I have been steadily working for some time, working on my first online needle felting project, which means a lot of time spent with my camera and computer. So last week I decided to get out and about, even if it was only for an hour or so. My poor bike, Marjorie, had flat tyres from languishing in the porch for months, but once they were pumped up, she was ready to go.
The lane outside the cottage looks peaceful and idyllic here, but after taking this photo, a busy red car came up behind me, and a high sided lorry came up the road soon after, which is normal. So I was anxious to get onto a quieter side pathway, a mile further on.
The skies were a flood of brisk grey clouds, blowing over from the West. On the far horizon, the Shropshire hills were just visible, blue and brooding.
It was a gentle, pottering cycle ride, with many stops to take snapshots and take in the views. And rest my legs.
Autumn is the time of hedgerow treasure and I found shaggy parasols mushrooms. I have eaten these in the past, but they were so pretty I left them alone.
Brambles and hops draped themselves artistically along the road, still green as autumn has not yet changed the pallet of the countryside.
This is my favourite lane. It gently winds into the distance and slopes away uphill; I know exactly where it goes, and still it maintains a delicious mystery.
It is past harvest time and hay stacks are everywhere - some are so large that I wonder how they stand upright.
The odd thing about this lane is that I always anticipate a left hand turn to take me back to the nearby village. Yet it actually curves round so gently that before I realise I'm there, I am already in front of the imposing gates of what used to be 'the big house' of the village. It's still technically 'the big house' but is now a commercial venture. And this is where my return journey begins.
A few months ago, a large old oak tree blew down in a gale and already nature is taking over. I have a feeling this imposing fungus may be 'Chicken of the Woods', but I know it to be typically a yellowish colour, whereas this was mostly white. It was the size of a large cat.
As I neared home, the fickle wind blew the cloud cover away to reveal a piercing blue sky.
Ahead and in the far distance was the blue hump of the Wrekin, which is the main view from my studio window. As the road twists and turns, it seems to be situated first to the left, then to the right, then to the left again; I like to think it is quietly shuffling around like a great, shy prehistoric creature, trying to hide unsuccessfully.
I am one of those for whom home is never so beautiful as when I am leaving or returning to it and there, in the distance, to the right of the farm, is the dear cream wall of the cottage. A short journey, but with so much to see.