July 8th – A pleasant 38 miler in the evening sun, relaxed and gentle around Chasewater, Lichfield, Whitemore Haye, Fradley, Alrewas and Yoxall rewarded me with a gorgeous golden hour.

In the soft light, the ripening wheat at Farewell glowed in the evening, and I realised that within 10 days or so this crop would be harvested.

It seems early this year – but we have had a lot of sun. I wonder if this weather continues, shall we face an early autumn? I sincerely hope not!

June 17th – A much better day all around with a ride out in steady, fine drizzle to Cannock Chase – heavily pregnant deer were seen near Penkridge Bank, and following a treat at the Wimpy in Milford, aa bimble over Shugborough was just what the doctor ordered. 

The lamb had escaped his paddock and flock through the fence, but defied attempts to recapture him, and his antics were entertaining, but left the cattle nearby unimpressed.

At the canal near Bishton, the remains of the boathouse on the river – one a grand affair but now just a Brik-lined caver and passage – were as fascinating as ever. You can find out more here.

April 27th – I had to pop into Lichfield on my way home, and took the opportunity to nip to Waitrose for a bit of posh shopping.

In the fields surrounding the bypass and store, to the south of the Darwin Park estate, the fields are full of healthy, plump spring lambs and their mothers.

On a dull Friday afternoon they made for a lovely sight.

April 21st – Another wonderful spring flower coming into bloom is the oilseed rape in the fields. All across the rural landscape this vivid yellow brassica is turning the landscape yellow.

The smell is wonderful and it’s just started. The fields are alive with bee buzz and birds come for the feasting bugs. 

I love the drama and beauty of this curious crop

August 11th – Not far from Shenstone near Footherley, wheat and barley still languish in the fields, the harvest this year disrupted by poor weather. This crop in particular has started to look grey, and the farmer must be getting anxious. Already blackening, it won’t take much for mould to set in and the crop be ruined.

I hope they have enough dry weather to complete this weekend.

July 27th – After a good couple of weeks trying to catch them at the gate, the Jockey Meadows coos were finally not too busy to meet me this evening. 

They’ve been released here much later than usual this year, and the meadow is clearly full of tasty stuff as whilst I’ve seen the odd bovine rump above the scrub, they’ve not been loafing much hear the road at all, and have seemed very busy in their work: that of maintaining the meadow by eating the fast growing plants, churning the soil and improving it’s fertility.

I love cows and tonight, they seemed to be convening a union meeting. There are more of them this year, I counted 12 I think, whereas they normally number around 8. It was notable, however, that whilst I was interesting enough to stare at quizzically, I wasn’t interesting enough to expend any effort in walking over to investigate.

It’s good to see these lads back and I look forward to meting them again soon…

July 8th – At Hammerwich earlier in the ride, a disappointment. Flax had flowered here in characteristic blue a couple of weeks ago, but now it was over and I never managed to catch this stunning crop. But I had been told it was currently redeeming itself by showing a riot of poppies.

Well, it was and it wasn’t.

In fairness, in real life it’s gorgeous and well worth popping to look if you’re passing – but somehow, I just couldn’t capture it with a camera. Whatever I tried, the shots came out dull.

Oh well.

June 17th – A ride out to Amerton Farm, the craft centre just off the A51 near Stowe by Chartley was an unexpected delight. A nice new coffee shop run by a Brownhills lad, craft shops and farm animals to fuss over. 

Most stunning were the swallows, nesting throughout the building and whose antics as they collected bugs for their young were fascinating.

A lovely place, great coffee and well worth a visit.

I wish my teeth were in as good condition as Mrs. Goat’s there…

June 15th – I heard about the local poppy field on Facebook, and it being very sunny and early, I took a detour on the way to work to check it out.

The field is just on the east of the Chester Road before the Wood Lane junction and is glorious. A few snatched pictures don’t do this gem justice. I will revisit it soon.

I love to see the poppy fields at this time of year, and welcome their rise since the drop in farming use of herbicides that used to kill them.I also adore the randomnesss of the places they appear – never the same two years running.

A beautiful and ephemeral thing – get out and see it while it lasts.

March 17th – I popped into Lichfield to do some shopping on the way home, and in the failing light, noticed the field of lambs and their mothers on the bypass near Waitrose.

Healthy, happy sheep and their new offspring graze, play and doze contentedly. These guys really do have cute in shedloads, and really are worth stopping to see.

After a really grim, groggy week, seeing this fresh life enjoying being alive was a tonic to the heart and soul.