Eight brave neighbours of mine got together to stage an ‘Open Gardens’ day this weekend. The day could not have been more glorious – a typical English summer day, bright and warm from the off.
The route through the village provided a peep behind the gates into some of the most amazing spaces. Some filled with quintessential blooms of delphiniums, foxgloves, hollyhocks, clematis, roses and the rest. And others were tranquil areas of trees providing an uplifting dappled light.
The event brought the community together, my husband was on ticket and car park duty whilst I made teas and coffees and sold cakes in the village hall with many others who had rolled up their sleeves. It was hard work but well-worth it, as £1600 was raised towards the Memorial Hall refurbishment fund. And for many, it was a grand day out – especially as The Brewer’s Arms http://www.brewersarmsclayworth.co.uk/ and the The Blacksmiths https://www.blacksmithsclayworth.com/ were both open for business and offering a discount. What more could you want?
My own garden is very small but I endeavour to fill it with colour- and perhaps, when it’s time for the next ‘Open Gardens’ day in a couple of years’ time, I will be brave enough to open the gate to it too.
I read an article about British Nordic Walking https://britishnordicwalking.org.uk/ It was exactly the inspiration I needed to hunt out my poles and reintroduce myself to the joys of this unique form of exercise.
There is a group somewhere near you
A group meets at Clumber Park not far from where I live https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/clumber-park every Friday morning. An induction period is available for newcomers and poles can be hired for just £1, prior to the main event which is £5. Fully-qualified British Nordic Walking instructors lead the group.
So what is Nordic Walking?
Nordic Walking uses specially designed poles to enhance the walking experience. Using a technique that is similar to the upper body action of classic, cross-country skiing, Nordic Walking becomes a genuine, whole-body exercise that can be enjoyed at many levels, from walking for health to athletic Nordic running!
What are the benefits of Nordic Walking?
Nordic Walking combines the simplicity and accessibility of walking with simultaneous core and upper body conditioning, similar to Nordic skiing. The result is a full-body workout, which means:
•46% more calories burned, compared to walking without poles
•less tension in the neck and shoulders
•posture and gait is improved
•back and abdominal muscles are strengthened
•the impact on joints is reduced
And most importantly…
… because Nordic Walking doesn’t feel like hard work you’ll be happy to walk further and for longer.
Finish with a stretch
A fifty minute walk through the woods later and we were back to where we started for a ‘stretch’.
It’s not all about the exercise
But it’s not all about the exercise, there’s the fresh air too and who doesn’t love trees? And it’s also an opportunity to meet like-minded people. What more could you want?
You never know, it might be just what you are looking for
Find a session nearby to discover just how good Nordic Walking is for you.
There is ‘brown road sign’ local to us pointing towards ‘The Traquair Murals’ – and as I have only lived in the area a relatively short time, my thoughts were ‘the what murals?’ How on earth is it that pronounced? Well, through sneaky research I have it on good authority that it is pronounced ‘Trakwair’ and… what are they? Here is everything you ever wanted to know about the hidden gem of the Nottinghamshire countryside that is the ‘Traquair Murals’:
Phoebe Traquair was born Phoebe Anna Moss on 24 May 1852 in Kiltern, County Dublin, Ireland. Her parents were Dr William Moss and Teresa Moss (née Richardson). Phoebe was the sixth of their seven children. She studied art at the School of Design at the Royal Dublin Society between 1869 and 1872 and married the Scottish palaeontologist Ramsay Heatley Traquair on 5 June 1873. They had three children: Ramsay, Harry and Hilda.
Phoebe’s elder brother was William Richardson Moss, a keen art collector who owned a number of works by Dante Gabriel Rossetti who founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, she shared her brother’s love of art, including a particular fascination with the work of Rossetti and that of William Blake. Her style and choice of subject matter remained deeply influenced by Blake and Rossetti’s art and poetry throughout her life.
So what has Phoebe got to do with a sleepy little village in North Nottinghamshire?
St Peter’s Church in Clayworth (link: http://www.stpetersclayworth.org) is home to one of only two similar artworks outside of Scotland. These particular murals are the largest works of art in the East of England and were created by Phoebe Traquair in 1905. And they have to be seen to be believed… vibrant, rich colours that bring the centuries-old, grey, stone walls of the village church to life. Phoebe’s earlier Pre-Raphaelite and Arts and Crafts influences can clearly be seen in this unique, peaceful environment.
On a silver tablet are the words: ‘To the glory of God as a thank offering for the safe return from the Boer War 1899 -1902 of her beloved son Captain Joseph Frederick Laycock DSO, who being at that time a Major in the Sherwood Rangers Imperial Yeomanry, served on the staff of General Sir John French KCB, this chancel has been decorated in deep gratitude, by his mother Lady D’Arcy Godolphin Osborne,’
I strongly recommend a visit to the church to see this work of art but put on your walking boots and take the opportunity to walk down the lane opposite the church to Otter’s Bridge, walk over the bridge, taking in the views of open-countryside then turn left and follow the canal tow-path to the next bridge. Leave the canal at this point (unless you want a good 6 mile ramble into Retford) turn left again and follow the road back to the church. Take this opportunity to call in at either the Brewer’s Arms (link: http://www.brewersarmsclayworth.co.uk) or The Blacksmiths (link: http://www.blacksmithsclayworth.com) for a refresher. After which, continue back up the road to St Peter’s Church to complete the circuit. It won’t take long – an afternoon should do it. If you haven’t seen the Traquair Murals then put it on your to do list. You won’t regret it, an afternoon well spent.
I have a very special relationship with Elderflower Cordial. It is a ritual I perform every year and the opportunity to make this wonderful ‘summer in a bottle’ is fast coming to a close as the blossoms fade.
Every year at this time I collect elderflower heads and remember my Mum. It was the last thing that we did together a couple of weeks before she died eleven years ago. She had a large elderflower bush at the bottom of her garden and I remember that she reached up with her walking stick to bring down the biggest blooms. This unique liquid is literally bittersweet for me, she loved it – and everyone who has tried it loves it too.
Mix it with prosecco, gin, vodka – or sparkling water of course – and it can be used to flavour cakes and desserts. Here’s how to make it:
25 – 30 heads very fresh elderflowers
1.5kg (3lb 5oz) granulated sugar
3 large unwaxed lemons,
75g (2-¾oz) citric acid (available at Wilko’s, chemists or winemaking shops)
Gently shake the elderflower heads to remove any bugs.
Put the sugar and 1.5 litres (2 ½ pints) of water into a saucepan, bring to the boil. Stir from time to time to dissolve the sugar. Remove the zest from the lemons broad strips with a peeler and put in a bowl with the elderflowers. Slice the lemons thinly and add to the bowl. When the sugar syrup has come to the boil, pour over the flowers and lemons. Stir in the citric acid. Cover with a clean dry cloth and leave in a cool, dark place for 24 hours.
Strain the cordial through a muslin-lined nylon sieve into a large bowl or container. Pour into warm, sterilised bottles and seal. (Or plastic water bottles for the freezer, just remember to leave enough space for expansion. This way you can have the taste of summer at Christmas!)
Leave to cool and keep in the refrigerator. It will last for four to six weeks.