September 11th – there was a very strong wind as I cycled around South Staffordshire late in the afternoon. The horse chestnut trees in the centre of Hammerwich village had been subject to attack by the leaf miner parasite, and the leaves were turning colour early and being stripped by the stiff wind. Everywhere I went there were reminders of the season – the scent of coal smoke, the scent of fresh ploughed earth, the crunch of beech mast under my wheels. Despite the expansion of recent years, Hammerwich still retains a lovely village atmosphere.

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