I like to see the hills in the distance…our favourite places.

This week, the hospital patients and staff talked about our favourite places, in Derbyshire and beyond. We also looked at some stunning views, from Kinder Scout to Dovedale.

We were inspired by Helen Mort’s poem ‘Made in Derbyshire’, which you can read here, and also ‘I wandered as lonely as a cloud’, by William Wordworth, possibly one of the most famous poems in the English language, but one which still keeps the image of those lakeside daffodils fresh in our minds.

I turned the things we talked about into rhyming couplets, and I hope you enjoy reading the poems, which celebrate Derbyshire and places a little further afield too, looking forward to seaside holidays and balmy summers.


The view of the hills from New Mills


Derbyshire Magic

Walking in the Peak District’s alp-like hills –
Mam Tor shivers – it’s never quite still.
From the market bustle of Chesterfield,
To the crooked-spired church where we kneeled.

Spring’s magical hue of the bluebell wood –
But February’s snowdrops still make me feel good.
Living in Hope in the shadow of mountains;
Visiting Castleton’s caves and canyons.

The slopes of Buxton, under the trees,
Eating a picnic with mild Derby cheese.
The Octagon where we saw Beatles and Stones –
Now it’s all craft fairs for folk with old bones!

Down in the Torrs of New Mills’ river –
Millennium Walkway – in shade where we shiver;
Hugging the cliff-face and joining the path,
A walk spent with friends – always a good laugh!

The views that stretch to Kinder Scout –
Fresh air and wild country’s what it’s all about.
A brisk walk in the hills with a lively dog
Never feels like it’s hard work or a slog.

From big country houses to tiny stone circles,
Derbyshire’s full of land that’s fertile.
Bakewell pudding’s the genuine article
Our county really is quite remarkable!

Chatsworth's Cascade on a lovely summer's day! Spot the duck!

Chatsworth’s Cascade on a lovely summer’s day! Spot the duck!

Memories of Favourite Places

I like to see the hills in the distance
But to get up them, I may need assistance!
These old knees of mine make it tricky to climb
But the mountains of Mourne are still clear in my mind.

On the front at Skegness, the wind was quite chilling
We had our photos taken – the price was two shillings!
Cockles and seaweed, the air was so bracing
Spent our pennies on rock and donkey racing.

Cycling in the countryside, safe from cars
Coming back home under the stars.
We never worried as the sun beat down.
We got sunburn, but then we’d turn brown.

Walking and fishing on Bridlington Pier
Perfect memories, free from fear.
In Whitby, Dracula gave us a fright!
But we ate fish and chips on Friday night.

Bakewell pudding filling my tummy,
In Chatsworth, ice-creams were quite yummy.
Lambs frolicking and pretending to hide,
Matlock Bath lit up like the seaside.

Beautiful sights from New Year to December –
Lovely places to walk and remember.

A Perfect Christmas Eve

A Christmas card from Walton Hospital.

Paper snowflake

Paper snowflake

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.

The End!

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.

Milk Rounds and Old Shops

Last week, we looked at “everyday people” – the people and services that we see every day, and take for granted until they disappear. Until a few years ago, everyone had their milk delivered door-to-door in glass bottles. Now most people get their milk from the supermarket, and I buy soya milk in cartons!

Lots of people also remembered the village “bobby”, complete with his tall police hat, truncheon and bicycle, scaring the living daylights out of young trouble-makers and apple-scrumpers.

And then there were the family-run shops and businesses that serviced Derbyshire towns and villages. Many patients had links with these businesses: cobblers, gentlemen’s outfitters, and grocer’s shops. Thankfully, some of these local institutions are still going, in the face of supermarkets and international chains.

Here are some of our memories!

A milkman from the 1950s.

A milkman from the 1950s.

Milk Rounds

I got up at 4.30am to do my milk round
It was over by eleven – the family firm.
We’d do the rounds in a Bedford Van
And help friends to move house in it.
Blue tits perched and pecked the cream.
Rich gold top, with beak holes in the foil.

In the country, we’d deliver milk differently
We’d have a churn on a horse and cart.
People would bring their own jugs,
And pour out the milk to take home
And put in the pantry or cellar head.

Nowadays, people get supermarket milk –
Those big bottles break the fridge shelf!

An old-fashioned bobby on his beat!

An old-fashioned bobby on his beat!

Pin and buttoning

We were scared of the policeman
But we still got up to all sorts of stuff
Pin and buttoning – making it sound like
Someone was tapping on the window,
But it was a button, blowing in the wind.

The local bobby lived in the police house
In the village – not too much to do really.
He was never off duty – he knew everybody
And everybody’s business.

He wore a tall hat, and a cape,
Rode a bicycle, had a silver whistle
A wooden truncheon, and handcuffs.

The sergeant came into the pub every night, singing songs.
He knew what everyone was up to.

You could get locked up for the night.
Believe it or not, there was once a riot in Bakewell
And the police handcuffed the culprits to the railings.

A Greengrocer's traditional approach to apostrophes!

A Greengrocer’s traditional approach to apostrophes!

Shops of the old days

Timothy Whites’
Boots’ the Chemist.
Tall bar stools and little booths
In Miller’s café.
Home and Colonial in Buxton
Measuring butter in Parks.
Milligan’s for clothes, bedding and towels.
Potter’s – still going strong.
Bespoke gentlemen’s outfitters.
The Co-op had tubes for money
Cashiers upstairs somewhere
Handing you your change.
C&A in Stockport.
Mycock’s butchers – pork pies
Sausages, tripe and black pudding.
A load of old cobblers in New Mills.