September 6th – Spotted late on a grey afternoon, just on the canal near Clayhanger.
A fox trots purposefully, but unconcerned down the canal towpath, nearly on a mission but not in the slightest bit bothered he might be seen.
July 4th – Business in Brum at lunchtime, and a poodle back along the canal in the afternoon summer heat. The flowers right now are gorgeous – from the strong yellows of ragwort to the purples of willowherd – and even bindweed and wild sweetpeas, right there in the inner city.
The other colour was from art – the Annatomix piece featuring the tangram style fox in DIgbeth was astounding, but I also liked the subtle wit of the red heron nearby.
A weary, but lovely ride.
June 9th – Saturday meant the Clifton Campville Country Show which I first visited by accident the year before. I was a little late but there was still lots going on and it it was a typically English summer event, with an Classic cars and trucks, arena events, hot bewildered and bothered dogs, cakes, beer and a selection of bizarre things going on, including the local hunt that gave the security team – the local police cadets – a bit of a nightmare.
I didn’t find this one as good as 2017s – no jam or country produce at a country fair? But it was a lovely stop off on a sunny afternoon.
I love a good fete.
March 23rd – lAte at night, I needed to pay a call in Brownhills and found the High Street and Silver Street canalside deserted. The night was still, there was little traffic but I was surprised to note even at a late, dark hour Canada geese were active on the canal bank.
I hope they’re keeping their wits about them – I also saw a large, male urban fox in the High Street and he’ll soon have mouths to feed too.
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.
June 11th – On a post repair test ride, bad news.
The Watermead swan family are now down to five from the original six. The remaining cygnets looked healthy and well though.
Most likely the victim of a hungry fox, it’s normal to lose a cygnet or two to predators in every urban clutch – we’ve been lucky in recent years to be relatively unscathed, but one has to remember the prodigious clutch sizes of these birds and consider that maybe some population control is natural.
When the youngsters start ground roosting separately as opposed to in a protective huddle, they are easy prey to Reynard and hopeful, the loss has been a warning to the remaining five.
Sad, so very sad – but it’s nature, red in tooth and claw.
March 18th – A brief run out on a wolfish, windy afternoon had me glared at by a resident of… Catshill.
This grey and white, somewhat scornful fellow was watching me contemptuously from the far bank of the canal, just past the Anchor pub. I’ve never seen in before, but from the small grey dot on his nose to the subtle striped tail, he’s clearly a lovely cat.
I noticed he seems to be sitting at the mouth of a fox set, too. Wonder if the resident was inside, wishing the cat would bugger off?