Memories Of Dad

The rain has been beating down hard against the house in such rage that I went to inspect: it was a hailstorm, on the 2nd of May. My Dad, Jack Rushton, was always in tune with nature, more so than he sometimes was with people. He’d have known if the hail was unusual at this time of year or par for the course. He would have been 90 today. He died too early by any standards: my sister and I never got the chance to relate to him with truly adult minds. Of course some of his messages stay with me.

Bluebells growing on a woodland bank

His love of plants, animals and nature placed the natural world at the centre of things. He knew that English bluebells were the delicate ones, with flowers that hung from just one side of the scape.

He helped make sure my sister and I had the kind of childhood where climbing trees, inspecting stones in streams, crossing moorland, hanging around other people’s allotments, collecting horse pooh for roses, growing plants from seeds, cramming the yard full of so many pots you could hardly wind your way through it, and dissecting owl pellets to see what they had eaten would always seem normal. Continue reading

Where to See Snowdrops In Lancashire In 2019

Snowdrops with long outer petals

February is snowdrop month for much of the UK. I’ve gathered a list of places you can see snowdrops this month in my home county, Lancashire, with details of their snowdrop open days. If you’re planning to take close up pictures, go sooner rather than later to catch them at their freshest.

For those who live elsewhere in Britain, I’ve added a link at the bottom for you to research local gardens with good collections of snowdrops.  Continue reading

Winter View Of Roddlesworth and Tockholes

Winter trees in silhouette

Trees, silhouetted against sky and Roddlesworth reservoir

“Large and varied, mostly deciduous wood leading to lively, attractive river and reservoirs at bottom of hill. Several visits required to see it all.” – Woodland Trust website 

This picture was taken on an alternative version of our Pie walk. My eye was taken by the effect of the colours and the horizontal and vertical lines. The setting sun’s dim, winter light simplified the scene, adding an unusual atmosphere.  Continue reading

First Wintry Walk Of 2018: To Darwen Tower

Brambles and moss, covered in frost

A New Year’s walk up to Darwen’s Jubilee Tower has become a tradition. I’ve been a little under the weather over the holidays (just a nasty cold), so when we finally took the plunge, it felt extra-good to brave the fresh, winter air and get out for some exercise.

Darwen Tower

Darwen Tower may look warm under the glow of late afternoon sun, but anyone who has ever made the climb will vouch for the wind chill factor up there, even on a summer’s day. Continue reading

Listening To A Riff; Capturing A Moment

The Two Hats Blues Band

Music makes me happy, and live music can be the best of all. I’m fascinated to watch musicians listen to each other on stage as they take turns to riff. It’s one of many added benefits of live music.

You’ll see all degrees of listening – in-the-mood in the main, but also respect, surprise, the odd wince, right through to definitely-thinking-about-something-else. Naming no names, of course, for civility’s sake. In most cases they’ve heard it all before, often.

I loved how these blues players listened with intensity, as if they were hearing each other play for the first time. The stage lights had simplified their colours to blues and magentas and the steel guitar had become abstract, rippling gold.  Continue reading

Today Was A Good Day | My first Mesh!

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A Jubilee tower, built in 1898, overlooks my home town, Darwen, seemingly to tempt walkers on to the moors. Getting up there involves what real ramblers call a moderate climb, which translates to quite steep for a good bit of the way. Despite this, it’s very popular locally – you’ll be sure to meet families, couples, joggers, mountain bike riders and dog walkers, young and old, with varying levels of fitness.  Continue reading

Weekly photo challenge: bluebell blur

Bluebell meadow

Bluebells. For me, they’re a sign of home. My tiny garden is so full of the sturdy, Spanish ones that I can’t plant anything else without digging a few up, no matter how careful I try to be.

We stumbled upon these ones growing wild on Darwen moor, not far from Sunnyhurst Woods, on our way to the Jubilee Tower last spring. A field of bluebells is enough to stop even the most experienced of ramblers in their tracks. It makes me happy to think that this year’s flowers aren’t far away now. Continue reading