Out and about
Hello! How are you doing?
It’s the school half term holidays in our part of the UK and small daughter and I are appreciating not having to get up too early for a whole week. We’re not appreciating the endless rain, though, which doesn’t seem to have stopped for weeks.
It’s only when I look back through my photos that I realise that’s not quite true. We have had pockets of beautiful autumnal weather, although it’s often only been for a few hours at a time. I took these photos the last time I took the dog to Culcheth Linear Park – a woodland area that’s been created on the site of an old railway line. There are quite a few walks that go off the main path, and the dog loves exploring the smells along the way.
It’s not a long walk, only a couple of miles – do you want to come? It’s through this gate …
and then down this footpath. I love paths like this that disappear into the trees, they feel so fairy-tale-ish!
On this particular day, we saw something very rare too … blue sky!
Lots of leaves, brought down by the winds and the rain …
And sunshine flooding through the trees! I was almost beside myself with excitement after the endless drab greyness and torrential rain that we’ve had lately.
Most of the blackberries had gone, either picked by other walkers (I’ve made jam from blackberries from the Linear Park and I’m sure I’m not the only one!) or eaten by the birds.
And I was surprised to see so much new growth. The thing is – and I don’t know if you’ve noticed this – that despite all the rain, it’s not been cold at all. Perhaps this really is global warming for us, but I think that the plants should be thinking about getting ready for the winter, not producing new leaves!
I made myself look for the brightness along the way. I’ve been so used to trudging along with my hood up and my head down that I had to make a conscious effort not to do that. Look at the size of these rocks! Where did they come from? Who put them there? Why did they leave them in this particular place? I’ve been trying over these school holidays to encourage small daughter to notice more instead of being focussed on a tiny screen; I always consider myself to be a noticing kind of person, but I believe it’s a habit that you can get into and one that’s not that hard to cultivate.
So … notice the sun on the rock, on the moss, the way the moss grows like blades of grass, the cracks in the stone. Put your hand on it, feel the moss cool under your fingers and the stone warm where the sun has touched it. Nowadays, it’s called being mindful but it’s also just noticing, and it’s good for us to do it.
I must have so many photos of the sun coming through the trees and lighting up the leaves. It’s one of my favourite things!
We’re nearly back to the car now – I told you it’s not a long walk – and this is one of the paths that goes off the main track. Doesn’t it make you want to explore?
This is the sign at the top of the steps (you can see it silhouetted on the right hand side of the above photo). Those two dancing figures on the top are actually foxgloves, but I always think they look like the people on a Willow Pattern plate.
Here’s another one. I like this one because I know it’s not far back to the car from here! It’s also a reminder to me to keep an eye on the dog because he also knows it’s not far back to the car and will make a break for it to extend his walk (and have me chasing after him) given half the opportunity. You’d think that at his age (he’s six and a half now), he’d be more sedate but he’s still a big hairy toddler and definitely keeps me on my toes!
There are a few of these benches in the park, although they’re pretty old now and the carvings have become worn as the wood is slowly disintegrating. I love things that are carved out of wood or stone; how something solid becomes a different shape with curves and smooth edges fascinates me.
There’s a huge horse chestnut tree just before your reach the car park and I never get tired of having a “quick look” (twenty minutes later …) for conkers at this time of year. They’re so smooth and shiny and tactile, and I always feel as if I’ve found proper treasure when I find one still in it’s case.
Small daughter likes to put conkers on her window sill to keep away the spiders, although there’s no proof that this actually works. Still, it makes her feel better and there’s also no proof that it doesn’t work, so I don’t mind her doing it. We just have to limit the number of them!
Small daughter heard a crash against the window the other day and hurried out to see what it was. I had assumed that it was a bird – we quite often get those huge wood pigeons splatting themselves against the windows and leaving a cartoon-like bird-shaped mark on the glass before they shake themselves off and fly away. This time, the bird didn’t seem to be quite so lucky.
It was struggling to get up and looked to have really hurt itself (for a horrible moment I thought it was fatally damaged and we all we could do was wait for it to die as I am not one of those people who can “help” something along), so small daughter shut all the doors so that the dog and the cats couldn’t rush out to see what was going on and “help” in their own way. I was always told that you should never pick up a wild animal in your bare hands as you would transfer your human smell to it that might cause it to be rejected by it’s family, especially if it was young, so I put my gardening gloves on and scooped up the little bird to see how badly hurt it was. Yes, I do know that in some cases you shouldn’t touch birds and animals and see if they can get up themselves, but this little bird needed some help (and not that sort) so I took the view that in this case it was OK.
It took me a minute or two to work out what it was, as we don’t often see these little birds. It was a tree creeper; they hop up and down the tree trunks searching for insects and are well camouflaged – and they move fast!
After sitting on my hand for a short while, it became clear that the bird was just stunned and not badly hurt after all, so small daughter and I chatted to it (did it appreciate this? We will never know!) and then with a flutter of feathers it was off!
We were treated to a final display of acrobatics and then it disappeared into the trees.
“It was lucky I came to see what it was!” said small daughter. It certainly was – for all of us!
I’ll leave you with one last “out and about” photo … small daughter and I went to see some babies yesterday! I’ll tell you more about them next week, but these are Poll Dorset lambs (Poll Dorsets will lamb all year round), snuggled up in a barn against the rain which was coming in sideways across the Lancashire hills. No wonder they need cosy fleeces!