August 31st - It was a gorgeous afternoon - sunny, warm, with only a light wind. Sadly, I missed most of it due to being unwell. I finally left for a gentle spin at 5pm, and spun up the canal to Aldridge, then over Lazy Hill and back up the Chester Road over Shire Oak into Brownhills.
I had no energy at all. But it was a lovely ride, and I stopped to photograph the view at the top of Lazy Hill and at Shire Oak. I’m astounded how far you can see from Shire Oak on a clear day - those cooling towers are the derelict ones at Willington; inbetween, Burton and the huge Argos warehouse at Barton.
Note also the wind turbine at Whittington Hurst, seemingly very close in the shot of prospect house.
A great, short ride.
August 30th - From the top of Shire Oak heading into Rushall, I stopped to admire the view, as I often do. It’s worth clicking on that top image and checking it out closely - beyond Walsall, Dudley Castle is clearly visible to the left. From here one can see just how green and verdant our area is in Summer, and I do think this vista - with the church tower above the treetops - is rather beautiful in summer. I’m still no wiser as to what the tower central on the skyline is.
Further down the Lichfield Road the houses being built on the former St. John’s school site are making progress. Interesting to see the old roof truss still in use on the open gable. In time, the new houses will adjoin the remainder of the old school.
A dull, overcast day, but still plenty to see.
August 27th - Just on the canal bank between the Black Cock Bridge and Walsall Wood Bridge, a crab apple tree with lots of good fruit.
This is the first tree along here I’ve seen with fruit this year. Normally there are three or four.
A sad reflection on the season, which seems to have been a bit strange. But never mind, this will make a lovely jelly for someone.
August 27th - A run out mid afternoon on an errand. I headed up the canal from Pelsall Road to Silver Street bridge, then over Clayhanger Common and the new pond to Walsall Wood.
The herons are getting really, really confident; this one was on the canal by the Watermead estate. He wasn’t a bit bothered by what was going on around him.
The Swan family were grazing by the embankment restoration near the Black Cock Bridge. The seven young I’ve followed since hatching are adult-sized now, and the first hints of adult, white plumage are beginning to show. I don’t know what the bank works have disturbed, but these graceful birds were very engaged with eating it!
August 23rd - I had to pop into Aldridge on an errand, and so I took the canal. There’s an autumnal nip in the air, and everything is ripening. A fine crop of elderberries, blackberries and haws will make some fantastic pddings and wine, and the rosebay willowherb is demonstrating beautifully why it’s know as ‘old man’s beard’.
The only disappointment is the acorn crop, which is very, very bad. Only the second tree I’ve seen with any fruit this year - oddly, the acorns that grew are fat and in excellent shape, but the tree is mostly carrying the dead buds of undeveloped fruit. Most odd.
And then, that heron. He’s persistent, I’ll give him that. A fine bird.
August 20th - In late summer, in an overcast moment, Coppice (or Goblin) Woods between Walsall Wood and Shelfield are silent, dark and beautiful.
I think this is probably the oldest oak and holly deciduous woodland for miles and miles around. This is very traditional British woodland, of which there is precious little left.
If you fancy a walk out this weekend, why not pop down and explore it?
August 18th - He was only a kitten, really; a sharp eyed, keen whiskered black and white mog exploring his world. This is where I saw the smokey grey pedigree chap a few weeks ago, just on the far side of the canal at Barrow Close in Walsall Wood.
Puss didn’t seem bothered about me, and was initially hunting something in the water. Foiled, he took a drink instead.
A lovely lad with a smudge-black nose and a remarkably long tail. Oh, to be an inquisitive young cat in summertime…
August 18th - If you haven’t noticed by now, I love herons. Adore them. I make no apology for featuring this one, just a day from featuring the last one - this was was on the restored embankment at the Black Cock Bridge in Walsall Wood.
Love the way he had his back to the water, and was stood on one leg, resting pensively.
I could never tire of watching these fellows.
April 16th - Spinning up to Screwfix in Walsall Wood, I noticed that the bank restoration works near the Black Cock Bridge were still ongoing. It seems that after the sectional piling was installed, earth has been spread to the level of it and dropped in front.
This work has primarily been to stabilise the bank and counter erosion, and is not to do with subsidence, as some have asserted. It is interesting to note at this point, that the fall from the embankment on that side is very steep, and the consequences of a breach on that side could be severe.
I do hope they get around to stabilising the brickwork on the other side, though, it’s falling away and is still hazardous to users.
August 13th - The wind had changed direction slightly, and the rains were scarcer, but conversely, the skies were far more threatening. As I headed home to Brownhills, I was struck by the drama of it. I’m not greatly struck by Humphries House in snow white, but it doesn’t half show off an angry sky well.
Hope it settles down a bit for the weekend.
August 12th - Sweet rain fell in short, sharp showers as I rode home, often out of an almost totally clear, blue sky. The weather is certainly odd at the moment; the wind has been quite strong and it’s been very changeable.
I’ve forgot in this really quite dry summer the music of rain falling on the canal and leaves as I pass. In summer, it’s an occasional delight to the senses.
So long as it doesn’t become too frequent..
August 4th - He was fishing in the canal from the gardens at the back of Barrow Close in Walsall Wood. He is absolutely gorgeous, and I think I’m in love. He has to be a pedigree.
Look at the length of that tail! A fine cat whose staff should be very proud.
July 31st - It’s not lightly or without thought that I feature this, but it is part of rural life that’s becoming increasingly common on urban roads, too.
This is a dead badger, spotted at the side of Green Lane, Walsall Wood yesterday. Adult, large, and in generally good condition, he had been hit by a car. Either carried or finding his way to the hedgerow, he looks like he died peacefully there.
There ain’t a whole lot of road sense in your average badger, and they’re becoming increasingly active in urban areas like Brownhills. Please take care when driving at night, as these creatures often stumble out of hedges and verges.
They are heavy, and solid, and will do damage to cars if hit at speed, but to those on two wheels, they can be deadly.
Watch out for Brock, please.
July 30th - It still seems too early to me, but it’s the time of the fruiting and berries now. I’m very familiar with the sticky red berries of honeysuckle - the glaze attracts dust and grime and makes them look grubby - but birds and bugs love them, although they’re mildly toxic to humans.
The white berry here I’m familiar with, but have no idea of the name. These used to grow on the front of a house I’d pass on the way to school, and the berries popped delightfully when thrown at the ground; this is what’s making me think they’re early. I’d have been plucking them in September, at the start of a new term. It’s barely the beginning of the summer holidays right now.
Anyone know their name?
July 29th - The harvest actually started a few days ago, but I was in too much of a hurry that night to get home, there was no time to stop and take photos. This was a field of oilseed rape, on the corner of Green Lane and Mob Lane, just by Grange Farm, in Walsall Wood. The dry plant has been harvested for it’s tiny, black seeds, threshed out of their pots by complex harvesting machinery. The pods, chaff and stalks are shredded, and sprayed back out on the ground to be ploughed back in.
Once the harvest starts, you know the season is marching onwards…