Thursday, 28 February 2019

Spring at Shipley

We were at Shipley Country Park at the end of January to catch the first snowdrops flowering in small clumps, but going back last weekend they lay like drifts of snow under the trees.

With all the things happening around me, I've missed the chance to go out and about to see snowdrop gardens so it's fortunate that a place like Shipley is almost on my doorstep

My photos probably look the same from year to year but it's always a delight to see these masses of flowers

Early daffodils were starting to flower in odd sheltered spots, so in a few weeks I'll head back to see them covering the banks of Horsepool Hill.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Sad Times Again

Some of you will already know through social media that my father died last week following a stroke.
He was 99 - a great age - and we knew that realistically he hadn't long left, but we'd expected a slower decline, with time to reconcile ourselves to the inevitable. It seems particularly cruel as he'd just recovered from a bout of norovirus which had him in hospital for a week, and although life had not been the same for him since my mum's death last autumn, he seemed to to be looking forward to things we were planning - a visit to see his baby great-grandson, a trip to where he grew up to see the conversion of a brewery into housing (he was intrigued after reading about it in the local paper). As it was, we were beaten by ill health and old age.

His death has come as much more of a shock than my mum's - her health deteriorated gradually over years; dad's overnight. At first he showed signs of a partial recovery (though I can't imagine he'd have appreciated the life left to him) but a second stroke left him without hope. A week wasn't time to come to grips with what was happening.

Fortunately I have my daughters to cheer me. My eldest brought her baby round to play. My youngest came home for the weekend, made breakfasts and dinner and cake, encouraged us to go out and see snowdrops, and we all hung out with my grandson again. I was surprised to find myself facing a new week feeling relaxed and refreshed. It isn't a feeling that's lasted long but any brief respite is good.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Aldercar Flash Nature Reserve

With time to pass one morning, I've been out walking again back 'home'. This time down the hill leading to what is now Aldercar Flash nature reserve, run by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.

When I was young, a disused railway line and canal ran alongside the Erewash river (there's still one railway line running up the valley), but then (as I've mentioned before) the area was outcropped and a lot changed.

 I remember walks alongside the canal, and farmland on either side, but at some point the valley flooded and now wetland nature reserves lie alongside the river; Aldercar Flash under Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, and Erewash Meadows belonging to Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.

This particular morning the wetlands were frozen, and we didn't leave the country lane that runs alongside the reserve.

Looking upstream (right) and down (below) from the bridge over the Erewash. I remember a wider river with steeper banks, but how much is due to change caused by outcropping, and how much due to childish distortion, I don't know.

One thing hasn't changed - the walk back up the hill. It's steeper than it looks here, getting even steeper at the top, and to my younger legs it always seemed an impossible mountain to climb.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Back 'Home'

 It seems odd that you could grow up in, and regularly visit, a place but actually have forgotten what it's like beyond the small area that you visit, but this seems to have happened to me.

The house I grew up in sits in a Nottinghamshire mining village, which sprawls alongside an 'A' road. A no-through road leads to the heart of the old village - tightly lined with a mix of new and new housing, a pub, farmhouse, barns and vicarage which have been converted to houses, and the one remaining pub.

We usually drive as far as my family home and stop. We've no one else to visit further down the road so there's no need to carry on. Last week, having some time to kill, we took the dog and walked down the road, past the last straggling houses to open countryside. I'd almost forgotten it was there - and unlike other places around the village, it seemed unchanged.

There's another farm with barns and outbuildings turned into houses, but beyond it the fields spread out as they (almost) always have. 'Almost' is because for several years some of them were 'opencast' by the coal board, and a lot of 'wrinkles' in the land smoothed out when the area was restored to fields.

In the days when children were allowed to roam quite freely, this is where I played with friends - climbing trees and building dens - and yet I'd forgotten how rural and peaceful it is.
I must make the effort to visit more over the summer.