Saturday, 22 April 2017

Too much time on my hands ...

I always had an idea in my mind that when the children had grown and left home, I'd have plenty of time to go out and about and DO things - potter round local gardens and stately homes, nip off to the seaside without a moment's notice, take extra long summer holidays, that kind of thing. 
But oddly I'm finding it doesn't work like that at all, and it's one empty nest problem I'd never anticipated.

Throughout the children's years at school our holidays were obviously planned around term-times - we'd go away for a day or two at Easter, a week at Spring Bank holiday, a fortnight in summer, and another couple of days at Autumn half-term holidays. Now, of course, all that has changed. We could go away anytime we choose - so why don't we?
Now, in part, there's a problem with my parents' health, so I wouldn't want to be away from home for long - but I could still dart away for a night or two, and certainly there's nothing to stop me going out for the day. All I need to do is decide WHEN, and, with nothing steering me towards those traditional holiday times, when it's go away or go without, I just talk about taking some time out but always find a reason for it to not be right now.

Yes, there always seems something to be done - the lawn to cut, ironing pile to tackle, a bathroom to refit - but a greater problem seems to be that nothing is compelling us to go away on certain dates. Easter has come and gone with us thinking we'll go somewhere when the weather's nicer, or when there are less crowds (after all everyone's busy flocking to the seaside at Easter). Soon it will be May Day (same logic applies), then, at the end of the month, Spring Bank Holiday (such crowds rushing to the coast!), and before you know it schools' summer holidays, then September and getting a bit chilly.

 It actually seems that having time on our hands means we do nothing with it. So it's time to cease the day, get out there and do things! 


For starters, this next week or so I intend to be out and about looking at bluebells. It's only a minor achievement because really my decision's being forced on me again - due to their short flowering period, if I don't go now, I'll miss them. After that I think it's time to stop prevaricating, maybe take a pin and stick in the calendar if I can't decide any other way, and organise a holiday!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

New Places to Explore on my Doorstep

Old quarry sides and view to Black Rock
With glorious weather this past weekend, I didn't want to stay in doing 'chores' all the time, but didn't have the time to travel a long distance to somewhere new, and, as I'm having to holiday mostly at home this year, I wanted to find somewhere new to visit. Fortunately we found two interesting, 'new' places to explore without too long a drive.





First, on Saturday evening we decided to find out what lies behind some rather splendid wrought iron gates just outside Wirksworth, heading up the road to Middleton. Probably anyone living nearby knows perfectly well what to expect, but we'd driven past many times without stopping, and I was eager to investigate. Inside, an old quarry has been transformed, its precipitous sides smoothed out and planted with trees, and is now a lovely tranquil spot for a short walk, Stoney Wood.









It's not too gentle on the legs though - the signpost says "Ascent to the Stars" and although this refers to the Star Map (an art installation with a map of the heavens illuminated by solar power) it's certainly steep. Stopping to admire the pieces of sculpture along the route is a good way to catch your breath!

labyrinth 




happy walker




The views at the top are definitely worth the effort, looking out over Black Rock on the opposite side of the valley, and south towards Derby, though we discovered parking at the top for the less able visitor. We were just in time to catch the sunset before heading back down to the car.







Sunday afternoon was supposed to be a gentler walk - we headed to Cromford intending to follow one of our regular walks, along the canal with the sun shining, and celandines and primroses flowering beside the old tow path.











High Peak Workshops


From the workshops at High Peak Junction we carried on intending to pass over the viaduct and head up the filled in spur towards Lea Bridge and back in a short circular route, but ...









Viaduct over the River Derwent
... at the ruined cottage just over the viaduct I spotted the bright green of a nature reserve information board partway up the hillside and went to investigate.

















Having scrambled this far, we thought we'd climbed the steepest section so carried onwards and upwards, through woods which will soon be carpeted in bluebells (must go back next month!) to an open meadow, before heading back down by a gentler route, ending up more or less where we'd originally intended to go.
I can easily see this becoming a regular addition to our walks at Cromford. It's a bit more tasking than a stroll along the canal - but nothing like as steep or high as the climb through Bow Wood on the opposite hillside.







Saturday, 8 April 2017

"The Other End" of Shipley Park



One bright evening earlier this week we headed out to Shipley Park - but to what I think of as 'the other end'. I'm not sure which car park is actually nearest to us; one involves a shorter but twisty, turning route on smallish roads to Mapperley village; the other is longer but on quicker 'A' roads to the visitor centre at Heanor. We mostly go to Mapperley which has more of a countryside feel, and is nearer to the site of the old hall; this time we went to the Heanor entrance, for a different walk.



First we headed down to Osborne's Pond (sometimes I've been lucky enough to spot grebes there but not this time, though we did spot swans nesting in the reeds)



then uphill across fields reclaimed after opencast mining, 












following a blackthorn hedge in full flower, back to the 'trim track' - a marked route with various pieces of exercise equipment along its length (yes, we tried some of it, though there were other things we couldn't figure how to work at all)











 Despite being surrounded by towns and busy roads, Shipley is remarkably tranquil; one of those places that seem cut off from everyday bustle. It wasn't a long walk but a nice one,and it made a change to visit the 'other' end of the park.


Friday, 7 April 2017

Rhododendrons again - Lea Gardens


I've known for a long time that somewhere in the hills above Matlock in Derbyshire were Lea Gardens, and for most of that time I've been intending to visit but somehow never did - till this week. 












And of course I've now fallen in love with it.







Visitors enter at the highest point in the garden and follow the maze-like paths down, along, then back up the hillside. Almost every square inch is planted and round every corner there seems more to discover. We were told that the garden isn't at its finest yet but there were plenty of flowers already appearing.























The gardens are specifically planted with rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias - all growing so tall and flowering so splendidly that they must love the soil in this place.



The cost of a season ticket was slightly less than the price of two 'day' tickets, so we took the plunge and bought season tickets. I'm fully intending to be back in a couple of weeks to see the rest of the garden open in flower, though the main display is expected to be over by June.




























And younger visitors aren't forgotten. We found a couple of play areas hidden among the bushes, and rather wished we'd been small enough to play in this mock castle.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Chatsworth - daffodils and rhododendrons




This weekend we were back at Chatsworth for what will probably be the first of many visits this year. We always treat ourselves to the annual visitors' pass - the initial cost may seem frightening but, living within easy distance of Chatsworth, we've always found it worthwhile.


This visit was all about daffodils, flowering in abundance under the trees alongside the Broad Walk



and appearing round seemingly every corner we turned





then we headed into the wilder areas of the garden which always seem to attract less visitors but at this time of year are filled with wonderful rhododendrons in all colours





















Catching a few minutes of sun and admiring the view from the grotto before it was time to leave

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