May 13th – Found on the outskirts of Wigginton, a lone cottage, derelict, in the bounds of another, occupied property.
It looks like the remnant of a larger terrace, and also like someone might be planning to, or made a start on renovating it.
It’s some way from the lane, and has a really strong air about it that it might be horrified.
One for the found faces pile, that one.
I do hope this place is one day a home again.
March 17t – Up at Chasewater on a bitterly cold late March afternoon, snow was periodically falling, but my discomfort was sidelined by the antics of two groups of red deer.
I first saw a small group of five coming from the gorse scrub by Anglesey Basin, from where they trotted along the towpath to the dam cottage garden. Here I left them, but something spooked four and they ran back to the scrub, leaving just the one stag contentedly eating plants in the cottage garden.
As I explored the spillway, I noticed the rest of the herd loafing at the north end of the dam, so I ambled up. They drilled over Pool Road, leaping the fece and mooched over to the scrub around the derelict house.
Not once did they appear nervous of me, more curious as to my behaviour. These deer – I’m sure it’s the group that have been around this spot for weeks. now – seem to be regarding me as a familiar now.
A splendid, cheering sight on an otherwise grim afternoon.
February 6th – On the corner of Gladstone and Station Street in the industrial backstreets of east Darlaston, a curious little bungalow cottage I’ve always wondered about.
Painted terracotta red with two tall chimneys, Victoria Cottage is an unusual house that doesn’t seem terribly large, but someone is awfully proud of. It has a plaque dating it to 1897, and it’s well cared for and the people who live here clearly love the place.
It looks almost like it was built as a project by someone, it’s such a curious shape. I’m sure there’s a bacstory here that must be fascinating.
Anyone know more?
October 25th – I popped into Darlaston on an errand from work at noon, on a lovely sunny late autumn day, and took time to appreciate the architecture of this lovely town. Across the hedges and careful topiary of the gardens of Rectory Avenue, the twin historic fascinations of the Columbarium and St Lawrence’s Church; just around the corner Pardoes Cottage, a curiosity in it’s own, handsome right.
My inly frustration is the inability ti get a good angle on that lovely church, although it’s one positive aspect of autumn – in summer one can barely see the church at all!
August 26th – A day that should have been terrible by rights, but worked out wonderfully in the end.
Not many photos, as I was too busy riding!
I needed a part for the bike which has developed an annoying creak. So I booked a click and collect for an extortionately priced replacement part at a national cycle chain in Sutton for collection same day. I set off and when I got to the shop, it was all a big error, and they hadn’t got the part, couldn’t refund me and couldn’t understand why I was in the least bit annoyed.
Desperate to end the mechanical whinging, I did some of my own and headed to Birmingham to score a part somewhere else. This robbed me of the ride I had planned. At 5pm, having the parts, a coffee and some stodgy comfort food, I peered at the departure boards at new Street for inspiration – if I was to get a country ride in, I had to select carefully.
Arriving at Nuneaton 30 minutes later, I headed for Higham, Stoke Golding and Sutton Cheney through gorgeous sun-dappled countryside, pushing for Market Bosworth along a lovely road I’d cycled 10 years previously. It was gorgeous. I headed back home through Congerstone, Builstone, Twycross and down the long, cross-country green lane of Salt Street into a terrific sunset. No Man’s Heath, Clifton, Harlaston, Hademore, Whittington and Wall made up the return.
It was a beautiful, English evening ride. Warm, little wind and beautiful scenery. 65 miles.
The firethorn (Pyrocanthus) is beautiful along the Birmingham canals, and the newly thatched cottage in Market Bosworth with the two foxes – how on earth did the thatcher get such expression into bundles of reeds? Stunning.
October 17th – I’ve passed through Ocker Hill and Toll End a fair bit lately, and I’ve noticed this house at the top of Toll End Road near the island.
It’s old. I think it’s older than anything in the immediate vicinity, and of what looks like a very un-black country design; the only thing I can liken it to around these parts is the old White Lion in Caldmore Green, Walsall.
Does anyone know the history of this curious house please?
September 11th – A better day for the weather, and a better day for riding, although I was tired and lacked energy. I rode out to Lichfield, then Fradley Junction for tea and a snack. From there to Alrewas on the canal, then back through Whitemore Haye and Sittles.
A relatively short ride by recent standards, but the scenery was great, as was the sunset. Maybe autumn isn’t upon us just yet…
July 2nd – The day was also characterised by the animals met along the way. I’ve always loved canal animals, and these were all spotted nearby; the border collie waiting for his mistress outside the canalside farm shop at Haywood, the cat living at the canal cottage near Cowlick, and the two boater dogs watching silently as I passed.
I loved the terrier and venerable old collie on the boats particularly. They were clearly doing their job and looked happy and content with life.
Sometimes, it’s the animals you meet who make for a good ride, not the humans…
May 28th – A recovery day. I didn’t do much, but had to be at a function in Burntwood in the afternoon, so I pottered there in the sunshine of a breezy afternoon along the canal and via Chasewater. I’ll never tire of the stretch between Anchor Bridge and Chasewater; so varied in such a short run; urban gardens, rolling countryside. Green fields, open heath and factory yards. It’s all here, and all rather splendid.
My Horse Chestnut tree at Home Farm – my favourite, and my overseer of the year – is currently in glorious flower, like most conker trees. At the Chasewater Cottages, young rabbits regarded me watchfully from the buttercup-strewn lawn. And in a waterside garden, I loved momma and children scarecrows.
I’ll never love a stretch of canal more than this.