Sunday, 28 October 2018

Autumn Colours at Chatsworth

Last weekend saw us off to Chatsworth again.
I know, we seem to be there every other weekend
- well, I need to get the most out of my annual pass! 

Unfortunately we didn't pick the best day of the weekend for blue sky and sunshine, but it was still warm and the autumnal leaves stood out well against the slightly overcast sky

and the house seemed to float on the canal pond

The stars of the garden at this time of year are definitely the acers; as summer's flowers die back their brilliant colours shine.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

City centre nature ramble

 Heading out on a shopping trip to Derby city centre doesn't seem like an obvious place to go for a nature ramble but sometimes it's surprising what you can spot. Admittedly if you use one of the shopping mall car parks you need barely see the outdoors at all but we prefer an open air car park from which a short walk leads along the riverside before reaching the main shopping area.

Out first 'nature find' was a clump of fungi on a grass bank as we left the car.

Then we walked on, past this natural 'yellow line' edging the road, through fallen leaves, under autumnal trees, to the riverside.

Here, behind the Council House, is a pretty spot to stop and take a minute to watch the Derwent flowing past, and see what birdlife can be seen.

Someone (not me) had been feeding the birds so the steps were full of squawking, squabbling seagulls, pigeons and geese.

The swans had headed downstream away from the fuss, but usually there's a family of them to be seen (I counted seven on one occasion). I've also see a cormorant fishing from broken trees, swept down by flood water then snagged on the weir, but there was no sign of him today.

The geese are quite interesting though. There's mainly a mix of Canada and Greylag, but a white 'farmyard' Aylesbury(?) escaped from somewhere a few years ago, and now lives wild with the others, even raising what appears to be a pale grey cross-breed Aylesbury/Greylag family.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Autumn sunshine at Shipley

We've had some gloriously sunny days this week, almost like summer, and it seemed a shame to stay inside, so with eldest daughter and grandson in tow we headed out to Shipley Country park.

First the smallest member of our party checked out the toddler play equipment - swings, slide, and a sit-on bouncy thing - then we pottered along the keepfit track. It's not a long route but it's very pretty at this time of year with leaves turning red and gold, and at various points along it there's gym-style equipment - rowing machines, a lift-your-own-weight seat, benches for sit-ups, bars for chin-ups etc.

You're probably supposed to run or at least take it quicker than at our pace, and take the exercises a bit more seriously, but no one else wanted to use the equipment so we had some fun - and I was pleased to find I'm still the best of us at sit-ups (though still useless at anything involving hanging from bars by your hands)

The route takes you past Osborne's Pond where the assorted waterfowl were hoping we had food for them. Sorry, birds, not today.

Among the common mallards and coots, we spotted some curiosities ...

a mandarin duck

and a stripey sort of duck that I can't identify at all. Fortunately Twitter came to my rescue, saying it's a Muscovy duck.

No swans nor crested grebes this time, but I'm sure they'll be back

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Finding time to grieve.

About this time last week, I left my mum sleeping fairly peacefully while the sun set through her care home bedroom window. Next morning at 5 she died.
It wasn't a surprise. My mum was 97, had been suffering from dementia for several years, and this summer marked a real downturn in her health. Doctors had warned there was nothing they could do, and one morning we received the 'come quickly' phone call that we'd been dreading, then spent three anxious days sitting by mum's bedside - but there's a world of difference between expecting such an event, and it actually occurring.

Since then, life has been one long whirlwind, chasing round trying to keep up with all the bureaucracy that follows death. Instead of taking time to come to terms with the shock, we had to be out and about visiting doctors, funeral directors, and registrars. There are forms to be filled, decisions to be made - about flowers, cars, a notice in the local paper, what we'd like to do with the ashes (fortunately my dad seemed better prepared for some of these than I was). Neighbours and distant relatives have to be informed. Wardrobes had to be checked for suitable funeral attire, and my dad taken on a shopping trip for new shoes. I've learned about official 'registry' ink (it turns from blue to black as it dries, and etches the words into the paper). For the first time ever, I've been into the pub next door to the house I grew up in. And one day, wanting to be sure we'd got funeral arrangements and memorials sorted exactly as my dad wants, we went to visit the local churchyard. I remember playing there as a child, when it was overrun with long grass which hid grass snakes; now it's looked after by the council, the grass is regularly cut, and presumably the snakes have gone elsewhere, but it's far bleaker and windier than I remember.
It's left me feeling like one of those cartoon characters run over by a steamroller - an absolutely flat, two dimensional, cardboard cut-out of a person. And in amongst all this there seems to have been little time to grieve.

Evening has been the only free part of the day, and by then I've just been ready to flop on a sofa and sleep. I've always found though that getting outside, either pottering round the garden or walking, helps reduce stress for me, so one day, in last week's strangely warm weather, I went out dog walking at sunset, and collected seeds from ash, beech, sweet chestnut, and rowan which, along with a conker from the care home car park, will hopefully grow into a bonsai remembrance wood for my mum.

Through all this, my favourite support group, social media, has been there with sympathy, virtual hugs, love, and advice, and I can't thank everyone enough for all their support.

We've now reached a hiatus. All the immediate paperwork is sorted, but the funeral can't be held for several weeks. It's a strange, numb time, and, although I feel comparatively ok for now, I fear grief is waiting like a huge 'seventh wave' to rush back in.