May 7th – The sunset was still decent over Clayhanger Common as I returned to Brownhills. The sky has a real clarity at sunset at the moment; I guess it’s the dry atmosphere and low traffic levels leading to less pollution.
I was so taken by the sky that I stood and watched it as we lost the light for another day.
The outdoors, and that feeling of connection with it is really important to me at the moment.
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…
April 13th – Dusk, on the canal. The bite of a chilly spring evening. The sound of wind, waterfowl grumbling and no traffic at all.
I realised that for the first time in weeks, nobody else was on the canal towpath. I was alone.
Since the lockdown, people have taken to canals for exercise and walking in a way I’ve never seen before – which is good: I really want people who don’t know the beauty of local canals to come and share it.
But it’s still nice to find myself here, alone, but accompanied by my thoughts and feelings. It it at moments like this I feel least alone.
I stood enjoying it for quite a while.
Realising I was shivering, I got on my bike and rode back home.
April 12th – And of course, the flowers continued to captivate me. Magnolia, various blossom, primroses, forget me nots, pieris (is that a flower? Don’t know) and green alkanet all entertained and gave me solace in this most unusual of rides.
You can stick the coronavirus where the sun really doesn’t shine but I can handle countryside to myself like this for as long as possible, please!
April 12th – Easter Sunday was so quiet as I slipped out on a changeable afternoon. Mindful of the exercise only diktat, I figured a ride around the backlanes to Little Hay and back would be acceptable.
I was shocked to note very few people about at all. I pretty much had the lanes to myself – and how beautiful they were.
The blossom, green shoots and beautiful skies made for a refreshing, rejuvenating ride that I thoroughly enjoyed.
I really do feel like I’m beginning to get that old spark back.
It’s been gone awhile, washed away in the rains of the winter, I think…
April 10th – Another working from home day – indeed, it was Good Friday, so I took off for an exercise ride at teatime. The lanes and tracks of Stonnall, Shenstone, Raikes and Hilton were warm and quiet. I saw the odd fellow cyclist, or runner. But mostly it was just me, the birds and the flowers.
The stunning yellow archangel is looking gorgeous at Footherley again this year – a relative of the nettle, I hadn’t noticed it for years, and then it seemed I couldn’t stop spotting it in places where I must have seen it before, but never noticed it.
The grape hyacinths – muscari – are also like little shocks of blue in the hedgerows and gardens I slid past.
We may be locked down, but the riding is surprisingly good at the moment.
April 6th – Working from home when I can means shorter exercise rides, so I try to make them quite challenging in the short time I’m out, mindful of the busybodies who currently seem to be revelling in their mantel as self-appointed lockdown police.
I hammered a fast, offroad circuit of Brownhills, and up around the track that runs around the new pond at Clayhanger. The heavily rutted, drying out trails are quite fun and I enjoyed the sight of swans pairing off on the water below.
Lots of people who formerly wouldn’t walk are doing so now; taking advantage of their daily exercise allowance. This is making me feel quite obtrusive: Quiet routes and trails that were usually mine alone I now share with those new to them.
I’m surprised nobody has got lost on the common yet…