September 6th – The sadness of things. Spotted on CLayhanger Common. A lost football, trapped in a bramble thicket. Too large to reach over, to prickly to brave climbing in. Play suspended…

August 28th – For some reason today, my photos were all really rubbish and these are the best of a rum lot, so my apologies. These yellow flowers are dotting the hedges and canal banks at the moment. Colloquially called ‘butter and egg’ they are common toadflax, often mistaken for snapdragons (which I did, last year). They’re a lovely, dainty little flower and make a change from the predominantly dark tones of most of the flowers around at this time of year.

August 8th – A long, long day. Out as dusk fell, I cycled around Brownhills, fighting low energy reserves and an aching back. Looking for a decent sunset, I cycled over the rite by Catshill Junction, to look over Clayhanger Common. Alone, apart from the odd dog walker, I reflected on this place; 35 years ago the spot I was stood in was a 20 feet deep ditch, and before me would have been piles of (often burning) festering refuse. This beautiful, treed-lined landscape – replete with rabbits, deer and all manner of birds – is testament to how landscape can be reclaimed, restored and rehabilitated if there exists the vision, will and determination.

August 4th – By the canal in Brownhills, opposite the Watermead Eastate, there’s a little secret not many people seem to know about. It’s a hedge of hazel trees. I guess they were planted here 25 years ago when the refuse tip that had been on this site was reclaimed. Now mature, and tall, they are covered in dense, beautifully green leaves. I’d never remotely consider eating the nuts considering the previous use of the land below, but it’s moot anyway, as normally the squirrels strip these trees bare of fruit before it’s even ripe. 

Sadly, the squirrels will not be so fortunate this year, as in the whole length of the hedge, I spotted only two nuts. It must have been a bad season for these trees. 

June 20th – Roses never look better than when they’re wet from rain and growing wild. These dog roses are growing untended near the canal at Clayhanger Common. Such a wonderful sight on a wet afternoon. There’s beauty in the worst weather if you look for it…

April 17th – Cowslips are my favourite wildflower, and thankfully, proliferating once more, despite their apparent appeal to rabbits, who devour them with gusto. They are actually a type of primrose, and I love their delicate flowers and hardy, resilient tenacity. These two patches on Clayhanger Common I guerrilla planted a few years ago, from a pack of wildflower seeds bought from a National Trust shop. 

March 1st – another great sunset. Sorry if these are getting boring, the sunset season will cease, soon, promise. This one was spotted as I crossed Clayhanger Common – there really are some surprising views from the south end. I do love to see them, as they remind me that it isn’t all grey weather and times will improve, steadily.

January 29th – On the kissing gate at the entrance to the new pond at Clayhanger, I spotted this notice. Thought I’d feature it here, as anyone making such an effort to get the community together in any activity deserves a little support. I wish Garry and Jackie all the best in their venture.

I noticed also that the kissing gate had recently been expertly rebuilt by (I assume) the countryside and estates guys at Walsall Council. I also observed that the common itself was again spotless, and it appears that some coppicing is in progress. People have been working hard on the greenspace locally for a while now – there are refurbished boardwalks over on Brownhills Common and some brush cutting and thinning there, too. 

Thanks, folks, your work is much appreciated.

November 16th – bit of a dim moment today. Went out without my camera, completely by accident, and spent the day nervously wondering if I’d lost it somewhere. Coming home along the canal from a day of meetings in Telford and the Black Country, I passed the ‘new’ pool at Clayhanger. It seems to be slightly fuller than of late, but it’s sadly sullied by a large quantity of litter, mostly discarded beer cans, at the benches near the canal. I assume it’s the same bunch who have been causing a nuisance on Clayhanger Common. I just can’t understand the mentality of people who do this. 

Apologies for the poor quality photos, they were taken on a phone rather than a decent

August 25th – in an attempt to lift the darkness, I headed over Clayhanger Common to check out the view of Shire Oak. It’s an interesting view, and demonstrates the wide range of ages and styles of house that make up this quiet, residential end of Brownhills. This view is only possible due to the mound sculpted during the reclamation of Clayhanger Tip, where I stand was one a cutting full of brackish, dirty water.