April 21st – Another wonderful spring flower coming into bloom is the oilseed rape in the fields. All across the rural landscape this vivid yellow brassica is turning the landscape yellow.

The smell is wonderful and it’s just started. The fields are alive with bee buzz and birds come for the feasting bugs. 

I love the drama and beauty of this curious crop

March 25th – A long ride, 58 miles, at a decent average of 12.5mph saw me ride out via the backlanes of Stonnall, Buzzards Valley and along the canal to Kingsbury, then over to Hurley, Grendon, DOrdon, Polesworth and up around Seckington, Clifton and home via Whittington. It was a gorgeous spring day, with warm sun on my back, daffodils in the hedgerows and lots of surprises – like the peacocks in the garden at Footherley and the gorilla statue I must have passed many times, but never seen, at Lee Marston, outside the large factory that’s now an industrial park.

There’s a story there I’m sure.

Whittington Church is really worth a visit at the moment – I passed as darkness was falling but as can be seen, the churchyard is a veritable riot of daffodils.

A great ride that really cheered me up.

January 7th – In order to reclaim something from the ride, I headed via Whittington to Lichfield, for if there’s one place that makes for good night photos, it’s Lichvegas.

Once again, the Canon gave a good account, and I’m loving this camera as a low light device: These images are handheld despite some seriously odd quirks in the hardware ergonomics – why on earth would you have an exposure compensation control on the same central axis as the mode dial, committed in hardware? Often you unintentionally skew exposure compensation changing mode by accident – an awful bit of design.

The camera has a very yellow response to even high pressure sodium lights, which is interesting, but it works remarkably well under white LED street lighting and T5 fluorescents. 

Whittington Church is hard to get a good angle on, and that subway in Festival Gardens, Lichfield, fascinates me. I wonder how old it is? It’s construction would suggest 1920s or 30s.

December 9th – I was looking forward to a snowy ride out to a couple of food fairs – one at Whittington, and one at Lichfield. Sadly, when I escaped at lunchtime, most of the lying snow had melted away and the ride was just greasy and dirty with meltwater and mud.

Still, the ride out through Little Hay was nice, and up over the Heath. The Whittington event was decent, and I was amused by the tiny, real snowman standing sentry on the door. 

After a look around, I headed to Lichfield with a keen seeming wind against me, still a bit miffed about the snow melting. But as it turned out, it didn’t turn out too badly…

July 1st – Out and about for a ride to Elford and Croxall, I spotted that the Himalayan balsam was now in flower in many places.

An absolutely beautiful flower, but it smells metallic and unpleasant, and is an invasive species brought here by the Victorians. It now densely populates riverbanks, brooks and any damp ground, growing to a meter or two high and shading out anything beneath it.

A real, but beautiful problem.

June 3rd  – Every summer one crop will seem particularly common, as prices are high or subsidies increase for that product, and this year the golden grain seems to be barley. 

I’ve never seen so much of the suff. All across the plains of East Staffordshire, acres of land shimmer gently as this strangest or seed-grasses bobs in the breeze.

All this grain will make plenty of malt, or beer or breakfast cereal; and for the price to be high, there must be demand, but it’s a very odd sight, I must say.