Great Tits in Osgathorpe


A Great Tit

After an energetic ramble through the local forest, I was relaxing in the comfy chair sipping home made elder flower champagne enjoying the late afternoon sun and looking out across the lush garden over the small brook to the grove of fruit trees. The Damsons were still a couple of weeks off yet, however those sweet plump oval shaped Victoria plums were just right.

Suddenly a quick red fox appeared in the garden, stopping briefly at the base of the plum tree before trotting off with a juicy plum in his mouth. Brown wrens red robins, and green finches flocked around the bird feeders, accompanied by both great and long tailed tits. Then when a mouse like, long nosed vole snuck out from behind a pot plant, I found myself humming Percy Grainger’s In an English Country Garden.

Well rested after a memorable week narrow boating along the Trent and Mersey Canal, we were itching to get back on the bicycles.

Leaving early in crisp dry but windy conditions, we were initially cycling along busy secondary roads with little or no verge. Uphill and mixing it with those heading to work in Leicester or Birmingham or further afield to London.

We stopped briefly to pick over a fresh patch of blackberries on the side of the road, before rolling into Tamworth, once the ancient capital of the Anglo Saxon Kingdom of Mercia. Then at the small town of Fazeley we joined the narrow boat canal that would take us all the way to city centre in Birmingham.

Cycling the tow path alongside the canal, was a new experience. The surface changed from bitumen, to gravel, to single track, to non existent. Recent heavy rain, intermittent showers and numerous bridge crossings meant progress was slow and the cycling required a high degree of concentration as we slipped and slid over muddy ground. Some stretches of the tow path were exquisite, a winding canal passing through farmland under cute stone bridges. At times the canal passed through heavy industrial neighbourhoods.

As we drew closer to Birmingham, the factories along the canal grew more numerous. The tow path either ended abruptly or required a convoluted diversion. As the warehouses on either side grew taller, tunnels appeared and the locks became more numerous. It was as if we were entering through the belly of the beast into the heart of the Black Country, the centre of the industrial revolution. As the skies grew darker, the noise of metal stamping and hissing engines combined to create an atmosphere of foreboding. Even the once beautifully crafted stone bridges, gave way to rusted metal bridges flanked by crude heavy metal piping. Solitary fishermen were replaced with gaggles of ne’er-do-wells, who inhabited the canals in small groups along the urban fringes of the canals and wildflowers were replaced with broken glass.

Cycling up from the canal, muddy, wet and hungry, we surfaced into a vibrant city of Birmingham where we had lunch in a beautiful city park. We had called into a shop that advertised Cornish pasties and the shop keeper said with a straight face and no sense of irony “The bin men cleaned us all out!”

Late into the afternoon we were once more cycling through rural England, past roadside oak trees framed against hedgerows filled with hazel and holly.

Near the canal town of Kidderminster, renowned for its carpets and weavers, we found a good pitch at the local caravan park. It’s market day tomorrow and I’m thinking of a Cornish pastie.

 horses pruning an oak tree along the canal

Rambling on the abandon Osgathorpe canal tow path

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Categories: UK and Europe 2015, World tour 2015Tags: , ,

1 comment

  1. Check your stats and the number of visits should be up on this post. Got a good laugh on a sunny Sunday morning on the Gold Coast.

    Liked by 1 person

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