A Christmas card from Walton Hospital.
We made paper chains and snowflakes in the session at Walton Hospital this week, and I read extracts from Alison Uttley’s book The Country Child, about a little girl growing up on a remote farm in Derbyshire in Victorian times. The old farmhouse was decorated with sprigs of holly, ivy and mistletoe everywhere! I also read a description of a perfect childhood day spent sledging in the snow.
I finished off with the famous scene from Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy, when the Melstock Quire are carol singing on a snowy Christmas eve, and young Dick Dewey first sees the beautiful young school teacher, Fancy Day as she opens her window to greet the carol singers.
We were inspired to write our own Christmas scene:
A perfect Christmas Eve
The Christmas decorations were looking pretty, hanging from the ceiling. There were paper chains in different colours, and garlands that made beautiful patterns. The fairy lights were twinkling and we could hear the distant echo of carol singers.
We heard the sound of footsteps in the snow and the sound of carols grew louder.
‘O come all ye faithful,’ they sang, and we could see their rosy-cheeked faces, lit by their old fashioned candle lanterns. We could see their steaming breath as they sang.
We opened the door because they were singing so nicely, and when they had finished, we gave them mince pies and warm punch to heat them up.
As we waved them goodbye, the snowflakes started to flutter down, and the scene was set for a wonderful Christmas Eve.
Christmas in New Mills
In my final session of the year at Cavendish Hospital in Buxton, I prepared a special slideshow about New Mills, a town in the north of Derbyshire where many of the patients had lived. Last Friday, I was coming back from Manchester, so I explored New Mills as thoroughly as I could. It was very cold, and trying to snow, but I took pictures of the shops and landmarks, as well as some dramatic skies. On my drive home to Sheffield, I got caught in a blizzard, but I made it back safely. By the time I drove to Buxton on Tuesday, all the snow in the High Peak had disappeared.
Here’s a website with lots of pictures of New Mills through the years: http://www.peterthomp.co.uk/newmills.htm
Here’s our poem with memories of New Mills…
Love Hearts and Satanic Mills
“Hug me”, “Blue eyes”
Now it’s “text me”.
The Swizzels factory smells sweet
From a long way away.
It brought a lot of jobs to New Mills
Coachloads of workers from Buxton
Boiled sweets, Love Hearts, and Double Dips.
A town of two sides:
New Town and New Mills.
Separated by a deep gorge
And the county boundary.
The top of Derbyshire; the east of Cheshire.
Until the Union Bridge was built
A feat of engineering
Above the rushing water.
The dark satanic cotton mills
Brought death to a lot of people.
The buildings are ruins now,
Or used for something else.
Their walls like fortresses,
Chimneys stretching skywards.
In the War, we had evacuees from Manchester
Planes flew overhead to bomb the big city.
And landed on New Mills a few times.
We could see the glow in the distance
As Manchester burned at night.
There were two cinemas, and a theatre
Still going to this day.
Buying groceries at the old Co-op
Licking Dividend stamps.
We had everything we needed here –
Lots of shops, entertainment
Two railway stations
To see the bright lights of Stockport.