July 13th – I’m sad to see the huge horse chestnut trees on Stafford Park in Telford are suffering for the first time I think with leaf miner parasites.
These tiny larva destroy the leaves of the host tree from within, and although leaving the host pretty much unharmed, they bring on an ‘early autumn’ but causing the leaves to become blotchy and brown.
It looks worse than it is, but it’s a sad end to the season for many a beautiful tree.
Hopefully the current wave of these insects will pass soon.
March 28th – Crikey, it was a long journey home. Engineering works commencing at the frankly bizarre time of 2pm today resulted in there being no through trains from Wolverhampton to Birmingham. Since my bike can’t go on a replacement bus service, I was faced with cycling to Walsall from Wolverhampton (I wanted to visit the night market), or find some other route.
I was tired. It was very cold. The route from Wolverhamton to Walsall is horrid. And the wind was against me.
A quick hack with the National Rail app showed I could take a train from Wolverhampton to Stafford, a second service from Stafford to Rugeley Trent Valley, and another from Rugeley to Walsall. The whole lot from Telford took about 3 hours, end to end. An adventure, of sorts.
I hadn’t actually been to Stafford Station in over 20 years; it’s still bloody odd. One of several local stations built in the 60s, it has dated badly, and shares the same faults as it’s sister stations, Coventry, Wolverhampton and Telford. It’s a peculiar place.
Even more unsettling is Rugeley Trent Valley. It’s bleak, desolate and deserted. This station is unstaffed, and occupies a withering, wind-blasted location in the industrial north of town. 2 of the 3 platforms are an Island accessed from a high, steep footbridge, and trains thunder through here at very high speed. It’s clearly a place people choose to take their own lives, as I’ve never seen so many signs advising the number for the Samaritans. With every train that blasted through, the cold wind lashing me in it’s wake, I thought of poor, lost souls.
On the train to Walsall, I was comforted by Cannock Chase in the snow, and not far from the Goosemoor Green crossing, a small herd of fallow deer loafed by the line. They made me feel human again.
Never underestimate the cheering power of snow, trees and wild animals.