November 29th - I was out early, as the sun rose. I had to go to Telford, and the morning skies were great. It was a shame I was running to close to time to stop and take more pictures. I’d forgotten how wonderful a winter sunrise could be.
At the other end of the day, I returned to Shenstone on a very black, cold and damp night; the weather couldn’t make it’s mind up to be wet or dry. There was a keen breeze that teased me all the way home.
Although it was Friday, the homeward journey was hard, and seemed to take ages. I’m slowly getting into winter mode, but it’s still tough.
November 24th - I enjoyed today’s ride more than I was expecting to. When I left home, it was cold and the air was murky. For some reason, the chill didn’t seem to get to me today - I just wrapped up warm and went for it. The leaves are beautiful now - this is the kind of scene I always expect in late October, but doesn’t seem to happen until later. I shot around Hilton, Wall Butts, Chesterfield, Shenstone, Weeford and Hints. From there, I dropped onto the canal at Hopwas and returned via Whittington and Wall. Between Weeford and Hints, I cycled Dog Lane, a green lane I try to ride at least once a year. The colours were great, and had this been a sunny afternoon, would have been stunning.
If you get chance this week, go for a walk in your nearest countryside, before the next big winds. It’s gorgeous.
November 21st - I returned to Shenstone quite late, and the night was fascinating here, too. I never tire of that station; it’s got no facilities whatsoever, but the atmosphere and architecture make it one of the most lovely stations in the Midlands.
I’m fascinated by the feeling of isolation here at night, the islands of light and the elegant perspective.
I was captivated, too by the chap waiting for his lift under the streetlight on the corner of the car park. A long range, grainy shot, but there’s something about it I can’t explain.
November 5th - Today was April again. Chilly, a morning punctuated by sharp showers, but lit up by remarkable periods of sunshine. I headed to Shenstone for no other reason than the countryside was gorgeous, and I could spare the extra time. The rainbow was wonderful.
I love these lanes.
October 23rd - Strategic mistake. I left Leicester early, and hopped on the first train out of Birmingham I could. I ended up cycling from Shenstone against a fearsome, grinding headwind. Although the lanes are taking on the beauty of autumn at last, this was a hard ride and I didn’t really appreciate the dry, sunny ride at the time.
So far, this has been a week of very grim commuting.
October 21st - It’s going to be a hard week. The Monday morning commute saw me heading to Birmingham in a rainstorm. Visibility was bad, and I abandoned the Chester Road and headed for Shenstone, as I didn’t feel comfortable in the spray and slime of the main road. When I got to Shenstone, I realised just how heavily it was raining. It rained too, on my way home; another fraught journey where I rediscovered the lack of traction on wet road markings and the fact that my jacket waterproofing seems to be failing.
The weather forecast doesn’t seem to be predicting much of an improvement. Oh well, at least it’s warm…
October 3rd - I’m not a big fan of domestic roses - I much prefer their wild, more fragrant cousins. However, even cultivated blooms look great with a fresh rainfall upon them. I spotted these glorious flowers outside Shenstone Church.
A real splash of colour on a very murky day. There’s beauty everywhere if we’re open to it, I guess.
October 3rd - I set out for work a little early on a murky, misty, wet autumn morning, and realised as I sped down the Chester Road that it was oddly photogenic. I decided to take a diversion and spun up to Shenstone, and grabbed some pictures as the season began to turn the leaves.
It worked rather well, I thought. It’s unseasonably warm right now, but I’ve got the feeling we’re on the verge of some really dramatic colours. I think this one could be worth keeping an eye on…
September 13th - A grim commute in both directions. The wind and rain had arrived and seemed set to be in for the weekend. I’d suffered a thoroughly enervating week, and had had quite enough. Train delays and overcrowding made for a tough journey home, and I was glad to be coming back along the quiet lanes between Shenstone and Stonnall with a following wind.
The green, the fresh air and smell of the rain cheered me, but it was oh so hard. It’s a long time since I was this glad of a weekend.
September 7th - This is a bit odd. The last time I cycled through Shenstone, this clock wasn’t here. Didn’t get a good look at it, but it’s an odd thing, really. My biggest question is ‘Why?’, mainly - it does seem to commemorate people and companies in village life though, in the cobbles.
I’m not really sure what to make of it. It’s nice enough, I suppose.
Anyone know what it’s in aid of?
September 3rd - In recent weeks I’ve mentioned the cereal harvest quite a lot, but there are other crops in the fields, too. Potatoes, the parsnips at Home Farm in Sandhills, sugar beet, sprouts and other vegetables are nearing readiness, too. Here near Shenstone, a field of what I think is either kale or cabbage looks lush in the afternoon sun, and the air smells distinctly.
July 30th - The ripening is noticeable everywhere. Returning from Shenstone, the fields of wheat and oilseed rape were losing their last vestiges of green; not yet ready to harvest, but well on the way. The golden colour is welcome and is like late summer’s coat; the countryside is replete in golds, beige and dark, dark green.
Also doing well, the bramble fruits - dewberry and blackberry - are turning red, and the parsnips growing at Sandhills look in fine fettle.
Doesn’t look like it was such a bad season, after all.
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.
May 16th - A day without rain, for me at least, and quite pleasant, if a little cold. The rain seems to have made everything bolt - these growing plants, in a field just west of Shenstone - were not evident last week. Wonder hat they are? Anyone know?
May 14th - Grim ride home. The morning wasn’t bad, but just as I started the evening commute, the heavens opened. It was thoroughly wet, dark and miserable. Not helping the mood were the remarkable number of speeding drivers on Lynn Lane at Shenstone - two were actually racing each other in very bad conditions indeed.
My glum determination was lifted, however, by the familiar cheesy, flowery scent of oilseed rape. The thick, heavy pollen was being stirred by the raindrops. In the dark afternoon, it was gorgeous.
There’s beauty in the most unpleasant days.