Archive for the ‘Diary’ Category

Feeling a bit stir crazy yesterday so went off to Hem Heath Woods, part of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s complement of reserves.

Leaving behind the infernal race of modern life in the car park on Trentham Road, between a railway track and an electricity sub-station, I took the leaf-covered path, all orange, brown, yellow and black. To the left, or East, is an industrial estate, just discernible through the undergrowth, but audible with hums and rattles from time to time but soon left behind.

Two discreet information boards helped to nurture the growing sense of history such, sometimes ancient, places evoke after a few minutes walking. For example Wedgwoods and all their doings are involved, as the Reserve is leased from the Wedgwood “estate”.  I wish that I could have not noticed the rogue apostrophe or ‘Crewe Comma’ on one board though, where whose had become who’s.  Too much proofreading over the years for that to slip through, unfortunately.

Anyway, the path between the trees suddenly reached a beautiful place aptly called The Glade, just occupying its time there, getting on with being naturally attractive to any human eye that cared to visit.  So far the only others enjoying the woods had been a couple ‘walking’ a very energetic, bouncy and obviously happy dog. Then further on into deeper darker parts was a woman on her own apart from her small dog. She had walked these woods for 45 years but had come in from the southern end and had never been up as far as where I explained my car was, all of half a mile or so. We parted after a short chat, as it was getting late into the afternoon and we both needed to find our ways out in the twilight.

Such an experience of peace clears the mind and spirit. That’s what it felt like.

[photos from the website]

Just about to talk about our Christmas shopping exploits already (life in the fast lane) when the announcer on BBC Radio3 plugs a forthcoming programme of carols from St John’s College Cambridge, confirming that we’re not by any means ridiculously early with such things.
Spent far too long in The Body Shop today sampling smelly stuff for family and two of our female friends. The latter and Barbara have set a mutual spending limit of £3-5 so that limits the field a bit thank goodness.
I don’t really enthuse too much about the whole Christmas period and some of its hypocritical aspects, but I do like coal fires and cosy days and evenings with visiting offspring and friends. Funny how time passes and our “duty” trips to our parents over the years have turned into happily preparing for and then playing hosts to our own kids.

We went to our local library in Alsager for an hour this morning, on National Poetry Day in the UK, to see and listen to W Terry Fox read some poetry. I consider it well worth visiting that link to some YouTube performances. It was a fine way to spend time and Barbara also enjoyed it. He talked quite a bit about Mow Cop where he lived for a time and still lives “down bank” a bit at Whitehill.  The event attracted an audience of about a dozen, two of whom had travelled from Crewe. It was a free occasion, funded by the Friends of Alsager Library.

Poetry has always been a minor interest of mine, humming quietly along in the background to a life, ever since that A Level course in Eng. Lit. at school with good old “Gabby” Hayes where he introduced us to the beauty of John Keats’ work. Alongside many of his own fine poems, W Terry Fox read Keats’ Ode to Autumn today, (read and hear here) which took me right back to those days in that particular seat in that particular classroom, as clear as if  I were there now.

I remember those times with Gabby (middle row, second from the right) as a bejewelled island in a murky sea of dark drudgery and suffering from the rest of my schooldays. There were only four of us in the class, as I remember, which added to the privilege and sheer pleasure of coming from a bookless and often cheerless home to that highly skilled introduction to classic literature over two years that probably helped to nurture whatever semblance of sanity I ever had. Thanks Gabby and Thanks Terry.

Poetry in Chicago? Well, here’s a poem by








Robert Pinsky featured on the excellent website of The Poetry Foundation based there; from such a simple thing like the next time you put on a shirt or skirt, he has fashioned simple but resonant words.

Someone local dropped off a cupboard at Age UK and Barbara could see through the scuffed, stained, old and dark polish and varnish to an attractive piece of furniture for somewhere. It looked pretty good in its original state but here’s a small gallery of some stages in its rapid transformation to quite a satisfying object.

Not bad before treatment, but crying out for some TLC aka Nitromors and Stanley blade - crude but effective.




"Advertising" the beeswax before applying it

The finished job, with the door folded away to reveal great shelves









The door is made of slats stuck to a strip of leather so it can roll down and around in a channel in the base. Not sure what we’ll use the shelves / boxes for yet.

Just a few more random shots to show some of the beauty of the wood and perhaps to evoke the response, “They don’t make’em like that anymore!”:

The brass door catch and lock. No key unfortunately, but looking good.


Better just read the instructions before applying beeswax


Pre-waxing door, showing the beautiful grain in the slats








A bit more buffing up now it's indoors....








...and there's the shine

Photographer: Barbara Mary Granter


Took a rail trip to Coventry last Monday to see if all was well with the Granter gravestone in London Road Cemetery. It was and after a few nice moments there I had a good look round at the Cathedral area,which includes the forecourts of Coventry University and the Herbert Art Gallery. The Gallery foyer featured this attractive grafitti:The History Centre holds Electoral Rolls but is closed on Mondays so I will return another day to try to establish when my Dad moved from London to Coventry, sometime before 1918.

We had a visitor to stay recently who brought 2 wheelchairs with her and it was interesting to say the least to observe the interaction of two female friends with physical disabilities. (Somehow I’ve just managed typos which gave rise to “fiends” and “diabilities”).

One of our neighbours had her 4th birthday and we went round for the celebrations including a barbeque.

With their new boxer puppy,

another visiting boxer and numerous children of all ages it all made for an enjoyable evening in familiar physical surroundings (borrowing light from our outside lights) but unfamiliar social surroundings.

Met up yesterday with two old student colleagues from Brighton days back in the 60s, for lunch at Salford Quays / Lowry Centre.   We took Dave, another friend from those days

Mag and Dave Futcher at the Lowry, Salford Quays








so there was lots of reminiscing and “Do you remember so-and-so…?” which with some reasonable food made for a great hour or 3.

Dave Clifford with the Futchers at the Lowry, Salford Quays










Mag Futcher at the Lowry










Later that day Dave and I went to the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent for the first of our season of orchestral concerts. The programme was a delight as usual.

Rushing out now to another meal with friends, such is the social whirl these days. Harrogate next weekend to meet up with two more friends, who are definitely not fiends.

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