Monday, 18 June 2018

Mapperley Reservoir, Shipley

To be honest, lovely sunny weather can seem so rare that it seems a shame to spend any hour of it indoors, so a late evening walk seems like a perfect idea.

We were out very late this evening, and the sun was nearly setting as we started out on our walk, alongside Mapperley reservoir.
It's such a tranquil spot now that it's hard to believe that not so very long ago this area was 'outcropped' for coal.

Shipley Country Park is criss-crossed by private roads - access to the farms and private houses there - so, after a short walk along footpaths, we followed these back to the car park. It makes finding your way as the light fades easier.

The hedgerows and verges either side glowed white with cow parsley, hogweed and elderflowers.

It would have been nice to have a dramatic sunset to round off the day, but the sun sank below a bank of cloud, just leaving a glow behind.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Learning to let go

When we first become parents, no matter how many books we attempt to read on the subject, or how many inspirational or cautionary videos the modern mum-to-be watches, we're basically unprepared. There's an enormous learning curve to tackle. The biggest difference for me was that suddenly this small person was there sharing every moment of my life! Forget nappies, and feeding, and bedtime routines, it was that physical and emotional bond I was unprepared for. As your child grows that bond gets less  - they go off to nursery, then school, stay over at grandparents for a night, go on gradually longer trips without you, and eventually leave home. Now it's time to let go, and however much you've readied yourself for it, it's another moment for which you're unprepared.
My elder daughter did things gradually - uni years, back home for a while, flats fairly near, eventually ending up further away, but not far.
Younger daughter, after lulling me into a false sense of security by settling back here after a year of uni, upped and offed with barely any notice, and not just round the corner but two hours up the motorway! I'm still trying to recover.
It's no exaggeration to say I've foundered over the past couple of months, but it was only reading her blog that I realised how badly. In this last few weeks, though, I feel I've at last started to come to terms with this new, empty nest, phase of life. It's been helped tremendously by the fact that recently we've seen our daughter a lot - we went up to Manchester when she ran the half-marathon, she came here for the bank holiday weekend, then we went up again for her birthday. Being able to go to Manchester, walk round the area she works in, see the corner shop she uses, the places she eats, makes me more comfortable, and I feel like I'm still sharing her life, at least a bit.

But lovely as it is to see her, I've discovered is that letting go is equally important. I've always tried to not be a control-freak mother, but it's impossible to NOT worry about children - from the early years of are they eating/sleeping/growing properly, through illnesses and exams, to the teenage years, and where they're off to in the evening, or why they're five minutes late coming home. Even when they head off to uni, you're worrying; will they settle, like the course, make friends, remember to do some work inbetween all the partying? Sometime though, they have to stand on their own two feet - and so do us parents!
So, it's time to stop sweating the small stuff. My daughter proved in the first few weeks that she could cope with organising the day to day running of her life - the bills, food, washing etc. It's a hard thing for a parent to admit, but she doesn't actually NEED me anymore; she's a proper grown up adult more than capable of looking after herself.

Once I'd made the decision to let go, I found that not knowing what she's up to every day was quite liberating.  I'm still available on a phone when she wants to share something funny that happened, or for when she thinks I might know the answer to who/where/when/what? quicker than IMDB or Google. But there's no more needing to know everything she does or trying to track down every social media post she makes. Sometimes it's actually helpful to my peace of mind. She's been talking for years about wanting to go sky-diving (the thought of which really freaks me out), and recently she did. Fortunately I didn't know about it till afterwards, so I could just watch the video, in mixed amazement and horror, without having worried for days beforehand, or even having tried to talk her out of it! Sometimes it's better not to know too much.
I don't think we ever 'stop' being parents - I'll always be there for a quick chat or big emergency, but for day to day things we're no longer part of their 'scene'.

Now I need to work on trying to get my own life in order, and master those baby steps - make sure the dusting's done, the ironing pile kept under control, and work on all those half-finished sewing projects littering the house...   and meanwhile, my daughter's coming home next weekend for a local gig :)

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Swan Lake

A couple of miles from home there's a small lake and nature reserve actually named Straw's Bridge but known locally as Swan Lake, because of the birds which visit. It's a place I've driven past many, many times, but never stopped at, so, in the spirit of making an effort to explore on my doorstep, we headed there for an evening dog walk.

There were certainly lots of swans - we counted eight at least - but there were more Canada geese (maybe Canada goose lake doesn't have the same ring to it).

Driving past it appears quite small but even from the car park, I realised the lake was much bigger than I'd thought - also, footpaths and bike trails lead further afield, following old canals and railway lines.

Following this cycle trail we discovered another lake, but then got a little lost, and had to retrace our steps!

The whole area is a reclaimed industrial site (the lakes were once opencast quarries), but now it's nature reserve with native trees, a mix of wild flowers, and the odd stark reminder of the past.

It's a rather lovely 'find', and a place I'll certainly return to for a gentle stroll, ro just to sit and watch the sun set over the lake. Next time though, I'll try to find a map!

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Manchester again!

Manchester is obviously going to be playing a large part in our lives now youngest daughter is living there, and we're just back from another day-trip 'up north'. I'm starting to get a feel for at least the Spinningfields 'business area' of the city, with it's modern glass high rise buildings and riverside bars and restaurants. There's nothing quite like this in either Derby or Nottingham (sorry guys), and I never thought I'd say this, but this really modern area is beginning to grow on me. I love the way one building reflects in its neighbour, and the river runs leisurely through all the hustle and bustle.

Almost everywhere, there are new buildings going up. It's mostly obvious what their purpose will be but this one is still a puzzle. It's being growing steadily over the few months we've been visiting, and my best guess is that it's a set of lift shafts - but where are all the flats or offices those lifts will serve?

Daughter had found us somewhere interesting for a late lunch - Rudy's Neapolitan Pizzeria. The pizza's are almost as good as those she ate in Naples, she says, and certainly nicer than any I've tasted. You can see the dough being pounded at the work station on the right of the photo, and watch your pizza going in, and coming out of, the oven on a long-handled paddle. I felt tempted to go and watch from closer, but thought I'd better not!

I'm still trying to work out a way for our trips to be more dog-friendly. This time we left Dylan at home, but it's a long journey and he was alone for rather longer than I like to leave him. The alternative is to take him, but then we can't spend time at our daughter's flat, and we have to find dog-friendly places to eat out - so if anyone knows Manchester well, and has any suggestions, please shout out.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Ashford in the Water well-dressings

Celebrating 100 years of women's votes

As I'm not able to go away on holiday this year, I'm trying to make the most of things to do (more or less) on my doorstep, so a sunny evening last week beckoned me out to Ashford in the Water, near Bakewell, to see their well-dressings.

One of the wells, safely covered

The Angel of the North -
with the Tyne Bridge above,
and details of fishing boats, miners,
and dockyards around the borders.

Some villages only have a single well, spring or pump to decorate, but Ashford has five - decorated in very different styles.

100 years of the RAF

In the evening quiet, Ashford looks picture postcard perfect.

Like any quintessential village,
Ashford has its own cricket team


This was my favourite well-dressing - Alice in Wonderland, with monochrome borders (white pebbles and dark mustard/cabbage seeds), contrasted sharply with the multi-coloured, flamboyant Mad Hatter and giant mushrooms.

The Mad Hatter 
Well-dressings continue throughout the summer in Derbyshire. I visited one of the earliest at Tissington, and hope to catch others in the coming months.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Surprises at Shipley

I was surprised this visit by how GREEN everywhere looked at Shipley.
Under the trees on Horsepool Hill it felt like wading through green air.

We usually visit really early in the year for snowdrops, then daffodils and bluebells, then much later when leaves start to turn in autumn, but for some reason don't often go there in early summer, which probably accounts for why I've never noticed this before.

Another wow! moment, this time in the more formal gardens nearer to where the house once stood, as we spotted these gorgeous rhododendrons and azaleas.

It just goes to show that even the close-to-home and familiar can hold surprises.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Urban Exploring - Nottingham

Over the weekend we found ourselves with a couple of hours to spare in Nottingham, so it was time for a little exploring ...

First I wanted to investigate a tunnel. In the mid-1800s the Park area of Nottingham was developed as an upmarket residential area - and this tunnel, leading from Derby Road under the ridge topped by The Ropewalk, to Tunnel Road in the Park, was constructed as one of its entrances.You can enter from either end, or, as we did, via steps leading down, down, down a huge open-air gap in the middle, accessed from just off The Ropewalk. I assume this was created for light and air

I'd seen the 'hole' before but never had time to investigate it. As I started to descend the stairway, I realised it was much further down to the bottom than I'd expected - and I certainly wouldn't want to climb back up!

Getting lower, you can see how the tunnel has been cut through bedrock, and how large it is. It was intended to take horses and carriages, and is easily the width of a modern two-way road.

First we walked downhill to The Park...  the exit was clear, I could see light and greenery at the end of the tunnel and all was fine.

A fanciful turreted house keeps guard over this entrance ..

.. and there are even signs of older dwellings cut into the rock - perhaps part of Nottingham's extensive cave system.

Then we turned round and headed uphill. The central 'light well' is clearly visible but with the Derby Road exit hidden in darkness I was far more conscious of being underground while walking in this direction ... and this is where my fear of caves/tunnels/anything underground started to kick in. Even reaching the central open air section didn't help a lot, so (fighting my instinct to 'freeze') I hurried on towards Derby Road.

This entrance could hardly be more different; in a few yards you've moved from a quiet suburb to a busy main road. Here the tunnel is obscured from view - it emerges in a car park under a block of flats, and from Derby Road it isn't obvious that there's a public right of way through here.

Open skies were definitely needed for a while, so we headed over to Nottingham's first public park, the Arboretum. 

This is another of those 'on my doorstep' places that I've never visited (so two new places to add to my #60things list), as Nottingham is somewhere I go for shopping, theatre or gigs.

It's a lovely, peaceful spot in the heart of the city, hardly five minutes from the big Victoria shopping mall. It has formal bedding, grassy spaces to lounge about or play games on, a small lake and an aviary where wild pigeons seem to tease the captive budgies.

Fergus O'Connor
Chartist and MP for
Nottingham in 1847

Chinese Bell Tower

One of four canon placed around the Bell Tower -
two came from Sebastopol during the Crimean war,
two are replicas to balance the lay-out

Altogether an interesting afternoon exploring somewhere that I thought I knew well!