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…
April 17th – A ride over a very muddy Cannock Chase and Shugborough on a fine, sunny but quite cold afternoon. I saw a small group of red deer on Norton Bog, several of which had been mud-bathing to aid their moult. The Chase itself was as beautiful, wide open, cinematic and deserted as usual, and Shugborough’s farm animals and new arrivals were charming and cute.
With an insistent west wind and low energy it was a battle at times, but a lovely ride. This spring has been truly wonderful, even if the weather hasn’t really played along.
May 17th – Only a short ride today, as my stomach was bad and I was busy with other stuff.
On the canal at Newtown, a familiar scum is developing, and I always get concerned mail from readers about it, who are justifiably concerned that the canal has been polluted by some foreign substance.
Well, it has and it hasn’t: but it’s nothing to worry about. The white film is the pollen and detritus from Sallow trees (Goat Willow) which bloom at this time of year and shed white fluff to the four winds – and it gathers on the canal surface, looking like some terrible contaminant.
It’s really a natural, organic thing and nothing to worry about.
December 2nd – High above Town Wharf in Walsall, a curiosity.
On the flat roof of one of the new apartment blocks, a plastic goat. I’d heard it talked about by Dan Slee a couple of years ago, but never got around to looking for it until I saw someone talking about it on Facebook last weekend.
The question is ‘why?’ but probably should more be ‘why not?’
Walsall still has the capacity to surprise and delight…
September 24th – Having had a look at the bike shop in Milford, I cut through the Shugborough estate to Great Haywood. The seat of the late Earl of Lichfield is by turns wonderful, quirky and depressing. There are magical corners to this estate, from Tixall ‘wides’ – the canal widened to look like lakes – to the deciduous woods and odd, ugly follies. It depresses me as there’s little to actually do here that doesn’t cost money. I’d stop for tea in the cafe, but you have to have a ticket. It’s all a bit sad, really.
There’s a lovely small rare breeds farm, and I’m rather taken with the miniature goats.