It is exactly a year since I first posted about bluebells, and here we are again – bluebell season. The difference this time is that we are in coronavirus lockdown so we have been walking close to home and enjoying a nearby small wooded dale.
My post last year stated – ‘Here in the UK we have more than half of the world’s bluebells and you can see them in woods up and down the country each spring. They are powerful magnets for photographers and artist alike, although strangely not always the easiest of subjects to photograph and capture the colour accurately’. The photographs this year were taken in the little known local bluebell woods. There is no car parking nearby and consequently they are only used by nearby residents and they do not attract people from other parts of the town. This year they are being used by local families were the parents are clearly on the ‘home schooling’ duties. What better classroom?
Last year I also wrote ‘Native bluebells are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It’s against the law to dig up bulbs in the wild and landowners aren’t allowed to dig them up to sell them either’. This year we have our 3 and 4 year old grandchildren with us and whilst it is a pleasure to see their joy and excitement when seeing bluebells it can be quite difficult to stop them picking them and taking some home. I remember one shortened and simplified version of the official Countryside Code was ‘Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints’. Today, I only took photographs but the ground was dry and firm so I didn’t even leave any footprints.
We continue to follow the official advice and guidance and this week have taken several walks starting from home rather than jumping in the car and driving a few miles first. It does have its advantages. We see things which we would not normally see, have a chat with people we probably wouldn’t usually talk to, and I have taken the opportunity to update photographs of local landmarks and places of interest.
One such landmark is that of our parish church, St. Mark’s, Winshill. It was built in 1869 at a cost of £6000. Like several churches in Burton on Trent, it was provided by one of the town’s influential brewers, in this case John Gretton. The cynics may ask if they saw such gifts as their ticket to heaven, but generally speaking the brewers such as Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton were great benefactors, and often provided facilities which were of great benefit to the people of the town.
The peaceful scene, on a perfect spring day, is a welcome ray of sunshine midst the encircling gloom.
Due to an unusual set of circumstances, our daughter and her two children, ages 3 and almost 5, are staying with us. They have been living overseas, came to stay with us for a while and now find themselves caught up in the coronavirus precautions and in lockdown with us. We have gone from only seeing our grandchildren twice a year to having them in the same house 24/7. We often said we wished we could see more of them but didn’t quite have this in mind!
However, we are thoroughly enjoying the time together and they certainly keep us occupied. When it comes to self-isolation we feel grateful that we live in a quiet area, close to the countryside, have an enclosed secure garden and on our daily walk we see like-minded people, keen to observe the 2 metre rule and exchange pleasantries in a good humoured fashion we Brits are so good at.
It has become a nostalgic time for us, especially doing things with our grandchildren that we did with Rachel, and our son Adrian, almost 40 years ago. We have played in the garden, provided a sandpit and rediscovered footpaths close to home that we haven’t been on for quite a while. On one such walk, Rachel asked if I could photograph the children from behind, just like ‘Walking with a friend’.
Mum had shown me the verse, probably found in ‘The Friendship Book’ or something similar 30 something years ago. It’s a bit twee, but at the time I was learning calligraphy, so I wrote it out and mounted alongside it a photograph of Rachel and her friend Claire. It was displayed on mum’s living room wall from that time onwards. Rachel could even remember the verse and I had no hesitation in taking the requested photograph. Who knows, it may be around 30 plus years from now!