Tag Archives: work

Listen up if you can’t look up!

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Not the most glamorous job, cleaning a blocked drain. Nor is it one where looking up to the sky is at all convenient.

I consequently did not see the swifts, back from Africa: but I heard them!

Swifts might take an interest in this patch of sky.
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6 May: the Happy Commuter

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A public holiday in England seems a good time to share this story.

It’s Wednesday evening and I’m at Canterbury West station, chatting to a railwaywoman while I await my chance to slip onto the platform. Hundreds of people were streaming away from an incoming train.

‘You’d think if they were going home they’d look happy!’ she said, and truly, they did not. ‘I’ll get one smiling’, I said, as I saw M coming into view. To be fair, I’d seen him smiling already. I know he likes his job, and I knew he was not going home for long; he was due to attend a church meeting about an hour later on that cold windy night. But he smiled and chatted and went on his way.

‘Now you can start working in the other 451 of them!’ said the railwaywoman. (With a smile.)

So maybe I’ll share one of the station staff’s efforts to raise a smile at Christmas with this little plum.

  • Why did the bicycle catch the train?
  • Because it was two-tyred!

Northern Ireland Railways, 1969.

At the car park again

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The other day when I walked past this point the sun was shining, the parking warden was smiling and ready to chat when I asked if the motorists were all keeping the rules. ‘Aye, today they are, but it won’t be long before someone gets it wrong.’ He went on, ‘Enjoy this sunshine. It puts a smile on your face, and you’re glad to be out of doors.’ Opening his arms and broadening his Scottish accent, he concluded, ‘And the great thing is, they cannae tax ye for it!’

Enjoy your day, sun, wind, or shower.

A Frog for the Butterflies

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Miss Turnstone teaches the butterflies, a reception class of 4-5 year-olds. and every year takes some spawn to school so they can watch the tadpoles develop. The frog spawn comes from her mother’s pond.

Hoping to get a photograph for them, I found myself beset with reflections wherever I squatted myself down. Having rejected my snaps altogether, I tried for just one more. This frog chose that moment to swim across the mass of eggs in the bottom of the pond, and gave us an action shot. Not great, but good enough.

The clear water in the pond suggests that it is more than good enough; there’s plenty of weed to start the tadpoles off in life, but we do need to keep a weather eye out for frost. Once the eggs are afloat we could lose a lot to freezing conditions. We’ll live in hope and be ready to help.

Butterflies in Winter.

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The village school’s reception class is called the Butterflies, and they brought a hint of Spring to a winter’s day at the L’Arche garden. The four and five year olds came to learn and exercise a few gardening skills, to meet some of the community and enjoy the winter sunshine.

Of course, the sun shines as brightly in the village as in the city. And it’s generally quieter there, unless a tractor or chain saw is on the go. The inner ring road runs roaring past the garden so it’s never really quiet. But we, sometimes grudgingly, ignore it and so did the children, though one boy noticed the trains accelerating from the station, something he would not hear at school.

Everyone noticed the sirens as the two fire engines raced past. Drama that does not happen in the village! I looked up from my planting to see three of the girls, arms linked, dancing in a circle, chanting nee-naw, nee-naw, taking pleasure from the sounds, taking pleasure from being alive on a sunny winter’s day in the youth of the world.

And my mind’s ear remembered the blackbird who lifted a telephone warble into his song, and the thrushes and starlings who also make music of our human racket, even getting me halfway down the garden path to answer a starling’s phone call, and I thought, why not? Why not dance when the world is young, and your friends are around you, and you have a day off from routine, and so much to be grateful for? Words are not always enough.

Picture from FMSL

A tunnel re-opened, but closed for the night.

A flying visit to Saddleworth, where the moorland fires are now out, allowed NAIB and I to walk to Diggle along the Canal, We managed a very little foraging, just to be able to say we had done it: a few tiny bilberries, raspberries almost as small, and a handful of blackberries between the two of us.

We turned around at the Western or Diggle Entrance to the Standedge Tunnel. Narrow boats may pass through in one direction at a time behind a pilot boat. No more were moving yesterday so the gates were closed for safety.

Note the sculpture of the leggers. In the days of horse power bargees walking, or legging, along the sides or roof of the canal was the only means of propulsion for 3¼ miles. No wonder there was a pub at either end!

The blue plaque commemorates Thomas Telford, engineer of the Menai Bridge and many other surviving structures, whose intervention enabled the tunnel to be completed in 1811. The date on the later portico is misleading.

Read more about the tunnel here. 

We visited the Menai Bridges on 21 April 2015: Menai Bridges

A Summer Walk in the Downs

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It’s a while since you were invited to join us for a walk. This one started at the Timber Batts pub in Bodsham and took us by field paths and along country roads, back to our starting point. Boots on!

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Almost at once we are into ripening grain crops with wild flowers blooming along the field margins where the path runs.

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Along this lane we met no traffic except a stoat.

 

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The farm buildings at the top of the hill included this old shed, which looks like a WWII prefabricated building.

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Kent chalkland is not the most dramatic scenery, but the contours lie easy on the eye. Civilisation means that electricity cables are never far away though. But they make life possible for the farmers and other locals.

 

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A few sprigs of wild marjoram (oregano) will help flavour an omelette.

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Scabious on one side of the lane, poppies on the other, wild clematis, ‘traveller’s joy’ in the hedge. Happy memories of using this for our daughter’s wedding last summer.

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Along another lane, we passed this old house, the oaken frame raised off the damp ground on a stone plinth.

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Then into the shade of a belt of trees, which still smells of wild garlic underfoot.

 

 

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The path now is partly loose flint, but naked chalk in places; both surfaces require careful walking, the chalk can be very slippery when wet. This dry summer is another matter.

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Back in the lanes, where honeysuckle and willow herb brighten the verges. But this is working countryside.

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And Saint James’s church at Elmstead is a working church, though 900 years and more old, with a ring of six bells in this unique tower. The church was open.

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And this lady was waiting to greet visitors.

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From the church we went back to the Timber Batts, and after a welcome Disco Cider (made from Kentish Disco-very apples) we attended the Bodsham School Fete; a good day out altogether!