JC’s July Jaunt



Having marked Pete and Severine’s wedding in France in an earlier post, it is business as usual again for this month’s update.

Starting with a summer jaunt across country for a bit of birding…

Minsmere in Suffolk has provided the bedrock for BBC’s Springwatch of late, and is one of the flagship reserves for the RSPB.

An early visit with the West Midlands Bird Club unearthed several non-birdy contributions to the natural order with Muntjacs, Red Deer, Water Vole and Grass Snake all making welcome appearances throughout the day.

Being July and pretty much the height of summer, it lashed down most of the day.

A blast of rain proved disastrous for a young family of swallows who were in the process of fledging from their nest above a sluice – the downpour evidently drowning two of the chicks with a third doomed youngster clinging desperately to the remnants of the flooded mud nest.

Peering out at the rain from the shelter of various hides, we clocked up several waders – redshanks, avocets, godwits, dunlin, plovers, lapwings, and just about anything you could add ‘etc.’ to. Plenty of terns and gulls around and no shortage of ducks either.

Well, it was the weather for them.


Apart from fleeting visits to Maidstone, en route to France, and Crewe – en route for work purposes, the only other venture out this month was the fell-walkers yomp in the Peak District.

For once, decent weather prevailed as we parked up at Monyash and went looking for some peaks.

Sheep copy

Here’s Adrian’s account of the walk:

Grid reference: SK149665

Post code for Sat Nav: DE45 1JH

There is a small car park in the village, but plenty of free parking on the main street as long as you get there early.

Monyash exists as it occupies a site that is a rarity in the upper Limestone area of the Peak District – that there were pools of water due to a deposit of naturally formed clay just under the ground. Apparently archaeologists claim people have been living continuously where Monyash is now since the Neolithic era. In my experience some of them will be in the pub later if you fancy a pint after the walk.

The walk is a most pleasant affair taking in variable scenery, iconic Peak District views, an old railway bed and tunnel for the steam heads and a bit of geology for the rock heads and a bit of industry with the remains of the Magpie Mine to keep you going.

We depart north from Monyash, bearing in an easterly direction and go down Deepdale which is something of a dry valley until we come to a main road . We then cross the owd toad squelcher (A6) and undertake a most pleasant river walk along the Monsal Valley.  Eventually we come to a disused railway viaduct, which we climb up to and along before climbing again to Monsal Head and one of the iconic Peak District views.

At least it’s where Countryfile set up a camera when covering this area – although that could have more to do with there being a pub and an ice cream van at this viewpoint.

From here, having taken in the view, we walk along a very picturesque wooded area on the top and eventually bear left and down to Ashford in the Water and the Bull’s Head for lunch.

From Ashford in the Water, care must be taken for a short distance on the road until we come to a path along a most pleasant stream. We eventually climb up to Sheldon, probably the route through the wood. From Sheldon we go across the fields to the remains of the Magpie Mine and back to Monyash.

Two ascents but on good paths so should not be too arduous. Once on top of Monsal head as a carrot you should be able to get an Ice Cream. Mmm nice…

Cheers, Adrian – never one to skimp on the detail!

Signpost  Valley




Trev’s new car (he wishes!)


Finally, this month’s culture:

Went to see Jurassic World followed by Ant-Man – a double-header due to the non-stop rain at the weekend.

Verdict: Dead good, and dead gooder.


Pete and Severine’s Wedding Day Celebrations

It was in France.

Do you need any more?

If you’re not really into weddings, you may want to skip this bit – fix yourself a little cream tea or scroll along to something a bit more interesting perhaps?

But if you’re still with us, it can be faithfully reported that everyone had a brilliant time – a celebration set amid the splendid location of Coeur de Combray.

Coeur de Combray is a former château and fromagerie (uncontaminated by cheese) that was built in the 18th century, and is situated in the tranquil countryside of Basse Normandy. Just in case its not picturesque or peaceful enough, a fishing lake is conveniently plonked down in the middle of the grounds.

An eminently suitable location in which to mark Pete and Severine’s wedding…

Here’s a bunch of wedding shots, which hopefully be added to and updated over the next few weeks. If you click on the phorographs, you’ll get a larger version!


With the officlal photographer Photoshopped out…


Coeur de Combray


A pleasant little setting



Some mingling (not minging) shots…







Pete blowing his nose on Severine






With the Mayor of Ernes


Job done!


This warbler smacked into the registrar window and had to be rescued





Gilles with Billy the Bass


Its a hard life




View from the Cheese Shop













The leopard underneath the stairs


Oh June, like the mountains I’m blue…

My friend uses peroxide and does Pilates – she’s firm but fair.

Going to see a great band on the first day of June is always a decent primer for a monthly blog.

Those angry, curmudgeonly types – the Manic Street Preachers – were playing at Wolverhampton Civic Hall.

Their third album, the Holy Bible, was to be performed in homage to its 21st birthday, and Dave managed to get three front row seats on the balcony. So Dave, Gavin and myself settled down with our 2-pint beer glasses for a storming couple of sets.

The Holy Bible, considered their masterpiece by many devotees, is not their most accessible (get me with the Classic Rock-speak) and James Dean Bradfield admitted it was ‘hardly a party record’ before launching into the first track from the album.

As usual, in my own personal homage to several anniversaries of pure idleness, here’s the review of the concert from the Express and Star by Jordan Harris with some of their photos.


Review: Manic Street Preachers, Wolverhampton Civic Hall


Scissor kicks and riffs. Heartbroken lyrics and leopard print. You can call Manic Street Preachers many things. Unloved is not one of them.

Even now, nearly 30 years after their formation, fans are queuing from early morning to try and nab a place at the front of their shows. And why not? This was not just a regular gig. This was a celebration of perhaps their best-loved record – The Holy Bible. Some 20 (and a bit) years after its release, the album holds a dear place in the heart of Manic supporters, with it being the last record to feature missing guitarist/lyricist Richey Edwards in full.

Does it stand the test of time? Yes. The angst and venom that permeated some of Richey’s words are still present. While the more morbid and depressed lyrics uttered by their chief songsmith at the time remain poignant and sad.

This show was split into two sets. The first played the album in full. The second featured many of their greatest hits with some rarities thrown in for good measure to please the most ardent of their feverish fanatics. Both sets showed great quality. The anger associated with The Holy Bible was evident throughout. Die In The Summertime and Mausoleum in particular brought great crowd reactions. While the anthemic PCP had bodies bouncing throughout the packed floor.

Much-loved anthem Motorcycle Emptiness brought fans to fervour again as the second set sprung into life. While You Stole The Sun From My Heart and You Love Us had strangers bounding around with one another. By the time crowd favourite A Design For Life came around, via a nice cross section of the Welshmen’s hits, the anticipation was reaching boiling point. And spill over it duly did as James Dean Bradfield, Sean Moore and Nicky Wire slammed through arguably their biggest song. It was beautiful from start to finish – a celebration of great guitar sounds and raw passion. These guys are still as energetic and powerful now as they have ever been.



Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 11.56.35




There was a bit of a bump en route to Titchwell for the month’s birding when a car tried to sneak around the coach on a traffic island. The driver was left holding a detached bumper along with the necessary insurance details as we carried on to the Norfolk coast. The general consensus: “What a plonker!”

Never one to disappoint, Titchwell is the Manic Street Preachers of the bird reserve world – never anything less than a brilliant experience (I’m getting carried away now).

At Patsy’s Pool, There were good views of Red-crested Pochards as well as the run-of-the mill Pochard. Nifty little cameos from Little Grebes too. Plenty of Reed and Sedge Warblers along the reed and sedge beds (surprisingly!) and many Cetti’s Warblers burbled away but it took an age before spotting one!

In the lagoon, a Garganey napped amidst a swathe of other ducks and waders; Redshanks, Avocets, Egrets, Godwits and various plovers pottered around the mudflats, and Little Gulls winged their merry way overhead. Marsh Harriers patrolled the skies above the reed beds on the lookout for Duckling McNuggets and other snacks.

Unfittingly, I never managed to scoff my sandwiches by the coast when some Sandwich Terns appeared but I recovered to enjoy a Hoisin Duck Wrap in front of some Mallards.

We copped some Bearded Tits on the way back.


Garganey by PC

Swallow by PC again



The Annual Rain-Dodging Event held every year at the Edgbaston Priory Club was enjoyed yet again by the usual suspects – Dave, Annie, Steve P and me – as we descended on the Aegon Classic for some much rain-delayed tennis.

Dave, the ticket maestro, had forgotten the tickets so he had to return via a £40 taxi round trip to get them. Steve P and I soldiered on in the meantime with our humongous breakfast – the traditional start to our tennis day.

In fairness, it is the first time Dave’s forgotten any tickets since the Thomson Twins were lied to by their parents.

The first semi-final saw several forays to the beer tent during the rain breaks to relish the atrociously over-priced drinks selection: an outrageous £4 for either a small bottle of Bud or a can of Boddies! Even Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells was appalled.

Between the monsoonal rain spells, the first match ended with Karolina Pliskova downing the equally tongue-tying Kristina Mladenovic in two sets: 6-2, 7-6. The second semi-final was disappointingly short without any rain – Angelique Kerber coming through against German compatriot Sabine Lisicki 6-3, 6-3.

Then it was off into town to round off a great day with more beer!


The monthly fell-walk was from Much Wenlock – the inventor of the Olympic Games. This tidy little village is only an hour’s drive from Birmingham and is to be heartily recommended – if one may use the term ‘heartily’ without the piss being taken out of one.

Here’s the full gen – courtesy of Roy Male:

Grid reference: 624001

Post code for Sat Nav: TF13 6HS

Route: From Olympic Trail plaque in town square follow this former coral reef past Major’s Leap (Civil War escape by Major Thomas Smallman) to Ippikins Rock viewpoint. Climb to Wenlock Edge Inn then retrace through Hughley and Blakeway Farm climbing back up to Edge and retrace to Much Wenlock.

Lunch: The Wenlock Edge Inn sadly closed a couple of years ago and is now unoccupied. The picnic tables however remain (no, they didn’t!) and can be used by us for a picnic lunch (no, they couldn’t!). Any alcohol will need to be carried!

Terrain: Woodland paths with some crop fields of rape, which may need to be bypassed (they should have been – see the photos!)


House of William Penny Brookes – the Olympic Games fella



All around the Wrekin


Stuart lost amid the crops…


Trev lost amid the crops…


Just basically lost…

An appropriate poem on which to finish:
A Shropshire Lad 31: On Wenlock Edge the wood’s in trouble
A.E. Housman

On Wenlock Edge the wood’s in trouble;

His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;

The gale, it plies the saplings double,

And thick on Severn snow the leaves.

‘Twould blow like this through holt and hanger

When Uricon the city stood:

‘Tis the old wind in the old anger,

But then it threshed another wood.

Then, ’twas before my time, the Roman

At yonder heaving hill would stare:

The blood that warms an English yeoman,

The thoughts that hurt him, they were there.

There, like the wind through woods in riot,

Through him the gale of life blew high;

The tree of man was never quiet:

Then ’twas the Roman, now ’tis I.

The gale, it plies the saplings double,

It blows so hard, ’twill soon be gone:

To-day the Roman and his trouble

Are ashes under Uricon.

Noteworthy midweek escapade: Craig, Neil, Roger and I took in a well-delish meal at the Rico Libre – a superb little restaurant in deepest, darkest Digbeth – a real find with great tapas.

Fortunately, I found an great write up from the Independent Birmingham website, which extols this venue better than I could – it looks like there’s an interesting blog to go with it – worth checking out: