Walking the Track.

 

Monsal Dale Trail

She adjusted her backpack higher onto her shoulders for comfort as she walked in the drizzle that fell from a cloudy sky.

It was a humid morning and she noticed the slight headache from the pressure of the long drive, but she knew once she was on the path her head would clear. She breathed deeply and repeated her now familiar simple mantra of Sa Ta Na Ma silently to herself and as she walked, calm surrounded her being, it was going to be a good day.

The trail she had chosen was straight and even, she had walked enough rugged tracks in her life time, now all she wanted was a smooth road with no hidden surprises.

She had walked this part of the trail many times, and she never tired of it, there was always something new to see within each step of her journey. The breeze was gentle, she loved to feel it brush against her cheek, caressing her skin like an old friend. The wind always fascinated her how one moment it could be so gentle and the next it could be so fierce. Nature was always about extremes and balancing the two.

It wasn’t long before she saw a cluster of crab apple trees laden with fruit. It had been a good year for her own apples and she was grateful for their harvest.  She wondered should she take a photo of them, but her camera was in her backpack, so she left it there. She logged the sight to memory as a long ago thought of her Grandfathers allotment came into her mind. She sent him a silent thought of thanks for his own encouragement when she was a child, she loved nothing better than sitting in the wheelbarrow while he wheeled her to his plot, many happy hours were spent in among the cabbages and peas..

A station platform

The track had once been a busy railway line which had connected an important route in the Peak District from Derby to Manchester. But like so many other things, progress in the 60’s which opened up many new motorways had given rise to many railway lines and stations being closed down in 1968.  Something only time would dictate had been a huge error as now many motorways were congested with heavy goods which could have easily have been transported by the railways. She smiled at her thoughts, ‘Progress often took a step backwards’.

Just one of the bridges we need to pass in life.

Monsal Dale gorge was carved out over five million years ago by glacial melt-water or so the geologists experts say, from the last ice-age. It carved a huge valley out leaving behind the limestone layers which geologists say are over 335 million years in age. These limestone outcrops were all over the National Peak District and the woman had seen evidence with her own eyes that all had once been beneath the ocean, for hadn’t she and her friends from her childhood village found fossils  of whole fish pressed in the side of the limestone rocks in Coombes Dale near her childhood home. They had since been covered by brambles as she had tried unsuccessfully to find them, but that trail also nature had closed in on the once busy track that had led up to the long disused Sallet Hole  Mine, but which was very much active when she was a child as it mined Fluorspar. And the village had known to its cost when in 1968 one of the flotation dams which processed the fluorspar had sprung a leak and part of the village where she lived had been flooded by mud. Many people woke up that day to find their homes flooded in water and mud.

Amazing what takes root in the limestone walls that were carved out along this track.. These trees all growing in the rock face.
All we need is to seed our thoughts in the right places and allow them room to grow.

The Track she now walked had been converted into a walking and cycle path and also served as a bridal trail. And although the hour was still early in the morning already the path was becoming quite busy as people drove and then hired bikes at near by Hassop Station.  And a couple on horse back had already trotted by.

She would often played a game with people who were passing her on her walk. She would smile into the eyes of walkers as she greeted them with her ‘good morning!’. Some responded cheerfully back while others would never look up, avoiding eye contact altogether. These would often just mumble a response, surprised a stranger would speak.  She loved playing this game, and could almost guess who would speak and who would keep their eyes in a downward glance as she sensed their energy.

The Human race were a funny lot, some so closed within themselves as they shut the rest of the world out, fearing strangers. The world had taught them to mistrust and fear. She felt sad for these beings who didn’t look past their own horizons. Many walked and talked head bent, never looking up to see the scenery or wildlife around them.   This morning a happy group of what looked like foreign students had all stopped on their hired bikes. Their origins perhaps Japanese or Chinese. Each happy snapping away their selfies on long poles laughing and giggling in their own language, they were  all enjoying their biking experience. She smiled and greeted them and they respectfully greeted her back, which brought another smile to her lips. Strangers from a foreign land it seemed were more trusting of her than her own fellow countrymen and women. Yes, we’re a funny lot.

Hawthorn Berries in abundance

Her headache had disappeared as she knew it would, the drizzle had also stopped as the sun began to peek a little behind the low cloud. And as her gaze looked skyward she saw a blaze of red. Now this had her reaching in her back pack for her camera as she looked upon the magnificence red berries of the Hawthorn.

Ash Keys

This Magical tree was laden with berries, branch after branch weighed down with natures harvest for wild life. She  remembered back walking with her father who had broken off young leaves of the newly shooting hawthorn in Spring, saying they were what his father had known as Bread and Cheese. As the leaves were eaten and were filling when not much else was about.

Rose Hips

Tree after tree were full of berries, even her neighbours Rowan Tree was full of berries. Each year she would look at the signs of nature who knew exactly what she was doing. And the Rosehips too, although not as large because of the drought, they were still plenty of berries around.

It was a pity more Humans did not pay attention to what nature was doing around them, even her little hedgehog was busy collecting leaves to make a cosy place for his hibernation.

This part of the trail took her under one of many bridges over the trail which took roads over the railway track. Each bridge may look similar in size and shape. Yet each brick was placed there by different hands through blood and sweat. These bridges dated back to when the line was first constructed from 1863.  Those who worked upon the railways back then were mainly Irish Navvies, who laid the track dug out by hand and who built the tunnels.  Theirs was a hard life, full of danger and it was said nothing was thought out of the ordinary of one or two men losing their lives along each mile of track laid.

Amazing what takes root in the limestone walls that were carved out along this track.. These trees all growing in the rock face.
All we need is to seed our thoughts in the right places and allow them room to grow.

She now looked at each bridge she passed beneath with a different pair of eyes. While each bridge looked similar in construction, she now envisioned what it was like back in its day of being built. Each brick laid by a different pair of hands. Men who had left their families back in Ireland who were in search of bettering their lives, who were not afraid to leave their homeland to work.

We all have to walk our paths over which are placed many things we need to over come.. But we are all given the chance to bridge our differences..

Nothing any different from the people who leave their homelands now around the world to enter a foreign country who are also striving to better their existence.

We have so much to learn upon our journey, So much to learn about Judgement and prejudices .

Some lessons in life can look the same, Until we learn to over come them.

She looked at each bridge with new eyes, seeing we too were like bridges – each carrying our loads as it spans it own journey to get to the other side to its own destination.

Monsal Head Tunnel.. coming around the bend.

We are all walking our paths, carrying with us what we need to sustain us, All of us have walked along rough terrain at certain junctures in our lives. And some have had to walk through their own dark tunnels, not knowing how long the bend will last before we see the light at the end.

Light at the end of the Tunnel.

But when you finally emerge and you stand on your own Bridge, The Viaduct and look down, you begin to see the landscape from a whole new perspective.

You then can look back through your dark tunnel, and give thanks it led you to where you now stand.

As you look back at the tunnels you have come through . Monsal Head Tunnel.

The train had made its last journey through the tunnel carrying passengers back in ’68. But its demise had allowed thousands now to find their own feet and place them one step in front of the other along the Monsal Trail.

View from the other side of the viaduct bridge

This is the viaduct from which the view of the Valley below was taken from

View from the other side of the viaduct bridge

She hitched up her backpack once more, and began to place one foot in front of the other as she continued along the Path..

I hope you enjoyed this little story of a journey along a railway track… May all of your tracks in life be smooth and straight.. 

Happy Walking 

56 thoughts on “Walking the Track.

  1. Love your story intertwining the bridge, you and your grandfather’s love of gardening and nature. What a wonderful legacy he left you. I use to back pack many years ago now and was always tail end charlie and now in hindsight I realize my heart wasn’t very good then either. But I am walking right along with you and enjoying your time there with your beautiful images and recollections of your grandfather. xoxox

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  2. What a beautiful of spiritual evolvement and analogies to walking our paths and of humanity itself while walking on a hike. Love the photos of the bridges and trees and plants. I could see myself in every step that you were walking. Look forward to another tour. ❤

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  3. I read this last night before I went to bed, and then this morning when I began my day. Both times it was simply a lovely way to spend ten minutes. Thank you for taking me along on the journey. Simply lovely, Sue!

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    • Thank you Bill, that means a great deal to me.. I looked in on you a couple of days ago you had not posted.. Its a busy time on the land.. This post believe it or not took over a week of writing.. I wrote it in one in my journal, knowing the photos I had taken.. But when i get on the laptop, it zaps my energy and I am soon leaving it alone .. to come back to.. I never used to be like this..
      Just showing me I think I need to step into my ‘own-self’ more…
      I thought I would write a more philosophical kind of post about life to tie in with a walk, etc and share on my garden blog for a change instead of Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary where I usually write this kind of thing.. A change from Cabbages.. 🙂 lol 🙂

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  4. I really enjoyed walking with you the views are typically English and quite spectacular. I’ve walked along many a closed railway line which are often converted into nature walks, but your photo shows a feature I’ve never seen before, usually developers rip out everything, yet the station platform in your photo remains looking a rather forlorn reminder of what could still be here.

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    • Thank you so much, Yes there are several platforms, this one is one that stands just outside of what was Hassop Station. If you click some of the links in green on my post it should show you the original station which is now Bike hire and Cafe..

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        • We are… On a different Subject while you are here, Did you see Svein has had his site closed/suspended?? he emailed me and said he hasn’t a clue as to why. He has been posting his own photo’s for so long, and has been blogging on that platform for years.. No explanation or anything… Not even a warning as to what he’d done wrong… It really upset him.. He is in his 80’s and loves his blog.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, I got an email from him. I was able to link to his blog though mine. In the meantime, he informed me his blog came back. It’s concerning to think our blogs could be suspended or hacked after all of the work we put into them, especially his. I hope he has a backup plan in place.

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  5. Lovely travel story, friend Sue … You should write more of this kind and publish it … Me? … am healing my knee cap slowly but steadily … the cast is off, now it’s physio therapy 3xweek and “homework” exercises every day … Glad I have my water rower … used to row joyfully for up to an hour, now it’s 4 minutes of misery … but soon will be 4 minutes of victory and more … smiles … Much love, cat.

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  6. Absolutely loved this, Sue! Your thoughts mirror my own in so many ways. I come across people who don’t even see what is around them when they are out in Nature and I say to myself, “What is the point in even being here?” I actually spoke to one young woman who had her eyes glued to her cellphone, telling her she is missing out on why she is even here. She just grunted, not even speaking and kept on walking, nose still glued to her phone. What a relaxing beautiful trail. I LOVE going on hikes or bike rides in areas like this. Thank you for sharing this with us!! 💝

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  7. Namaste Sue 🙂

    I thought a reading-stroll before lights-out would be a good idea. You’d mentioned the Monsol Trail in a comment and of your intention to ease-out a line or two in a blog-post so I’m pleased you did…a pleasant wander and a delightful read, thank you Sue: a fascinating weave of anecdote reflection sentiment and history as befits the location. There’s also a sense of restfulness between your words so I imagine it a place to easily unwind at leisure – its smooth level pathway holds no surprises but offers moments of wonder and discovery: perfect for wandering and pondering 🙂

    Speaking of which your photographs are also much enjoyed – the view from the former viaduct is superb (and worth walking for), the Hawthorn a riot of colour – I had no idea the leaves are edible (also flowers, flower buds, young shoots and fruit) nor that it was known by a different name. (When researching further I found other trees that had edible components as well; suddenly a whole new world of taste-experiences opens up lol 🙂 ) I’ve always thought railway platforms have a saddening quality about them appearing cold hard wind-swept and hollow almost uncaring places. Even busy platforms I find exude this quality of aloneness but yet strangely disused platforms hold only mystery and fascination: as if foregrounding their hollowness promotes the need to imagine past comings and goings and to learn of its history if only to give it life. On a side-note, I recall a disused railway line – once used for tin-mining – close to where grandparents lived in the south-west that provided an adventurous walk for a young boy with a head full of war-stories thinking he were engaging with enemy forces occupying bridges, platforms, dilapidated buildings or sprung ambushes at road crossings. Heady days indeed 🙂

    Mention of childhood days sitting in the wheelbarrow watching grandfather gardening is an endearing memory and sounds idyllic. No doubt you learnt and remembered far more about gardening than you know from watching him whilst you cared for cabbages and peas – you speak so fondly of your granddad, perhaps you were his favourite? 😉

    I’ve only ever been through one long disused railway-tunnel on foot and that whilst carrying a powerful torch venturing late one night into the pitch black and icy-cold. The experience was unnerving if only because of the anticipation of something unexpected lurking there but I made it to the end and back in one piece. Yet I would quite happily settle for an illuminated tunnel like that on your walk that holds no surprises but takes away nothing from the experience of being underground. How long is the tunnel section?

    An enjoyable read Sue, thank you: perfect to unwind at the end of the day. I know a little of the general area you talk about here but not of the Trail itself. Should I ever head north again I’ll find reason to visit the walk and hopefully enjoy it as you most obviously do. Thanks for sharing.

    Have a wonderful week. Take care of one and all.

    Namaste 🙂

    DN

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    • Lovely comment Dewing.. And yes, the view from the viaduct is stunning and well worth the long tunnel.. As to its length I am unsure with out checking statistics. It takes around ten minutes or so to walk through.. Less on a bike obviously.. And the memories of spending summer holidays with my Mothers parents three bus rides away were the highlight of my Summer.. And we always had fresh veggies for dinner.. And while my Dad also had an allotment, and I helped him from time to time in it as a child… I think my Granddad had more patience with us, and explained so much more… I thank Dad went to escape us kids.. being five of us.. 🙂 So his patience was a bit thin.. 🙂
      So pleased you enjoyed the walk.. And learnt more about Hawthorn in the process. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Namaste Sue 🙂

    It was a pleasure to wander the trail through your words and images. Thank you for posting.

    The tunnels appearing on the Monsal Trail are as follows. The longest tunnel being Headstone at 487m in length. This from Wiki: the trail passes through the following tunnels –

    Headstone: 533 yards (487 m)
    Cressbrook: 471 yards (431 m) through limestone, 1 in 100 gradient
    Litton: 515 yards (471 m) through limestone, 1 in 100 gradient
    Chee Tor 1: 401 yards (367 m)
    Chee Tor 2: 91 yards (83 m)
    Rusher Cutting Tunnel: 121 yards (111 m)

    Those memories of yours are cherished and no doubt as bright today as they have ever been: evergreen in your heart. Occasions with your grandparents during summer holidays sound idyllic and the journey there all part of the grand adventure 🙂 I think my father felt similarly about needing space: he had a garden shed and when the door was shut we knew not to trouble him. My grandparents lived quite some distance away and time with them was limited but always enjoyed. I remember my grandmother being far more congenial and in-tune with me than granddad but both fascinated me in their own way. They are missed.

    The walk was perfect before lights-out. Perhaps one day I’ll take a peek at the path in the peaks called Monsol. Thanks for posting 🙂

    Enjoy the latter end of the week. Take care.

    Namaste 🙂

    DN

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    • Thank you Dewin, for taking the time for those statistics of the Tunnels.. This was the Headstone Tunnel the Longest we walked through. And yes our childhood memories often fish out the good as well as the bad bits.. My Distant grandparents were closer than the ones who lived in the village which were my Dad’s parents… Generations lived in the village, sadly today strangers have holiday homes there and the village school is struggling and fought not to be closed down several years ago..
      Again apologies for just getting back here to see your reply.. I missed it, and have been withdrawing into my world of crafts.. I took a tip from you about Audio Books.. And went to the local library to see what selection they had on offer..
      And while my needles click away, I am listening to the * The Allotment Girls * by Kate Thompson… An excellent story set in WW2.. About four factory girls in one of East Ends Match factories.. Swan Vesta 🙂 I have bought a few packets of their brand of matches over time.. 🙂 And well remember lighting coal fires as a child myself, with the paper and sticks and hand shovel with paper held over it to help draw the chimney to get the fire going.. Many a time the paper caught light and went up the chimney.. My goodness today health and safety would have a fit.. But I did those chores aged 10.. And thought nothing of it.. 🙂
      Hope you are enjoying the best of the weather as the Sun holds on..
      Take care Dewin and thank you my friend.. 🙂

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      • My pleasure Sue, I was as curious as you about the length of the tunnel…it must be something of an attraction on the walk itself. I imagine it quite an experience.

        I know of several villages in both Wales and England where schools have closed due to dwindling numbers of attendees as a result of communities dispersing. The influx of ‘strangers’ into these once bustling places appears to do little to help restore its soul but rather places emphasis on aesthetics, which is an investment in property not a restoration of community or its infrastructure. It is a shame. Personally I’d like to see a return to more traditional farming practices that are less reliant on high-yield methods and advanced-technology – a return to organic farming and mixed farming practices: livestock, fruit and crops managed by workers bringing life to both fields and rural communities once again. But for the axis of fool’s gold called money that the Earth spins upon such a perspective might still be viable.

        I am so pleased to hear you bit the bullet and chose an audio-book 🙂 The title is just perfect, the story of obvious interest and the experience appears to be greatly enjoyed. That’s excellent. You are a dreamer anyway Sue but I always feel the chance to visualise, dream, imagine and add depth and detail to the words being heard is somehow heightened as a result of not having to read just simply listen. No doubt your thoughts and ideas paint a vivid picture adding depth to the tale. Your mention of being a child fire-starter is wonderful yet it is merely the beginning of a life-long story bringing you to present day…there must be stories to tell. Good luck with the audio-book, I hope it becomes an enjoyable habit 🙂

        The Indian-summer we are experiencing is delightful. If not for the fact I am in work all day Mon-Thurs I’d be sure to enjoy it a whole lot more! 🙂 But I have evenings and weekends of course and shall make the most of warmth and sunshine before both slip away for winter. No doubt you are busy outdoors and making best use of sunlit days.

        Well I should away and get the day begun in earnest. Until next time, take care Sue, have a wonderful weekend and a delightful new week ahead.

        Best wishes, Namaste 🙂

        DN

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        • Thank you Dewin.. The Book now finished and was a superb listen, and much knitting was created while listening… My next listen is the Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. And I hope my needles click as fast.. 🙂
          Yes the gardening is coming along beautifully.. We feel Autumn will come in swift ( like today with a drop from yesterdays temp of 21C to todays 14C a stark change.. And We both feel winter will hit early and hard.. So making the best of getting things ship shape..
          And hoping to put a post together for my garden blog today.. 🙂 And Ditto about farming practices etc… I feel many more may well in the future start growing their own.. For if these weather extremes keep hitting, it will affect food prices and production.. So we may all be coming little farmers even if its in pots on the windowsills 🙂

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          • Namaste Sue 🙂

            Hoping your weekend is proving fruitful, relaxing and fulfilling every expectation.

            I’ve just had a quick look at the book you’ve mentioned. It has fantastic reviews from all readers who’ve read the book, which always bodes well for the merit of a book: your needles will click double-quick 🙂

            Indeed Autumn comes to town with vengeance and fury and a light frost most mornings this week. I already have the thicker coat out of storage and the scarf and gloves poised for use. I also think it’ll be a cold hard winter biting early but fading quickly to a magnificent Spring 🙂

            Urban Farming as individuals or communities is an opportunity needing further consideration. Not only does it provide a direct source of food and/or income to the immediate community – be that hamlet or city, individual or groups – it also ensures food safety and food security. Urban agriculture is not a new phenomenon – it was popular during the war years in America when food couldn’t be shipped from Europe – but it is an underused resource that could have a very positive impact. The Earth sustains an ever expanding population that requires feeding with ever dwindling resources (eg: farmable land not yet stripped of nutrients due to intense farming), in addition to which as you suggest changing weather patterns and lack of fresh water on a global scale aggravate the problem – this from the UN Website: (Global) Water-related challenges –

            2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services. (WHO/UNICEF 2017)
            4.5 billion people lack safely managed sanitation services. (WHO/UNICEF 2017)
            340,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases. (WHO/UNICEF 2015)
            Water scarcity already affects four out of every 10 people. (WHO)
            90% of all natural disasters are water-related. (UNISDR)
            80% of wastewater flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused (UNESCO, 2017).
            Around two-thirds of the world’s transboundary rivers do not have a cooperative management framework. (SIWI)
            Agriculture accounts for 70% of global water withdrawal. (FAO)
            Roughly 75% of all industrial water withdrawals are used for energy production. (UNESCO, 2014)

            I think your vision of the world’s people farming isn’t so far off the mark Sue, the only drawback being water. Perhaps science will provide a solution – a means by which to continue generating high-crop yields but using minimum volumes of water. However, in principle I am not a fan of GM Crops but yet I imagine it will become more prevalent in order to facilitate food production for the world.

            Well Sue, all this talk of food has made me hungry and whilst the cupboard is bare I’ll not be cooking up a storm in the kitchen this evening. So I’d best get my skates on and head off to the shops, a chore I don’t really enjoy. I’ll leave you to catch up with your blogging or catch up with the knitting and book listening. Have a wonderful week and a pleasant evening.

            Take care. Namaste 🙂

            DN

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            • Thank you Dewin.. And I have only just listened to the first couple of chapters of the Snow Child and already captivated.. So I am happy about the reviews..
              Yes the Allotment Girls set in the war years and the ” Dig for Victory” campaign spoke of allotments springing up and was encouraged by the war effort.. While back gardens were turned into veggie plots..
              Those statistics are terrible aren’t they.

              There is no need for anyone to go without water, on a *water planet* and this will have to be addressed in the future if we still have a planet by then..
              How Seawater Desalination Works

              I found this little animation on how..

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            • Namaste Sue 🙂

              If the book intrigues so quickly you are certain to be entertained. I hope it remains captivating until the very last word.

              I recall my step-father’s stories of his war years growing up a young lad in London. He has mentioned the dig for victory campaign before and of his grandfathers allotment and rear-garden chicken run. He is full of stories and tales (often repeated and embellished each time but he’s a cockney and full of words lol 😀 ) including talk of buried chickens, buried eggs and wardens on doorsteps asking questions 😀 I think he was well looked-after during the war years and being an only child with family always nearby never went without much at all. But I digress, returning to the idea of urban agriculture…it there were an unprecedented improvement in public transport and infrastructure generally, perhaps many more would give-up the car (or use it far less often) and areas of our metropolises be returned to soil rather than tarmac and paving stone. If not for that old devil called profit perhaps public transport could offer a viable, convenient, clean, consistent and efficient alternative to personalised transport. You mention in your article the abandoning of railways for the convenience of road-haulage and the congestion and cost that such a narrowly conceived idea had: ideas dictated by money and certainly not with creative vision.

              Thank you for the animation…a fascinating watch. I knew a little of the concept but this animation has left me much wiser. I’ve read figures suggesting each of us use between 80 – 100 gallons of water per day, about 35,000 gallons per year but I can’t find statistics to suggest at the amount of water we each return to the ‘system’ each year. My guess would be that we use far more than we return, and so I ask (naively perhaps) what happens in a closed system (such as our weather system) when water is removed, or is there in actuality no water-loss? I have no idea!

              My dinner is served Sue so I shall away. Have a pleasant evening and a wonderful week.

              Take care Namaste 🙂

              DN

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            • Your Step Fathers stories sound interesting, and I am sure there were one or two things buried during those lean years 🙂
              And as for the allotments, yes they were actively encouraged the allotment act began in 1925 where provisions were first given to grow food after the first World War..
              The book I read The allotment girls is as i said around WWII and the girls are Match Girls from the Bryant and May Factory… Which also interested me as I too was a Factory girl in textiles.. They pleaded with their bosses to grant them a rough piece of the factory site, which they cleared and turned into a prize winning allotment helping serve food to the community.
              Hope you enjoyed Dinner.. 🙂

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            • Dinner was both filling and tasty thank you Sue: chilli beef with rice and chips 🙂

              I recall past conversation regarding your textile-days and at mention of the book’s content I wondered if it might have added appeal: it was the perfect first-book on audio 🙂 Their war-effort is highly commendable: a modern day equivalent might be for local businesses to sponsor ‘grass-roots’ schemes, perhaps through schools/youth groups, or charitable organisations and provide funding towards similar initiatives or schemes. I remember reading of such a scheme in Bristol managed and maintained through community food groups interested in sustainable food networks. I think it an idea that has mileage and an opportunity that might be fortuitous in the future, who knows.

              A pleasure chatting as always. Hoping your evening’s listen-whilst-knitting was enjoyed. Take care.

              Ciao for now. Namaste 🙂

              DN

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