Thursday, 30 July 2015

Dilapidation proves order

Dilapidated footbridge near the River Anker

As someone who walks a lot I often silently thank all those farmers and organisations who keep up the county's pathways - particularly in maintaining footbridges and stiles.
The county council's Environment Department is ultimately responsible for securing footpaths, but, under-resourced as they are, they now get official help from local Ramblers' groups.

Footpaths are pretty well looked after locally (in my humble opinion) - so I was quite surprised to see this dilapidated footbridge (over a ditch) near the River Anker.  Paradoxically, this exception to the rule is a reminder about how much in order most of the network of paths is.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Sheltering garden

Sandon Hall gardens

The weather has suddenly switched.  No longer is it an  unexpectedly glorious summer; instead it has gone all rainy-squally and autumnal.
One wants to go out no further than to a hidden garden... an ornamental one, like this at Sandon Hall, with its picturesque 'temples' to act as shelters, is a good bet.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Traces of 300 year old sweat

Dale Mine near Warslow

Much of the Peak District National Park in Staffordshire is now untouched countryside... so it's strange to think this was actually once an industrial heartland.  It is dotted with old diggings.

In the picture are the remains of the Dale Mine near Warslow.  Labourers started mining for lead there as far back as three hundred years ago.  You can just see in this photo (top right), the side of the spoil tip.
Odd to think that this solitary and quiet place was once the scene of much sweating and groaning by many men!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Magdalen's feast

St Mary Magdalene -  in the east window in Seighford Church.

I seem to have gotten into the habit of collecting Magdalens.  St Mary Magdalene is always featured in Crucifixion scenes, weeping bitterly at the feet of Christ - as she is here in the east window in Seighford Church.
She always throws a long, bright splash of scarlet into the depiction, as she (traditionally) always had long red hair (as well as a scandalous previous life).  

July 22nd is her feast-day.  

See also:  Alrewas Magdalen; Mapleton Magdalen

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Porch for decoration

Porch in Pattingham

This rather unusual trellis-style porch caught my eye as I strolled around Pattingham village.  It's purely decorative of course, as keeping the sunlight from blazing into the windows is not a major issue in south Staffordshire...
It's an attractive sight.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Dotting shadows

Hills in Ecton

Another late-afternoon image. 
The hills in Ecton are open for wandering, being part of the Peak District National Park... though lots of ascents (and blessed descents) are in order. The views are long-ranging, and the history (lots of old copper mining and associated sites) fascinating.

I like this more 'short-range' view; it shows the long dotting shadows on the velvety green of the opposite hill.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Inspiration is Progress

Building work at Staffordshire University

The golden light of a sunset over the buildings at Staffordshire University still doesn't beautify them much...

The rather sinister-sounding slogan is to do with the new construction work going on on the site.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Gravestones on the move

This amazing summer blazes on, with yet another day in the twenties (Celsius).

This rather uncomfortable quartet of headstones is to be found at Norbury Church, where the authorities have decided (or were they pressured?) to uproot the stones, away from their original graves-sites to 'more secure' spots.  In many English churchyards, the oldest headstones are being moved - for fear that they might fall on somebody.

The Staffordshire historian Fred Hughes calls some instances of this policy "institutional vandalism".  The end-result, certainly, is appealing to nobody.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Country house living

Callingwood Hall in Tatenhill

One of the pleasant aspects of walking in the English rural footpaths is the sight of country houses in the distance... which gives one a sense of how it was a hundred years ago.

Most of these old houses have been re-purposed of course, and no longer belong to just one family.  Callingwood Hall in Tatenhill was split up into 'wings' - which were sold separately, as luxury accommodation.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Micro pub

Crossways MicroPub

A micro-pub is one that looks back to the very (very) old days - being more like a drinking parlour or beer-shop rather than the 'gastro-pub' so prevalent today. 
And, it's quite a new (if very old) concept...

The Crossways MicroPub in the centre of Blythe Bridge is, as you can see, pretty basic.  It's just an unadorned room, with no piped music - and with low prices (£2.80 a pint!).  The most exciting thing on offer, apart from the excellent (Peakstones Brewery) beer is ... card-games.

Will micro-pubs succeed?  The Crossways has only just opened, so it hasn't had to take on an English winter yet... but, yes, there is interest from the town.