April 22nd – The late Lichfeldian touring cyclist and acquaintance Maurice Purser used to tell me you could see 7 spires/towers and/or churches from Pipe Hill. Maurice, who enjoyed such puzzles, had me scouring for months with binoculars in the mid-80s. What actually solved it for me was not careful scrutiny of the city skyline from high up here past Mickle Hills, but a map.

Maurice liked riddles especially if they were a bit misleading. At some point I looked at a map, and noticed that Aldershawe, the country house visible 90 degrees sunwise from this view had a private chapel. So whilst the riddle was correct, it was a bit cunning.

These days, Aldershawe is divided into smaller dwellings and you can’t see any of it from here for trees.

With a decent zoom on a reasonable day though, Lichfield’s churches, spires and rooftops still come alive, and a middle aged cyclist remembers this view as a young lad, with a leathery, weathered older gent telling tall tales of derring-do.

Wherever you are Maurice, may it be hawthorn free, the wind at your back, the sun on your face, and speed in your wheels. And a good cafe stop.

October 31st – And then, the return. In shades of pink, blue, orange and grey, it was cinematic and even the distant, noisy sweep of traffic was beautiful. There was little wind and noise, and the smells of the season just hung in the air.

I’ve made no bones about having the darkness of winter. Everyone who reads this must surely know how I feel about it – yet when autumn is old and winter encroaches, the gloom is punctuated by a beauty you never feel in summer.

February 7th – The season of sunsets continues, with a lovely hazy one that I chased from Lichfield to Hammerwich. It was a beautiful, ever changing sky, and sadly, it was passed by the time I got to the spot I really wanted to see it from.

But, as it happened, the pictures didn’t turn out to bad.

September 6th – I popped into Lichfield on a grey afternoon for a bit of shopping, and noticed that the Panache Restaurant, which had garnered appalling food safety ratings in recent months had closed and seems to have the builders in.

This was one the Three Tuns pub, and one of three pubs in close proximity on Pipe Hill, the other two long since gone.

This is clearly quite an old building that has undergone much change over the years, and I would hate to see it lost.

I hope the next phase of this venerable pub’s life is kind to it.

June 28th – At the Sandyway island on the A461 Walsall Road, just south of Lichfield, there’s a field of maturing oilseed rape stretching over to Maple Hayes, with poppies interspersed though it. It’s not as impressive as the fields were just up the hill last year, but it’s not bad; those fields have this year rotated to wheat.

I think the crop may be organic, as mixed in are all manner of wildflowers including thistles, poppies, ox eye daisies, cow parsley, and a purple blue flower I don’t recognise.

The most puzzling thing is the steel box marked ‘BT Property CC223’ hanging loosely on the gate post; it’s not fixed and can be opened, but theres little inside aside from the remnants of a mechanism in the lid. 

I have a feeling it may be a cash box from an old-style payphone kiosk. Anybody know for sure? It’s certainly an odd thing in an unusual place…

June 26th – It had caught my eye the morning before – a late flowering crop of oilseed rape in a field also partially spread with crimson poppies, just in the lee of Pipe Hill as one descends down into Lichfield. Today I stopped and took pictures.

I’m not altogether sure what causes this – but it is beautiful, and quite rare. It seems many of the neighbouring fields are displaying a similar effect. Beautiful in the sunlight.

April 6th – From Pipehill, on a reasonable day, the view of south Lichfield is wonderful. Modern, new build housing and a bypass have converted what was once a mostly rural view into urban sprawl reminiscent of Yate or Stoke Gifford in Bristol. In the middle, like some fallen baroness in a closing-time bar, sits the once noble Sandfields Pumping Station. This remarkable building once supplied water to the Black Country, but now languishes idle in a sea of buildings whose architectural and structural benchmark are set considerably lower. A pedigree hound surrounded by mongrels.

The campaign to save the pumping station and the remarkable engine it contains is gearing up. Visit Dave Moore’s blog to find out more.

A commute from the 26th March, turned to video to go with an article on my main blog noting the first anniversary of this journal. Please read the original article by clicking here – and if the video above is blocked in your country, there’s an alternate version linked in the article. 

Here’s to more of the same… and another 365daysofbiking.