BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘sky’

#365daysofbiking Season of the sunset

Sunday 6th February 2022 – Returning from Lichfield on an errand, I caught a good sunset – not a brightly coloured one, although those always occur this time of year sooner or later – but the sort of dramatic, moody, muted skyline that bristles with what Simon Jeffes might have termed surface tension.

The skeletal trees of Home Farm looked stark and beautiful on the skyline of Sandhills, as did the trees meeting the sky in a garden at Lynn.

Winter does have its compensations, but they can be few and far between if I’m honest.

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#365daysofbiking On the skyline

Thursday 13th January 2022 – Crossing Chasewater on an errand I’d deliberately held back until sunset, my studied tardiness was rewarded handsomely.

Chasewater is the best place locally to catch a sunset, and the gull roost was massive with thousands of birds too, so the spectacle was twofold. The deer were out on the North Heath and obliged beautifully.

I’ve said this many times and I’ll continue to do so: This place is beautiful. But you have to want to see it, and actively go look. Had I not had one eye to the skies I’d never have seen this.

There’s nowhere I’d rather have been than here, this night.

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#365daysofbiking Watchers of the night

Sunday 9th January 2022 – I’ve been riding with Pickle, my 15 year old niece, for years now, as followers of my social media will know. She was always reluctant to share her images and thoughts on this journal, which she steadfastly considered to be solely my preserve. Now she’s older, we’ve debated the matter, and she’s now content to take part – after all, she shares the same enthusiasm for the places we visit and all that they contain that I had at her age, that hopefully I’ve conveyed to readers over the last decade. Sharing this passion with a youngster is contagious, and renews my fascination – not just for the places, but for cycling and life in general. Now I’m getting older, this isn’t a moment too soon.

But also being a teenager, Pickle has a full social schedule and it wasn’t until quite late on Sunday that she was free to head out. She has a new camera at the moment, and she was keen to exploit the low light features, and try out some techniques she’d read about in her continual perusal of photography forums and the device’s manual.

We needed a place that had a good atmosphere at dusk, and was within an achievable distance. I recalled that Hoar Cross church is lit at night, and the Needwood Valley it overlooks can be magical at any time of day, but especially in twilight. I thought if we headed up through Lichfield, Sittles, Croxall, Walton on Trent, then wound up through Barton, we might just hit Dunstall at the golden hour, then over Scotch Hills to Jacksons Bank and Hoar Cross by sunset.

The ride was fast, but the countryside and lanes absolutely sodden. The weather was clear and chilly, which aided in holding off twilight. Sadly, the golden hour wasn’t really happening, and the sunset had more important things to do too; but as the lass reflected, this wasn’t that kind of day.


At Dunstall Hall – a place that’s seen a number of uses in recent years – it was interesting to see the deer in the gardens before the house, and that gorgeous church on the rolling hillside was as captivating as ever. But we had another church in our sights, and we got there on time.

Hoar Cross church of The Holy Angels is without doubt, one of the finest churches in Staffordshire, if not England. Sat in the middle of nowhere next to Hoar Cross Hall, seat of the Meynell Ingram family, it sits on a ridge above the Needwood Valley. It is absolutely stunning, was erected as a memorial to Lady Meynell Ingram’s husband, killed in a hunting accident in 1871, although like all great Victorian tragic legends, some of this is disputed.

My memory was correct and the church is lit at night by a very orange sodium light that really highlights the stonework of this remarkable building beautifully – but not only that, it picks out the angels watching over the slain hunter’s grave in a most remarkable way. We took lots of photos here, and listened to the owls unseen in the trees seemingly having a dispute. The atmosphere was amazing, and experiencing nightfall here was truly magical.

It was getting increasingly cold and we were hungry, so rode back – not on our usual Hadley End – Morrey – A515 route, but I wanted to find the keen photographer some alternate subjects on the way – so we turned southwestwards and through Rough Park, the Ridwares and Handsacre, where we took a photo break on that remarkable old bridge, redundant but resplendent, still adjacent to it’s modern replacement carrying the main road over the Trent.

Here, the lights of the Armitage Shanks factory and Rugeley really made for a good muse, but neither of us can yet atone to the view without Rugeley Power Station. A sad loss, something I never would have thought of myself saying 20 years ago.

We returned home up past Grand Lodge, Goosemoor Green and Fulfen, cutting across Chasetown to Chasewater, where Pickle had something she really, really wanted to try: I think you’ll agree her starry night shots are stunning.

A 53 miler on a surprisingly cold day in quite challenging road conditions: But a good ride nonetheless, and some great photos. Always good of the soul.

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#365daysofbiking Back to earth

Sunday 2nd January 2022 – The warmth and fine weather departed as suddenly as it arrived, in the way that saviours generally do.

On an errand displaced from New Year’s Eve, I was in Lichfield during a sunset break in the rain. It was cold, and still windy. I went for the Lichfeldian photographer’s cliche: The Cathedral across Stowe Pool. It rewarded me suitably, with a moody, dark sunset.

I wonder what was happening in the single lit room before the Cathedral. Perhaps there was a lone cleric, forlornly asking the management for another blessed burst of better weather.

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#365daysofbiking Unfixed

Saturday March 6th 2021 – The bike was giving me problems I was finding it hard to fix, so I snatched a quick test ride to Chasewater as the sunset looked decent – I really wasn’t disappointed.

It was one of those brooding, dark evenings when you don’t expect much of the dusk but it surprises you – and so it did.

It was still cold though, as the smoke from the narrowboat moored in Anglesey Wharf attested. I know it’s only really just March, and not even too late for snow, but some warmth wouldn’t go amiss.

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#365daysofbiking Pushing on

Thursday March 4th 2021 – Home again, and a chance to catch the sunset on the exercise ride.

It was an interesting one: A decent sky colour, but not terribly dramatic. I took lots of pictures, but it looked best from the canal at Catshill over the trees.

I could feel maybe a little – just a little – warmth in the air and warm long days are not far away now. For now, I’ll keep pushing on into the dusk, and think longingly of them.

These things, like good sunsets, get me through.

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#365daysofbiking To orangey for crows

Saturday February 27th 2021 – Another decent sunset which I caught near Haselour on a fast test ride around Harlaston and Whittington – but the real star was the moon, as viewed here from the old ROC bunker by Willow Bottom Lane.

It was the most stunning orange colour – the camera doesn’t do it justice and it was really, really breathtaking. I’ve never seen such a beautiful, large coloured moon before.

The effect is caused by pollution and moisture in the atmosphere, and faded as it rose.

Another I was very glad to catch.

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#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 Glad

Monday February 22nd 2021 – As if to answer my prayer for colour, my working from home exercise ride took me out at sunset, and I enjoyed it more than I expected, finding myself heading toward Chasewater on the canal.

On the bend near Newtown, looking toward the Chase Road bridge I saw the sky reflected in the canal, and although nearly dark, it was most gorgeous golden red.

Usually about now we go through a period of getting decent sunsets. It doesn’t last long, two or three weeks maybe – and there is a similar effect for a while when the nights close in in Autumn.

It’s one of the markers of entering and ending the winter darkness.

The period in spring always makes me glad – I hope it’s started.

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#365daysofbiking Another grey Sunday

Sunday February 21st 2021 – For some reason we aren’t getting many bright, cold days this winter – but we are getting lots of dull, middling, anonymous, colourless days. Which is a shame, but at least it’s not continually wet like many recent winters have been.

There’s always a reason to be positive, after all…

On a test ride around Stonnall after some bike fettling, I stopped on Cartersfield Lane to make some adjustments and noticed there was a little brightness to the end of the day, albeit colourless: The sun was just retreating behind the woodland and electricity line up towards the quarry further up the hill.

On days like these, you take the beauty where you find it.

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