenging day for riding, and photography too.