BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘sandhills’

#365daysofbiking Glad to see it


Friday February 26th 2021 – It looks like I was right: The period of fine sunsets has commenced.

Some springtimes, it’s better than others, but that’s the luck of the weather.

I spotted it coming on, and powered up the canal on the daily exercise ride to Chasewater where it looked superb, and despite the biting cold, it was fabulous to witness. Catching the moon over my favourite tree at Sandhills on the way back was a real bonus, too.

We really do live in a wonderfully beautiful area.

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#365daysofbiking Living on the skyline


Tuesday February 16th 2021 – Time for a favourite tree update.

The tree I love most of all is this particular horse chestnut, visible clearly on the skyline at Home Farm, Sandhills from the Wyrley and Essington Canal at Catshill, not more than 100 yards from Anchor Bridge.

I love it’s shape, the way it punctuates the rural landscape here, right on the very interface of the urban West Midlands with rural South Staffordshire.

It’s also my gauge of the seasons. I follow it’s colours as it weathers the the year: At the moment it is resolutely bare, but it will be in bud, and soon, from my distant towpath vantage point, I will see the familiar sheen of bright green emerge, before it comes into full leaf.

Usually it lags behind the fields and hedgerows, always the more eager neighbours, and so it is this year, with the field between us bright green with fresh crop growth.

I live for this view, this skyline. And that tree.

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#365daysofbiking All conkering

Saturday, September 26th 2020 – As I mentioned at my recommencement last week, there are some subjects that are staples of this journal, and I can’t believe I’m a week overdue mentioning my favourite tree: The handsome, gorgeous horse chestnut at Home Farm, Sandhills, visible from the canal at Catshill.

This noble bearing of my life is an integral part of that fine view, and has just started to get on its autumn jacket.

I tell the seasons by this tree, and I judge the weather. I’ve photographed it dawn and dusk, rain, snow, hail and shine. It’s one constant, lovely thing I rely on and feel a great sense of topophilia for – yet I don’t think I’ve ever been closer than a few hundred yards to it.

In a chaotic world, we need anchors. This tree is one of mine, and long may it remain so.

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#365daysofbiking Bleat it

Wednesday, September 23rd 2020 – I note sheep are grazing on some fast growing crop planted swiftly after the late summer harvest at Home Farm, Sandhills. It looks like some brassica or other, probably kale.

Sheep are an unusual sight here, as the land is solidly arable, but every now and again, a winter crop like this is grown and sheep from another farm are let loose to feed upon it for a few weeks. I guess it must me a good earner; last time was Christmas 2018, I think.

Nice to see them. Wonder if we’ll get the escapees again on the canal towpath this time?

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#365daysofbiking Silly things

May 19th – I’m finding working from home impossible, if I’m honest. It’s very hard to keep focus with family life happening around me. There is no separation, I miss the commute; and I constantly find myself needing things from my den, or elsewhere in my workplace that would make tasks easy but without them they take forever.

I need to go back to work.

In the mean time, my daily outdoors fix is essential, and this evening I spent probably longer than necessary admiring my favourite tree, at Home Farm, Sandhills. This handsome horse chestnut is currently in bloom and looks gorgeous in the Tuesday golden hour.

Some things are markers in the madness. These fields, the canal, the sun, and that tree. They save me from nosediving. Silly things, but there you go.

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#365daysofbiking – Regardless


April 25th – Saturday morning, again shockingly quiet despite protests of ‘too many people ignoring the lockdown’ on social media. Brownhills and the countryside around it simmered gently in the warm sun.

Things are greening over nicely now. The azolla bloom on the canal is gradually decreasing and everything looked magnificent.

I need to record and cherish these times, for they will, I think, get me through future bad ones. These times when you can enjoy the peace of the old cement works bridge or the view over Home Farm and not hear traffic, not see people but just drink in the warmth, the season and the song of birds and the buzz of bees.

Nature is regardless of human woes and that’s a good reason to keep taking the next steps.

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#365daysofbiking Softening

April 21st – The evening exercise rides are getting a bit samey and I think I need to vary my palette a wee bit – but it’s quite hard with beauty like this not five minutes out of town.

I took a spin up to Ogley Junction from Brownhills: Just a short, lazy loop from Silver Street. The canal and fields near home farm looked spendid in the warm, softening evening sun.

Machinery is once more on the half-ploughed field, which is interesting, and the oilseed rape is now in full bloom, too.

I never, ever tire of this place. It’s so gorgeous.

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#365daysofbiking Home front

April 17th – A quick ride on a day that had been decent, but started to darken as I left the house in the afternoon, and actually came on to rain as I arrived home.

I nipped to the canal at Ogley Hay to check out the oilseed rape at Home Farm: Still not quite fully out but looking beautiful all the same.

But what really shocked me was my favourite tree: The handsome, beautiful horse chestnut on the skyline near the farmhouse. I tell the seasons by that tree and it’s rapidly come on to leaf.

A new bright green jacket smartly adorning an old friend.

Spring is definitely on her throne!

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#365daysofbiking On the western skyline

April 10th – I dallied so long in the lanes I caught a great sunset over Sandhills to Ogley Hay.

To the west, beyond the horizon and telltale silhouette of Humphries House, the town I love, largely silent like most of the country right now.

What I’ve realised this last week is twofold, in that human life is separate from the environment, and that nature will always see me through times of the worst stress and madness.

Whatever troubles the world, or bothers me, the seasons wheel keeps rolling on. The clocks still go forward, the light returns, flowers bloom, the days get warmer.

And in the evening, on the western skyline, there will always be that chance of a decent sunset, and somewhere peaceful to watch it from.

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#365daysofbiking Heliocentric

March 30th – The day was a little more summery than that previously and on my way home I nipped up the canal to see if the field of oilseed rape was out yet at Home Farm.

It’s getting there, it’s getting there. About another week to ten days, depending on how warm and sunny it is.

I love the smell, the colour and the spectacle of the sun-loving brassica. A real sign summer is coming!

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