July 20th – The rosebay willow herb – old man’s beard – has been coming out for a couple of weeks now. This tall, viciously purple plant occupies urban waste grounds, rural set-asides, hedgerows and lay-bys, and fruits to a hairy, airborne seed that we all know. This fine summer flower- often dismissed as a mere weed – is a veritable bee magnet and I counted at least seven species on this small clump near Ive House Farm in Lower Stonnall. As fine a summer feature as you’re likely to find.
May 6th – A late trundle into Lichfield to get some shopping done. At the northern edge of Springhill, on the A461 Lichfield Road, Ivy House Farm lies semi-derelict.
The tumbledown farmhouse, seemingly already partially truncated at some point in it’s life, is currently up for auction, presumably marked as ’…some renovation required’. There is a second derelict cottage over the fields near the tollroad behind. A interesting mystery.
April 12th – I’ve been able to find out little of John Smith. He was clearly a big cheese, because he could afford a handsome, three-storey foursquare traditional redbrick Staffordshire farmhouse – Ivy House Farm, Lower Stonnall. I pass this name stone set into the barn an awful lot, and often wonder if the stonemason did that deliberately, or if he was just illiterate, and copying something written for him. It’s a charming little mystery.