April 1st – it’s fitting to note that today, April 1st 2016, April Fools Day is the 5th anniversary of this journal. Apart from the two infamous days of food poisoning over New Year 2011/12 when I was slain by a rogue pie, I have ridden every day, rain, sun, snow or shine. Every day I’ve got on my bike and gone somewhere – for a ride for pleasure, on errands, to work. That’s 1825 days of cycling, and 4 years and 3 months of that on every single consecutive day.
I must be mad. Or really love cycling. One of the two. Or both.
Today, I found myself riding through Stonnall, and noticed the lovely daffodils around the village bus stop. Wonder what the bunting around the shelter is for?
Thanks for being with me and riding along. If you’re sick of it and think I should stop, or want to shout encouragement, feel free. I’ve really enjoyed the past five years.
April 30th – I returned the same way, but the deer had moved on. This wee fellow though, was busy watching the ducks on the canal at the back of Barrow Close in Walsall Wood. I’m pretty much convinced it’s the same cat I spotted recently sheltering in the lee of a plant pot in the same area. He’s a fine lad with great whiskers and a collar with a bell – so clearly a bit of a hunter. But I think he was a bit ambitious with the mallards, to be honest…
April 30th – This was a shock – I cycled to work for a change up the canal through Walsall Wood. Just past Clayhanger bridge, at the back of Maybrook Industrial Estate, a small group of female red deer (still very much in moult, the poor scruffy things) were browsing the scrub. This is an isolated patch only really accessible from nearby roads, but in itself, although small, is not bad for them as it’s barely touched by humans.
This means the deer are now crossing Clayhanger Bridge.
Watch out on the roads, folks.
April 29th – To my surprise, I noted on my way home that local real ale Mecca the Four Crosses in Shelfield had closed, and was boarded up. With a planning application granted in 2012 to build a nursing home attached to it, despite the best efforts of the community, I guess it was always living on borrowed time.
With the Spring Cottage and Four Seasons gone, I don’t think there are any pubs now left in Shelfield, are there? A great sadness.
April 29th – I crossed Kings Hill Park on my way back from a trip to the retail park at Junction 9, and caught sight of the two sisters of Wednesbury, looking gorgeous in the sunlit, clear air. Both are beautiful – a landmark for miles, I adore Church Hill in Wednesbury and love to see it on the skyline.
I make no apologies for featuring this beautiful view again…
April 29th – Bentley Bridge near Darlaston is the scene of a huge roads project at the moment. For a week or so, huge and fascinating plant has been involved in erecting deep and sturdy H section piles along the roadside.
It’s an impressive bit of engineering with some fascinating machinery. The webs on those girders are about 50mm thick.
April 28th – I returned gingerly, saddlebag laden with Dhansak, poppadoms and naan, up the Lichfield Road from Sandhills. That view across the fields of home Farm at sunset always makes me catch my breath; Ogley Hay, at it’s centre the 1850 parish Church of St James, in a view that’s changed little in a century.
April 28th – A frantic day, working late. I came home at sunset, and crested Shire Oak Hill, heading to Stonnall to bag a takeaway for tea.
On the way a patch of Spanish bluebells, almost fluorescent in the evening light. Gorgeous.
Such an excellent season, this spring.
April 27th – he was leaping after bugs in a field gateway in Green Lane, Shelfield. He was a bit peeved I spotted him, as he’s clearly a cat of some gravitas who doesn’t do that sort of thing.
He glared at me just long enough for me to take this quick picture, then shot off over the fields. He looks like an adorable chap.
April 27th – A short run of Black Country canal – from Pleck to Bentley Bridge, Darlaston, on the way to work in bright, but chilly sunshine. Mr. Swan was still drifting aimlessly, waiting for his partner to hatch their clutch; it’s nice to see he’s been ringed. Further up, the coots had already got chicks. Coot chicks are probably the most ugly-cute young birds this side of baby owls. Sadly, they were being stalked by a heron, so I don’t give much for their chances.
Off Bentley Bridge itself, a great sky, mirror flat water and the feeling that spring is really on her throne.