February 14th - This is the stray horse problem Walsall Council claims it hasn’t got. To be fair, horses are cheap to acquire right now; market prices have never been lower, and any bit of common land around the Goscote Valley has a variety of nags tethered or just wandering free. These three forlorn animals - not one with access to water - were tethered within a short section of the cycle route running through the area. In total, there must have been about 15 of these unfortunate beasts, yet the council bafflingly announced recently that we don’t have a problem with this sort of thing. The council can’t actually do much. People won’t claim the horses if taken away, and the sanctuaries are, by and large, full. It’s a thorny, and worsening, issue.
June 23rd - It was so lovely, I headed back along the canal too on my way home, riding along it to Coalpool and then onto the cycleway to Pelsall. Along the way the waterways sparkled, the skies were blue and a family of swans I’d not seen before, plus five healthy cygnets, promenaded past.
I was particularly taken with the thicket of wild sweetness on the cycleway at Harden.
November 1st - Yes, it’s November, and the sun is warm and the landscape still perceptibly green. The weather this year has been nuts. It was very windy, and I was, to be quite frank, knackered. I had some shopping to do so headed out to Pelsall and then up the cycleway and canal to Sainsbury’s at Reedswood. The wind was punishing, but it was a lovely day - and I did get blown home, so it wasn’t all bad.
July 23rd - in the Goscote Valley on my way to work, as the day started to warm up, I was drawn to a continual crackling sound. This always fascinates me; it’s the sound of gorse pods popping open with a snap, and scattering their seeds.
The action is induced by the warmth of the sun, and makes for an interesting diversion on the way to work. I love how the pods rattle musically when you shake the bushes, too.
27th June - Of all the flowers taking part in the riot of summer colour right now, my heart is stolen mostly by the vetch that grows on verges and field margins, forming a thick, yellow, orange and red carpet of vivid, joyous colour. When I was a kid, we used to call this delicate but hardy plant ‘Egg & Bacon’. I think it’s gorgeous.
This fine example is proliferating on the embankments to the cycle tack through the Goscote Valley. A fine sight indeed.
August 31st - The willow herb is going to seed now, I noticed the fluff as I rode the cycleway through the Goscote Valley. Filling the air at the slightest provocation from the breeze, the seeds this dweller of the margins produces float and dance on the wind.
When I was a kid, we called the little floating seeds ‘fairies’ and it was considered good luck to catch one. These days, I just tend to catch them in my mouth while riding.
My grandad called this ‘old man’s beard’ and you can see why.
This is a real end-of-summer occurrence and so a little bittersweet, but no summer would be complete without it, even if it does make me spit!
March 19th - Spring, it seems, has sprung. Not just the daffodils, crocuses and early blossoms, but buds, green shoots and nascent leaves. All taken in one short stretch of the Goscote Valley cycleway on the way to work this morning.
The verdant young leaves of the hawthorn are particularly wonderful to see…
July 7th - Another desperately dull day, with not many photo opportunities. Sadly, I took a bunch of photos on the way home, and messed the settings up, so the only ones I have to show are the from the cycleway in Goscote again this morning.
I note we’re in for a fruitful year; not only are the apples plentiful, but cherries seem to be having a fine time, and haws look to be good, too; if the blossom is anything to go by I think we’re in for a bumper crop of black and elder berries too.
I love the dog roses, smelling wonderful in the post-rain humid air, and the cornflowers look superb too, in their thistle like glory.
Some much great stuff going on in the hedgerows - and all on one short stretch of path in Goscote.
August 6th - I’d been in Darlaston, and returned home via the cycleway down the Goscote Valley. Despite small areas of tipping and litter, it’s lovely at the moment; the pastures and wastelands are bright with willow herb, wort, convulvulus and budleia, and the Ford Brook has tall swathes of Himalayan balsam growing tall. It’s an unwelcome species, but it is gorgeous to look at.
All the way through Goscote I watched two buzzards wheel and soar on the warm breeze. You wouldn’t think this area could be so peaceful and beautiful.