July 3rd - I was wiped out. I’d had to sit on the floor all the way back from London, and my back was aching, and I hadn’t eaten enough - but New Street, for all it’s faults, welcomed me home with it’s hard surfaces and contrasting lights; and 30 minutes later, a real Late Night Feelings moment at Walsall.

Home is where the heart and teapot are. Oh, that first mug of tea!


Today makes one full year since I started bicycling full time. One year. That’s a lot of time. But also its not a lot of time. So, I wanted to take a second and look back at what I learned and how its changed my life.

I’m going to keep this short, because I don’t want to get all preachy, but making the decision to ditch my car and start riding full time was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I needed a change of pace, and that’s exactly what I got. Its been incredibly hard, but also super easy. Once I started I couldn’t stop, and my outlook changed significantly.

Yes, I got sore, I ran into things, things ran into me, I wore out brakes, I snapped derailleur cables, I blew tubes, I had my chain come loose, I rode before the sun came up, I rode well after the sun went down, I got stuck in the rain, I got sunburned, I ruined a pair of jeans (and by a pair, I mean like 4 pair), I rode 1,000 miles, I rode through snow, I rode across ice, I fell off my bike, more than once, my ass got got chapped from riding in -9 degree weather with 20mph winds, I had my goggles ICE over.. not fog, but completely ice and then I rode another 1,000 miles. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 

I think any great change requires serious commitment and willingness to get dirty in the process. I look at a lot of things differently now. Its a good thing.

I think I’ll keep riding… I’ll just need a kiddie carrier now!


July 4th - Independence day, but sadly not from work. To my annoyance, called in on a fool’s errand at 12 noon, my plans for R&R were scuppered. However, taking the slow way back to Walsall, my weariness was cleared by the bright sun, azure sky and pleasant atmosphere.

Walsall has many faults and far too many detractors, but it’s not a bad old place.

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.


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.


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.

July 29th - Oak Apples, or galls, are an interesting thing. Very visible right now, they are the gall of a type of wasp that lays it’s egg inside new oak leaf buds. A chemical reaction caused by a secreted fluid causes the gall to grow, and inside, the wasp larva feeds on it, eventually burrowing it’s way to the surface and flying away.

Isn’t nature amazing?


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. 


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…


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.