Saturday, 27 February 2016

Grey day on the water

The causeway over Blithfield Reservoir is as bleak a place as you'll find on a squally, rainy-damp day like today. Somehow water is the quickest thing to reflect the weather's mood - bright and blue and glinting on a sunny day, but grey, unwelcoming and sombre on a sunless one.

Yet the drive over the causeway is always a thrill (well, a small one!). Like flying... slightly.

Sited near Abbots Bromley, the lake is also a nature reserve.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Veolia grass up top

Veolia Energy Recovery Centre

Yes, look again - here we have a "living roof", with a stretch composed of grass, mosses and flowers. This growth is all deliberate too, as the construction here is claimed to be the most environmentally-friendly (man-made) in the county: described as a "breathing building".

Actually, this is the county's major recycling centre - where all sorts of processes derive energy from waste. Veolia, the owners, are very proud of it and say more developments are to come.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Gertie Gitana's bench

I was in Edinburgh recently. The city's main thoroughfare is Princes Street, which is wide enough to have benches all along one side - for nearly a mile I'd guess. Pretty much every bench has a dedication to a local notable or resident.

But this one took me by surprise, being dedicated to the variety artist Gertie Gitana (her big song was 'Nellie Dean').
Gertie was born in north Staffordshire at the end of the nineteenth cntury, and so is, er, one of 'ours', not theirs.  What's a dedication to her doing in Scotland's capital?

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Underwater path

Doxey Marshes in flood

The constant rains of the last months have caused flooding even in our relatively weather-untroubled county of Staffordshire.
Here at the Doxey Marshes Nature Reserve, you can only walk the paths so far before encountering water - and one has to turn back.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Lapley's 'castle'

Park House, in Lapley
The castellated Park House, in the nice posh village of Lapley, would certainly be a dream place to live (I'd guess!). As you walk round the bend on a road from the village green, there it suddenly is...

I imagine that this thoroughfare in front of it must have been made public sometime after it was built; otherwise, the road is very strangely intrusive for such a grand house. However I don't know its history.

What I enjoy about scenes like this is that they are confirmation that sudden eccentric surprises are still simply part of the daily experience for visitors to villages in rural Staffordshire.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

SSR bridge - in brown & yellow

Bridge on South Staffordshire Railway Walk

The South Staffordshire Railway Walk is a footpath that makes use of the now disused SSR line, but you can walk beneath its bridges of course, as I was doing here.
Somebody carefully restores the paintwork every so often - even though the railway company itself folded in 1923, giving way to the LNWR. 
These colours - a mud-brown shade, with borders of yellow must have been the colours of the SSR itself, one supposes.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Essex Bridge, for a Queen

Essex Bridge

Built for Queen Elizabeth I nearly five centuries ago, this little stone bridge, the 'Essex Bridge', crosses the River Trent a few miles from Cannock Chase.
The Earl of Essex built it, they say, so that the Queen could ride across it, from his stately home on the one side, to the forests beyond. Thus she could do some hunting whenever she stayed in this neck of the woods.
The little v-shaped niches are for passers-by to stand aside in safety when something broader comes on.

Of course, the locals just use it to cross the water, as a short-cut, not bothering too much about its history. And, why not?

Friday, 5 February 2016

Deadman in cemetery

Deadman grave in Rugeley Cemetery

I'm afraid I'm one of those who find cemeteries, especially older ones, endlessly entertaining.
Where else could one's sense of irony be reinforced - by finding the grave of Mr Deadman?

Mr Deadman's angel-monument in Rugeley Cemetery is curiously old-fashioned  - you'd have thought it was a late nineteenth century piece, not one made in 1944, which is when Mr Deadman died.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Werburgh, a home-grown saint

Saint Werburgh statue on Lichfield Cathedral

It's the feast-day of Saint Werburgh on February 3rd, so spare a thought for her this week. 
She is one of Staffordshire's own home-grown saints, which is why she has her own special niche on the frontage of Lichfield Cathedral (see photo).

The story of her relics (ie her bones) is an odd one, because they were whizzed away from her grave as the Vikings advanced - in order to find a safer resting-place for them.  They ended up in Chester, but were destroyed (historians believe) in the Reformation.