Tag Archives: Family

HOW MANY LIVES DOES A CAT HAVE?

  Seth doesn’t appear Wednesday night, no sign of him. Thursday morning. I go round my neighbours checking garages and sheds. No sign of him along the road. The road that at the moment because of closures has become the main through route in Longridge. The traffic is non-stop, a cat doesn’t stand a chance of crossing the road — I should have kept him in.

  Seth is named after the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet. So why a female goddess? Well, when I took ‘her’ as a kitten thirteen years ago to be spayed, the vet announced she was a he. Oh! So I quickly changed her/his name to the masculine Seth and he was neutered.

  Historians say the Egyptians revered the number nine because they associated it with their sun god, Atum-Ra. According to one version, Ra gave birth to eight other gods, (including Sekhmet). Since Ra often took the form of a cat, people began associating the nine lives (Ra plus eight) with feline longevity. In truth, they only have one like the rest of us but their agility often gets them out of serious situations.

  I went to bed Thursday night fearing the worst. Friday morning there he was curled up at the bottom of the stairs. But he was not happy, a quiet moan and a tired look in his eyes showed he had a problem. I  picked him up and realised the right back leg was hanging at an unusual angle, he showed distress if I moved the limb. How had he managed to drag himself home? Nine lives. A phone call to my local vet arranged an appointment that afternoon. They thought his hip was dislocated and would have to sedate him to try to relocate it. I was asked to come back at 7pm. 

  7pm. The receptionist explained they were still trying to manipulate it. Her concern was obvious. I sat in the waiting room, it felt like being in casualty at a hospital. I read all the notices on the walls. (I never knew lily stamens were deadly to cats and dogs)

  7.30pm. Nigel, the vet, appeared with sweat on his brow  “we are struggling to get the joint back into place”. It felt even more like casualty.

  8.00pm. Nigel came back looking much happier, he had been successful. All I could do was thank him for his skill and persistence.

  8.30pm. Seth had come round from his anaesthetic and was back in his basket. There had been no other injuries. I was given instructions for the next 24hours or so, and  took him home. We both slept well.

  Over the weekend he was placed in a roomy cage in the kitchen to give him space but avoid over movement. He slowly showed his indomitable spirit and demanded food. I gave him some chicken pieces as a treat. When he stood up, both rear legs seemed supportive. He complied with his restriction with a knowing look.

  Back at the vets for a check-up on Monday morning. All the staff seemed pleased, and no doubt relieved to see him well. The star took it all in his stride (no pun intended) Keep him in the cage for a month to ensure there is no strain on the joint was the advice. He will need lots more treats! Thankfully, I have no plans to be away, so I can give him all the attention he deserves.

  He can’t tell me what had happened — just another of his nine lives.

 

BEST OF A BAD JOB – MOOR PARK.

Saturday 5th December.  1.5 miles.  Preston.

How can I put this, am I anxious or annoyed?

To start with I was anxious, Chris my son had arranged [24hours previously] to come up to Longridge at 12noon for a socially distanced walk up on the Fell. He never arrived. Phoning his house brought no reply, I know when he is on ‘nights’  he switches the phone to silent in the day. More phoning was to no avail and his mobile was switched off. At one o’clock I felt I had to investigate and drove down to Preston. His car was in the street and all his curtains drawn. No answer to my knocking on his door.

How quickly can someone die from Covid-19?  Images of police breaking down that door. I already had experienced a similar traumatic episode involving the emergency services at a friend’s house in Liverpool last year. Passers-by start looking at me suspiciously especially when I start throwing objects at his bedroom window. It took several objects clattering against the glass before a weary face appeared.

Anxiety over, I suppressed annoyance; he had slept in and was very apologetic. I thought of mentioning alarm clocks but didn’t. I marched off round the corner to get some spare keys cut whilst he surfaced and drank tea.

Sorry we are not cutting keys due to the pandemic

On my return to save the day, or was it just his face, he helpfully suggested a walk around the local park – ‘whilst I was here‘  So that is how I came to walk around Moor Park and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The last time I walked through Moor Park was when I connected most of the open spaces In Preston into one continuous trail – A Preston Ten Parks Walk  [At the time I was hoping to spark the curiosity of local walkers to follow in my footsteps, although lots have viewed the post no one has admitted to completing what I thought was an excellent outing.]

Back to this afternoon we arrived into the park at its Southern gate and walked clockwise, along with many of Preston’s residents enjoying the open space and welcome sunshine. Moor Park is Preston’s largest and oldest park, originally common land it became, in 1833, the first municipal park in the emerging Northern Industrial towns. In the mid-1860s the park enclosed some 100 acres of the moorland, landscaped by Edward Milner.  It was part of a scheme to provide work for those unemployed because of the Lancashire cotton famine. A series of walks and ‘drives’ for horses and carriages were created, including an avenue of lime trees which was known for many years as ‘the Ladies Walk’. This formed the southern boundary of the park where we came in.

On the south road are large houses now used for rooms for solicitors and doctors. Also, here is the old Park School, Preston’s grammar school for girls, opened in 1906 closed in 1969. I think it is part of the campus for Preston College now.

Passing the children’s playground there was a little café open and doing a good trade in takeaway coffees.

At the edge of the park was a granite stone [?erratic] commemorating Tom Benson’s world record In 1997  of walking the perimeter of the park, covering a total of 314 miles!

The path we took ran through sunken gardens with an ornamental grotto and rocky tunnel.

The Jeremiah Horrocks Observatory was built in time for the 1927 total eclipse of the sun. [Horrocks was a 17th century astronomer from Hoole]. The university now own it but light pollution and vibration from the busy Blackpool Road prevent it being used for serious scientific research.

In the C18/19th the park was host to horse races  and there is a starting stone still present recalling those days.

The Serpentine lake is now looking rather unloved,  The supports and gates of a demolished  bridge were constructed from Longridge stone.

On this far side there used to be open air baths, they were filled in during the early seventies. There is no sign of them now.

During WW1 a hospital for the wounded was built.  After the hospital was closed in 1919 the buildings were used as an open-air school and then a prisoner of war camp in the second world war. When it closed some of the wooden buildings were moved to the docks for the Sea Cadets Headquarters. Only the interpretation board gives a clue to its position.

On the East side of the park  is the Preston North End football ground; they were a founder member of the English Football League in 1888. Today there was a league game being played, but due to Covid-19 rules no supporters are allowed so you wouldn’t know it.

That was an hour well spent with my lovely son.

*****

 Preston Council’s amateur map is reproduced below, by all means click on it to enlarge

 

FAMILY DURING LOCKDOWN.

Friday.  November 13th.  5.5 miles.  Bleasdale.

Just spotted it, this is Friday the 13th, survived again.

As you may know I’m trying to get something new from each of my lockdown walks. When I say ‘new’ I’m encompassing new perspectives, new experiences and hopefully new encounters with nature or whatever.

I haven’t seen Chris, one of my sons, for about three months so that is something new for today. He is a baker and social distancing is not the best but his firm have had no cases, yet. There is talk amongst some of his workmates with friends who have tested positive but nobody has volunteered to self Isolate. I imagine that is quite a problem generally with people not wanting to lose their wages.  As he works night shifts there are not many afternoons when he is up, but today we arrange to meet in Bleasdale, a short distance drive for us both, well within the ‘rules’.

Social distancing is the order of the day. Since the last time I saw him he has grown a beard, fortunately I knew of that from telephone conversations otherwise it would have been a shock. Strangely half the hair growth is white, so he has gone grey without knowing it. We do the usual walk except the muddy bits. He thinks it is 20 years since he was last up here.

Here are a few photos from our walk.

The postman cometh.

The school master’s house now a desirable country residence.

One of those abhorrent vermin traps but open to any creature. Should be made illegal.

Is this Rhododendron flowering late or early?

Ever the gentleman.

 

Beacon Fell and a hazy Preston.

Pointing to Parlick

That wonderful beech hedge.

The River Brock on its way.

 

The afternoon is pleasantly sunny, and we enjoy the catch up. Not sure when we will do it again.

My other son and family are in Manchester and have decided they will keep well clear of me for the time being which I appreciate.

*****

KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Beacon Fell.

Beacon Fell, Brock Bottoms and Kemple End.

It’s the summer holidays and I’m entertaining my youngest grandson for a couple of days, that’s all he has in his busy diary. I think of some local walks that will keep him interested and not be overdemanding. When I was his age, 11years, I could cover 20 miles no problem across rough moorland, alone and while smoking a few Woodbines.  Maybe not, but I think the generations have softened the Human Spirit. While he stays with me there is an unplugged mentality regarding mobile devices, I try to explain that nothing will happen whilst he is off line. He is not convinced.

He arrives with his stepmother, both keen to explore the local countryside. I’ve devised a route up onto Beacon Fell that is interesting, short and easy. They seem happy with it as we arrive at the cafe in time for lunch. On the way we passed Barnsfold Reservoir where his great grandad used to fish and paint piscatorial images for the fellow fishermen. I’ve often wondered what happened to those skilled canvases.  We marvelled at the size of two Buzzards wheeling overhead and we wondered about unusual tree fungi, a white bracket on a beech tree which I’ve been unable to identify.

We walked past a farm where the family have diversified into a hair salon what was previously a cowshed, good on them.

We passed more fishing lakes this time part of a recreational complex with holiday chalets. The original farm, Wood Fold, is grade II listed but has been submerged by ancillary housing.  I never realised how much-hidden developments there were in the area.  There was only a minor footpath diversion through this development.

Onwards, with grandson navigating, we followed my route of the other day through Crombleholme Fold and up the fields and into the woods to the honey spot of Beacon Fell.

All smiles.

We were probably the only people that had walked here, all be it only a  couple of miles. A trio of elderly cyclists arrived and clattered into the cafe, they had come through the hills from Lancaster. We enjoyed soup and sandwiches. On our way back we had time for an attempt at climbing the new snake from tail to head and then we were out of the woods and back at the car. There were some new wood carvings of leafy Green men, a pre-Christian symbol. Incidentally, there is a Green Man Pub in nearby Inglewwhite.

I hope that a few navigational skills have been absorbed.

The afternoon was spent pruning bushes in my garden and the more exciting shredding of those branches which provided lots of laughs. A competitive game of boules anticipated our imminent family trip to France.

Refreshed by Thursday morning our next jaunt was to Brock Bottoms just below Beacon Fell. We were one of the first cars parked up in the popular picnic spot.  It is years since I’ve been along this stretch of the River Brock. Memories of early forages with my own young children keep coming back. The river is low, we see no kingfishers or dippers which I was hoping for.

The highlight of this walk was going to be Brock Mill but alas time has taken its toll on the ruins of the mill. Where there had been substantial buildings there were only stones with little evidence of the mill race, waterwheel or the mill itself.

Brock Mill was once a thriving water-driven cotton spinning mill with up to twenty cottages in the valley for the workers.  The mill was probably built in the 1790s. After a chequered history and two reincarnations as a roller making factory, and then a file making factory the mill finally closed in the 1930s. For some time the ground floor of the mill operated as a café, whilst the top floor was used for dancing on Saturday nights!

It took some imagination to see the ruins of the cottages.

Slightly disappointed we retraced our steps. Having given my grandson a lecture on watermills I drove back via Chipping where there is a water wheel attached to a house, a former corn mill and then converted to a restaurant with the wheel turning.

I cut the lawn whilst he caught up on ‘social media’, he hates it when I call it ‘antisocial media’

The weather remained sunny and dry and the plan for the afternoon was some bouldering up on Longridge Fell. Again keeping it low key I bypassed the tough Craig Y Longridge and settled for Kemple End. We dropped into the secluded heather bowl that is the old quarry. We were out of the sun and spent a couple of hours trying some of the easier problems. He realised that outdoor climbing is so different to the climbing walls he has been visiting. At the end of the session, I’m not convinced I’ve converted him into a proper climber. I was so busy spotting him that I didn’t take any photos – next time.

I don’t know who was most tired by the time his father came to take him home. See you in France.

EVEN MORE OF DINKLEY ON A GOOD FRIDAY FAMILY WALK.

The successful walk last week along the Ribble must have been at the back of my mind when some of the family pitched up on Good Friday. So after a quick lunch of soup I suggested something similar as the weather was perfect. Parking at the Marles Wood site was tricky but we luckily managed a space as someone drove away. Since last week the bluebells have moved on a touch and the ‘blue carpet’ was making an appearance in the woods.

Sales Wheel.

A steady stream of walkers made their way through the woods to and from the river at Sales Wheel, early picnickers on the banks had been testing the cold water and were now relaxing with beers – typical Brits on holiday, some will have red skin tonight.

We pressed on to the open area along the river and descended to the shingle beach for a prolonged session of enthusiastic stone skimming. Despite the abundance of perfect flat stones none made it to the opposite bank.

After some time simple stone chucking became the order of the day before a drinks stop.

We admired the new bridge and noticed the plaque from the 1951 opening of the original suspension bridge, which I’d missed last time.

Rather than walk the long way back along the opposite bank, protestations from the grandchild, we decided to head uphill to the road on this side. Looking at the 1:25,000 I spotted a track going virtually all the way without too much road walking. Of course this was not a right of way but looked inviting so we went for it. This worked well and we followed tracks of sorts all the way without obstruction except at the end emerging onto the road where the gate was locked with dire warnings to trespassers. I was particularly pleased with the route which gave magnificent views back down to the river and the bridge as well as more distant views of Hurst Green, Longridge Fell and Pendle Hill, and brought us back to the car without too much family stress – we had only covered two miles in two hours.

‘forgive us our trespasses’

 

Back to my place for beers, bagatelle and Ratatouille.

*****

BEWARE OF THE GRUFFALO.

If you go down to the woods today you may be in for a big surprise.

Today was another short walk taking advantage of a sunny afternoon and celebrating the plastic bag man‘s birthday. The real reason was a birthday curry buffet at a favourite restaurant, Bangla Spice in Leyland. One of my sons joined us for the laugh, the day before I’d been on the streets of Stretford following a jumble sale trail with my other son and family.

Cuerden Valley was our venue having never really explored here before. The area was popular with dog walkers and families all enjoying the space and sunshine. We had a rough map of the park and set off along a path that soon had us crossing the busy M6 motorway, not a peaceful start.

But before long we were walking in a strange walled path towards the hall, we imagined the masses walking to work in the past.

The hall itself, not an edifying building, was approached. This is the centre for the Sue Ryder Charity. We found in the stables area of the hall several good charity shops – books, brickabat and clothes – all for a good cause, neurological care and support to local people and their loved ones.

Onwards past hidden housing estates, the offices for Lancashire Wildlife Trust and a walled garden to the woods where a Gruffalo hunt had been underway. Thankfully this was over and the big G had gone home. Plastic bag man still felt a little uneasy, mouse-like, as we entered the mature woodland. There was a wide range of trees planted by the estate a century ago.

Going into an interesting looking nature reserve we were accosted by a volunteer suggesting there was no entry, we didn’t argue [there is always another time to explore unnoticed.] We meekly walked down to the bridge over the River and followed the masses and their dogs.  Another carpark was reached and we crossed the road to continue down valley, it was here we got bored and hungry and decided to retrace our steps. What lies down the valley will have to remain for another visit. The whole area is worthy of further exploration.

Above us on the return was the new visitors’ centre, an impressive Eco-designed building, which will be worth a visit soon. Further on was the fishing lake, an old lodge.

Paths took us back to our carpark and that tasty curry.                                                                                ***

 

 

A LOT OF WORK.

Back in the Lot valley for a couple of weeks to ease me into Autumn. When we arrived the air temperature was up in the high 20s and more importantly was the pool temperature. As the days slowly passed the temperatures dropped but I was still swimming on the last day. This was the usual combination holiday of work and pleasure, heavily biased to the latter. My oldest grandson joined us for a week and it was great to reacquaint him with the pleasures of rural France, think food and wine. It was a bus-man’s holiday for him being on lifeguard duty by the pool!  Despite the usual post flight colds we managed a few local walks and cycles incorporating fruit picking, he was on guard as I picked. Bad example to the innocent younger generation. Light relief came from boules, table tennis, crosswords and whist – boring old farts.

Anyhow to get back to the subject of this post there was a lot of work going on at nearby Hauterive Chateau with the plums they grow alongside the vines A machine washed and cleaned the ripe plums, trays of plums are then loaded into ovens to dehydrate them into our breakfast prunes. As well as our boxes of wine we came away with handfuls of plums which provided desserts for many nights. Grape picking occurs later at the end of September.

The fields in the vicinity of the house had been harvested earlier and now they were being ploughed and harrowed. The size of modern machinery is staggering, the tractor turns up with a trailer which then proceeds to unfurl its long wings making quick work of the large fields. The last run must have been seeding as within a few days green shoots of Barley appeared.

One morning I woke to find a man on the roof cleaning the chimney in the traditional way. Apparently one needs an annual certificate of this work being carried out for insurance purposes.

We had our own work repairing the sit on mower but thankfully the helper is an experienced engineer. It did work later.On my daily circuit of the wooded hill and combe I spotted some trees that had their bases tarred and sticks placed against them, not as traps but possibly as markers for any boar or deer movements. The woods are hunted regularly. No one was able to give a satisfactory explanation.

Every night a deer came down the garden to feed on fallen apples so in an attempt to get a closer view I rigged up my hammock and laid in wait but of course I drifted off to sleep, too much wine, so probably missed all the action. There was a full moon which lit up the garden in the early hours.

A pleasant couple of weeks.

A QUICK LAKES VISIT – Gummers How.

My son and grandson are camping in the Lakes this week. It has not been the best of summer weather but they have made the most of it. I arranged to join them this afternoon and drove up the motorway in the low damp cloud, not exactly encouraging. However, when we met up at Newby Bridge there was a hint of brightness in the sky so I suggested a quick ascent of Gummers How nearby. This is a relatively low hill, 321m, and is made even easier by starting from  Astley’s Plantation car park, itself at over 200 m. A Lakeland Fell in miniature.

Wainwright included this summit in his Outlying Fells book –  “it is an old man’s mountain, and  when ancient legs can no longer climb it know ye that the sad day has come to hang up the boots forever and take to slippers”   So it was satisfying for our three generations to make the ascent together.  In the trees low down the path was rather muddy probably due to the Luing cattle, imported to maintain balanced flora. Higher the path has been stepped with Lakeland stone in parts and there are bits of scrambling to keep the youngster [and oldster] interested. Before long we were standing at the trig point in the strong wind. The celebrated views over Windermere were there but with overhead cloud.

Coming down we found a different way through trees which were made for climbing especially if you are 7 years old. Back at the campsite, there was more climbing on some glaciated boulders. The wind didn’t abate and it felt miserable, despite games of Frisbee, so I made my excuses and left them cooking supper. The joys of camping in an English summer. Back home to my slippers.

WATER EVERYWHERE. INGLETON FALLS.

My 13yr old grandson has wanted to climb Ingleborough since he saw it full on, a couple of years ago, whilst caving in Chapel le Dale. He was staying with me this week but the weather seemed to have taken a nose dive [the back end of hurricane Bertha] We bravely set off in high winds and rain but at the base of Ingleborough itself could see an ascent today would be unwise and futile.

Ingleborough under cloud.

Ingleborough under cloud.

Plan B – Ingleton Waterfall Walk.zCapture.JPGfalls  I’ve not done this for years. The price of entry has certainly escalated [I’ll not comment further] though I seem to remember we used to sneak in above the  turnstiles without paying. Lots of families visiting today no doubt because of the weather, so there was a chatty, jolly atmosphere as we made our way around. You go up the River Twiss [the private part] and down the River Doe, both are impressive gorges. You walk through limestone, slates and sandstone so a good opportunity for a geology lesson. The bit in the middle connecting the two rivers over farm land usually boasts a mobile ice cream van parked in the green lane!  I don’t ever remember seeing the money tree before in Swilla Glen – an old tree completely studded with coins making it look like armadillo skin.After all the rain we have had every fall today was full of peaty rushing water – very impressive.

Pecca Falls.

Pecca Falls.

Hollybush Spout.

Hollybush Spout.

Thornton Force.

Thornton Force.

Beezley Falls.

Beezley Falls and Triple Spout.

Rival Falls.

Rival Falls.

Baxenghyll Gorge.

Baxenghyll Gorge.

And last but not least ….

Snow Falls.

Snow Falls.

My grandson thoroughly enjoyed the walk, and the ice cream, so the day was a success and Ingleborough can wait for a better day.  If you haven’t been round this trail before or have in the mists of time pick a day to visit after heavy rain – you will appreciate. A little Switzerland.