May 12th – While visiting the shops in Stonnall, I spotted this smilestone in one of the planters outside.
Smilestones are a real phenomena – like the previously mentioned chalked games on local paths, they provide a safe, fun activity for kids and families, who decorate randomly selected stones and leave them for others to find.
This brightly coloured one made me smile, and did it’s job. They’re wonderful to find as one wanders about daily life.
April 26th – With the sudden burst of lockdown shaming, finger wagging and the boom of the morally prurient social media shamers, it’s really easy to miss small little things at this time that are actually encouraging acts of community between, mainly it has to be said, children.
Painted rainbows and teddies in windows, garden displays and other curiosities created during long, isolated lockdown days are treats and ways of communicating the shared confinement without breaking the rules, and they put a huge smile on the faces of kids out for their daily exercise, parents and me, too.
There’s been a really fun trend to revive chalked games on pavements and paths for other kids to find and participate in. More than just the old fashioned hopscotch (although most incorporate it, almost as a tribute), these courses are linear with a start and end, incorporating line following, instructions to hop or jump or do some movement, reciting games, spins, pebble target throws and races.
They are a shared happiness, but shared from a distance – the separation being time. They are an utterly joyous thing and this one, on the Spot Path over Clayhanger Common, was a brilliant one.
Sadly I think it’ll probably be erased by the oncoming rains, but I hope that won’t deter the creation of a replacement.
Well done to the creators of these, and my best wishes. Life will be normal soon and we’ll all look back on these days, and smile when we think of how we all loved the chalked games…
May 6th – In Norton – a lovely village if I’m honest – a treat: The local Brownies and Guides have adopted a public open space and bus stop in the old village and have created a wildflower patch, a bug hotel of proportions a certain pUs President would welcome, nicely planted beds and lovely sweet decorations on the shelter.
A joy to behold, and a great way of showing – and fostering – community spirit.
November 13th – I wanted to take some pictures of Darlaston War Memorial with it’s proud array of wreaths and keepsakes, but perhaps fittingly, there were a class of primary school children there with their teacher, explaining the thing, was was heart-warming and most welcome.
Instead, I took a shot of the metal poppy ornamentation on the railings of Kings Hill Park, yet another beautiful feature of a remarkable place.
We shall never forget.
September 25th – Meanwhile, a few hundred yards away at the main junction in Shelfield by the old Spring Cottage pub, I noticed this great sight; cycling dad and child out and enjoying the fresh air. I don’t see many child trailers about locally and I was really cheered to spot this. The young passenger was clearly having a ball. I just had to capture it for posterity.