#365daysofbiking The last embers of the day:
November 23nd – Coming home from Birmingham on the train, I again alighted at Shenstone, but returned via the backlands on a misty, mystical and enchanting evening.
These were the last hours of the heaviest working week for a long time. But at home there was food, tea, warmth, cosiness, and peace, which made the last climb over sShire Oak Hill much easier.
April 17th – Every day, new flowers and leaves. This is fantastic, and just what I’ve been waiting for. All I need now is the sun to do it’s thing…
Spotted in a roadside verge near Lower Stonnall on Gravelly Lane – one of my all time favourite spring flowers – muscari or grape hyacinth. A garden favourite, I’m not sure if they’re native here or a garden escapee. But they are so very gorgeous, tiny blue arrangements of even tinier obovoid flowers.
February 23rd – The mist had mostly cleared, but it was still very cold, and once more I found myself cycling back from Shentstone to Stonnall is the curious, netherworld twilight that’s neither day nor night that you get at this time of year.
I the cold and against a pretty sharp wind, the lights of the cottages and houses I passed were like soothing beacons in the gloom.
Passing through lower Stonnall my mind wandered to how many barn conversions and adapted houses there are here now: When I was a kid, they were working farms.
September 14th – A real sign of autumn, my first conker finds of the season, and this year it looks like there’s a large, voluminous crop waiting to fall to earth.
This tree, spotted in the backlanes of Stonnall was laden, and the fruit fresh from the husk as beautiful and shiny as ever one could wish, despite the tree being hard-hit by leaf miner.
Like most men, there is an inbuilt genetic urge to collect fallen conkers and I still can’t pass them in the road without popping a few in my pocket.
July 1st – Has half the year gone already? Really? Wow.
I flew from Walsall with the wind behind me just after the rain passed, and with a call to make in Stonnall, I let the wind blow me on a lazy loop around Shenstone. The wet lanes glistened in the sunlight, and the sky was deep blue. With the wet June, everything is verdant ad green, except the barley, which is turning now to the gold of high summer.
As the year and seasons move inexorably on, although it’s been wet, it hasn’t felt like a bad year for the weather. Let’s hope we get a drier, sunnier July and August.
June 20th – I came back along the lanes around Stonnall for the first time in a while. On such a warm, sunny afternoon they were a delight to the soul, and very green and peaceful.
At Stonnall itself, I noted the barn conversion at the top of Main Street is nearly complete. A beautiful, painstaking job, the pointing alone has been a work of art. I was initially shocked when the covering bushes were cut down, but this is a sympathetic and lovely conversion and the craftspeople and designers should be proud. I love the way the dovecote in the eaves has been preserved, too.
A fine thing indeed.
September 8th – A great sunset. I’d been stuck in all day working, but my sunset escape was slightly hampered by forgetting my trusty camera, so I was restricted to my phone. Not too bad, I guess, but it didn’t capture a glorious golden hour around Stonnall and Brownhills quite how I would have liked. There was a delicious slight chill, and the sun was low any golden. A wonderful end to a lovely day. These days must surely be numbered now…
August 24th – I’m not sure this cottage has a name. Standing on the junction of Footherley Lane, Gravelly Lane and Mill Lane in Lower Stonnall, it’s a handsome, four-square but fairly low Staffordshire cottage. I love everything about it; it’s standing at the junction, the ivy, the imposing doorway and oblique angle. I suspect it to be quite old, and the gardens are often full of beautiful flowers. This home is a lovely landmark on my way home, and even in the dark, it’s lights welcome me on my return from a long ride.