Friday, June 30, 2006

Time to Remember

I can’t believe it is 10 days since my last entry. Time passes by very swiftly and to quote John Simpson in ‘The 5-minute Interview’ in today’s Independent (couldn’t get a Guardian, grr) - “Life is appallingly short and we mustn’t waste time on pointless, stupid things.”

This got me to thinking about tomorrow’s date July 1st, a day when, in 1916, time stopped forever for thousands of young men as they perished in No Man’s Land on the first day of the battle of the Somme. 19,240 were killed and 35,493 wounded and that was just our side. My heart goes out to those who gave their lives on both sides as this terrible, pointless and wasteful carnage was to carry on until 17th November of the same year.

So on Saturday 1st July 2006, take time to remember, just for a minute, the events of Saturday 1st July 1916. When you are out shopping, laughing with your family, watching football or tennis or just sitting in the sunshine in your garden, be glad of your freedom and just say a quiet thankyou.

“When you go home,
tell them of me and say,
For your tomorrow,
I gave my today.”
John Maxwell Edmonds (1875 -1958)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


I'm used to getting lots of letters in the post containing pens; there is a huge collection of them by the telephone. I even used to get them with a few bronze coins inside. Today I had an envelope containing a white plastic tooth brush, it is there, lurking in the see-through address bit of the envelope - I haven't opened it yet. What am I supposed to do with it? I suppose it is there to prove a point about something dreadful somewhere in the world rather than for me to use it, I can only use a sensodyne toothbrush* anyway, any other would rip my gums to shreds, so it will probably go into the cleaning bucket to scrub those little corners that are hard to reach.

I just know when I do eventually get round to opening it, that it will be a desperate appeal for funds from some charity or other and I know I will feel guilty for ignoring it but I can't give to everything. I have my favourite charities** and I give when I can, but this is emotional blackmail apart from the fact that the money could have been put to better use than spending on toothbrushes.

I just sit here thinking, Why?

* I suppose some people would say I'm lucky to be able to have the choice and indeed I am.
** Shelter, Salvation Army***, Missing Persons Helpline, Womensaid and the PDSA .
*** not because of any religious beliefs, more for the good work they do with the homeless and missing persons. They also, many years ago, brought their band on to the front lawn of my granny's house and played for her as she lay, dying, on her bed near the window, it brought her great joy.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Squirrel Day

We went up to Ainsdale Sands on Saturday. Every year P takes a couple of coach loads of students up to the sand dunes for field work and he wanted to make a video of the dunes and wildlife therein for the preparation work before the visit.

It was a lovely day and as we drove along the clean, flat beach the wide expanse of it reminded me of the beaches in France near Mont St Michel where they stretch out forever into the distance and where they tend to have their garlic festivals, complete with jazz bands and Elvis impersonators, on the sand. We wandered around the dunes filming and taking photos and generally saying good morning to ramblers, dog walkers and joggers. Then we walked on the sand banks down towards the sea.

After we’d popped into the visitor centre we drove over to the National Trust Red Squirrel Sanctuary at Formby. We ate our picnic lunch and then wandered under the cool of the trees and were rewarded by a pair of squirrels who after attracting our attention by ‘chittering’ proceeded to run up and down the trees, jump over logs and chase each other, all the time venturing closer and closer to us until they were just a few feet away, looking at us with their curious little button eyes. I was completely captivated by them.

I do remember seeing Red Squirrels as a child on holiday in the New Forest and in Cornwall but I hadn’t seen any for ages, they are so much smaller than the greys with their wispy summer tails, a rare treat.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

On Top of the World

Just some of today’s highlights:-

Field after field of golden buttercups as we travelled up towards Hope and Castleton.

Breakfast at the Nag’s Head followed by sitting at the top of the world, well Peveril Castle anyway, with the town of Castleton spread out below and behind it, the stark beauty of Mam Tor.

A late lunch in Edale churchyard with no one but some Pursglove ancestors to keep us company.

The cool and quiet air inside Tideswell church where we just had to visit to see Bishop Robert Pursglove’s rather splendid brass again.

I just wasn't quick enough to photograph the handsome hare that ran across the road just in front of us on the way home, luckily there was no one behind us so we could slow down to let him pass.

Friday, June 09, 2006


As I walked into town this morning via the old St John’s churchyard my senses became aware of the heady pungent smell of elderflowers. They were in full bloom around the vicarage and although my view, as I walked was that of the railway line with the large buildings of Next and Argos looming behind, my mind wandered back to my childhood. The elderflower has such an evocative smell, not entirely pleasant but rich and earthy. It took me back to the small village I grew up in where in the spring and summer we would be taken on nature rambles by the teachers along the lanes down to the brook, through the woods by the sheep dip and back again to the school. In spring we would come back with specimens of flowers and leaves for the nature table, things like cowslips, violets, primroses and daffodils. Also small branches of pussy willow, catkins and sticky buds. These would be put in water, in jam jars and labeled in nice neat handwriting and displayed on the table. In the early summer we would collect bluebells, dog daisies and lilac and later still red poppies. We would spot birds and butterflies and I seem to remember we always had a little tank with tadpoles collected in jam jars from the brook along with sticklebacks and minnows to create our own little pond in the classroom.

As I stood in the queue at Tesco, I felt somehow distanced from the crowds struggling with their bangers, burgers and beers for the weekend’s festivities as I was once again in Scarcliffe woods in the soft shade, under the trees near the derelict gamekeeper’s cottage enchanted by the sights, sounds and smells of summer.