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…
June 23rd - Long, hard day at work on a gorgeous summer day; I only caught the beginning and end. The sky was a lovely blue this evening, and as I passed Little Aston church, I stopped to take a few shots over the meadow. That’s a remarkable spire on a very nice, underrated church.
Even better on a languid summer evening…
April 29th - It really is all about the flowers for me at the moment. I miss them so much in winter, it’s fantastic to have this roadside splashes of colour back in my life.
Spotted returning from Sutton this evening, just minding their own business on a roadside verge: the most dramatic red tulips and (I think) delicate, pink clematis.
I’m never the fastest cyclist around, and every journey takes longer at this time of year as I have to keep stopping and looking at the flowers…
April 29th - There’s a lovely old house on the corner of Forge Lane anfd the Walsall Road in Little Aston. Sheltering under a huge pine tree, imaginatively named “The Cotaage’ is a lovely, well-maintained landmark on the busy road from Aldridge to Sutton. But what I really like about it at this time of year is the gorgeous lilac creeper - I think it’s Wisteria.
Beautiful, even passing by on an overcast Tuesday evening in rush hour…
November 18th - I left for work a little early today, I took the backlanes for a change. Despite the grey, overcast weather, they were beautiful in late autumn colours. A good wind now, and these trees will be stripped of their last leaves.It really is gorgeous out there at the moment.
October 22nd - That’s more like it. I returned home from work after yet another wet morning commute on a bright, sunny afternoon. There was a great sunset over Little Aston, and after the recent rainy days I dawdled, loving it.
Ah, for the blessed sunlight.
August 14th - Spotted at Little Aston - the first ripe blackberries of the year. Note the tighter structure. These are a little hairy, and I suspect they’re a hybrid, but the fruit was firm and smelt divine.
There’s an absolute feast out there at the moment. Never seen fruiting like it.
July 18th - Heading to work through the backlanes of Little Aston, I spotted these to lovely carpets of colour in the same field. They’re beautiful - one purple, one white. I had thought at first from a distance that they might be flax, but as soon as i got close I realised they were spuds.
There are a good few chips in that there field…
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.