Funny how after a vibrant and colourful Spring as we approach July all things seem to settle down and become more muted and perhaps understated. The bright greens, yellows and blues calm and soften as the season draws on. Birds that not so long ago were vibrating along every hedgerow are quieter and , after raising their chicks, more tired `cos kids can be very demanding of parents time and energy. Ready for the school holidays are we? This is a good time to dawdle along the valley and across the meadows just looking and listening and just breathing in some fresh air. Remember though to please be in control of your dog and clean up after it. Remember to please consider pedestrians when you are on your bike, all the valley paths are to be shared with care. Remember how lucky we are to have such a resource as the New Hall Valley Country Park and remember that it needs caring for and looking after. It really is a jewel in Walmley`s crown , it is as good an example of Community asset that we could wish for.
We are now nearer to next Christmas than we are to the last so lets get out into our gardens and relax. The glorious scent of the neighbour`s barbeque, the throbbing bass from a passing car, the house alarm that has been going since midday, the mowers, the strimmers……….. Still ,as of yet no sound of gunfire or rumble of tanks, I like to live in a country that people strive to get into rather than out of, don`t you ? ( apart from a Scottish Nationalist of course )
This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local publication delivered free to homes and businesses in Walmey, Minworth and Sutton Coldfield.
Just a week or so after reading this it will be Midsummers Day !
How does a year go by so fast? At least we seem to be having proper seasons this year. Not much snow for snowmen though.
A great show of blossom this spring with the May (hawthorn)
lasting a full month, Apple and Cherry blooms promise a bumper crop later. In the Valley our grasslands are starting to reach a peak of colour as all the wildflowers compete for the attentions of moths, butterflies and bees. Join us for a Wildflower Wander through some of the best meadows in the West Midlands. Meet at the Water Mill 2.00pm Sunday June 8th. Hope for sunshine and we`ll see how many of the over 100 species are on view. Bonus is that the Mill is open and so is the tea room. Also in the Valley we are having a Grand Balsam Bash ! Sunday June 22nd 9.30am and we will try to clear the Plants Brook of this Himalayan invader to give our indigenous water plants and wildlife chance to grow and flourish out of the shade cast by the Balsam. Wellies essential.
How many readers recognise the name of “Jones`s Wood”??
This is the patch of ancient woodland next to the Deanery School and is in need of some urgent TLC. A meeting is to be held at the school on Wednesday June 11th 7.00pm to explore setting up a Friends group and to discuss ongoing issues and future maintenance. Nothing heavy ,just a bit of help for a neglected but much loved patch of Walmley past and present.
If you care about Walmley , the Valley or the Wood, come along to any or all of these events supporting our Community.
This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local publication delivered free to residents in Walmley, Minworth and Sutton Coldfield areas.
Thank goodness that is over , February I mean. It always feels so tired and grim and long. Let us now look forward to sap rising , burgeoning birdsong and green shoots shooting. March is when we can feel the quickening of the natural world, which is all around us. (well it is until it`s built on!) Birds and bees start to give overt displays of that for which they are known. Of our garden birds the Robins, Blackbirds and Thrushes have probably already sorted out their partners and their nest site territories but most of our feathered friends will delay for the hopefully better weather at the months end. The winter visitors disperse and we await the arrival of the first swallows to herald spring.
Celandines, violets and primroses are all to be found in and around the New Hall Valley blooming low to the ground waiting to be discovered and admired . Towards the end of the month look out for the explosion of white blossom along the blackthorn hedges to be closely followed by the aromatic and unmistakeable hawthorn.
This is always a time of hope as we feel winter is behind us and we can anticipate summer coming even as we enjoy spring. Don`t get too excited though, always remember that April 1st is All Fool`s Day !
Talking of fools, I wonder whether any attack of common sense has broken out , since I wrote this in January, and that folly of vanity has been cancelled. Yes, of course I mean HS2. Just a thought ,but if it was cancelled then the Washwood Heath industrial site will not be required. Logic then suggests that the Peddimore site plan could be moved to that location and we would not need to develop that Green Belt at all. As I said , just a thought.
This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a free publication delivered to homes and businesess in Walmley and Sutton Coldfield.
February is the month that most of us just want to see the back of.
It`s short and gloomy and seems to last so much longer than 28 days. “February fill dyke , be it black or be it white “is an old adage that just about sums it up , although there is another that runs
“If February brings no rain it`s neither good for grass nor grain”. So you pays your money and takes your choice but on a brighter note if Candlemas day is cloudy and wet they reckon that winter is over and there is no more hard weather to come. (Candlemas was the 2nd. Did it rain ?)
Hopefully we are seeing some signs of Spring stirring. Snowdrops will peak during this month and be quickly followed by crocuses.
Should be some interesting types popping up around the village centre where many new ones were planted last Autumn. Look out for them. In a couple of places in the New Hall Valley, Sutton Coldfield one of the earliest wildflowers will already be coming into bloom. The understated Dog`s Mercury will throw little sprays of greenish white flowers. Look for it in undisturbed ground along old hedges and in uncultivated woodland. No, I have no idea where the name came from , any ideas?
Hope you have remembered to make your voice heard over the issue of Green Belt development. Speak up , fill in the appropriate form and send it in . Your voice is Our voice so do not leave it to everyone else, whatever your view , state it.
Short and sweet , as I hope this month is . Don`t forget my card on the 14th !
This article is written by Sutton Coldfield resident Jeff or Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley Road. Printed in Walmley Pages Magazine which is delivered to homes and businesses in Walmley and Sutton Coldfield.
Did you remember to change your clocks? Autumn is a time to curl up and let the world pass me by. All I seem to think of is how long it will be until spring! However that feeling soon gives way to appreciating the smells and colours of the great outdoors that surround us here in Walmley. Just a walk in the Valley country park is enough to freshen even the most jaded of psyches. Jaded is how I feel after another round of the talking head hot air that are the annual party conferences. I cannot even get heated about the guff that flows from these self congratulatory and self flagellatory talking shops. What I can do instead, and I urge you to join me, is to laugh at `em. Just as they are being laughed at by the unions, by the BBC, by the illegal immigrants, by the feckless underclass, by the bankers and by the industry that surrounds political correctness and Health and Safety.
Talking of politicians (and indeed I was) I wonder whether the much heralded and derided HS2 railroad has been junked yet ?
I have no wish to pay for the construction of this folly of the future. If it such a good idea and guaranteed success why is private investment not being sought ? Has not history shown us that these grand government vanity projects don`t work , always overrun on cost and time, whereas private projects with shareholders and profits to worry about ,invariably work or don`t get built.
Last thoughts for November, enjoy a safe Bonfire Night on the 5th.
Try to make it to the War Memorial, Walmley Village on Sunday 10th for the annual Remembrance day service. Always well attended and very moving.
Jeff Gilbert – Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley Road, Sutton Coldfield.
This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, distributed free of charge to residents and businesses in the Walmley and Sutton Coldfield area.
Do we in Walmley realise how lucky we are to have a number of unpaid and unsung heroes who quietly enhance all our lives with no thought of recompense or reward. This attitude goes straight to the real heart of that elusive ideal, “community “. People like the group of pensioners who weekly tidy round the church and church hall, the early morning duo who tidy around the Select n Save area, THANKS to you all.
The magical appearance of our hanging baskets, Christmas tree and lights, they all have silent arrangers behind the scenes as do the annual Remembrance service at the memorial, ditto the carols round the tree each December. THANKS to you all .Too many to mention who help out in our Country Park, those who pick up other folks litter , those who help to cut back overgrowth , those who always answer the call for workdays. THANKS to you all, Chrissy , David, Chris, Jenny, Paul, Bill…….The list is extensive and covers many ages and both genders. All of these hardy souls do not sit back and whine “something must be done”, they get out there and do it !
I know that through August and September your garden birds have been quiet and less in evidence . This is perfectly normal and is as a result of their annual moult when they feel vunerable , so don’t sing and tend to skulk. By now they will be coming back and this is a good time to establish a feeding station in your garden to ensure plenty of winter entertainment from a convenient window.
Provide clean water and a variety of foods in your chosen spot and enjoy. Remember keep it clean and regular. Small quantities at first to avoid attracting vermin. Just one reason to look forward to winter. Lastly, a date for your diary…
Saturday October 12th Crocus planting in Walmley Village, Sutton Coldfield
All welcome, just bring your trowel, and dig it !
Jeff Gilbert – Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley Road, Sutton Coldfield.
This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local free magazine delivering to homes in Walmley, Sutton Coldfield and surrounding areas.
Sometimes February seems the longest darkest month of the year, even though we all know that it is the shortest. It is also the hardest for our native fauna to survive. Please remember the wildings outside your window and put out some feed and water for them. If at all possible feed little and often, keep feeding stations clean and provide fresh water. It`s only chicken feed but it`s always going cheep.
It seems that our battle to change the Boundary Commission proposals to merge us with Erdington was won. However, it appears that the spoilt kindergarten inmates that we elect to parliament to represent us had a fit of the sulks and will not even get to debate or discuss the proposals. All because the LibDems feel slighted over Lords reform, which WAS debated but rejected. This used to be called democracy. Can someone explain to me why we bothered. What a waste of emotion, mobilisation and demonstration of community in action, all for nothing. Baulked by a party with just 8-10 percent of the vote. They should all be ashamed.( I needed to say that !)
Imagine the cold stygian darkness of a January morning replaced by sparkly clear light. Waking to a quiet and cold morning after it snowed even I rose earlier than norm. The grim grey world became a wonderland to be enjoyed by families and friends who seemed not to mind being cold and wet but were rosy cheeked and happy out playing together. Even the publisher of this modest booklet was out with sledge and kids (yes, I saw you , Richard). Whatever the weather, get outside and enjoy our green or white world. eing cold and wet but were rosy cheeked and happy out playing together. Even the publisher of this modest booklet was out with sledge and kids (yes, I saw you , Richard). Whatever the weather, get outside and enjoy our green or white world.
This article appears in the February edition of Walmley Pages Magazine, delivered free each month to homes in the B76 postcode in Sutton Coldfield.
Article written by Jeff Gilbert or Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley, Sutton Coldfield.
Looking back is traditional at this time of year, especially as we have a bright shiny new one to make a mess of. Such a lot of rain made it a difficult time down in the Valley. Our wildflower meadows missed the correct time for mowing and we have to hope that it has not too much effect on this new year`s display. Certainly the undergrowth burgeoned massively and it meant machete time around the Boardwalk and at various other points where the greenery impeded a walk or ride. Earlier in the year we had a go at the Himalayan Balsam that infests the brook and would hope to do the same this coming spring. There are those that would have us clear out the stream of its silt and and weeds but I think that the fact that fish and crayfish have returned are an indicator of good water quality. The long bright green weed that has white flowers is water crowfoot , again a natural sign of water quality. Also, we will be adding some extra, long awaited , litter and waste bins shortly as a joint effort between the Council and the Steering Group.( We pay for `em ,they get `em emptied!) The muddy gateway at Allendale Rd has at last received our attention and been meshed. Apart from work of course there has been much to enjoy and appreciate. The lush summer gave way to a spectacular autumn and now winter. Whatever the season there is always good reason to get out there and enjoy, `cos it is the users who make it what it is , ours.
Ours, also, is the Green Belt that surrounds us. It is under pressure from an increasing city population. I fear that the case for releasing some of it (400hectares) is too strong to resist. However, with the right response to the current consultation we should be able to mitigate its effect on our locale. If you have not already done so , please comment on the proposals before the end of January. Try to make objections objective and offer alternatives. Don`t be afraid to be a Nimby , because Nimbys care about where they live and how they live. Be heard and least say you tried. Your kids may yet thank you for it .
NIMBY or Nimby (an acronymfor the phrase “not in my back yard“)
This article appeared in the January edition of Walmley Pages Magazine,
a local magazine delivered free to over 8000 homes.
Remember, remember that now the days are shorter and colder our feathered friends will appreciate a little help with some extra food and water. Only feed sparingly and keep the area around the feed station clean to reduce the risk of rodent activity. You will be rewarded with a display of our local birds and also many of our winter visitors. Look ,learn and enjoy.
Remember , remember the fifth of November goes the childrens rhyme , and so we should. We should celebrate the failure of Guy Fawlkes and his cronies to blow up Parliament all those years ago. If they had succeeded we would have no one to blame or to laugh at, although with politicians being on holiday more than in the House he would probably have to pick a different date. Funny how during the long summer recess or over the Christmas season the country seems to run well enough.
Remember, remember the eleventh of November is a date that no one should forget. Remembrance and giving thanks to those who have given up their lives to make our country what it is today. No matter that we may disagree with many of the conflicts in which lives are lost, or feel that those lives are a price that should not be paid for incomprehensible reasons. It still behoves us to add value to their sacrifice by never forgetting that the lives we remember are not those of politicians but of real men and real women that politicians use as their tools. Unfortunately this does not stop for Christmas or summer breaks.
Every year on Remembrance Sunday a service is held in Walmley Village around the War Memorial next to the library. A very moving demonstration of our strong community feeling. Join us.
Article supplied by Jeff Gilbert of Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley Road, Walmley, Sutton Coldfield, B76
Article features in November edition of Walmley Pages Magazine, delivered to 4000 homes in Walmley and Sutton Coldfield every month
I thought that we would not notice the transition from summer to autumn this year . It has been so wet and dark that we can see and feel no real difference except that it is a little chillier . However, the prevailing damp has allowed that British green of our countryside to maintain its brightness. Never have our open spaces been so waterlogged and lush as they have been this year. The scorched browns of high summer have only been spied over the water in hotter climes than ours. The colours of autumn are yet to start showing but I suspect that by the end of the month we shall see some. Unless the rain stops falling there will only be sodden heaps of fallen foliage to wade through rather than the usual kicking of crisp golden and red leaves. ( yes, we all do it no matter what age we pretend to be !)
Take advantage of any opportunity to get out and enjoy the local green patches whenever the sun shines, it could be a long winter and soon the clocks change and we are into darker nights and shorter days. No matter your reasons for walking, be it for health or exercising the dog, for nature or for scenery, just a short stroll or jog will stop that seasonal melancholy getting a grip and anyway outdoor exercise means that when you get in you can have that chocolate or cake as your righteous reward.
New Hall Water mill has closed for the 2012 season with the last open day in September but rest assured that our maintenance work will continue throughout the winter months to ensure that we open again for the 2013 summer months. If you did not visit this year , we look forward to welcoming next time. Please note that if you come on your bicycle you can only come through the small side gate, NOT the main gate, as this is only for real V.I.P`s.
Article supplies by Jeff Gilbert of Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley Road, Walmley, Sutton Coldfied B76
This article appears in the October edition of Walmley Pages Magazine, delivered to 4000 homes in Walmley and Sutton Coldfield every month
Amazing how a year can fly past. It is already September but it seems like only yesterday that we were anticipating summer. Kids back to school, holidays now just a memory, travel plugs back in that drawer and plans to be made for Christmas. Even our politicians will soon be back at work, for a couple of weeks at least. I wonder which bit of our lives they will want to fiddle with next? I suspect that the majority of us carry on and survive in spite of politicians not because of them. I think we are lucky in Walmley in our choice of city councillors regardless of their political affiliation. They are very much hands on and supportive of our efforts in the New Hall Valley. Recent work on the boardwalk rebuild has been part funded by the Community Chest, with our application endorsed by all three or our Newhall councillors. Other developments in the valley are as a result of the boardwalk fire earlier this year and have emerged from discussions with the emergency services. For example, the bridges over the brook are now painted in bright colours so that should a member of the public wish to phone in an incident requiring the attendance of Police, Fire or Ambulance the colour of the bridge nearest will be an easily communicated location. Also, the entrance under the rail bridge in Ebrook Road has been identified as the best way into the centre of the valley. A couple of sharp corners have been widened and strengthened and some overhanging brushwood cut back to facilitate the passage of any emergency vehicles. All of this work has been done by the Community Payback team. A great example of justice being seen to be done and completed to our advantage. Many thanks to them all.
Finally, have you got on your bike yet? The new part of the cycleway is now open from Penns Lane through to Eachelhurst Road and is an easy level ride or pleasant walk. Like I said earlier, we are lucky in Walmley. Enjoy.
Jeff Gilbert – Jeff’s Useful Shop
Writing this in the middle of July, I can honestly say that none of this piece is based on any hacked phone or contains material gained from a politician or policeman or journalist. Have you ever had to listen to half of someone else’s phone conversation? And have you ever heard anything but mind numbing dross? Any agency that cares to hack my calls requires psychiatric help not a prison sentence! Corrupt politicians question corrupt police who question corrupt journalists who expose corrupt politicians and on and on and on …….. Is there no quality or decency left in higher public life? You judge.
Thank goodness that we have places like the New Hall Valley to keep us in touch with the real world here in Walmley. We do of course also have another chunk of hidden nature in Plantsbrook Local Nature Reserve on the very edge of our patch. This has become a somewhat neglected backwater that is in need of some community TLC. Please visit it soon and if you can possibly offer some time or wish to help in any way you can, then communicate your ideas to one of our local councillors and let us try to upgrade this precious resource and make it a facility worthy of Walmley.
Down in the valley look out for the posters calling for volunteers to rebuild the boardwalk. We are aiming to have a two day blitz on August 20th and 21st. Any elbow grease or noses to the grindstones will be much appreciated. If you care, be there. It’s our valley and projects like this allow us all to feel a proprietorial interest and demonstrates real community spirit. We are hoping to recoup some of the cost from the Community Chest council fund but also from our ongoing sponsorship of individual treads. A tread with YOUR name on it costs £35. Call into the Useful Shop to arrange yours.
Jeff’s Useful Shop
While on aukholiday recently I was located in view of a hilltop which has recently sprouted five giganormous wind turbines. Sometimes the right kind of wind was blowing and the massive blades twirl merrily around, presumably generating umpteen megawatts of electricity as they do so. At other times though, there was hardly any wind and the blades turned imperceptibly slowly. Sometimes there is too much wind and the blades have to be locked to prevent them leaping off their mounting and creating carnage over a wide area. At times like these the wind turbines produce very little electricity or none at all.
If you set aside things like the noise, the huge cost, shadow flicker and the fact that lots of people object strenuously to having a whopping great propeller erected at the bottom of the garden this, then, is the big problem with wind turbines; they can’t be relied on to produce electricity all of the time. Unfortunately, we have a constant need for electricity – I, for one, am not prepared to sit in darkness, staring at a blank television screen while drinking a cold cup of tea just because there’s an area of high pressure over the country. This might also explain why we missed our target of producing 10% of our electricity from renewable sources in 2010 by a country mile; we actually managed 6.5% and the chances of hitting the 15% target set for 2020 look slim indeed.
This has all got me scratching my head. The reason that we’re trying to produce more and more electricity from renewables is that we want to reduce our co2 emissions in order to prevent all the icecaps from melting and the polar bears from drowning. Almost half of our carbon emissions come from electricity generation, so if 15% of our electricity comes from renewables then we reduce our carbon emissions by about 7%. But here’s something to think about; gas fired power stations produce about half the co2 that ones that burn coal do. About 28% of our electricity comes from coal, so if we converted all the coal fired power stations to gas that would reduce carbon emissions by 14%, which is a damn sight better than we’re likely to achieve by sticking propellers at the bottom of everybody’s garden.
No doubt the eco lobby will think this idea is not nearly painful enough for all of us and, besides, we’re still burning fossil fuels like they’re going out of fashion – just a different kind of fossil fuel. Well, I’ve just read about something that should set their minds at rest. An eccentric British inventor (remember those?) has set to work in his garden shed and invented a gas boiler that is also an electricity generator. Before you start scoffing, hear me out. This little beauty will generate enough power for all your household needs and more besides, whenever you happen to need it. You can sell the any surplus electricity back to the National Grid and make a decent profit thanks to the feed-in tariff. The best thing is that the boiler is 95% efficient, which compares to about 50% for a gas fired power station. Because it is so efficient and, because you do not have to pay for the Chief Executive of Eon’s million pound bonus, your home grown electricity will be a lot cheaper than the stuff you buy from your friendly neighbourhood utility.
The generator/ boilers will go into production this year and should cost about £3,500. Admittedly, you’ve also got to pay to get it installed but, even so, I reckon you’re looking at about 5 years to recoup the cost of your investment. There you have it then, a product that’s both invented and manufactured inBritainthat saves you money, cuts carbon emissions and reduces fossil fuel consumption. The climate change PR machine might call this thinking outside the box but I call it common sense. We could do with a bit more of it.