July 18th - By the time I was riding home through the backlanes between Shenstone and Stonnall, my energy had gone, I was hot, tired and in pain. It was hard going, but the evening views and atmosphere made it difficult to be upset.
A truly gorgeous evening, of the kind we don’t get in the UK much. Such heat, but so glorious; and a storm is coming in.
Don’t moan about the heat too much, it’ll be cold and wet again soon enough…
July 10th - Mission complete. It’s been a hard few days working on a rush job, and I finally handed it on now, and the crisis has passed. I returned home via Stonnall in the late evening light, almost too tired to cycle up Shire Oak Hill.
Cresting this hill - always, always hard work from any direction - is a personal nemesis and when tired, it’s punishing. But once at the top, it’s pretty much a freewheel downhill to food, rest, a good cup of tea and the welcome of family.
It’s over, for now. A great relief.
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…
June 9th - I came back from work and into Brownhills on a rather lovely summer evening, which, in contrast to the stormy morning, was welcome and lovely. Even at 6pm Brownhills seemed busy with walkers and folk out and about, and the Canoe and Outdoor Centre on Silver Street was humming with activity.
Summer this year is coming in short bursts. Hope this stormy weather passes soon…
May14th - I was back in Telford, and shut in an airless building with no natural light, so I missed a sunny, gorgeous day. This made it nicer to be out when I left though, and cycling home from Four Oaks in the evening sun I was struck by how green and verdant everything now is.
At Mill Green, the cottage looks lovely cloaked in it’s summertime shroud of greenery, and I noted the elders were flowering beautifully up the lane.
A wonderful evening ride.
May 11th - I’d really not been well. My stomach was bad, and my body ached, so it was just as well the weather during the day was poor, as I didn’t feel like I’d missed much. I got out at dusk, and took in the sunset, spinning up a wet canal towpath to check up on the swan family. Sadly, I didn’t catch them - once the cygnets hatch, they tend to move around a lot so I’m not overly concerned - but I did catch an impressive sky.
In the distance, I could see it was raining still out towards Tamworth. A fitting end to a pretty horrible day.
April 27th - I was working throughout the day, and only got out late evening. It was threatening rain, and dusk was bearing down. I then realised I’d forgotten the camera, so had to use my phone. It didn’t really like the light, I think.
Nice to see that in the last week my favourite tree - the lone horse chestnut near Home Farm, Sandhills, has burst into leaf; I read the seasons by that tree, and now I know safe passage to summer is guaranteed. The canal all the way round to Newtown (and probably well beyond) is lush, and green, and beautiful. How I love this season.
Cruising up Short Street, I spotted the sky, and shot home before I got soaked. Interesting to note, though, that the street lights here have been changed for new LED ones; they’re very good, and are creeping onto many streets in Brownhills. Wonder what the rollout plan is?
So much nicer than the old orange ones.
April 20th - For an evening spin, it was pleasant enough; the wind was grim, but at least I’d fixed the problem with my gears. At Chasewater, the sunset was nice, but unremarkable, and I was surprised at how tiny the gull roos was. I could hear an owl calling near the dame, but I couldn’t see it. On the way back home, the sky darkened, and it looked very, very black over Bill’s mother’s.
Luckily, I just got home and got the bike in as the heavens opened… I do hope that nice spell wasn’t summer.
April 12th - I got a long ride in today, but the afternoon was dull and overcast and I hardly took any photos at all. I was just too busy, stoking the miles in. I left mid afternoon, and headed out via Stonnall, Canwell and Middleton, then on to the canal near Middleton Lakes. I headed into Birmingham against a fearsome headwind, along the canals of the city centre, then out via Smethwick, Great Bridge, Darlaston and back to Walsall. Picking up some shopping, I headed home early evening. It was a great ride - just about 50 miles in total.
As I came over the Arboretum Junction, I took this from the stopline. Walsall looks gorgeous in the dusk.
February 27th - I’d had a tough day at work, and just wanted to get home fast. I wasn’t in the mood to faff about, and got the first train I could in the right general direction. That turned out to be the service that terminated at Four Oaks. It was a cracking ride home - dry, clear, crisp - a great spring evening. The sunset wasn’t outstanding, but it was pleasant in it’s starkness, and Castlehill looked as beautiful as ever in the half light.
What intrigued me most, however, was growing on a small patch of neglected flowerbed alongside the access ramp at Four Oaks. Violet flowers, looking a bit like poppies. Just the one small group in an otherwise weed-srewn border. Anyone any idea what this delightful flower is, please?
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 10th - Remembrance. I called in at Hopwas to get a shot of the War Memorial here (there is none at Wall, to my surprise). It was darkening as I arrived, and having forgotten my tripod, I struggled. But this is a beautiful building and a delightful place, especially on an autumn evening.
Hopwas is the most curious, lovely church in all of Staffordshire. There, I said it.Yet what gazetteer or guide breathes it’s name? Who ever mentions this delightful country church?
Sitting in the shadow of Hopwas Hays Wood, high on the hillside, it gives the air of a country farmhouse, with white and timber gables, chimney and leaded pocket windows. Built in 1881 and designed by John Douglas of Cheshire, it’s a building that, to the best of my knowledge, is unique, and in a beautiful spot.
I was glad to see a wreath from the local Scouts, and several crosses. This is a fine place to be remembered.
October 24th - At the other end of the day, I came back at 6pm, and noticed it was already coming on dark. I stopped briefly at Shire Oak to sort my lights out properly, and reflected on the fact that next week, after the clocks go back, I’ll be doing this in the dark. I’d better start remembering my tripod…
I hate this time of year with a passion.
Septemebr 24th - I came home after a late finish at work full of cold. Still struck low with the weekend’s bug, the going was hard. The dusk fell during the commute, and I became painfully aware that we’re now in the few weeks where drivers seem to be re-learning to drive in the dark. I don’t understand the psychology at all, but up until about the end of November, driving standards at dusk will be very poor. Left hooks, getting pulled out on, overtaking into oncoming traffic. All tonight. I had bright lights and a generally decent road position. There must be a reason for this, I see it every autumn.
Be careful out there, folks. You never know what’s lurking at a bad junction or beyond the oncoming headlights.
July 6th - back to Brownhills in a scorching, still, languid golden hour. By some trick of the light, the High Street looks busy, and beautiful. The canal rendered gorgeous in the sunset.
I’ve waited a long time for this. Long may it continue.