Some days catch the light like diamonds

It’s been an odd spring. After the warmth and almost summer-like weather of March, April was a cool, wet disappointment. Spring has sneaked in under the wire, everything gently inching ahead, afraid to make itself noticed. Nature is holding it’s breath waiting for the starting gun of warmer days. Yesterday seems to have been a bit of a faltering, false start. There was sun to warm the damp countryside, but on a bike it was bitterly cold with woolly hat and gloves coming out at 4pm. Yet still nature was awakening, ready to make a dash for it. At Chasewater, the rise in water level allowed small boats out onto the lake, their sails reflecting the sunlight. The railway, too, were showing off a new engine, and everything felt joyous. I cycled to Castle Ring and found the ditches and marshes alive with tadpoles, and a greening, verdant Cannock Chase just aching to get growing for another season.

On my return via Rugeley and Longdon, the countryside glowed in a cool, languid golden hour. I know we need the rain, but please, can we have a few more days like this?

For more photos from yesterday and my everyday cycling exploits, please check out my 365daysofbiking Tumblr journal.

Good to see the boats back on Chasewater at last. Looked like fun, too! 2:42pm, Sunday, 6th May 2012.

Not seen this locomotive at Chasewater Railway before. Not sure if it’s on loan or what – but it’s rather handsome. Hopefully, a railway buff can let us know… 2:58pm, Sunday, 6th May 2012.

Roger ‘Ziksby’ Jones posted yesterday on twitter, having seen the same loco:

W G Bagnall 0-4-0st No. 2842 “No.2” former Kent Power Company locomotive at Chasewater Heaths station this afternoon.

Cheers to Roger – always first with the information!

Hayfield Hill, between Chase Terrace and Gentleshaw, near Castle Ring, is an unforgiving, straight hill. Always a challenge. 3:31pm, Sunday, 6th May 2012.

Tadpoles! I would have expected the dry weather to have killed them off, but the pools and ditches around Castle Ring on Cannock Chase were boiling with them. The foam on the water is caused by their activity. 3:48pm, Sunday, 6th May 2012.

The view of Rugeley Power Station from Castle Ring is changeless. The trees are beautiful shades of green right now. 4:07pm, Sunday, 6th May 2012.

As usual, the deer were loafing at Penkridge Bank. Seeing I had no food, they paid me little attention. 5:39pm, Sunday, 6th May 2012.

Near Rifle Range Corner, the trees are just coming into leaf. Further to the north at Abraham’s Valley, the air is heavy with the scent of pinesap, balsam and fresh water. 6:07pm, Sunday, 6th May 2012.

Crossing the River Trent aqueduct at Rugeley, passing behind the back gardens of leafy Etchinghill. The willows here are a joy to behold, and they’re just coming into leaf. 6:39pm, Sunday, 6th May 2012.

George’s Hayes, between Upper Longdon and Stonywell, is host to a fragrant carpet of Ramsons, or Wild Garlic. The shoots and flowers can be added to cooking for a subtle garlic flavour, and when the vegetation dies back, the bulbs can be used just like cultivated garlic. 7:25pm, Sunday, 6th May 2012.

From Wikipedia, for those interested:

Ramsons leaves are edible; they can be used as salad, spice, boiled as a vegetable, in soup, or as an ingredient for pesto in lieu of basil. The stems are preserved by salting and eaten as a salad in Russia. The bulbs and flowers are also very tasty.

Ramsons leaves are also used as fodder. Cows that have fed on ramsons give milk that tastes slightly of garlic, and butter made from this milk used to be very popular in 19th century Switzerland.

The first evidence of the human use of ramsons comes from the mesolithic settlement of Barkaer (Denmark) where an impression of a leaf has been found. In the Swiss neolithic settlement of Thayngen-Weier (Cortaillod culture) there is a high concentration of ramsons pollen in the settlement layer, interpreted by some as evidence for the use of ramsons as fodder.

Longdon Church, viewed over the rapeseed fields of Stonywell in a glorious, but very chilly, golden hour. If you want to really enjoy the British countryside. right now the area around Longdon and Farewell would be very hard to beat. 7:29pm, Sunday, 6th May 2012.

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9 Responses to Some days catch the light like diamonds

  1. warren parry says:

    i was metal detecting in that area on Saturday, truly a stunning area. i was in a field adjacent to a rapeseed field and the smell was wonderful. i did however wonder how the pollinating insects are going to get their jobs done?

    • It’s a good question, but there seem to be a few about, so hopefully we should be OK. I did notice the odd lazy, dozy bumblebee about yesterday.


  2. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    thanks for the lovely photos. There was a narrow gauge train and wagon at Chasewater station this afternoon… I missed the smart loco, though. I wonder what it is?

  3. Beautiful, Bob. It does feel like we’re all holding our breath, ready to be let out in a big contented sigh when that gorgeous warm weather finally arrives.

  4. 66usual says:

    some lovely photos here. I love the one of the train!

  5. ziksby says:

    I must have missed the boats; by 3.30 there was no sign of them. And you beat me to the loco by just over an hour as my pictures are timed around 4.10 at Heaths Crossing. One day I’ll bump into you.

  6. TiredHippo says:

    After a pleasant few minutes listening to ballboy, a quick google told me I had the wrong decade-old Scottish indie band.

    • Heh! I love it when people spot where the titles come from.

      I’ve loved Stuart David’s work for years, as a member of Belle & Sebastian and then Looper. He’s not only a great musician, but a brilliant writer, too. ‘Impossible Things’ is one of the most beautiful songs ever recorded, in my opinion.



      • TiredHippo says:

        I’d not listened to Looper for years before today, so thanks for the reminder of how good ‘Up A Tree’ was – were the following albums any cop?

        Did you like ballboy – they had some cracking songs. ‘I hate Scotland’ ( is probably my favourite, although most of their earlier songs are worth listening to.

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