Thursday, 3 January 2008

Blossom comes early

Part of the Jubilee Campus under development beside Triumph Road.

Cherry blossom to greet the new year in Lenton Recreation Ground.

Leaves on the path waiting to be gathered by Dave.

Dave starts the new year pruning the trees along the footpaths.

Nottingham University Jubilee Campus from the south end of its artificial lake on 1 January 2008 — a grey day with the sky full of low cloud and rain in the wind.

On New Year's Day I plodded round the park looking for the first signs of early flowers, perhaps some snowdrops? I didn't know what to expect or if I would find anything. I saw not a thing. Later, after lunch, Susan and I decided to walk up to the Jubilee Campus, then back down Triumph Road to see what building work was going on on the campus, as the university has recently submitted a few interesting planning applications, including one for a '180m sculpture' (I hope to have more on this quite soon).

We walked along the Derby Road as far as Lenton Lodge (see mention and picture in my blog for 28 December 2007), then we took the footpath to right-hand side of the Lodge to the end of Charnock Avenue and onto the open space behind Orston Drive. We then followed the path up to the Jubilee Campus, where I took the above picture. Along the way, the path runs close to some of the back gardens on Orston Drive where we came across Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. We then walked along the path between the campus buildings and the lake before turning onto Triumph Road, where we saw that the university is constructing what look like high-tech buildings on boths of the road. In fact one building actually straddles the existing Triumph Road and one of the planning applications I have already mentioned shows the road diverted between two points to create a curve. The line of the new road could already be seen. No doubt all will be revealed soon enough. Much of the site under development used be the old Raleigh bicycle factory which once stretched from Lenton Boulevard to Triumph Road. Now their bikes are made somewhere in the Far East. Today it's educuation, education, education, with banners flapping on poles all around the University proclaiming how easy it is to do post-graduate studies and Phds'. Not a bad thing in itself, but the commercialisation of higher-education begs the question 'How can you fail students who don't make the grade after they have paid for the course in the first place?'.

Even though I left school at 15 and was written off by the system, I have always supported free university education. It seems the very least a forward thinking society can do for both the students and itself. If you make students pay for their higher-education what obligation are they are likely to feel towards society at the end of it all? Like so much else in this world it comes down to class. When students were mainly middle and upper class the political establishment was willing to pay for their education or, at the very least, give them a large subsidy. Once ordinary kids from working class families started to going to university, charges were introduced, with the result that they leave university thousands of pounds in debt, so what time do they have to think of others anyway?

All these thoughts from a walk and seeing some buildings under construction. Who says walking frees the mind? Sometimes maybe, but you can also come home ready to take on the world! From Triumph Road it was a few hundred yards home. I had walked 3,850 steps or about 1.8 miles. There was one last twist to our walk as we came past Lenton Recreation Ground and looked into the park and across to the playground. There before us was a tree in full blossom! I had missed earlier in the day because I had been concentrating on the ground in my search for the first flower.

On Wednesday when I saw Dave, our groundsman, I asked what the tree was and he told me it was a cherry tree and that it had blossomed about this time last year, then again in April. Like so much else in life, my experience with the flowers and the tree was a gentle reminder that we can all be come so fixated on looking in one direction that we miss what is right before our eyes. On New Year's Day a friend in Spain sent us a email greetings for 2008 and attached a list of '39 thoughts for the year'. No.21 read 'Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognise a mistake when you make it again'. How true!

Unions and Government want low-paid women carers to settle for much less back-pay than they are legally entitled to after discovering it will cost local councils in England £2.8 billion. Scotland has found a way to pay the money in full.

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