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44. A Small Miscellany from Several Places.


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At the end of February 2012, we found ourselves at the little seaside village of Silverdale, in north-west Lancashire. It’s the coast of north-west England, for any guests who may see this. We were pottering slowly from Morecambe towards Barrow-in-Furness – which has become an annual pilgrimage for us in recent years. But we have never visited this delightful spot before.


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Nearing our destination, and being early, we walked for a mile on the north shore of Morecambe Bay, a very large, flat and treacherous area: the tide comes in very fast… The Power of the Sea is also demonstrated by this shot, where the wall has been demolished by the waves, and the land behind has started to wash away. How did we know we walked for ‘a mile’? Well, moving with the times, we now have a GPS, a present from our son. And if one wants to ‘stretch one’s legs’, a mile is OK for that purpose, don’t you think? Of course, I could have walked much further, honestly!


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By way of contrast, it is now mid-March, and we have been spirited away, borne on the swift aërial pinions of er.. Ryanair, from Luton Airport, to the south of France. Incidentally, if you are flying from Luton and need overnight accommodation before doing so, I suggest that rather than booking a hotel and then the car park, you book the car park first. You may well then be offered a hotel room ‘bundled in’ with the car park, and at a very attractive rate indeed. At least that’s what happened to me. Alas, I cannot remember the name of this delightful village, perched as it is on a hill – as are most settlements in the region.


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Here are two wonderful pieces of the droll, or grotesque, in stone. The first is the inlet to a cistern outside a chateau in the south of France at which we played. He looks like a classical Greek or Roman satyr. The one on the right is much nearer home – Witley Court, Worcestershire to be precise. He must be Chinese? Unfortunately, one of his eyes has fallen off, and he is suffering the additional indignity of having a water plant growing out of his mouth… perhaps in tribute to the our Green Man of legend? More on Witley Court below.


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One of our favourite spots for a local walk: the Kings Norton canal junction, seen here towards the end of March 2012, when we were all enjoying a spell of marvellous hot weather. There is a shot elsewhere on this page which shows the same canal partly frozen.


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We walked from Kings Norton junction to both tunnels that the diverging canals go through. This is the northern portal of the tunnel on the Stratford-on-Avon branch.


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And this, the northern portal of the longer Wast Hill tunnel on the Birmingham-Worcester. The gate was locked, so we could not go down to get a closer shot. Photos of the southern portals of both these tunnels appear on earlier pages of this dilapidated site, but am not exactly sure where, sorry.


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The weather broke, and we had to take pot luck for some time on our jaunts. Here we are in early April 2012 at Witley Court, a large house which latterly belonged to the Earls of Dudley. Alas, it suffered a catastrophic fire in 1937, and is now really just a ‘shell’ – but an incredibly impressive one. It is under the care of English Heritage, and the gardens & grounds are superbly maintained – as always – by these indefatigable custodians of our History, just as the National Trust, of course, similarly administer the many properties & sites under their care. (I am a member of both, and have no favourite!)


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This used to be the ballroom of the house. Just imagine the festal gaiety that took place here in the later 19th century and indeed the 20th century. Touching on my own interest in Jazz and ‘Hot’ Dance music, there must have been many jazzy performances here? Even if the older members of the family preferred the waltz, the lancers &c., surely some Hot Music was played here after the older folks had gone to bed?


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Awkwardly photographed from a display sign in the ruins of the ballroom, this gives you an idea of what it looked like in the past. It seems excessively formal; perhaps my fantasies of ‘Jazz’ being played there in the 1920s are unjustified? Or perhaps the photo. was taken before Jazz or even Ragtime?


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On 18th April 2012 we briefly visited the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, which deserves a page to itself – it will eventually be written. We cannot refrain from pointing out that the place-name Alrewas is one of the relatively few that has not changed since it was recorded in the Doomsday Book in 1084 – or was it 1087? The element ‘Alre’ refers to alder trees, and ‘waess’ is alluvial land. Alders like damp conditions, so there you are! The reason this area is alluvial is because it is flat – and above you see the confluence of the River Tame (on the left) and the River Trent. This is the north western boundary of the Arboretum. Alluvial land often has stratified stuff that has collected there over the ages, and indeed much of the NMA is built on land reclaimed from old gravel pits – and gravel is still being extracted from the same deposits.





Page written 8th June 2012.