December 27th – I needed to get out, and a silly challenge on social media led me to the Trent Valley, to prove Rugeley Power Station still exists. You’re probably best not asking, to be honest…

I ended up do a tough ride up to Hanch, then into Armintage, back along the canal to Rugeley, they over Stile Cop and back home via Prospect Village and Chasetown. 

The sunset – I caught it as I travelled back up the Trent Valley – was gorgeous, golden and cold. I mashed up Stile Cop from Rugeley, and didn’t stop until Chasetown. A great ride.

And guess what? The power station is still there. Out of use, but still lording it over the valley.

September 28th – Up on the Chase on a balmy, sunny afternoon that apart from the colour, could have been May rather than September.

I came up through Heath Hayes and over Hednesford, over the site of the RAF base. I loved the new RAF Trail markers with the roundel.

Birches Valley was rammed, and not a hugely enjoyable ride – it’s hard to let rip when around every corner there are kids, or loose dogs… So I headed for Abrahams Valley via Penkridge Bank, and was relieved to see not just a deer fawn, but clear space with few people over there.

The pines are beginning to turn – another week or so and they’ll be gorgeous.

I hopped from Seven Springs to Stepping Stones, over Milford Common and Shugborough, where from the zigzag bridge I watched two horse riders cautiously fording the trent. 

Racing back through Longdon, a familiar patch of cyclamen I forget every year until they flower, and they take me by surprise. Such delicate, lovely flowers.

It’s good to be back on decent weekend rides after so long waiting for the foot to sort itself out.

May 1st – The Tame and Trent through Staffordshire are littered with the remnants of the Second World War, mostly old concrete blockhouses like this one in a field between Tamhorn and Hopwas. It took me a while to work out the logic of the seemingly random placements, but they all cover strategically important bridges. I guess those miltarians who planned gravely for the possible invasion of Britain recognised the value of pinch-points that rbridges formed.

Many of these fascinating structures are now listed, and there’s lots of information including a live gazetteer in Google Earth provided by The Defence of Britain Archive, a project by the University of York.