March 17th – Coming back from Lichfield, tired after a hard week, I stopped on the motorway bridge at Summerhill and tried long exposure photography again. 

I finally got just what I wanted. and the experiment of setting the camera on the ground looking down the hill towards Sandhills worked better than I could have imagined.

That’s taken a while, but I’m happy with that.

February 27th – When I was a youth, exploring the local lanes and byways on my treasured Peugeot racer, I rarely, if ever saw birds of prey. I might hear the odd owl, or spot a kestrel or two, but raptors were rare things indeed.

Over the interceding 35 years, the rabbit population has recovered, and the buzzards and other large hunters have steadily been gaining traction. I now regularly see buzzards wheeling over the Black Country, often being mobbed by crows and magpies. Kestrels hover over motorway embankments, gimlet eye peeled for anything small and squeaky. Peregrines hunt pigeon in central Birmingham, Walsall and Lichfield. Patches of plucked feathers attest to the feeding of sparrow hawks.

It therefore gave me reason to smile that this fine bird was perching in a thicket near Wall Butts at Muckley Corner. A splendid bird in fine condition, and showing well that not all of our progression in conservation is wasted.

October 6th – I’d had to nip into Birmingham and Lichfield on the way home, and came back down the A461 at Summerhill long after darkness had fallen, so I thought I’d try some long exposures from the M6 Toll bridge there. 

They didn’t come out too badly for 30 second shots. Interesting that the traffic is so light, vehicles rarely stray out of the inside lane…. 

February 26th – I was thankful for the favourable wind on the way home, but the grey, half-mist half-drizzle was miserable. I normally love this journey, but today, it was dismal. It did, however, have some bright moments; the buzzard spied over the field near Muckley Corner was a long, lucky shot in very poor light, and the snowdrops on the verge at Sandhills are numerous and cheering. 

Mostly, though, the A461 just ground on into the grey afternoon. Come on sunshine, where are you?

November 3rd – On my return from Lichfield, I passed the old Muckley Corner, where there former pub and hotel has been converted back into homes. It’s taken a while, but the building is looking splendid now, particularly at night when it’s beautifully lit.

It can’t be far off finished by now. It’s good to see the old place preserved, and returned to   the kind of arrangement the terrace would have had before the pub expanded.

September 14th – I hauled myself up from Lichfield slowly, fully loaded with shopping, against a horrid wind and with little energy. I was feeling grim, and Muckley Corner at rush hour is no place for old men. Having traversed it, I pulled over on the far side of the junction and took a look at the old Muckley Corner Pub/Cornerhouse Hotel. It’s been beautifully converted into dwellings – it’s clear now that there will be no form of commercial afterlife for this pub. In a way, it’s all gone full circle, as originally, the building was a corner pub and associated terraced houses. 

A number of folk have pointed out the attention to detail in the reuse of the decorative coping tiles, ridge pieces and finials. They look wonderful. Shame about the chimneys, though…

March 29th – I haven’t a clue what’s going on with the old Muckley Corner Hotel anymore. It’s supposed to be under conversion back into dwellings (at least the rear part), yet the saga of painting, woodwork, then ripping the roof and freshly painted render off has been as bizarre as it has been perplexing. I wondered if the old pub part on the corner had a future as a pub or restaurant once more, but the way things are going, I think the building may fall down first. An odd state of affairs.