Showing posts from 2013

Armistice Day

I always find the 11th hour of the 11the day of the 11th month a very moving two minutes. 120 seconds when, in theory, the world stands still and remembers those who lived in decidedly more difficult times than we do now, where the future was uncertain and how it played out was literally a matter of life or death.
Armistice Day marks the end of World War 1 where approximately 16 million people lost their lives and a further 20 million were wounded. These are staggering statistics the like of which the world, one can only hope, will never see again.
As I stood on Chapel-en-le Frith market place, in glorious sharp autumn sunshine yesterday morning, I thought of the key difference between the wars of the last century and those we are fighting today. Namely that, certainly in World War 2, young men were obliged to sign up whereas today it is a choice - albeit a courageous and noble one - to serve one's country. It is always the very young men that I think of during that precious silence…

A Buzz About Buxton

Monday 9th September

The sun was shining and Buxton was buzzing - two potentially rare events in this frontier town of the High Peak. Yet today the vibe was good, the sun was hot and - cue drum roll - I actually had to take my coat off! But, more importantly, I have a feeling that in the next few years Buxton is going to go from strength to strength.

Work is well underway on the regeneration of The Crescent - a small scale rival to the famous landmark in Bath - which will hopefully attract and accommodate even more visitors as a quality hotel and spa so that people will, once again, be able to come to Buxton to 'take the waters'. For decades all the therapeutic offerings of this spa town, whose origins go back to Roman times, had no longer been available beyond coming to collect water from the well that flows freely just opposite The Crescent and which is celebrated in the annual well-dressing ceremony every summer. Besides this new development there is also a very good spa t…

Season of Mellow Fruitfulness

Monday, 7th October 

This evening, just before darkness enveloped me and the surrounding landscape, I put on my welly boots and grabbed a plastic punnet to do a last bit of blackberry-picking up the lane. Lily pricked up her ears and wagged her tail, delighted at the idea of an 'out' having spent a boring afternoon in the car. She was less impressed when I stopped almost immediately to start my search for black fruit amongst the brambles and fading stinging nettles, the goose grass now looking limp and dried out where just a week or two ago it was still burgeoning. She shot me a mildly exasperated look of 'oh no, not again!' before settling into sniffing companionably about in the verges while I set about my business.

Those of you from more southerly climes will no doubt have stopped picking some weeks back, but up here in the High Peak there are still fruits to be had from the hedgerows and verges of our country lanes. It has been a phenomenal year for blackberries, t…

Two New Fridge Food Posts

Just to let you know that I have published two new posts over at Fridge Food. One is for warm days, one is for cooler days or just when you need some food-huggy comfort. Go take a look.

The Story of Bird

Apologies for the length of this post and the time it has taken for me to publish it - I just thought that if anyone else has had the experience of looking after a baby bird, they may be interested in  hearing our story....

France, 4th August 2013
Day 1 'Bird' came into our lives a week ago today. N was chopping down a load of bamboo out here in France and suddenly he called me to come and look. Somehow still attached to a long bamboo shoot, lying on the ground, was this little bird's nest with one little baby and a small cream speckled egg inside. We decided to try and put it back roughly where it was, inserting the shoot into the hollow of a previously cut bamboo stem. Bird sat there in his nest, looking remarkably like Schulz's Woodstock (the Peanuts cartoon strip always made me smile), swaying around in the breeze. We went on with our gardening until the chirruping of 'Bird' became hard to ignore…

New Posts

Just to let you know that I posted a little update on The Gardening Habit (click here) about the difficulties of leaving a garden about to reach its zenith, while at Fridge Food I put together a little something involving pork loin, prosciutto, apples and apricots (click here). 

Ode to 50

Am I really 50? So how did that happen then? Well, to answer my own question I guess my parents had sex, I was the result, and on 8th June 1963 I came into the world. Simple as that really.

The years have certainly slipped away easily enough since then. I have the same vague memories of toddler-hood that I always had (my older brother ramming me and my pushchair into a coniferous hedge in a park indelibly stamped) and my childhood passed smoothly enough in a string of memories of bike riding, card playing, swimming in outdoor Lidos with fountains and peeling turquoise paint, family walks, picnics and skateboards. Was it all idyllic? Probably not - I remember a 3-day stand-off that my parents once had and dropping the hamster cage (complete with hamster) down the stairs - but it was certainly relatively carefree.

Exams and university Finals are all distant memories and it's hard to reconcile that my own eldest is soon to embark on that particular trail of misery. Yes indeed, I am…

Counting Steps - A Book for Father's Day

If you are looking for a present for Father's Day on 16th June, then 'Counting Steps' - the debut book from fellow writer and blogger, Mark Charlton (Views from the Bike Shed) - could be the answer.

It is a book rooted in nature, landscape and relationships, exploring through its 26 named chapters the experience of fatherhood and the light this throws on his relationship with his own father.

The evocation of landscape and Mark's physical relationship with it through cycling, climbing, walking, running and canoeing, runs as a theme throughout the book. It's Mark's relationship with the landscape which is also self-revelatory: he refers to the 'capacity of landscape to hold a mirror to our feelings, to embody our spirit in physical form' and how 'we return to certain places not so much to look at the view as to look at ourselves'.

Indeed, a few years ago I found myself doing just that. After a hugely difficult and challenging period in my life, I…

Ten Years On

Saturday 25th May 2013

As we head south on the M40 on a beautiful sunny evening (long-awaited), it is strange to think that ten years ago this weekend we were heading up the same motorway in the other direction to start our new life in the north. Today in the back of the car, on our way to holidays, we have three distinctly growing girls: ten years ago we had a baby, a toddler and a pre-schooler. Where did those years go? I ask myself.

I struggle to accept that then I was on the cusp of 40, still able to kid myself that I was young; today, on the cusp of 50, I fear the same can no longer be said! The years have passed both in the blink of an eye - and slowly and surely. On the one hand it all seems like yesterday, on the other a lifetime of experience has been accumulated in a decade.

The friends we left behind are still there, of course, but new ones have been made and form the backbone of our happiness in the High Peak. For two of our girls it is truly home - it is all they really …

New Gardening Habit Post

Friday 24th May For those of you of a horticultural disposition who have been in despair over the weather, as I have been recently, I've posted something over on The Gardening Habit which offers up some small rays of hope despite the lack of rays of sunshine. The lessons to be learned from Nature are many, but right now it's these:
The closer you look the more you seeNew life appears even when you think all is lostThere is beauty to be found in all things.   

You can see the post by clicking here.

New Fridge Food Post

In defiance of the highly unseasonal weather I have put up a little tasty, summery salad number over at Fridge Food. Go take a look here if you are in need of something both sunny and healthy and filling, despite its size.

617 'Dambuster' Squadron 70th Anniversary

In March 1943, 617 'Dambuster' Squadron was formed from an elite group of military men who were chosen or volunteered for one of the Second World War's most daring and innovative strategic attacks on Nazi Germany. It was an attack which was to mark the turning point in the war for Great Britain and her allies.

I have just been watching the coverage on television of the tributes that were happening today here in the Peak District where the squadron honed their skills over the Derwent Dam and this evening at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire from where the 19 Lancaster planes set off this very night 70 years ago.

The skills that the pilots and their crew had to hone, with none of today's technology, in the space of eight short weeks, were incredible. The mission was to be carried out purely by the light of the moon and the eyes of the crew using sights which look like they'd been knocked up in the potting shed (some wood and a couple of nails) and some basic target alti…

A Special Invitation for a very Special Day

A week or so ago, after a telephone call from the organiser, we received this special invitation:-

I will tell you all about it tomorrow and the reason we were invited.

New Gardening Habit Post

Have just written a little something about the highs and lows of gardening in a very wet, cold climate over at The Gardening Habit (and all those of you who live in sunnier climes may rightly feel smug!).

The End of an Era

Wednesday, 1st May 2013

What a beautiful day to start May! Clear blue skies, warm spring sunshine, not a breath of wind - and I thought of Henri who used to walk these hills over so many decades but who will set foot to earth no more. As cancer took hold in her ninth decade, she said she had done with her life and now just wanted to float. She passed away on Monday and today I imagined her up there, smiling down on the place she loved so much and knew so intimately.

I have been here but a decade, yet the spirit of place has entered my soul completely. As I dug the earth to plant my columbines, primulas, pulsatilla, wallflowers, campanulas and aubretias, the sheep and lambs lay quietly in the filed, the birds sang their spring song at last and the drill of a distant woodpecker drifted across the valley. I thought of the kingfisher Henri always told me about down by the stream where she walked, and I missed her. The brittle clack-clack of her walking stick as she walked purposefully up …

How Runway on the Runway made Manchester Sparkle

Well, I think we can safely say that Runway on the Runway was a spectacular success. The hard work of the production and co-ordinating team, the schools, the charities, the contributors and the sponsors all came together to produce an outstanding event which can only raise awareness of teenage cancer and, hopefully, has contributed heavily to its funding pot.

We were literally swept into the Concorde Hangar by an arctic wind which those poor bods at the welcome desk were forced to endure most of the evening. Inside, it has to be said, it wasn't much warmer - such hot air as was being generated by heaters was whooshing straight out through the hangar roof! But it really didn't matter because, at the risk of using a well-worn cliché, the warmth of the mood inside was more than enough to keep everyone happy. Right from the moment you walked into the colourfully lit hangar where Concorde takes centre stage, you couldn't help but be impressed. The catwalk was running underneat…

Runway On The Runway - Fashion Fundraiser for Teenage Cancer at Manchester Airport

A friend of mine, together with a loyal group of others, has created, with total dedication over the last 12 months, a unique event called Runway On The Runway. It is a charity fashion show set spectacularly in the shadow of the world's most iconic aircraft, Concorde, in her home at Manchester Airport. The show, which takes place next Thursday, 21st March, is to raise funds for three remarkable charities: Make-A-Wish Foundation UK, Teenage Cancer Trust and Medcare.

The inspiration for the event came from the stories of the extraordinarily brave teenagers who suffer, in alarming numbers, from teenage cancer, one of the most aggressive takers and changers of young lives. One of the biggest issues is the delays which often occur in diagnosis, and the idea behind Runway On The Runway was to invite local schools in Cheshire to become involved, together with the charities and victims themselves, in an effort to raise awareness of the plight of so many young people in the north-west and…
As my three years of gardening courses are drawing gently to a close, I decided that I would create a new dedicated gardening blog. That is not to say that I will not continue to write about garden things here at View From The High Peak. I just needed somewhere to focus specifically on my ever-evolving horticultural interests and my photography of plants and flowers. It is called The Gardening Habit. I hope you enjoy it.

On A Train

Friday 15th February, Virgin Pendolino
There are times when it's lovely to be needed, and times when it's lovely not to be. As I head south on my train this morning, from grey northern skies to southern blue, I can't help feeling both pleased to be free but sad that, one daughter at least, drifts ever further from my side.
Not so long ago, on a journey such as this, I would reflect on the little chicks I'd left behind and know their movements, their habits, their needs. These days I simply stand and watch as they make ever more adventurous forays into the outside world. Driving to the school bus this morning, I watched my eldest, out of the corner of my eye, applying mascara in the vanity mirror, overnight bag by her feet. Tonight she will be at another's house, a group of young teenagers, wired to sights, sounds and conversations that I can only guess at. Boys will feature that's for sure. The fragile boundary between childhood and adulthood, one foot in both …