clayhanger common


October 22nd - A very decent, dark sunset descended on Brownhills. The day was still very windy, an rather wolfish so not really great for riding, really. But I can live with clear skies, a little sun and strong wind.

Sunsets like this, now hovering around 6pm before the end of British Summer Time next weekend, remind me that winter will soon be upon us.


April 15th - A better day, but with a keen wind and I headed out for a ride late afternoon. Passing along the canal in Brownhills, the local feline population didn’t disappoint: At Catshill just on Clayhanger Common, eyebrow cat cast a surly, but authoritative figure as it disdainfully regarded me, and on a canalside deck but the Watermead, an old puss had fallen asleep, seemingly unaware his tongue was still out.

I’m loving the cats at the moment…


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 8th - A long, long day. Out as dusk fell, I cycled around Brownhills, fighting low energy reserves and an aching back. Looking for a decent sunset, I cycled over the rite by Catshill Junction, to look over Clayhanger Common. Alone, apart from the odd dog walker, I reflected on this place; 35 years ago the spot I was stood in was a 20 feet deep ditch, and before me would have been piles of (often burning) festering refuse. This beautiful, treed-lined landscape - replete with rabbits, deer and all manner of birds - is testament to how landscape can be reclaimed, restored and rehabilitated if there exists the vision, will and determination.