Wildlife of Dunham……………..

I am a regular visitor to Dunham Massey country park, but on most occasions I am unable to fully appreciate the numerous wildlife as I usually have my four year old grandson in tow. Any parent or grandparent will tell you that in such situations you need eyes in the back of you head to keep track of where inquisitive and fearless grandchildren often disappear to.

However, last Sunday I took myself off to an early morning visit to the park alone, just accompanied by my camera with the intention of walking around the grounds to take in the lovely scenery and the range of wild life.

The bird life I encountered included Swans, Teal, Mallards, Moorhens, Canada Geese, and Black Headed Seagulls. I also heard a number of Woodpeckers in the distance but did not catch sight of them.

I also encountered a very large herd of Deer, who at one point decided to cross the path en mass in a lengthy “wagon train.” Most of these were young Deer as the older ones just stayed put on one side of the path with disdainful and haughty looks on their faces.

Below are just some of the photos I took of the wildlife I encountered.

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(c) Kindadukisk 2018

 

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Macclesfield Silk Museum………a place to treasure

As part of my continuing exploration of the industrial heritage of Cheshire I decided to take in a visit to the Silk Museum at Macclesfield. I know it may not sound the most exciting of places to visit but sometimes it is the unlikely places that turn out to be the “little gems.”

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The Silk Museum is housed in the original School of Art built in 1879 with land and funding granted by the council and public subscriptions.  The School had been founded in 1851 and initially used rented rooms in the Useful Knowledge Society building.  Its original aim was to educate practical designers for the manufacture of silk, but later it went on to offer more general art education and gained a reputation for producing high quality work.

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It formed part of a complex of buildings linked to learning in this area of the town, including the Free Library, the Technical School and the Useful Knowledge Society.  The School also established the town’s first museum which exhibited student’s work along with items loaned from museums in London.

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Today The Silk Museum tells the silk heritage story, giving an introduction to its journey along the Silk Road and how Macclesfield is forever associated with this industry.  It explores the work of some of the Art School students, from their initial ideas to their final exam pieces.  It examines the properties of silk, how it is woven, printed and coloured.  It introduces you to some of the well-known Macclesfield silk manufacturers and their looms.  Highlights include 18th century silk buttons which were the start of the Macclesfield silk story, silk escape maps and parachutes which helped to win World War II and the loom used to make the famous Brocklehurst Whiston silk pictures.

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I started with a tour of the Silk Museum which looks at the history of the industry and illustrates this with various machinery used in the production of silk plus examples of clothing and cloth that was produced. There are some beautiful ladies dresses on display and part rolls of lovely woven silk, the colours are breathtaking.

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After this I made my way with our guide to Paradise Mill (next door to the museum) for a tour of the top floor which houses some working machinery and the history of workers and working conditions. We were shown the machinery in action and the various processes the silk has to go through from “raw material” to the finished product and it was both interesting and quite fascinating. It highlighted the extremely skilled nature of the work (but for little reward) and the extremely poor treatment of workers, particularly women and young children.

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I should like to mention the gentleman who acted as our guide (unfortunately I have forgotten his name) who was extremely knowledgeable, receptive to any questions and made the tour both interesting and real, my thanks to him.

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This museum and mill is part of our proud industrial heritage, if you are anywhere near Macclesfield then pop in, you will not be disappointed.

Photographs by Kindadukish 2018

Some source material from macclesfieldmuseums.co.uk

 

Posted in Industrial Heritage, Tourism, Uncategorized, women in society | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Liverpool, my! how its has changed…………….and for the better!

Earlier this week I visited Liverpool for the first time in many years. It is all part of my plan to explore the area which I recently moved to in Cheshire. My memories of the city were very negative from the last visit I made over 30 years ago……….and yes, I know it is a long time and things would probably have changed.

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The journey was by local train and proved to be a very pleasant thirty minutes passing through some nice countryside, the obvious delights of Runcorn !!!) and eventually arriving at Liverpool Lime Street.

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Leaving the station I saw a pub across the road and emblazoned across the top of the building was an old fashioned sign that said “Walkers Ales Warrington”. I first encountered the legendary Walkers “pint of bitter” as an illegal drinker, given that I was only sixteen years of age, in about 1964 at a country pub in Glazebury.

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We made our way through the shopping centre (with some very upmarket shops) down to the Albert Dock, which seems to be the place every visitor to the city heads for. We passed a couple of “Beatles” exhibitions and I chose to give them a miss as I was always a Rolling Stones fan rather than the Beatles, you couldn’t really be both back in the 1960s.

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There are a number of exhibitions on at various venues around Albert Dock but the weather was so lovely we gave them all a miss and wandered along the bank of the Mersey, and watching the legendary ferry that travels from Pier head to Birkenhead (those old enough will remember the song “Ferry across the Mersey” by Gerry and the Pacemakers).

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Whilst walking along the riverside I noticed thousands of locks attached to the chains, which run the length of the front. I first encountered this practice over ten years ago (left by newly married couples) in Uzupis, a district of Vilnius the capital of Lithuania. But it is the first time I have come across it in the UK. Maybe there is a big Lithuanian contingent now resident in the city?

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Standing at the riverside affords some stunning views of the architecture that graces this fine city, one could even draw some comparison with Madrid such is the similarity at times. And of course it is impossible to ignore the famous building that is adorned by the two iconic “Liver Birds.”

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Walking around the city centre you only have to look up to see some of the wonderful buildings that grace the city, including the beautiful Marks and Spencer building, currently undergoing some minor refurbishment.

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A quick lunch then it was back home on the train………..a lovely day out and a place I shall visit again very soon.

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I have to say that I have always had an affinity with Manchester, as I was born not far away and always considered it my “local” city. However, recent visits have left me dismayed at the state of the city, it is dirty, shopping has gone downmarket and the streets are blighted with beggars and rough sleepers. I think I may be transferring my custom (and affections) to Liverpool in future.

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Sheku Kanneh-Mason and the European Union Chamber Orchestra

On the 25th February 2018 I went to a concert at the Subscriptions Rooms in Stroud, Gloucestershire with our friend Liz who had managed to get tickets. It was a sold out audience because the featured soloist was Sheku Kanneh-Mason, winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2016.

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Since then his career seems to have taken off, pushed relentlessly by the BBC, and engendering a tremendous amount of “hype” in the press and other media. How much of this was down to the “novelty” of him being from a BME background is hard to tell, so it was an interesting opportunity to go and see what all the fuss was about.

The programme opened with Handels “Suite from the Water Music” played by the orchestra, which, at the outset seemed a little ragged. The quality of the playing picked up as the piece progressed. If I say it is not a piece of music that I will be returning to with any urgency, it will give you some idea of my opinion of the piece.

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Next came the featured soloist to play “Haydn’s Cello Concerto No 1″, he was greeted with rapturous applause as he took to the stage (I always find it a little strange when classical musicians get applauded before playing a note!). I have to confess that Haydn is one of my least favourite composers so I was not over enamoured with the choice of this music.

So is the hype about Kanneh-Mason justified,” in a word, yes. For someone so young he displays staggering technical virtuosity and a strong emotional connection with the music he is playing. Ably backed by the EUCO, he produced a performance that certainly struck a chord with the audience who greeted the end of the piece with rapturous applause. Yes, I enjoyed it but would like to hear him in the Dvorak or Elgar cello concertos at some time.

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After the interval we had the inevitable “new commission” by Anna Disley-Simpson entitled “Floreat”. It was a rather dull, meandering piece that could have been composed by any third year music student. She does however, seem to be flavour of the month with the BBC, who seem to be promoting female composers irrespective of real talent.

The concert concluded with Mozarts “Symphony No 29” which was enjoyable but somewhat bland to my ears. I have to confess that I struggle with Mozart, other than his operas, and much prefer the enormity of sound from Mahler, Bruckner, Richard Strauss and Janacek.

Do go to see this young man, he is a prodigious talent and will be gracing the major concert halls of the world for many years to come.

One final comment about the concert. Out of a packed audience of several hundred I saw two “black faces” which surprised me given who the soloist was. I know that Stroud is not a massive multi-ethnic area but Gloucester and Bristol are not very far away and I thought the concert may have attracted more people from the BME community.

(c) Kindadukish 2018

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Stroud and surrounding valleys…….ee!, it could be West Yorkshire

A week ago I was down visiting a friend in Stroud, Gloucestershire for a well earned break after the stresses of the last nine months, buying and selling a house does nothing for personal stress levels.

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The weather was glorious, blue skies but very cold (it was before the latest bit of cold weather blew in) priding an ideal opportunity to get out and about and explore the surrounding countryside.

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Stroud is the capital of the south western Cotswolds and located at the divergence of the five Golden Valleys, so named after the monetary wealth created in the processing of wool from the plentiful supply of water power.

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Five populated valleys converge at Stroud, ten miles southwest of Cheltenham, creating a bustle of hills. The bustle is not a new phenomenon. During the heyday of the wool trade the river Frome powered 150 mills, turning Stroud into the centre of the local cloth industry. Even now, Stroud is very much a working town, and one which doesn’t need its heritage in order to survive. While some of the old mills have been converted into flats, others contain factories, but only two continue to make cloth – no longer the so-called Stroudwater Scarlet used for military uniforms, but high-quality felt for tennis balls and snooker tables.

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Our friend Liz too us along the Chalford Valley and we parked up outside the Lavender Bake House and Coffee Shop (excellent coffee and the best eggs Florentine I have eaten, it is pricy however!). We then walked back along the Thames and Severn Canal taking in a visit to an old textile mill, courtesy of the owner who went to get a key to unlock the mill and then gave us a conducted tour of the splendid working machinery in the mill (now that’s what I call customer service).

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What struck me as we walked along was that the houses on the hill side looked very similar to those in West Yorkshire, another former wool producing area. Often four stories high with “under” and “over” dwellings and beautifully maintained. It was just like “being back in Golcar!!!” It is easy to forget that an area that is now associated with tourism was once part of the thriving industrial back bone of England.

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In recent years, Stroud has become a thriving alternative centre, its town council Green since 1990 (whatever that means). You’ll see mountains of organic food and sustainable goods for sale in the centre, while the nearby valleys are home to a growing community of artists and New Agers. The Saturday open market in Stroud is well worth a visit for local produce, particularly in summer when fruit and vegetables of the highest quality are in abundance (I speak from personal experience after a visit last summer).

If you have an interest in the industrial heritage of this country then do visit this area.

Photographs (c) Kindadukish 2018

 

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Deer at Dunham…………..

Went for a stroll around  Dunham yesterday but this time minus grandson Seb. It was a pleasure to do a circuit of the park and in particular see the herd of deer just being fed by one of the rangers. There must have been around sixty or so animals in the vicinity but the ranger said there was about a further fifty in other parts of the park.

He informed us that the deer were very healthy and somewhat “fat” as they had gorged on the abundance of acorns produced this year. Indeed, they were considering cutting back the food for the deer to get them into better condition. Many of the females were pregnant and looked very healthy.

Many of the older deer were not disturbed by human presence whereas the younger ones galloped away as we approached. The older deer will often feed from peoples hands  in the park although this is not recommended by the National Trust, owners of the park.

I was able to get fairly close to the deer and take some photographs, some of which are featured below. If you are in the area take some time to visit the park, it is well worthwhile.

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Photographs (c) Kindadukish 2018

 

Posted in Dunham Massey, Nature / Flowers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Springlike day at Dunham……………….

The weather recently has been pretty erratic to say the least, one day snow, the next day rain quickly followed by blue skies and bright sunshine. Well, yesterday was a blue skies and sunshine day so we took the opportunity to visit Dunham Massey, a National Trust property about twenty minutes from where we live.

Despite arriving just after 10.30am, there was already a queue to get into the car park which we should have expected as it is “half term” for local schools and the park is a favourite visit for families.

With grandson in tow we walked up past the lake and on to the garden to undertake “The Curiosity Garden” walk (prices are steep if you are not a National Trust member!). Despite it being so early in the year there was already a carpet of Snowdrops, Daffodils were making an appearance and various other flowers had started to appear.

At one point on the walk a Robin appeared on a branch and I managed to get fairly close to get some good photographs of it, in fact it seemed to pose for me as I fired away with my camera.

At one point Seb, our grandson did a disappearing act causing momentary panic as we searched for him, then I spotted him sneaking through the bushes…………panic over!!!!

The day concluded with Seb again building his Hobbit residence as well as stomping through whatever mud he could find…………ah, the joys of childhood.

Below are some of the images I captured on our walk.

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Photographs (c) Kindadukish 2018

Posted in Arrival of Spring, Birds, Dunham Massey, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment