Thursday February 3, 2005
It wasn’t a very nice day. Dull, slightly humid, and with a pall of smoke hanging about from a neighbourly bonfire.
Even so, I felt the need to go out, stretch my legs a little, and test the state of my left hip—the one that’s kept me more or less confined to the house for the past few days.
“I think I’ll have a go at walking up to the letter box,” I said, fixing a stamp onto an envelope. “I’m beginning to feel ready for something more than just a few steps.”
“Well, good, but take it easy and if it starts to hurt again, stop and rest.”
“Oh, never fear. And I’ll take my phone with me, just in case.”
“Off you go then.”
And off I went, stick a’swinging, stepping out as though my hip joint hadn’t been imitating a worn out meat grinder. It behaved very well, and I was able to make it all the way to the post office letter collection box at the very end of the lane, by the main road. I dropped my letter in the slot, stepped back, and had a bit of a brain wave.
I’d got to the point where I was still walking fine enough, but I was beginning to lean on my stick a little, and feeling the need for frequent pauses. So I pulled out my trusty pencam, and decided to record the plod home, having every excuse in the world to stop for a moment here and there.
This end of the lane, starting with the letter box, is rural, but not so pretty as the rest.
The only ‘industry’ is on the corner, a closed-down petrol filling station now serving as a used car lot and vehicle repair workshop.
A few steps further along is a dis-used timber and brick building which was the filling station and garage before the larger brick-built place took over on the corner.
The side window fascinates me. I wonder who worked in there when it was a going concern? Perhaps some local lady, doing the books, answering the telephone and keeping an eye on things for the boss man. You could write a story about this…
Then, on a quiet corner, the war memorial, listing the men of the village who gave their lives in the two great wars. This comes to life on Armistice Day but is quiet the rest of the year apart from the old guy who comes along to keep the plot tidy and trim.
A little further on is the disused ‘Primitive Methodist Chapel’, a sad, brick-built place, seemingly on the very edge of tumbling down. Over the front door, a battered and only barely legible plaque proclaims, best I can decipher it…
And then, the last sign of industry on the lane, a discarded mill-stone, leaning against the wall of one of the older houses. For decorative reasons, presumably.
Opposite, I spotted my first small drifts of snowdrops and crocus in bloom. My pencam isn’t the best tool for this job but it was all I had to hand.
Just past the snowdrops some local comic has put this name plate up on his fence. I’m not sure about it, but I’ve been glimpsing it from the car, and on foot, for about six months now and I’ve decided to tolerate it. Whether or not Mr Mandela would approve I have no way of knowing.
Finally, on the verge outside our little fenside house, the four trash bags I put out for collection just before I set off on my walk. Why record trash bags? Well, why not? Anyway, look carefully behind them, along the foot of our hedge, and you’ll get a glimpse of our daffodils, now in bud and raring to go.
At the first hint of yellow bloom I shall drag Graham out to see them, and treat him to a full-scale, max. histrionics version of my very own personal rendition of ‘The Daff-o-dils… by Will-yum Werds-werf’.
So that was it. I wanted a record of the less-than-pretty end of the lane, just for my memory. In a year or so all this will seem a long, long way away.
“How did you get on, then?” Graham asked as I puffed and huffed back through the kitchen door.
“Oh, fine, thanks. Just need to sit for a minute and catch me breff.”
“You do that. Coffee?”
“Sit still, then, and I’ll get it.”
“It’s ok. You’ve earned it.”
When I showed him the photographs from my pencam he wasn’t too impressed. Particularly with the snowdrops. I protested that the light was very poor for the titchy little camera but it made no difference.
“You’ll have to do a painting of them,” he said.
“Funny you should mention that,” I said.
Much of the rest of the day I spent trying to capture my vision of snowdrops on paper, in pen and wash. Not an easy thing, but I’ll keep at it. Who would think that such tiny blooms and leaves could present such a problem?