Community Spring Clean with Liam Wildish

So many bags of litter!

Liam’s Community Spring Clean

Liam Wildish has recently become a local hero and celebrity with his community-spirited, clean-up of the area.  He runs his own ‘Clean Scene’ window cleaning business and he took it upon himself to clean the odd road sign or two https://www.cleanyx.com/GB/East-Retford/216885679007526/Clean-Scene-Window-Cleaning.  This snowballed and he was soon cleaning nearly all the road signs that were safely accessible for him – in his spare time and at his own expense.  His work was noticed and he found himself in the local paper and then… before he knew it… on BBC Television’s  ‘The One Show’ being interviewed by Matt Baker and Alex Jones. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/  And he went viral too!

Liam Wildish recruits a team of local volunteers for some community action
21 year old Liam Wildish, the organiser of the ‘Big Retford Town Clean-up’

 

 

 

Litter-picking grabbers at the ready

His Facebook following soon grew and he used his newfound celebrity to launch his ‘Clean Up Retford Campaign’.   He jumped through all the hoops to organise a ‘Sunday Morning Clean Up’ and invited all those who could make it, to join him.  Having checked with the local council, he read out the ‘dos and donts’ and made everyone aware of the  ‘risks involved’ and then handed out hi-vis vests and litter-picking-grabbers!

Hi-vis vests, rubbish bags and litter-grabbers are handed out to the team at the start.
Hi-vis vests, rubbish bags and litter-grabbers are handed out to the team

A good crowd for a first community event

I estimate that approximately 20 people turned up, including some members of the local youth club, a dad with a baby strapped to his chest and even a few people from outside the area.

The team gets organised
Liam’s team gets organised with hi-vis vests, bags and grabbers

Many, many, many, cigarette butts

The litter pickers sorted themselves into small groups and broke off in different directions.   We were to return to the start-point in two hours.  Fortunately the day was fine and warm and friendly banter made the two hours fly by.  Many, many, many cigarette butts and at least twenty full bags of rubbish later, Liam’s first community action was complete.

A growing initiative

I am sure that this initiative will grow and that Liam’s next community event will receive even more support.  Credit due to the lad, he gives his time for free and his enthusiasm is infectious.  His intentions are good and he sets a fine example.  We need more Liams!

 

A member of Liam’s team cleaning up the town
Litter-pickers all over town

We shouldn’t have to rely on someone else to clean up our mess

Retford is an historic, Georgian market town in the Bassetlaw area of North Nottinghamshire and like every other small town it  faces struggles.  I think we all know that resources are scant and we can’t always rely on these already overstretched funds to keep our environment immaculately clean.  It is up to us as individuals to take responsibility for our actions.

the litter-pickers return with bags of rubbish
After two hours the litter-pickers return

If everyone did a little – the effect would be huge and we would all benefit

If only everyone would do just a little bit – like tidying up outside their own front door or outside their business – life would be so much sweeter.  It should only take a few minutes, it would be so worth it and the world be a better place… for everyone.

Every little helps, as some big supermarket once said.

The Barrister in Wonderland

A large red ‘pocket’ watch draped in ivy is set at a jaunty angle from the top shelf

A new member of the Barrister family

The new ‘Barrister in Wonderland’ is the latest arrival to the Barrister’s Book Chamber family https://barristersbookchamber.com.  It is entirely dedicated to children’s books all stocked in the new, cosy premises.  You will find it in rural North Notts https://www.northnotts.co.uk/.  But this is not your average high street shop. This member of the family-run business only sells books for kids -in a very imaginative way. ‘The Barrister in Wonderland’ sits on a busy thoroughfare.  It is bright, fun and instantly welcoming.  The perfect place to get lost with a new find.

The striking shop from of the new book shop in town, black and gold with an Alice in Wonderland tea party themed window display
The Barrister in Wonderland, a children’s books shop with a difference

So many children’s books

The ‘Barrister in Wonderland’ is at 66 Carol Gate in the heart of the historic market town of Retford.  As you might guess from its name, it reflects the classic story.  It is an adventure inside and out. This is an independent bookshop that specialises in only children’s books.  It aims to appeal to inquisitive minds.

Rows and rows of story books completely cover one wall
Story books galore

My own secret hiding place

The ‘Barrister’s Book Chamber’ itself arrived on the Retford high street eighteen months ago.  However, since then I have taken many friends and family to visit this ‘book shop with a tea shop’.  It is my ‘meeting place’ of choice.  There are nooks and crannies in which to get cosy with a cup of tea and a piece of cake… the cakes, well that’s a whole blog on its own!  So, I was very eager to meet the newest addition to the Barrister family.

Pink flamingos and strategically placed books making a striking display
The Alice in Wonderland tea party themed window

A real delight

This little gem is full of fun artwork, it covers every available surface.  A tea party is the centre of the window display… and also on the ceiling inside!  It is a sight to behold.  Children of all ages will be completely entranced.  There is even a ‘grassy’ area for kids to sit and sample new stories.  See if you can find the White Rabbit disappearing into a hole with his pocket watch.  I promise he is there but not quite where you might expect to find him.

A blue chair and a red table set for tea are secured upside down to the ceiling
A tea party on the ceiling!

 

Story book wall

An entire wall is filled with story books, both new and second-hand.  There is a ‘Young Reader’ section too with easy to find books all sorted alphabetically by author.  Board books for tinies for as little as £1.  Arranged around the counter are vintage and classic story books and annuals.  Then there is a reference or non-fiction section with history, science, maths, cookery, crafts… and of course, a teen fiction section.

An elaborate mirror, decorated with blue butterflies adds a very ‘Wonderland’ dimension to the shop
An elaborate mirror decorated with butterflies adds a different dimension to the shop

Souvenirs of the visit

Unique book-marks, page markers, story blocks and lots more can be purchased at pocket-money prices.  A nice reminder of a visit to a very special little book shop.

A tiny fairy door behind which is another fairy door - lit and decorated. It’s low down near the floor, easily accessible for little fingers
A tiny fairy door behind which is another fairy door – lit and decorated. It’s low down near the floor, easily accessible for little fingers

Open to suggestions

The ‘Barrister in Wonderland’ is a children’s bookshop with a difference.  The staff loves kids and kids’ books.  The manager, Laura, is keen to form relationships with local schools.  She would like to hear what her visitors want and will be led by them.  Events will be very much driven by what her customers want.

Shelves of books for Young Readers
The Young Readers section

Inspiration for young minds

This bookshop is completely child-friendly and is bound to inspire and entertain young readers.  It is jam-packed with brilliant characters, tall tales and wonderful stories.  The perfect place to get lost together in a book.

A full size chair and small chair with a table by the fire on a grassy patch
Take a seat by the fire to settle down with a good book

Something for every child

There are bright displays to entice young readers to choose their next read, from board books for babies, to thrillers for teens.  As a result there’s an eclectic collection with something for every child.

A large red ‘pocket’ watch draped in ivy is set at a jaunty angle from the top shelf
A very Wonderland clock

Bookish décor

The ‘Barrister in Wonderland’ is home to some of the cleverest, bookish decor you’ve ever seen.  It is easy to navigate and there’s plenty of space to browse.  Kids will love to explore the shelves and hand-pick their new favourite character.

A six foot high, higgledy-piggledy, stack of books are formed into in archway at the entrance of the shop
A higgledy-piggledy stack of books makes the perfect entrance into the shop

A comprehensive selection

This is a treasure trove of children’s books.  A boutique that has almost every genre of book to inspire young ones to dive into a story.  The in-the-know booksellers are eager to recommend the perfect story, which is sure to encourage a love of reading – in even the most reluctant of readers.

A box contains brown-paper wrapped books a cryptic message on the front, a pot luck blind date with a book
A unique idea – blind date with a book

A veritable treasure trove

This magical emporium is full of second-hand and new wares.  Vintage finds and treasures just waiting to be discovered.  It is exactly what it says above the door – a wonderland of books just for kids.  Perfect for those who want to immerse themselves in some classic and well-loved tales – at a pocket-money price!

Playing cards play an important role in the quirky decor
Quirky, Wonderland themed artwork

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t wait to see the look on the faces of my little ones when I take them to visit.  This is definitely something to do with the grandkids  https://thegrandparenthub.com/ when you visit North Notts https://www.innorthnotts.co.uk/

Coffee and Cake with Tracey Whitefoot, Photographer

A lavender field in France, row upon row of lavender plants in flower. The composition is symmetrical, with a lone tree on the mid-point of the horizon of the field. Taken by Tracey Whitefoot.

A stunning image

On my morning scroll-through Linkedin, a contact of mine, Susan Hallam of Hallam Internet, https://www.hallaminternet.com/ had posted an image that stopped me in my tracks.  It was a simple image taken in my home town, Nottingham.  It was predominantly the ‘Council House’, only slightly obscured by some Fothergill Watson architecture, which I visualised to be at the bottom of King Street.  

This is the image that stopped me in my tracks. My home city as I have never seen it before. Nottingham in all its glory, taken by Tracey Whitefoot.
This is the image that stopped me in my tracks, beautiful Nottingham, taken by Tracey Whitefoot

My home town

I could almost be on a vantage point looking down into the city-centre, perhaps on the roof of the Royal Concert Hall? At least that’s how it made me feel.  This image could have been taken anywhere in the world:  Istanbul, Prague, Bruges but no, it was Nottingham.  And how stunningly beautiful it looked too.

A popular post

I don’t usually share images, or any old article about marketing that I come across but this was different; this shouted ‘share me!’  It wasn’t long before my screen lit up with notifications.  Almost 40 likes and over 1000 views in a very short space of time.

I commented on the post and within minutes the photographer, Tracey Whitefoot, had responded to thank me.  I also noticed that she had replied to every single comment both previously and since.  

This is Tracey Whitefoot. she is wearing a pink coat and is holding her camera. It is taken at the Victoria Embankment, Nottingham by Joseph Raynor.
Tracey Whitefoot, photographer.
Taken by Joseph Raynor.

I went to Tracey’s website http://tracey-whitefoot.squarespace.com  and was blown away with her architecture and landscape images.  I wondered if she would agree to a chat over coffee and cake, which I could feature on my blog.  She didn’t hesitate, need any persuasion or even baulk at the 60 mile round trip either. Coffee and cake then at the Barrister’s Book Chamber https://barristersbookchamber.com/ in Retford, north Nottinghamshire.

Two hours just flew by

I had no idea what to expect – neither of us knew the other!  I need not have worried.  Tracey was easy to talk to and to listen to… she was relaxed and generously shared her story and her time with me.  She has achieved so much – and she is on the cusp of more adventures and even greater things.  It was clear that this was going to be no ordinary chat but a fascinating, rollercoaster ride!  

This is an image of Newstead Abbey, bathed in early, frosty, morning light. Evocative and moody taken by Tracey Whitefoot.
Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire, the ancestral home of Lord Byron, taken by Tracey Whitefoot.

It started as just a hobby

Tracey is a Nottingham lass, born and brought up in Chilwell and currently living and working out of Carlton.  Most of her work – the bread and butter – is marketing and PR photography, quite a bit of it for both the city and county councils and community-based stuff with colleges, theatres and the local press.  It had always been Tracey’s hobby and she had already made the decision to take up photography professionally but an opportunity came through a colleague .  She was pushed to get out and take some pictures for someone that her friend thought would be a good contact.  It worked and she began to get paid photography work.

Anything that came in after that, if she didn’t have the skill level required, she would do lots of prep and dummy runs the day before!

An image of white tulips taken from an unusual angle. Looking into the sky from the base of the flowers. The light plays an import part in this picture taken by Tracey Whitefoot.
Tulips and light by Tracey Whitefoot’s

Around the world

Tracey went to Australia for the first time in 1998 and worked as a ‘Jillaroo’ on a cattle station.  After which, much of her early career was spent in sales and then after selling the house she returned to Australia in 2004/2005.  She has been all over the world with her camera.  She has no formal training although she did think about it briefly but she was doing quite well enough without it.

I had questions prepared that I thought I should ask but they somehow seemed to be irrelevant.  Like, ‘which photographers does she admire?’  She says that she has great respect for her peers and other female photographers making a living as a professional – like Birmingham-based Verity Milligan and Lincolnshire-born, wildlife photographer Chris Weston, who was a great help when Tracey started out, his books helped her with a lot of the technical aspects of photography. 

The million dollar question

And then, ‘what makes a good picture?’  Her answer, I now see, is staggeringly obvious; ‘the light’ was her response.  This is what makes her get up so early in the morning, this is what motivates her.  It is clear in all her compositions and landscapes that this is the most important thing to her – the light!  Sunrises, shadows, sunsets and shafts of light.  She will go to any lengths for the right light to get the shot that she wants… and it shows.  Visit her website and see for yourself!  ‘The light’ is her motivation.  It doesn’t really matter where, as long as the light is right.

Prolific and vibrant images

If today is stressful then treat yourself to a few moments of calm… look at Tracey’s images on http://Www.alamy.com search for lavender and you will be immediately transported to the lavender fields in France.  You can almost smell the perfume!

A lavender field in France, row upon row of lavender plants in flower. The image is symmetrical, with a lone tree on the mid-point of the horizon of the field and of course, the light. Taken by Tracey Whitefoot.
French lavender and of course, the light, taken by Tracey Whitefoot.

Tracey’s enthusiasm and love of light and life are contagious, she has a real energy.  She says she’s ‘bonkers’, I say she’s a genius!

The next big thing

Her next adventure in search of light will take her to Everest basecamp in 2020.  I for one, can’t wait to see the what she captures there. But then I hope she soon returns to Nottinghamshire’s best kept secret that is Pilgrim Country, perhaps she will find light here too.

If it’s enthusiasm, energy… and light you want, talk to Tracey.

You can buy Tracey’s work to hang on your wall too, it will inspire you.  Please visit her website, you will not be disappointed http://tracey-whitefoot.squarespace.com

The Tradition of the Clayworth Plough Plays

An image of three of the main protagonists, the Clown, the Sergeant and Eezum-Squeezum

Plough Monday

Plough Monday can be traced right back to medieval times.  It traditionally saw the return to work after the break for Christmas, especially in northern and eastern England.  The traditions for Plough Monday varied from village to village.  Plough Monday was originally the first Monday after the twelfth day of Christmas, 6 January.  Epiphany.

An image of the Clown
The Clown

A unique tradition

The tradition very nearly disappeared during World War 1 and then again in the Second World War.  Credit is due to the players and the landlords of both village pubs for upholding this unique tradition.

The Sergeant in his bright red coat
Enter the Sergeant

Plough Sunday

Naturally, the day before Plough Monday is not surprisingly known as Plough Sunday.  This tradition more often than not, now takes place in Clayworth, North Nottinghamshire, on the third Sunday of January.   

An image of three of the main protagonists, the Clown, the Sergeant and Eezum-Squeezum
The Clown, the Sergeant and Old Eezum-Squeezum

The death of the earth

In medieval times and in the dead of winter it was thought that the earth ‘died’ and there was a possibility that nothing would ever grow again. It was difficult to believe that the earth would ever wake up and again provide food.. 

A battle between Light and Dark, Good and Evil, Life and Death

I am lucky enough to live in the village of Clayworth in north Nottinghamshire, England where the most well-known of these plays still takes place.  The ‘script’ is usually a bit of nonsense but has a hidden, topical message somewhere within.   A pretend battle is fought between Light and Darkness.  Darkness is killed and then brought back to life by some miracle. The death of the Old Year and the arrival of the New Year is symbolised in this tableau.

The village pubs

This year the play was performed as usual in the surrounding villages on the Friday before Plough Sunday. 

The Blacksmith’s Arms in Clayworth     https://www.blacksmithsclayworth.com/ and the Brewers Arms, also in Clayworth,  http://www.brewersarmsclayworth.co.uk/  both play host to the Plough Play on Plough Sunday.

An image of The Blacksmith’s Arms, one of Clayworth’s pubs to host the Plough Play
The Blacksmith’s Arms, one of Clayworth’s pubs which hosts the Plough Play

 

An image of the Brewer’s Arms, one of Clayworth’s pubs to host the Plough Play
The Brewer’s Arms at Clayworth who also play Bost to the Plough Play

It gets very busy

The bar at the Brewers’ begins to fill from 12.15pm and by 12.45pm when the players arrive, it is absolutely heaving. Get there early, get a drink and a seat… and if you think ahead book for Sunday lunch, you won’t be disappointed.

Old Eezum-Squeezum

A fiddler and an accordionist enter the pub, followed at different times by the players: the Clown, the Plough ‘boy’, the ‘Horse’, the Soldier, Old Eezum-Squeezum (sometimes known as Beelzebub), and the Doctor.  Sounds bizarre and yes it is, but highly entertaining and amusing with rhymes and short songs which have been  passed down through the years.  There is even a sword dance! 

It was once common for those who took part in these plays to blacken their faces as a disguise.  They might also include something to associate with nature in their costumes such as a flower or feathers.

A Morris-cum-Sword dance takes place in a very confined space
A Morris/Sword dance in a confined space

3D9E7B1B-7177-407C-B39D-7B9C81EDEEFF

Click here for a taster

Eezum-Squeezum lies dead on the floor surrounded by all the other Plough Players
Eezum-Squeezum – dead on the floor!

It’s a miracle!

The climax of the play is the fight between Light and Dark,  Good and Evil, Life and Death.  It culminates in the slaying of Darkness (Old Eezum-Squeezum) – who is usually brought back to life by ‘the Doctor’ – and everyone lives happily ever after – with a pint in hand!

An image of Bessie singing her lament
Bessie… or Bill Oddie!

Good luck, fertility and wealth

The play brings together farmers and villagers.  The purpose of the play is to bring luck, fertility and wealth.  You need to be there in order to get your share, so put the date in your diary for 2020!

Poppies… to remind us to remember

Bright red poppy transfers which look like tattoos on the back if our hands

Poppies – Grandpa 1914…

Poppies, to remind us to remember.

My Grandpa was in the Royal Navy during the First World War.  He was injured and ‘invalided out’.  He suffered ‘brainstorms’.  As  a young child my memories of him are that I was not allowed to ‘run around’ near him, or make too much noise.

The war to end all wars.

…and Dad 1939

My Dad was also in the Royal Navy throughout the Second World War.  My sadness is that he is no longer here to talk to about it.  I can’t say much about his war as he never spoke of it.  Although I do know that he was ‘shelled’ and suffered injuries but that’s about it.

The Tower of London

In  November 2014 – we visited ‘The Weeping Window’ at the Tower of London.  It was poignant. https://www.paulcumminsceramics.com/  This was the beginning of four years’ of commemoration.

The ‘Weeping Window’ art  installation was commissioned to commemorate the centenary of the beginning of WW1 in 1914.  It had a profound impact. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Swept_Lands_and_Seas_of_Red  .

This set the tone.  The country remembered the huge sacrifice paid by so many.  We have so much to be grateful for – freedom and democracy.

The Tower by Night

Weeping Window, London 2014
Nightfall at the ‘Weeping Window’ Tower of London, 2014

And in the morning…

It was an emotional atmosphere as visitors filed, quietly along the walkway.  Night fell on the poppies.

And in the morning, the sun shone on the vibrant, red artwork.  The impact was magnified.

Weeping Window, London 2014
The sun rises on the ‘Weeping Window’ display at the Tower of London

The entire country caught poppy fever

Later in 2014 we visited St Mary’s church in Whitby and saw the Christmas Tree Festival.  It had a thought-provoking,  poppy-themed tree. It outshone its neighbours.

British Legion Poppy Christmas Tree
A striking British Legion Christmas tree on display at St Mary’s Church Christmas Tree Festival, Whitby 2014

And poppies in 2018…

Now poppies are appearing everywhere and rightly so.  All along the highways, on cars, dogs, houses and shops.

There are many thoughtful and creative ways to pay tribute to all those who did not return home from conflict.  Nottinghamshire village signs and lampposts are particularly vibrant as they catch the low, autumn sunlight.

Nottinghamshire village name signs with poppy
Nottinghamshire villages get their own extra large poppy

Even our house wears a poppy

Large poppy
Our house has its own personal poppy

As this four year period draws to a close, there will be many more commemorations.   Although when we think of poppies we generally think of the British Legion but it is not just poppies, for which https://britishlegion.org.uk

It provides support for the Armed Forces community – serving men and women, veterans, and their families.

Bright red Poppy transfers that look like tattoos

Not just poppies

It is not just poppies that will help us to remember this year.  A coordinated peel of bells across the country is planned https://www.gov.uk/government/news/nations-bells-to-ring-out-together-to-mark-armistice-centenary plus many services of remembrance.  I imagine that such events will see a greater attendance than in previous years.

Say goodbye on the beach

Melanie Hill, Jeremy Irons and Danny Boyle are marking the date by inviting people to gather on beaches around the UK – to say ‘Thank you and Goodbye’  https://seachangearts.org.uk/2018/11/jeremy-irons-invites-you-to-join-danny-boyle-and-thousands-of-people-on-11-november-to-mark-one-hundred-years-since-armistice-and-the-end-of-the-first-world-war-gather-on-gorleston-beach-and-beaches/

Or where it all began four years ago

‘Beyond the Deepening Shadow’ at the Tower of London https://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/explore/the-tower-remembers/#gs.xEJnvoM

I shall be with my grandsons

On this armistice day I will share it with my grandsons.  They will be representing the uniformed organisations at their village church.

I have a foot in the past and a stake in the future.

All we have to do is remember, that’s all

However we choose to remember it is important this year, more than most, that we continue to remember.

Poppies the symbol of Remembrance – to remind us to remember to be grateful to those who fought for our democracy and freedom – but did not come home.

Still on the run!

Still on the run…

I actually made it.  I did run the whole programme of Couch to 5K https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/get-inspired/43501261.   Graduated and everything.  Running was going to be my new thing to stop me from becoming a blob.  But then a holiday got in the way.  Yes, that meant not even one run for over two weeks.  There was a lot of walking and healthy eating too but no runs.  So I should have been right back into it but I hadn’t reckoned on the battering that jet-lag would give me.  Many times I was wide awake at 3am and then solid-gone at 8am, couldn’t seem to get back into the circadian rhythm.

Trainers
Put those trainers on

Up and running

The jet-lag faded eventually and I made it, up and out at 8am but it was so hard!  My legs felt heavy, it was like running through treacle.  I managed two runs before I was knocked back again.  This time it was the ‘mother and father’ of all head-colds. It robbed me of a week of my life – and running!

Take a step back

Back with the programme again. The run this morning provided me with a moment of clarity.  It came to me in a flash.  Just start again.  Well, not quite at the beginning but right back to week 5 of ‘Couch to 5K’.  A major step backwards but it makes perfect sense! Take the pressure off, build it back up again.

Run selfie
I’m out there on the run

Draw up a plan

However, it’s important that I stay focused as it is the local ‘Pilgrim Fun Run’ in six weeks. I rashly suggested to my daughter and daughter-in-law that we all do it together, we might even enlist the grandchildren.  There are approximately 50 days to the ‘run’ – it is possible that there could be at least 20 training runs between now and then.  This is a positive event to work towards.  Although I do have more holidays that ‘might’ get in the way.  I must try to incorporate some training into those periods too.

Trainers on
Memories of the first run – three months ago

The Pilgrim Fun Run

The Pilgrim Fun Run takes place in Retford, North Notts https://www.innorthnotts.co.uk/events-this-week/icalrepeat.detail/2018/11/25/79061/-/the-pilgrim-fun-run-2018-in-retford

The Pilgrim Fathers originated from this area and left for America almost 400 years ago.  There will be an almighty celebration of that event around these parts in 2020 https://pilgrimroots.org/

The Book Club

The original Barrister’s Book Chamber

A new book shop opened in town just before Christmas last year ‘The Barrister’s Bookchamber’ https://barristersbookchamber.com/   This shop has a very interesting, unique and Dickensian style.  It sells all kinds of books: antique, vintage, used, old, secondhand, paperbacks, hardbacks, fact and fiction in fact you name it and they probably have a copy of it… yes, even ‘Fly Fishing’ by J R Hartley.

The shop is Angela Rowntree’s baby, a barrister herself, who wanted to recreate the feel of a genuine Victorian barrister’s chamber just like her own used to be.  

The opening of the new establishment was a Dickensian affair too with Ebenezer Scrooge ‘greeting’ the constant stream of intrigued townsfolk.  All books very reasonably priced so a purchase had to be made.  I knew my son would love the very old and battered copy of ‘A Christmas Carol’.

Ebenezer Scrooge at the opening of the original book shop

The look of the shop has been very thoughtfully put together and the atmosphere is cosy, warm and inviting – particularly as it has a tea room which sells the most amazing cakes.  The urge to sit a while to stay and read is irresistible.

A search on Facebook found their page and very quickly the Bookchamber was posting about writing and poetry workshops, children’s book-themed parties, as well as guest author events and eventually the announcement that the Barrister’s Bookchamber was to start its own Book Club.  First meeting to be held early in the New Year. Was I interested? Yes, I was.

An all-female group (although a man has subsequently joined us) turned up from diverse backgrounds and with varied tastes in literature.  Introductions over, the first book was chosen ‘The Collector’ by John Fowles.  I think it would be safe to say that the following month, the group was fairly evenly split on their appraisal of the book, it was a bit – Marmite!  We have just had our August meeting to discuss ‘1984’ by George Orwell – it turned into a lively, political debate with some incredible insights and comparisons.  In between we have read Oscar Wilde, Gail Honeyman, Clare Douglas, Fiona Barton and Marian Keyes – an eclectic selection.  I think the only book we have unanimously enjoyed together is ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman, which seems to be every book club’s read of the moment.

It was as we discussed the latter that I came clean and confessed that I had not actually read the book but that I  had listened to it on ‘Audible’ https://www.audible.co.uk/ Audible is a guilty pleasure of mine, it means I can ‘get lost’ without having to sit down or go to bed!  I can walk for miles, do the ironing, clean the bathroom, cook, bake – enjoy two pleasures at the same time!  I had expected hands to be thrown up in horror but they weren’t, in fact it was no big deal.  Don’t misunderstand me, I do love ‘actual books’ and I do read ‘actual books’ but ever since childhood, I have loved being read to and enjoy just… listening.

The Book Club has introduced me to new people, new books, new views and even new friends… and a shop full of amazing books, which I can either listen to or read.

All is safely gathered in. (Winter is coming!)

 

Harvesting in the dark

Update: Harvesting in the dark

On the way home from a night out – the farmers are still harvesting.

The hubster and I went out for out for a wander yesterday afternoon.  We could hear the distant hum of the combine harvester.

You may have seen a couple of images on Twitter @SavourtheMomen1 and Instagram @Sharon28.sr. Here they are again:

Clouds of dust heading our way

Townies!

We are relatively new to this area.   It is still an absolute delight and a wonder to see the continual change in the fields around us.  This incredible summer has provided the most amazing fields of gold.  Our neighbours might well take this for granted as they have always lived in this environment – but they are far more in tune with the change in the seasons than we are.

Combine harvester up close and loud

Harvest dust gets everywhere

Our bird’s eye view was from the nearby canal towpath.  Several vehicles: combines, grain collectors and even bigger grain collectors, followed by bailers, all work together like partners in a dance.  The huge expanse of barley (yes I can recognise it now) was ‘done’ in little under an hour.  Great clouds of light-brown dust billowed up and made its way across the canal.  It left its tell-tale film on the water, to be absorbed overnight to sink to the bottom.  We took shelter behind a hawthorn hedge.  Even so everything, yes everything, inside and outside the house… and the car, has a light covering of beige dust.  I suppose it goes with the territory!

Harvesting barley

A different way of life

The machine operators certainly know what they’re doing and understand the crops, the land and the weather.  At this time of year and in this area, there is no such thing as an eight-hour working day.  The headlights of the vehicles in the fields can be seen as they work into the night.  At a guess I would say it is probably three solid weeks of working 18/20 hour days.  I could be wrong, it might be more.

Then comes the tractor.  They pull huge trailers of hay stacked so high they barely make it under the bridges.  They shower the roads and paths with yellow confetti. 

The harvest is almost finished now and the moon will soon shine on the freshly harvested fields to turn the gold into silver.

Almost done

It will always continue to fascinate.  It really is a spectacle to see.  I recommend that you take the time to go and look for yourself, before it is too late.

Hats off to the farmers.

A Walk with Alpacas

A very unique gift

I received a very unique gift-experience for my birthday, from a very thoughtful friend.   A walk with alpacas.  I took this opportunity to take two of my grandchildren to share the experience, to Treswell, Nottinghamshire, England.

Getting to know the alpacas
Getting to know the alpacas

A passion for alpacas

A husband and wife team, with a passion for alpacas, look after a small-holding ‘OrionTree’ https://oriontree.uk/  They are specialist breeders and keep their herd small.  Anyone who wishes to try one of their experiences is guanteed a hands-on encounter with a difference.

Me and my alpaca
A walk with alpacas

Chalk and cheese

Eight year old Evie and five year old Jack couldn’t wait to meet the alpacas.  Jack loves all kinds of animals and was eager to get stuck in.  Evie, on the other hand, is a little more reserved and preferred to ‘just help Grandma’.

An image of one of the alpacas ready for his walk
One of the alpacas ready for his walk

A calm and gentle nature

Alpacas are beautiful, friendly creatures with a very calm and gentle nature.  They make exceptionally easy walking companions and the team at Oriontree can adapt the walk to suit but they generally stick to a routine. 

Jack with James the alpaca
Confidently walking with my alpaca

Hello boys

After a short introduction the machos (alpaca boys) are brought out.  We were each paired with our alpaca and off we went.  Both children were entranced with their partners from the beginning and it wasn’t long before Grandma’s help was no longer needed. 

A confident little girl leading her alpaca
I can do this

Snack break

A short break at the half-way point provided the opportunity for Jack to ask all his questions.  He needed to know about the alpacas’ teeth and the difference between alpacas and llamas and countless other things.   All questions were patiently and knowledgeably answered by our hostess.  Meanwhile ‘the boys’  chomped their way through a box full of snacks, fed to them by the Evie and Jack.

Alpacas are beautiful, gentle creatures
Alpacas are beautiful, gentle creatures

An absolute delight

It was a very unique experience.  We all learnt a lot and it was a pleasure to be in the company of such beautiful creatures, especially in the lovely, North Nottinghamshire countryside.  https://www.innorthnotts.co.uk/

 

A walk with alpacas in the wonderful Nottinghamshire countryside?

I would highly recommend.

Why is Nordic Walking so Good for You?

An image Nordic Walkers wrapped up in winter gear, heading out for a walk

Find out why Nordic Walking is so good for you!

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.

An image Nordic Walkers wrapped up in winter gear, heading out for a walk
A group of enthusiastic Nordic Walkers striding out into the countryside

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.

Nordic Walking poles with spikes tucked away and the hand loops can be clearly seen here with their velcro straps
Nordic Walking poles with spikes tucked away and the hand loops can be clearly seen here with their velcro straps

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!

An image of a group of cheerful, Nordic Walkers taking a break
An opportunity to make new friends

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.

A view across the lake at Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire, England
Clumber Park, a picturesque and tranquil place to practice Nordic walking 
Clumber Park, National Trust, Nottinghamshire England
Clumber Park, National Trust, Nottinghamshire England
Woodland walks at Clumber Park, National Trust, North Nottinghamshire, England
Woodland walks at Clumber Park, National Trust, North Nottinghamshire, England

Finish with a stretch

A fifty minute walk through the woods later and we were back to where we started for a ‘stretch’.

A view of Clumber Park, chapel from acrosss the lake
A view of Clumber Park, chapel from acrosss the lake

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?

The picturesque lake at Clumber Park, North Nottinghamshire, England
The picturesque lake at Clumber Park, North Nottinghamshire, England

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.