#365daysofbiking It’s because I’m a fun guy:
September 11th – Riding down a post-rain Goscote cycleway, the edges of the trail were dotted with mushrooms and toadstools, I’m fairly but not absolutely sure of the identity of the large, spotted specimens: I think they’re blushers but could, at a pinch, be shaggy parasols. I welcome further views on that.
The field mushrooms were copious, and I got out my cotton bag and plugged about 2lb of them, which made a lovely accompaniment to my evening meal.
January 31st – One of the sure signs of a change in season from winter to spring is the appearance of various types of catkins, which are most commonly seen at this time of year on hazel trees, or in the case of these long ones, alder.
Alder is curious in that the buds you can see are also flows, the large blooms are male, and those female.
The word catkin is likely to have come from the Dutch Kateken, meaning kitten – due to the resemblance to kitten’s tails.
Catkins emerge this time of year as they’re wind pollinating, and emergence after coming into leaf would hamper pollination.
May 31st – Since were in the largely purple phase of flowering now, it would be wrong to overlook this tiny gem. Prolific on grass verges, towpath margins and anywhere with decent light and room to spread, vetch is a gorgeous, long lasting lilac-violet colour and brightens many otherwise dull corners.
It really is a highlight of summer and one I look forward to enjoying seeing.
May 30th – This is always a lovely first sighting of the summer – the first orchid. Small, light purple in colour and growing in a solitary position next to the cycleway at Ryecroft this small, pretty flower reminds me that summer is here.
I’m not proficient enough to tell one orchid from another – there are so many different but similar types it can be very hard to tell – but they are all gorgeous, and like cowslips, are one of my favourite flowers.
Look out for them in wetland meadows, towpaths, marshes and the edges of ponds and streams. The more you study them, the more beautiful you will see they are.
August 13th – Honeysuckle berries are unpleasant, and in most varieties of the plant, slightly toxic to humans. The berries of the most common hedgerow species I see are crimson and sticky, and beloved of birds and bugs. If you can catch them before they’re devoured, they’re beautiful, like jewels, almost. These are growing near the cycleway in Pelsall, where it crosses Mill Road. Note the airborne grime stuck to the surface of the fruit – this is why foraged stuff should always, always be washed.
But don’t forage these, they’ll make you ill…
July 29th – I followed my nose up the old railway, under the A5 and onto Chasewater as darkness fell. Despite feeling pretty rotten, I was fluid, and felt fast. I hadn’t photographed a sunset for ages – maybe because the recent ones had all been rubbish. This one, though, was good. I’d bee asked to take photos of Chasewater by follower Alex Wardle (@xswardy), so this seemed a fine opportunity. A lovely, soothing evening.
July 26th – The Goscote Valley cycle route is beautiful at the moment. Traversing it yesterday on my way home I was struct by the profusion of wildflowers and fruits creating a riot of colour. Everything from thistles to vetch, ragwort to rowan is loud and colourful, just fighting for our attention. I notice that on the banks of the Ford Brook, Himalayan Balsam is proliferating. This pink and white, tall flower is an invasive species but is itself rather beautiful. It has a peculiar scent and smells metallic. Let’s hope it doesn’t force out any of the equally beautiful native species.