October 23rd – The return of the dark is a welcome chance to experiment with night photography once more.
These shots of the churches of Wednesbury – the twin sisters – from Kings Hill Park were a hurried experiment with the Cannon G1X which is a camera I’m learning to love.
These are way too grainy, and I obviously need to up my game. But I love the clarity and colour.
More practice required.
May 6th – Another fine, hot day, another long ride – this time a 55 miler out via Hints and the canal through Tamworth to Orton on the Hill, Austrey and Honey Hill.
You can see a full gallery for this ride on my main blog here.
At Orton, I stopped to study the fine, Francophile church there, and noticed the classic demonstration of weather erosion on the masonry – on the windward side, the deep pits of direct wind and rain abrasion, whereas on the leeward side, the lines cause by lateral pull and frost; on side planar side, the lapped waves of parallel forces.
That church has seem some weather over the years.
November 26th – Another day of beautiful light, but cold. Probably not cold for the time of year, but after recent mild weeks it seems to be positively arctic.
I’d been doing a lot of mechanical work on the bike in recent days, and needed to test it with a shortish run with plenty of good hill action, so I went out early afternoon, over to Shenstone, Weeford, Hints, Hopwas, up the canal to Hademore and back in darkness through Wall and Chesterfield.
I took time to study the churches at Shenstone, Weeford and Hopwas – from the hideous but triumphant Gothic of Shenstone, to the farmhouse twee of Hopwas, all three are classics. All within a short distance.
Staffordshire is unusually blessed with a stunning and varied ecclesiastical architectural tradition.
June 6th – A truly awful morning commute with 30mph headwinds and driving rain made for a squally, wolfish day; but in the afternoon the constant rain broke to showers, and I went about getting some stuff done in the Black Country. Returning home from Tipton, I headed for Wednesbury from Ocker Hill and caught my favourite twin sisters – the churches that crown Church Hill in Wednesbury – is sunlight but with threatening skies.
I love this place. Even in bad weather. It’s where my heart is.
April 22nd – The late Lichfeldian touring cyclist and acquaintance Maurice Purser used to tell me you could see 7 spires/towers and/or churches from Pipe Hill. Maurice, who enjoyed such puzzles, had me scouring for months with binoculars in the mid-80s. What actually solved it for me was not careful scrutiny of the city skyline from high up here past Mickle Hills, but a map.
Maurice liked riddles especially if they were a bit misleading. At some point I looked at a map, and noticed that Aldershawe, the country house visible 90 degrees sunwise from this view had a private chapel. So whilst the riddle was correct, it was a bit cunning.
These days, Aldershawe is divided into smaller dwellings and you can’t see any of it from here for trees.
With a decent zoom on a reasonable day though, Lichfield’s churches, spires and rooftops still come alive, and a middle aged cyclist remembers this view as a young lad, with a leathery, weathered older gent telling tall tales of derring-do.
Wherever you are Maurice, may it be hawthorn free, the wind at your back, the sun on your face, and speed in your wheels. And a good cafe stop.
February 21st – Unfortunately, I forget my camera so just one picture for today, and that’s not brilliant, sorry.
I had to nip into Tipton on a day with an evil southwesterly, and crossing theBlack Country New Road at Moxley, I was once again captivated by that marooned, beautiful church – like Wood Green, and a host of others in the conurbation, urban churches are often extant on odd islands or spurs as road systems grow around them.
Thirty years ago, this view would have been completely different.
I love that these wonderful buildings are preserved and they’re like lighthouses to the past in the changing landscape.
January 5th – My experiments with the night-time view of Wednesbury’s twin sisters from Kings Hill continue. This is the third camera I’ve had a go with, and the best so far and more what I was after, but the limitations of the Nikon S9900 – lack of manual focus and noise – were very apparent.
I know what I want, and this is almost it, but I need to learn more about the craft to get it, I think.
It’s still beautiful, though, and one of the best views in the Black Country.