#365daysofbiking Sweet thing:
September 25th – Again returning through Stonnall, I stopped to take a look are the venerable, reliably productive sweet chestnut that is always so beautiful on the corner of Main Street.
Always laden with nuts in their prickly, fur lined husks the tree is healthy and always fruits well; but sadly the climate in the UK isn’t favourable for producing sweet chestnuts, so the kernels are always small and thin.
They’re still beautiful, though.
October 10th – Another abundant crop is the sweet chestnuts on the tree at the bottom of Main Street, Stonnall, which are now ripe and falling to the ground. This is always a productive tree, and the soft, downy insides of the husks contrast with the intensely spiky, hostile exterior, but it does look oh so cosy to be a sweet chestnut.
As usual, the nuts are not big enough to eat, as the fruit doesn’t grow well in the British climate, but the tree is stunning and an interesting, handsome curiosity.
May 28th – A recovery day. I didn’t do much, but had to be at a function in Burntwood in the afternoon, so I pottered there in the sunshine of a breezy afternoon along the canal and via Chasewater. I’ll never tire of the stretch between Anchor Bridge and Chasewater; so varied in such a short run; urban gardens, rolling countryside. Green fields, open heath and factory yards. It’s all here, and all rather splendid.
My Horse Chestnut tree at Home Farm – my favourite, and my overseer of the year – is currently in glorious flower, like most conker trees. At the Chasewater Cottages, young rabbits regarded me watchfully from the buttercup-strewn lawn. And in a waterside garden, I loved momma and children scarecrows.
I’ll never love a stretch of canal more than this.
October 17th – Halloween seems to be getting bigger and more commercial every year, and this year, the hype has started particularly early.
It’s nice to see the popularity of pumpkins, though, as I adore the orange gourd, particularly as soup. In Lichfield, I loved the two carved ones on display at the greengrocers.
A nice touch that made me smile.
February 18th – A sweet and sad little mystery in Kings Hill Park, Darlaston, I noticed whilst taking a shortcut back from Wednesbury. A young sapling, not long planted in the corner of the park. Surrounded by daffodils getting ready to bloom, a unattributed heart-shaped wreath, and a single red rose.
A valentines verse, and the date 14th February 1991.
I have no idea. But it caught me unawares on a sunny, springlike morning. Sad, and yet so sweet.
July 3rd – Cleavers, or sweethearts as they’re colloquially known hereabouts are fascinating little things. A creeping, grippy weed, it elevates itself from the ground by hooking on to other plants with it’s spiny, sticky hairs. The seeds themselves employ the same mechanism of almost velcro-like attachment, adhering well to clothing, feathers and animal fir.
The owners of dogs and cats with longer coats will know well the hours spent picking these devilish little balls out of their animal’s hair… but as a seed dispersal tactic, it’s brilliant, as animals preen the seeds out, and they germinate where they land.
Natural engineering is damned clever.
I’ve no idea what the bug is, but he’s an interesting wee thing.
October 21st – I see lots of sweet chestnut trees about – particularly around Shugborough and Longdon, yet little decent fruit, which has always puzzled me. This year in no exception. Inside these very sharp, defensive husks, the chestnuts are thin and small. I don’t know if they’re just an ornamental strain, or whether the crops need more attention than they get in the wild. Still, the windfalls are always impressively spiky.