March 7th – Returning via Shenstone, in the new-found evening commute dusk, I noticed that the tiny, log abandoned bungalow at Owletts Farm on Lynn Lane is now visible, before another summer’s leaf growth conceals it once more.

I don’t know why this tiny house, like several in the area is being allowed to decay, as I’m sure that before the rot set in it would have been a nice home for someone.

It has been empty as long as I’ve been cycling these lanes – nearly 40 years now.

A sad little tragedy.

February 22nd – Frustratingly, I had to pop into Birmingham on my way home, and caught the train back out, but it was gratifying to find myself cycling back from Shenstone in almost daylight, in a misty, lovely sunset.

It’s gone cold again, but this still felt quite spring-like.

August 7th – On the way home and travelling through Stonnall after a tiring day of firefights and frustration, I stopped on Cartersfield Lane to watch as drifting smoke obscured the distant pumping station. My astonishment was short lived though when I got nearer and realised it was the same wheat-dust from the same machine working in a different field to the evening before.

Combine harvesters really are the most fascinating machines. 

Harvest must be like the ultimate triumph of the year for an arable farmer, and the hard work and long hours are clear. I bet the dust isn’t much fun in that thing either.

Good to see the harvest home.

April 27th – Also near Stonnall, a classic spring view: cottages at Mill Lane, Lynn surrounded by an ocean of bright yellow oilseed rape, the cheesy scent of which is filling the air in the backlanes at the moment.

It’s still way too cold, but the countryside is showing itself beautifully.

November 14th – Nearer home, at Fighting Cocks, the moon made an appearance.

It was a beautiful as ever, but didn’t seem that much bigger than usual to me, but it was very bright.

An odd thing, really: Every moon these days is special in some way. I think I preferred it when we just had normal ones!

October 26th – The gorgeous and remarkable sunsets also continue. Again, coincidentally passing near Shenstone, I caught an astoundingly dramatic mackerel sky sunset that lasted all of 15 minutes before it disappeared. 

As I left Shenstone station, there were hints in the sky to the west, and as I cycled home, I watched the shy intensify until it almost seemed to catch fire.

Then, by the time I got to Stonewall, all trace had disappeared from the sky and dusk was falling.

And yes, I do love the drama and geometry of pylons, and what better backdrop than a stunning sunset?

September 27th – It was clear when I left work that there was going to be a good sunset, and it reached it’s peak just as I hit Brownhills. An absolutely stunning sundown, I haven’t seen the like for a good while – the sky appeared to be on fire, with the dying red light reflected on the underside of mackerel clouds.

A great benefit of the shortening of the day is riding home in sunsets like these.

September 20th – It was so beautiful on the way home that I decided to take a spin around Stonnall and Shenstone, just to catch the golden hour.

Although Autumn’s feet are well under the table now, there’s still plenty of green with freshly planted crops in the fields and leaves not yet turning.

But oh, it gets dark so early now…

August 5th – An early evening drop into Stonnall to call on a mate on the way home from work took place under some remarkably threatening skies. There were a few spots, but rain didn’t catch me however, and I was reminded near Lynn of the spectacular panoramic beauty that occurs unexpectedly in the local countryside.

Harvest seems to have stalled for the moment, and crops still languish in the fields, adding a welcome golden hue to the landscape. Despite the weather, it really is high summer now.

July 27th – And on my return, the weather was so lovely, I decided to take a detour around Stonnall for a bit of thinking time.

Grandma use to say ‘mackerel sky? 24 hours dry.’ – this was certainly a remarkable, beautiful sky.

I do hope she’s right.