Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Edition of RED BOXES

Well, it has been asked for, even been ordered before being written, but now the first batch of the new book should be here this week, The New Edition of When Phones were Immobile and Lived in Red Boxes has four new chapters and extra illustrations. It follows my marriage at Beeston for three years and then our move to Loughborough. The birth of our three sons, my husband's redundancy and our move to the Furness region of what is now Cumbria.
This new edition costs £7.50 and postage is free within the UK. That is if ordered through Magpies Nest Publishing. It can also be bought at Ulverston's The Tinners Rabbit Bookshop, or ordered at any good bookshop. 978-0-9548885-8-9

It was fun to write and so much more could have been added — maybe for the next edition?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cockermouth Before the Flood

Two years ago we were on holiday in the more northern areas of Cumbria and we spent a day in Cockermouth. The town looked like a typical small town that existed when we were much younger. The riverside walk was quite splendid and made us determined to visit the town again in the not-too-distant future.
Now that delightful town has been hit by the worst rain for many years. Views of Cockermouth under water have frequently splashed across out TV. No doubt, many people, including around the world, have seen these dreadful pictures. I decided to show folk the other Cockermouth, one with a delightful river walk and that will ever live in our memory as a splendid place to visit when touring Lakeland. Words are not needed - the photos speak for themselves.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Morning Bliss

For me there is something spiritual about November skies as the sun rises and streams of golden light touch the earth. Shades of blue from turquoise to slate blue-grey, and soft billowing clouds touched with golden beige. I was so much in awe that it had to be captured by my camera.
The scene is quite different looking SW. As we sit in our bay window with my hubby reading to me, I am free to soak in the subtle beauty of both sky and garden. A side window opposite where I sit, reflects the sun's rays bursting through the trees behind me like a many faceted diamond. But the sunbeam soon goes behind trees. Even so, there is much to gaze at with an inner eye. All this and being read to as well!
A few years ago, I used to take our dog (no longer with us) for a walk up Hoad Hill. I would take a break at Little Hoad and sit on the seat to take in the sea and sky. What magic when clouds split open to release a beam of light on to the dark sea. Gold, silver, precious jewels? They are free for all with eyes to see.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November Jewels — My Ulverston Home

A few roses in the garden — in November!
But it is the foliage, glowing like an Impressionist painting, that brings joy to the whole scene.
And yesterday, a light frost glittering in the early morning sunlight, with shimmering diamonds on dark evergreens and shrubbery. Such beauty made my heart sing in praise!
Ah yes, and crisp russet leaves — more sweeping up for hubby to do!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rainbows over Derbyshire

November when it's raining is not a particularly good time to be walking in Derbyshire, but WOW what rainbows we managed to capture. I guess when things are dark and drab, looking for a rainbow is not a bad thing to do.
Last Saturday in Ulverston a trail of little lights (candles in jars covered with sculptured pots) made its way through woods at the Gill, Ulverston. SPOOKY! Lovely for the kids on Halloween. But we were off to Derbyshire, hoping for a bit of walking. We dodged a few showers in Chatsworth woods but that was the only walk we managed during our short birthday break. But visiting Cromford near Matlock, magnificent rainbows appeared stretched over the valley in full half-circles.
There is something about a rainbow that gladdens the heart...
As the old hymn goes —
'I trace a rainbow through the rain
and find the promise is not vane
that life shall endless be...

You don't have to be particularly religious to see beauty in nature, or to appreciate the imagery of light cutting through the darkness. Dark clouds will pass - somewhere the sun is shining. When I feel down, I find rainbows uplifting.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Autumn in Ulverston

A lovely sunny day in early autumn, and what better place to spend it than in our own area?
Last week we walked part way up the Hoad but the day after we found our feet covered in itchy bumps, some turning to blisters in spite of medication. So we did not take the walk today. We had a stroll along the Gill footpath, always a delight any time of the year. On the railings we spied the imaginative pottery plaques, made by locals at one of our local resident Geoff Dellow's pottery sessions (open to all). Geoff is one of a number of people in this town who work for the good of all. The Gill footpath follows the path of a bubbling stream, which, years ago, helped power Ulverston's water mills. It is a grand walk any time of the year, but the bronze, golds and copper of autumn, under a clear blue sky, show the scenery in full glory. A touch of heaven. Back home and a cup of tea. What more could a couple of oldies ask for?
Photos taken today on the edge of Ulverston.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Self Image. Who Am I? What Am I?

I recently cleared a lot of stuff out of the attic. Precious blocks and patterns from my designer years, Boxes of fabric that have come in handy for many things, a set of Nativity costumes used in school performances, school stuff generally. And from my bookshelves a host of books used for study - degree, diplomas and certificates. Books related to Divinity, Sociology, Psychology, Education, History etc etc. Remnants of my past life as a Designer, Teacher, Lay Minister. Stuff I kept thinking I might write a novel set in Victorian times or maybe in the era of Roman conquest. These are like the framework of personas that came and went away. Now I write. Little different to saying, 'I paint'. I have pictures around the house and my books on my shelves. Who am I? What am I? Questions we all ask ourselves at some stage of our lives.

I looked through the photo album to find a photograph that seemed the most relevant at this stage of my life. I decided on this one. Looking forward. I am standing alone, and that is the way it has been in most of what I have done and achieved — academically and in the workplace. But I am not alone in my life. Does our work define who we are? To me that is a side issue. I am a wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, a homemaker, friend and neighbour. If we cling to what was, what might have been, to faded hopes and dreams, the 'stuff in the attic of our lives' then we miss the scene around us and the joys that may well lie ahead.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Let There Be Light! — Sunset at Barrow, Lantern Procession at Ulverston

We had a later-than-usual meal at Morrisons last week. I'm glad we did. When we left the building we were completely awestruck. The sky was ablaze with gold and reds. We took this snapshot looking across the car park towards the high-level bridge. You can just see a little gold beyond. From the top of the bridge the gold reflected in the water, along with the rest of the brilliant colours, but we were in the car and best not to stop on the bridge to admire the view. Although the sun was setting, the brilliant colours were with us all the way home, along with silhouettes of the changing landscape. My soul was uplifted with the joy of it. AWESOME!
Awesome too, but in a different way, was the Lantern procession through Ulverston last Saturday evening. Magnificent work done by adults and children in the creation of huge paper lanterns following the theme of Alice in Wonderland. A table complete with Alice and friends, the queen, hare, cat, and many other characters, plus hats galore and playing cards. Amazing what can be done with cane and paper with candle inside. The whole parade swept along by bands and drums. Literally, hundreds of walkers (including some on stilts) holding lanterns and forming a stream of bobbing light through the streets of the town. Amazing!
The beauty of it all was the family atmosphere — adults and children, babes in arms and in prams — a wonderful community spirit! Well done, all concerned.
A great firework display completed the evening, but even that could not outdo the wonder of what can be done through personal creativity.

See the photos at

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nigel the Seagull

About two years ago we had a visitor to our garden — a seagull with a damaged wing. It arrived with others but could only run along the ground, unable to get lift off. It fed on stuff put out for the birds, so we assumed it did not feel poorly. We wondered if a cat would get it but he was still with us in the morning. So I continued to feed it, hoping its wing would heal or he would adjust to having a droopy wing tip.
I looked out of the window and saw Nigel on the drive on his way to visit a neighbour. I knew he would return and, since he clearly could look after himself, did not worry unduly about their aged cat. BUT what did worry me was seeing another neighbour with air rifle in hand.
I ran outside to stop an unprovoked execution taking place. Our neighbour said that he had been requested to put it our of its misery.
'Nigel is NOT miserable,' I told him. 'He is perfectly happy. He spends most of his time in our garden, feeding, preening and having an occasional go at flying.'
The neighbour no doubt thought he was doing the kindly thing before the bird ended up as a generous portion of cat food.
So Nigel was spared to live another day. Actually about three weeks. He would walk up quite close to be fed, but he got quite choosy over what he would eat. Also, he would look up at the sky when gulls flew over and have regular attempts at lift off — to no avail. His drooping wing held him back.
I saw him dipping his beak in a bucket of water, possibly to drink but it seemed to me he was trying to clean his feathers.
Now what could I do to help?
We have a large plastic bowl shaped as a dog basket, which kept our golden retriever sleeping contentedly for a number of years. Our dog, now in ashes amongst the soil under our Silver birch trees, no longer needed it. Nigel did. I filled it with water up as far as the front cut-out section. A nice little pond to help dear Nigel to cool down, clean his feathers, and, if he so desired, have a little float on. No shortage of drinking water too.
My little friend loved it. He found where I had left it and took to it at once. It was great to see him preening his feathers and splashing around. Several times he would have a go at flying, until he nearly reached the top of the hedge. Then one day, when gulls were flying over, he managed to take off and reach the roof of our house. We did not see him again, although he may well have joined the gulls flying and settling on newly slurry- sprayed fields just up the lane.
My little friend will not be forgotten. I must admit my hubby will not forget him either — he did the washing of slabs and concrete during, and after, our little sewage-outputter (and boy, did he turn it out) left for good.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Welcome to my English garden in August - flowers, bees and butterflies!

We may have had far too much rain but the garden is still a joy! After today's rain I took some photos. I managed to click on butterflies and bees exploring the flowers on more than one shrub. Bees were buzzing around too. Quite a number of them on our glorious eucryphia with its simple four petal flowers and magnificent stamens. The hydrangeas have been slow to come into flower but their blooms are huge and colourful. Buddlea and a sprinkling of azalea blooms, plus a number of flowers we have planted and which have grown from seed. The raindrops sparkle in the sunshine and the birds are happy picking early berries as well as helping themselves to seeds and nuts. Squirrels make us smile too. We don't have to water the garden as nature is doing that for us. True, we are losing some roses but those that are smiling in the sun and glistening with raindrops are a joy to behold. The trees are in their full summer foliage with the silver birches waving in the breeze like triumphant cricket supporters. Holiday makers can keep their hot beaches - they are nothing compared with the peace and tranquility of an English country garden!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Watery Break In Derbyshire!

We have just returned from an eight day break in Derbyshire. We had rain most of the time but clear spells when we managed some walking — the woods at Chatsworth (always a delight), the path in Dovedale (heavenly riches) , the nature reserve at Carsington Reservoir (a perfect haven), and the last section of the Tissington Trail (easy walking and a joy for cyclists), We visited my sister and took her to the lovely nature reserve at Attenborough (about a mile from where we lived many years ago — mentioned in my book of childhood memories, When Phones Were Immobile and Lived in red Boxes). And we visited my husband's sister for tea (at Matlock), and joined both his sisters plus husbands for a meal at the Grouse and Claret at Rowsley.
We came across a fantastic log in Dovedale, 'chissled' by nature, which reminded me of a poem I wrote recently. I decided to put it here with the photo of the log plus one of me with my sister. Although we are not a bit alike, one might say that both my sister and I have been similarly sculptured!

Nature’s Sculpture
By Gladys Hobson

Like twisted log tossed on the beach
each groove and knot
forming nature’s sculpture.
If mind is open it can reach
a story true
of life and death —
crafted in lines bold and free
in hollows and grooves
and swirls and knots:
a distorted body —
a soul tormented?

Or is the story nature tells
far from what my eyes do see?
For beauty lies within the heart
and sings a different melody,
Those crafted grooves
that make me shudder
were earned by life’s experience.
Each tells a story of its own
yet builds into a perfect whole.

Again I look into the mirror
unafraid of what I see;
for nature’s sculpture so defined
is beauty of a different kind.
I am who I am —
yes, this is me.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Week Of Heaven

A break away in our caravan only 50 miles away but heaven indeed. Ennerdale, Whinlatter, Crummock Water, Buttermere, Cogra Moss Water…
Pleasant walks beside lakes and rivers, and along footpaths leading through forests with magnificent views of lakes and valleys below. This is the world of the Lake District National Park and some of the places we have not seen before.
Our caravan park had a lovely setting with footpaths to truly lovely places. One, a place that could only be reached on foot unless an angler with a permit for a car. We took this walk in the evening to Cogra Moss when the sun was about to set. One angler quietly fishing, two foxes calling to each other, about eighty ducks on the water with their young - a little quacking and sudden lifting of wings - the only movement and sound. A golden setting illuminating forests and water in a magnificent display of nature in all her glory.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

New babies in our garden

We have a few nests in our garden, most are out of reach as regards viewing nest activity. But it was wonderful to discover a pair of thrushes nesting in a thick prickly bush out of reach of cats and falcons. We saw one chick leave the nest today. The rest are now gone but we have seen the parents busy gathering food. I think they must be in a neighbours garden now. I'm glad we have more room to move in our 'home' — that nest was bursting!
It is pleasing to know thrushes are surviving despite 'accidents' they seem to suffer at regular intervals. Flying into windows is the most common. Considering we have cats and birds of prey in the area, and the vulnerability of any bird, let along the chicks, it is remarkable that they continue to thrive.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Garden flowers in May

The joy of a garden is getting flowers to grow throughout the year. May is a special time as following the delightful fresh flowers of spring we get the showy blooms of rhododendrons.

Walks around Ulverston

We are very lucky to be living in an area of outstanding beauty, and luckier still to have footpaths close to our home and taking us on walks both short and long.
Sunday we walked on a path running along the Flan (local hill) across a road, uphill again through woods alive with scented bluebells, and along a well-made path up to the Hoad Monument — with breathtaking views across Morecambe Bay, round to the high hills of Lancashire and still further round to the lovely fells and mountains of Cumbria.
Yesterday, we walked along the coastal path from Canal Foot to Plumpton and taking the footpath across fields back to where we started. Here we had views across the bay and distant hills plus more local scenery. This walk was minus the struggling uphill of the former one and, in its way, just as pleasant. The tide coming in gave us sun-lit ripples of fast-running water, and the wild flowers along the paths, both sweet and pungent, were a joy to behold.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Derbyshire — walking along the old railway

Derbyshire has many miles of old railway tracks, which are now wonderful places to walk and to cycle on. During the last week we walked along the Monsel trail. It takes you on a magical trip through Monseldale — a wooded valley with steep rocky sides climbing high into the sky, and with a sparkling river flowing below. Only a few stone-built houses can be seen, plus the magnificent Caldwell Mill, which has been converted to tasteful accommodation. (I wonder what those 19c mill workers would have thought of it?) The mill is built on a site that once produced oil from peppermint, plus other herb products. The wild flowers this year are the best we have ever seen — a delight to the senses. Bridges and tunnels are breathtaking features of this walk as the engineering skills involved and the graceful lines truly excite the imagination.