July 17th - I slipped out of work early to get some time back, and with a wonderfully hot, languid afternoon in progress I rode straight up onto the Chase, and barely stopped except for a well-deserved ice cream at Birches Valley. Dropping down into Rugeley, I enjoyed the long, cool downhill, then hopped onto the canal - a peace green sanctuary where the weeping willows looked stunning.

A perfect afternoon.


October 21st - A dreadful wind and threatening rain menaced me on the way to work, but fortuitously, it also blew me back. I left after the rain had stopped, and found conditions challenging. As I rode, I noted a developing sunset I couldn’t ignore, so I hopped on the canal to Chasewater, hoping to catch it. 

Sadly, by the time I got there, the gathering dark had swallowed it up - but it was an interesting ride. 


July 6th - I wasn’t in the mood to ride much - I had lots of work to do, so just popped up to Chasewater to check out the Craft & Farmers market, which again, disappointed. I shan’t bother with that again.

I spun out for a circuit around the park, and was taken by the buddleia, water lilies and various marsh orchids, which out here, unlike the ones near the canal, hadn’t gone over yet.

I stated last week that the flowering time was passing; but I was wrong. Things are still flowering well, just in different ways and different places.

This really is a most excellent summer.


September 6th - Well, it’s coming on to autumn, and one of the positives about that is fungi. It looks set to be a bumper year, too - caps, toadstools, polypores, puffballs will all put in appearances in the coming weeks. 

These gorgeous shaggy ink caps - edible when young - were growing on Brownhills Common, in a spot where I’ve not seen them before. Pretty much perfect specimens.


January 29th - I love goats, and it seems we have a local herd now. In the field by Jockey Meadows in which I saw Mr. Fox in last week, I’ve been noticing the goats for a couple of weeks, but they’ve never been close enough for a good photo. Today, they were trying to get through the hedge at Green Lane. It seems there are seven adults and four or five kids, with a rather impressive ram. 

I have no idea who owns them, and I think they go wandering of their own accord sometimes; but on a grey, cold January morning seeing those little kids frolicking, jumping and having high jinks was a joy to the soul.


November 1st - A wonderful warm, misty day on Cannock Chase, and on the way I called in to a farm shop. Beside the driveway, there is livestock in the paddocks; pigs, chickens, geese, a donkey and a goat. There’s a great butchers there and a cafe, too: not sure about eating sausage sandwiches in full view of the porkers though.

More images from this fantastic ride on my main blog here.


June 25th - As the summer winds on, the next stage of the season begins; moving from the flowering, to the fruiting and seeding. In Walsall Wood’s Green Lane, there’s a patch of comfrey that’s going to seed, and I was intrigued by the way it forms from the flowers, another almost prehistoric-looking plant. Intertwined with it, the white bloom of mid and late summer, bindweed.

Soon, blackberries will be forming on the brambles, and there will be hips, haws and berries ripening aplenty, and time for a new palette of colours; but at the moment we’re passing from the purple into the white for a while.

The advancing summer makes me a little sad, but the weather is fine ad warm, and everything looks splendid. I’m in my element, to be honest.


July 13th - TheMadOldBaggage is right: I’m being unduly pessimistic about autumn and the passage of summer. It’s still gorgeous, and there’s loads of stuff still to come into flower.

Today, I was delighted to spot these gorgeous wild sweat peas. Just how lovely are they? You can’t fail to see these and not be lifted.

Autumn? Not yet you don’t, matey. 


February 24th - Headed home mid afternoon after an early start, I did what I usually do at such times and came though Aldridge to avoid the mania of the school run traffic. Zipping along the canal, just by the overflow in Aldridge, a tiny clump of four beautiful purple crocuses. They were the only ones I could see, and stood quite alone. I wondered how these harbingers of spring came to be here; but it doesn’t matter how, just that they were. And I saw them, and their existance made me happy indeed.


July 29th - Sorry, more cygnets. I didn’t know about these, but taking a desperate dive onto the canal to avoid traffic madness on my way to work, I passed this family of three and parents in Pleck, Walsall. 

They interested me particularly, as the young are clearly starting to develop white plumage, yet look younger than the Catshill brood (they’re smaller, too).

The adults don’t look any different, though…


May 29th - Meanwhile, further on near the Pier Street Bridge, a chance to catch up with the flowers whose photos turned out badly the day before. Clover, the unsung hero of the pasture, meadow and verge is always beautiful, but very overlooked. Nutritious in fodder and attractive to bugs and butterflies, clover does it’s violet thing pretty much unnoticed. 

Another very common flower that goes unremarked is the ribwort plantain - it’s brown flower heads with the white corona don’t look like flowers, but they are. Exceedingly prolific this year, they’re everywhere that grass grows. As kids, we’d pick them at the base of the stalk and play conkers with them. I think they’re fascinating, and demontrate the utter diversity of plant life in the UK.

The damp conditions may not be improving my humour any, but that slug looks in fine fettle. Much misunderstood creatures, that I think are actually rather interesting.


August 26th - In the backlanes between Stonnall and Shenstone (I’m not going to say where) there are a secluded row of apple trees. I’ve known of them for years, and they always seem to grow decent fruit. This year, they’ve excelled themselves.

The apples aren’t huge, but there are lots of them. There are several varieties, Cox’s, Russets, and I think Granny Smiths. The Russet I nabbed was sweet, juicy and ripe, the Cox too.

I always love to see these apples.