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Having climbed Appleby Hill in the heat of a summer afternoon, it's a pleasure to be rewarded with great vistas of the surrounding countryside - as well as a long downhill run. Just past the radio mast, here you can see way off into Leicestershire and beyond. In the foreground are the villages of Appleby Parva and beyond that, Measham.

Honey Hill is a highpoint on the road out of Clifton Campville towards No Man's Heath - it affords fantastic views of the countryside to the north. This view is of Chilcote and its' distinctive art deco pumping station. There are many of these in South Staffordshire, all built in the early decades of the last century. Most are handsome, red brick buildings constructed with the kind of municipal vision only present in that generation. Surrounding it are fields of polytunnels, shimmering in the heat haze, protecting and nurturing the soft fruit growing within them. Sometimes it's easy to forget that the countryside is a factory floor, albeit a uniquely beautiful one.

Harlaston church is a simple, country church standing at a high point of this delightful village. Reminiscent of Hopwas church, but less ornate, it's a simple, geometric design.

A truly delightful example of the rural church.

The cold war was pervasive throughout the postwar period up until the collapse of the USSR, and even touched rural Britain, here at this isolated site near Harlaston. This is a remnant of those hostile times; an abandoned Royal Observer Corps bunker. It's a small nuclear shelter, capable of housing three observer volunteers who would take measurements and try to relay information in the event of a nuclear strike. The access shaft is the green block to the left, and has finally been welded shut after being repeatedly broken into. Find out more about these posts at Subterranea Britannica - the individual Harlaston page can be seen here as well as a recent forum post about its' current state here

The expansion of the Trent Valley mainline from 2 tracks to 4 through the Tamworth triangle has been controversial and protracted; now nearly completed, all that remains is for the overhead line engineers to finish the electrification of the new lines - or knitting, as the railwaymen call it. This Windhoff catenery fitting train is affectionately known as a knitting machine, and it was proceeding to the worksite at a stately walking pace.

A shady, hot day at Hints ford; the view from the pedestrian path over the stile and fields toward Weeford is a delight to the soul.

The harvest was well underway as I took a ride out through east Staffordshire - after an appalling summer it was a pleasure to see crops ripe in the fields being harvested. Britain doesn't get much better than this...

Hints churchyard is a quiet place where the passerby can take a seat on the memorial bench and enjoy the peace. Any such visitor soon realises that this is not solitude - a positive cacophony of birdsong, animal noises and a riot of colour soon grabs the attention... it was whilst so resting one spring that I noticed these cowslips.

My belated apologies go out to the surprised rambler who came upon me lying on the grass taking this photo and assumed I was injured...

Just love your Italy series, Woodbeast. Some excellent pictures.

Regards, Bob

Boxing Day, 2004... the owner of the narrowboat 'Christina' seems to have lit the stove to ward off the chill.

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