4 May 2014

Rambling

Entering Alton
Yesterday was lovely. A sapphire blue sky with only the occasional cotton wool cloud and springtime's new growth  illuminated by a fiery orb that is thankfully 93 million miles from our planet. I was walking south of Chesterfield, having parked up by the disused methodist church in the village of Alton.

After a mile or two I found myself in the middle of a field of bright yellow rapeseed. It stood almost as tall as me and the public footpath which traversed that hillside was almost hidden by the yellowness:- 

At Holmgate, I asked an old lady where the path was. I could see it on my map. She pointed to an ancient stone stile by the edge of her extensive lawns. We stood and jawed for a while and she was one of those people that I could have comfortably conversed with for hours. We were like a pair of shoes. She was in her late eighties. She said something like this - "When you are young you waste time. You squander it. You've got to live each day - make the most of your life so that you end your days with few regrets". She was envious of my walking route in the spring sunshine and sad that she would never again enjoy such a self-propelled journey. Arthritic pain was in her eyes as well as her bones.
Holmgate House
By Stocksmoor Farm I saw a bench under an old oak tree. Carved into the top board were these words - "What is this life if full of care we have no time to sit and stare". Not "stand" but "sit". And there was also a little brass plaque with - rather oddly - a blogspot address:  http://nicksbench.blogspot.co.uk. This wasn't a memorial bench as such but a rather attractive way of marking a fiftieth birthday that passed in 2012 - Nick Luft's birthday in fact.
Nick's bench
More beautiful bluebells in woods then along by Redcar Hillside to Bole Hill. Down to the valley and to the gates of Press Manor. Somewhere amidst its stonework a vicious Jack Russell must have caught my scent or heard my footsteps on the gravel. It came sprinting like Billy Whizz, barking aggressively, completely ignoring my "good boys". I was over a stile into the adjacent field but still this little Hitler advanced. I was tempted to boot him in the air like a canine football but then I heard The Lord of the Manor behind the hedge - "Come here Rufus!" and reluctantly the betoothed mini-wolf retreated. I was saved...but so was Rufus!

Down to Press Reservoirs and through Northedge Hall Farm, passing a long-abandoned stone quarry on the way back to Alton where I spotted two manageable stone lintels in the nettles by my car. They had surely been left there long ago when the old church had been a stone mason's shed for a period of time. I weighed up the morality of the situation and then heaved them into the boot (American: trunk) pledging to give them a new life as edging stones in our garden. They were very grateful to be out of that nettle bed - lying forlorn by the side of the road for years. But now they are rescued.
Press Manor 
Track to Northedge Hall Farm

17 comments:

  1. Stone lintels ~ wow ~ look forward to seeing them in situ at Pudding Towers. Gee, I hope the authorities don't read your blog.

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    1. Of course "the authorities" read my blog and I have heard it is very popular in the techno-dungeons of The Pentagon. Hiya guys! They also read your blog Carol and everybody's else's. The continuation of The Free World is at stake!

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    1. Well thank you Helen - and so are you!

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  3. How good of you to have rescued those poor neglected stone lintels! I am sure they will thrive in their new surroundings.

    Holmgate House looks like the kind of place I would love to live in. Not too big, but big enough, handsomely proportioned.

    The picture of the overgrown footpath in the rapeseed field is wonderful! And how nice to come across a blogger's bench!

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    1. Why not pick up on the bench idea Arian and have the first blogger's bench in Germany? I am sure that many Baden-Württemberg men would line up to rest upon it.

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  4. Not only a free walk in wonderful weather but free stone lintels as well. I look forward to seeing them in their new environment.

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    1. Given Carol's point I am wary about presenting what could be incriminating evidence. Derbyshire Constabulary please understand that I was merely fantasising about the stone lintels. In fact this entire blog is a fiction and I am really called Adrian - a modern day gipsy currently terrorising Scottish birds. My camper van registration number is ADE 1938.

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  5. YP:

    I believe the poem stanza you happened upon is from a poet born in Wales,
    William Henry Davies, called "Leisure":

    What is this life if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare.

    No time to stand beneath the boughs
    And stare as long as sheep or cows.

    No time to see, when woods we pass,
    Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

    No time to see, in broad daylight,
    Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

    No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
    And watch her feet, how they can dance.

    No time to wait till her mouth can
    Enrich that smile her eyes began.

    A poor life this if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare.


    Regards,

    Reamus

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  6. And yes, I realize (realise) the "sit" replaced the "stand."
    Still a favorite of mine.
    R

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    1. Nice to read the poem all the way through Reamus. Its sentiments resonate with most people for even when we are on the treadmill of modern life we know that there are better ways to live.

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  7. Keep on ramblin'. I enjoy your walks through the English country side.

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    1. Well just for you Red, I promise to report on future rambles. I am so glad you like my reports.

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  8. It wasn't a nice day to be out and about here yesterday...the sky was blue and clear, but there was a very chilly westerly wind a-blowing...and that brought the chill factor right down.

    Today the wind has dropped; the sky is sparkling and clear; and I'm still not out and about because I had things to do inside!

    Love your pics...also so wonderfully inviting. :)

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    1. Walking is a tonic for both mind and body. I guess that there are far less public footpaths in Australia's countryside but I hope my rambles inspire you - jut a little bit - to get out there and walk.

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  9. YP, it was such a glorious day on Saturday and I too posted my pictures from my own walk that day, but so enjoyed seeing yours and 'hearing' you recount your adventure.

    I can't decide whether I agree with the notion of a blogger's bench or not; on the one hand, you met this wonderful lady who regrets those moments that she allowed to drift by and encourages those who are able to use their time wisely, and on the other a man of only fifty who celebrates by erecting a place intended for inactivity. Whilst I agree wholeheartedly with pausing to take in the world with all our senses - and grew up with Davies' poem set into the stone wall of the village where many of my relatives are buried - I also know how atrophying it can be if we spending too much time 'staring' and not enough doing. I so hope that Nick doesn't sit too long but wanders beyond his seat to discover the wonderful, amazing, glorious world that lies outside his view from it. There needs to be a balance.

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    1. Interesting reflections Elizabeth. I hadn't thought of it that way. Thank you.

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