Monday, 29 September 2014

Bilborough's hidden treasure, a 'Stargate' moment and a sad footnote

Last Friday (26 September) Susan and I took ourselves off to St Martins Church in Bilborough on a 35 bus (just a twenty-five minute bus ride) to learn more about the ongoing Heritage Lottery Funded (HLF) 'Hidden Treasure' project to restore this medieval parish church and its Evelyn Gibbs mural from 1946.

It was ninety-minutes well spent, during which time we learnt a great deal and were greatly impressed by the friendliness and enthusiasm of those closely involved with the project. At the end of this post you will find dates of future events. It is really worth attending. You will not be disappointed.

We were originally going on the afternoon visit with TravelRight, but visitors later in the day from my Wembley South Young Socialist days in the early-1960s meant we went to the morning tour instead. By way of a taster and to encourage you to visit, I took some photographs, but first you need to know how to get there. By bus of course, so here is a simple map.






Opposite the Moor Road bus stops is St Martins Road, complete with a sign pointing you in the right direction.



As you walk down St Martins Road you will pass the City Council's Sheila Russell Community Centre which is, without doubt, the prettiest in Nottingham. 


The community centre comes with its own secret garden, which always wows folk who see it for the first time and as my TravelRight 35 Bus Days have proved, a good many local folk did not know the garden existed before I took them to it. I love it. A real, hidden, city gem.



South side view of St Martins Church, Bilborough Village, but not the modern extension you first see as you approach the Church from the north side.


Now for the visit to St Martins Church to see the restoration work. We were welcomed by the Hidden Treasure Project Manager (and Church Warden), Hilary Wheat. On the wall, a projected image of Evelyn Gibbs in her Nottingham Houndsgate studio, probably in the late-1940s. The pub across the way from  her window has gone, replaced by a modern building housing a MacDonalds takeaway, but you can still the windows of her studio on the south side of Houndsgate, across from St Peter's Church and Marks & Spencers. 


We were next treated to an enthusiastic and very informative presentation about the life and works of Evelyn Gibbs by her biographer, Beeston artist Pauline Lucas. This is a fine example of one Evelyn Gibbs's many wartime drawings.


Tobit Curteis, the lead conservator, gave a truly wonderful talk about the history of church murals and how Evelyn Gibbs is part of an ongoing tradition. Towards the end he said 'Conservation? I tell students it's all about drains. Think about it. Water penetration does the most damage'. 



After Tobit we went into the old church, which was being protected from the modern extension and the outside world by a curtain of thick polythene sheeting. As I saw Hilary holding back the curtain so I could pass through, I thought of 'Stargate' (the TV series), which Susan is a great fan of, and how you pass into other worlds and times. For me, and I suspect others, this was one of those moments.


Once inside, Tobit stood on the scaffolding where his two conservator colleagues, Claudia (left) and Bianca (right) were hard at work, whilst he explained all the challenges they face. The lower part of the Evelyn Gibbs mural was covered with emulsion paint back in the 1970s and the top-half hidden from view by a false ceiling put in place when the church extension was built in the 1970s. Because emulsion paint cannot be removed at the present time without stripping away the layers of paint beneath, they are going to re-create the original mural from photographs, then sometime in the future, with the help of techniques Tobit expects to be invented in the next 20–30 years, the emulsion paint can be removed to reveal the lower half too.


I then caught Pauline Lucas looking up at one of the conservators. As you can see she was transfixed. Pauline is author of Evelyn Gibbs: Artist and Traveller published by Five Leaves Publications in 2002. The website says the book is still available, but when I enquired about a copy today I was told it was out of print. At the time Pauline was writing her biography, everyone thought the mural had been lost during the 1970s modernisation. When it was re-discovered, Pauline was one of the first to appreciate its significance and has been closely involved ever since. I am really pleased with this photograph. Pauline is such an engaging speaker that to hear her talking about Evelyn Gibbs is an experience not to be missed. 


Conservator Bianca working on the Angel Gabriel. The ‘Annuciation’ painted at St Martin’s Church in Bilborough in 1946 (which) is thought to be the last surviving example of these works and features Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the Angel Gabriel painted in the local setting, with the church and the old farmhouse behind them (you can read more on the St Martins Hidden Treasure Blog.



Some of my regular readers will know that I have mentioned St Martins in an earlier blog this year and in relation to the 35 History Bus as well. This memorial to the Helwys family of nearby Broxtowe Hall is a tangible link to Thomas Helwys, one of the founders of the Baptist Church. You can argue that it all began here, in St Martins. Another remarkable reminder of why this wonderful little church, in all its otherwise simplicity, is of international significance, with the potential to attract visitors from around the world.



The modern false ceiling also hid from view this wonderful bossed ceailing, Looking at my photograph captures how looking up at it made me feel quite dizzy.


My final photograph of the day shows two other important members of the Hidden Treasure Team. Lesley Owen-Jones, HLF's East Midlands Development Manager, who, according to Hilary Wheat, chased St Martins until they got their funding bid in (which resulted in a £744,100 grant) and Matt Dolman, who is in charge of Volunteering — an important aspect of the Hidden Treasure Project. Behind them Claudia works on the image of Mary.

Lesley also asked me to make the point that HLF very much wants to encourage local funding bids and is clearly enthusiastic about the wider role they can play in increasng local heritage awareness and this, in turn, brings me to an important potential spin-off — the bringing together of a number of local heritage related initiatives coming with a view to creating a local history society for the area.

In a nutshell St Martins Church in Bilborough is at the centre of an area we should be promoting as Nottingham's 'Garden City' and the series of Walking and Cycling Guides by Chris Matthews which have been published by TravelRight. 

Again, these are all things I have blogged about. Through me and John Parker, Chair of Nottinghamshire Local History Association, its Angel Row History Forum (with the support of the Local Studies Library), has been promoting a wider interest in local heritage, especially in areas of the city without local history groups. The following map illustrates this last point and how we may be able to bring groups and individuals together in a common cause as a Nottingham Garden City Heritage Society. The map shows all the areas around and close to St Martin's without any local history group.



Finally, the dates I mentioned for future events at St Martin's Church:

Wednesday 19 November 2014, an evening lecture starts 7pm, The Gibbs Murals: If Walls Could Talk, by Pauline Lucas, £6 (£3 concessions) includes refreshments.

Saturday 29 November 2014, Hidden Treasures Community Party, 3–5pm. Come and celebrate the launch of the Project and find out how you can be involved. Free music and food.

A FOOTNOTE: TUESDAY 30 SEPTEMBER 2014. A report in the Nottingham Post that over the weekend just gone vandals broke into St Martin's Church and did £1,000 worth of mindless damage. Suddenly, it becomes a site 'at risk'. Those responsible have no understanding that it is their heritage, regardless of faith or politics, that they attack. It is, at the end of the day, all about education and community engagement — and the creation of a Garden City Heritage Society could become an important part of the process, getting to every school and community facility in the area. Local history is democratic and greater than the sum of its parts. It is something we all own.











Tuesday, 23 September 2014

My stories get a home of their own

I started writing fiction at the beginning of 2011 when I first attended Beeston WEA's Creative Writing Class. I took a break after Christmas last year because I envisaged the whole process of moving would take 7–8 months, I did not expect it to take ten months, but here are, still unmoved. We should know our fate next week, but I decided to rejoin the WEA class this coming Thursday regardless. I have had enough of putting my life on hold.

Listening to Jenni Murray interview Chrissie Hynde on Women's Hour last week made up my mind. It also made up my mind about sharing some of my fiction. Several perevious attempts have come to nothing because I wanted to be inclusive first, Now I intend to be inclusive second. The result is another blog: http://littlehandpress.blogspot.com.

Without realising it, my decision coincided with the closing date for the Saturday Night – Sunday Morning (flash) Writing Competition organised by the Nottingham Festival of Words, 13–19 October 2014, to which I have entered two 'flash' stories, and the reading on Radio 4 this week of the five short-listed entries for BBC–Radio 4's 2014 Short Story Competition (the winner will be announced on 30 September 2014).

Just three (very) short stories to start the ball rolling. From now on I will add one a week. I hope you go and have a read and pass on the link if you think anyone else out there might just enjoy one of my stories. A modest hope.

You can connect direct to my new writing blog using this logo, which is at the top of the right-hand column opposite:


On the blog, each story has its own storybox, which links directly to the story in question.







Friday, 19 September 2014

Towns in Britain full of delights

I wrote this book review for The Nottinghamshire Historian, but due to lack of space. it is being held over to the January 2015 edition. In the meantime, I thought I would share it with readers of my blog.


Towns in Britain by Adrian Jones & Chris Matthews, 2014, Five Leaves Publications, B6, 324pp, illus, index, ISBN: 978 1907869822, £16.99, from Five Leaves Bookshop, 14A Long Row, Nottingham NG1 2DH, www.fiveleavesbookshop.co.uk.

This wonderful book, full of delights, is the work of two Nottingham residents (if you include West Bridgford in the city’s orbit), Adrian Jones, a former city planner (has a very good website called Jones the Planner), and Chris Matthews, a Nottingham local historian and graphic designer (see his excellent website, local history and art), offer readers their take on over twenty British towns and cities, from both contemporary and historical perspectives, including Nottingham (‘neither Northern nor Midland’) and much maligned Newport  (‘home of the Mole Wrench’) in Wales. I would have liked chapters on Basingstoke and Milton Keynes, if only to help with my own education, but I am pleased to say they write fondly about Coventry (‘an underrated masterpiece') and sing the praises of garden cities and some new towns.

Their chapter on Leicester (‘a totally uninteresting Midland city?') begins ‘Leicester has a bit of a problem with its image — it hasn’t really got one… it does its best to hide the fact that it is one of England’s most historic cities’. The authors then provide any would-be visitor with the most perfect of guides and all this before Richard III became the city’s crowning historical glory.

What I love about this critique cum guide is the fact that it is full of literary references. On the first page of the Nottingham chapter we get not only the obvious, D H Lawrence and Alan Sillitoe, but the blessed Ian Nairn and J B Priestley as well, all with something pertinent to say about the city in the 21st century. Somehow  Jones  and Matthews manage to throw in a good few references to housing, especially public, all too often forgotten. They do not shy away from the obvious: a truth that, in polite society, dare not speak its name. In Nottingham ‘like most cities, there is a lot of poverty alongside conspicuous wealth… (the) relentless alienation of the dispossessed is painfully captured in Shane Meadows’s films, so much so I can hardly bear to watch’.

Towns in Britain is up there with the best and will not disappoint. Ross Bradshaw hopes to eventually publish as an e-book. In the meantime buy the paperback and read at leisure. Once read you will want to keep it handy — it’s that kind of book.

By way of footnote. This year I have bought a couple of other history/planning/architecture books from Five Leaves Bookshop: Concretopia  by John Grindrod and Ian Nairn: Words in Place, a collection of essays relating to books and articles (which is also now available as an e-book). Be warned(!) Ross Bradshaw's bookshop is very difficult to leave without spending money. Also a book about mapping, which this has prompted me to write something about, so coming soon...

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

History on a 35 bus reprise






Forget the date shown on the original poster. We're doing it for a second time on Saturday 20 September 2014, meeting at Bulwell Riverside Centre (200m south within sight of Bus Station), 11am. To be sure of a seat contact TravelRight by clicking here.

This time, unfortunately, there will be no Old English speakers. It's happened all so quickly and preparing to move house has been a big (ongoing) distraction. Last time it rained heavily all day. This time we're hoping for better weather. Last time we had a full bus. 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Small Pinboard #1

My good friend Rosie, who inspired me to start this blog in 2007, includes in regular postings to her own blog, Corners of my mind, what I can only describe as mini-pinboards. It is something I like. The paucity of it. Small enough to leave me wanting more.

Given how verbose I am, I have decided to create my own small pinboards, limited to just six images. Not all the time, but by way of seeing if I can make the idea work and as interesting as my friend Rosie.

A selection of personal images.
  1. A painting I own by Enid Thatcher, a Nottinghamshire artist.
  2. Langley Mill Locks and Basin, where the Erewash Canal meets the Cromford Canal. The end of one my favourite walks along a favourite canal.
  3. A photograph Rosie took for me at Baddesley Clinton. When we move, I plan to have a large print made and framed. I love all the photograph says to me and it reminds me of Rosie and Paul and a lovely few days in Stratford-upon-Avon.
  4. The view from our bed in our present home. It was this room we fell in love with when we bought the house in 1979. Full of love and happy memories.
  5. My cousin Caroline, who died of breast cancer aged just thirty-eight. Two years younger than me. We saw a lot of one another as children and teenagers, even though I was in Wembley and she was in Great Chesterford in north-east Essex. Her great-grandfather was my great-great grandfather. We were very close and I miss her still.
  6. Pop, my maternal grandfather. I took this photograph with my first camera in 1961. Nanna, my maternal grandmother died in early-1960 and, most of the time, until I got married in 1965 we lived alone or with lodgers, who had the big front bedroom. He was a creature of habit, a man with a daily routine, which included getting up late. My mother was the same, although I only lived with her for a few brief months, and so am I. When I met Susan, one of the first things she told me was that she 'liked her bed'. I was already in love with her by then, even though I had only known her for a few hours at the time.
So there you have it, my first small pinboard. Of little consequence or interest to the world at large. I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Scotland vote prompts memories of another election


For some reason, whilst reading yet another news item about Scotland's independence referendum on Thursday, my mind wandered back to Wembley in the early-1960s and another election, which was to play a big part in making me who I am today.

Ray Dent was an avuncular man, full of humour and wisdom, always a twinkle in his eye. Short and rotund, and chain-smoking to the point where ash and his jacket were indistinguishable. He was always sitting, always there before me, be it in the pub or in his small office on the first floor of the then Wembley South Labour Party's 'New Hall', so named because the old hall burnt down. The Hall faced onto Ealing Road and was sandwiched between St Andrew's Presbyterian Church and Union Road.

I joined Wembley South Young Socialists in early-May 1960, just a couple of weeks before my 16th birthday, recruited by Clive Kent (a friend still). When me met, horror of horrors, I was in the Young Liberals, who I had joined a year before, not long before I left school. I was already writing about socialism then. I went, originally, with another friend. None of us fitted in, but the girls were fun and it was all part of life's learning curve.

Then one evening a group of three or four Young Socialists turned up. I remember Clive, who seemed to be their leader, and Ken Leech. A Welsh lad Terry Carroll may have been there too. A few of us YLs quickly realised we had more in common with the YS and I remember David Rose, who went to Barham Primary School with me, a lad called Perry and Paul Boatfield (a friend still), who was then about 14 and came along to the YLs with his older sister, all deciding to join Wembley South Young Socialists, who doubled in size the moment we joined.

For a while the groups overlapped, especially the girls. Monica from Sweden and Mavis, always so proper. Jeanette from Alperton Secondary Modern like me. Somehow the YS grew and I ended up, first, Secretary, then Treasurer for a while. Most Saturdays we would stand on Wembley High Road, outside Woolworths with a banner and a loudhailer, on some steps I brought from home shouting 'Kick out the Tories' and campaigning against The Bomb and whatever other cause took our fancy at the time.

In all this we were encouraged by Ray Dent and a few others, like Len and Joan Snow. Then there was Ernst Friedlander, a 1930s German refugee from Berlin and his wife. All of them people I remember with affection, even though Ernst would chide us for some of the things we said outside Woolworths. He was Wembley South Labour Party's Press Officer and would go on to become Mayor of Brent in the early-1980s. Somewhere along the line, some wise person in the adult section of the Party, decided a better use could be made of the YS if we had a ward to fight. They gave us Sudbury and Clive took the lead and acted as Agent.

Memory tells me it was a good campaign and gave me a love of elections, which I have never lost. We thought that should our candidate win we would change the world.

The Secretary of Sudbury Ward Labour Party was a wonderful, elderly, lady called Mrs Mansfield who, like Ray Dent, was round and jolly. She welcomed us into her home and was a source of continual encouragement. Somewhere among the myriad of packed boxes awaiting our move (still an ongoing saga) there is a Labour polling card from the November 1947 Wembley Borough Elections bearing her name.

Sudbury was a Tory ward, with tree-lined streets. The road I lived on, off Wembley High Road, had no trees. Most of Labour's membership was drawn from these streets and there were enough loyal voters in other parts of the ward for Clive and the Labour candidate (whose name I cannot remember, but I am sure was an engineer) to believe we were in with a chance.

The campaign wasn't about persuading Tory or Liberal voters. It was about persuading non-voters and genuine 'don't knows' to swell the ranks of existing Labour voters. Once a voter was identified as being anti-Labour they were ignored, We wanted them to sleep through election day and wake up the next day feeling as sick as a parrot.

In those days pub landlords didn't bother too much about under-age drinkers, especially in the company of older drinkers. I was taken for my first pint by work colleagues when I was fifteen. At the end of an evening canvassing we always retired to a pub, where we would report back to Clive and hand him our canvassing returns. Sometimes Ray Dent and another older Party member, Mrs Housego, would be there.

As the Wembley Borough Elections got closer, so our candidate (whose face I can clearly see as I write this) and Clive became more convinced that we were in with a chance — we might actually win!

On election day we were not just excited, we were hyper. The day began early, six o'clock if I remember correctly, as Young Socialists swarmed all over Sudbury, under the leadership of  Clive,  with a 'Morning of Poll' leaflet, which went to every house where there was a named Labour promise. We manned the polling stations from start to finish and the older 'adult' members in Sudbury joined in, treating us like equals. Age didn't matter (official polling cards did not come in until 1974. Before 1974 you had to issue your own polling cards and voters would hand them to the Labour Party teller when they left the polling station after they voted).

At the count, my first though aged just sixteen, us teenagers stood around the Sudbury tables in Wembley Town Hall waiting for the first ballot papers to arrive. We knew what to do, We had our marking pads so that we could sample ballot papers as they tumbled from the boxes and they were first placed in unsorted piles (the number of ballot papers per polling district are counted first to ensure they total the same as the marked voting lists from individual polling stations. Only after these have been agreed are ballots papers sorted by how votes have been cast). Clive briefed us well. We all knew what to do. I remember Tories looking at us, a seemingly illiterate horde of Young Socialists, ravenous for victory, with disdain. What did we know? We were loud and totally inexperienced when it came to elections.

We were dismissed that night in Wembley Town Hall as we had been throughout the election campaign.

In truth much of that day in May 1962  was a blur (or was it '63 — I will check when I go to the National Newspaper Archives in Wetherby in a few months time to look at old copies of the Wembley News). It did happen and I was there. In the end we lost, narrowly as I remember it, with others gathering around the Sudbury Ward counting tables as the excitement mounted.

It was that night I decided I wanted to be a Labour councillor and a Party agent like Clive. I am proud to say I subsequently went on to do both things and probably enjoyed the latter more, whilst being forever grateful for the confidence I gained from my thirteen years as a councillor in Birmingham and Nottinghamshire.

I learnt in an instance that night that even losing could be exciting. There was always the next time. Fifty-two years later, I still feel the same, but only now, minutes before my memory of Ray Dent and what he said to me that night, have I come to fully appreciate the significance of what he said:

'Don't be too upset, this was just a dress rehearsal for the big one'. I knew what he meant. The coming general election, albeit two or three years away (it came in 1964). I knew by then enough about politics that local Labour Parties were constituency Labour Parties first. Winning local power was a bonus. The paramount job was to elect Labour MPs; that you could only change things from the top down, yet my ambition to be a councillor was driven even then by the belief that real and lasting change comes from the bottom up. I knew enough history from my modest secondary modern schooling to know that democracy and other rights were won by trade unionists, suffragettes, socialists and communists.

Wembley South Young Socialists was, for a year or two at least, one of the largest YS Branches in England and we took up local issues, campaigned against the closing of Kingsbury Swimming Pool and demonstrated on the steps of Wembley Town Hall in our swimming costumes.

I was always a little different to mainstream Labour, a supporter of exhaustive ballots in all elections from those days. I took the view then (and still do) that if the Labour Party chose its officers and election candidates using exhaustive ballots, then why should the electorate in local and general elections have to use a first-past-the-post voting system?

All the things I treasure most about civil life have their roots in local communities and local government. At best, Westminster has taken these examples and adapted them for a wider good . At worst they have ignored them or destroyed them.

When Ray Dent's words echoed across the decades earlier today, as I thought about  Scotland's referendum on Thursday, I realised that, at the time, I didn't hear the irony in his voice. Today I did.

If I had a vote in the referendum on Thursday, I would vote 'yes' for independence, so as to ensure that that the 'no' camp win by the narrowest of margins. The good news is that whatever the outcome, Scotland should win

It is also a great moment for English politics. There has never been a better opportunity to wrest power from Westminster. I promise to do my bit.

And as I finish this post, another name from those far off days comes into my head — Bill Molloy. He won Ealing North, a previously safe Tory seat for Labour in 1964 when the blessed Harold Wilson and Labour had a majority of just a few seats. I remember working for him. He was left-wing and only after being defeated in the 1979 General Election did he let himself down by accepting a peerage.

29 September 2014 – A FOOTNOTE: On Friday evening just gone we had a visit from another Wembley South Young Socialist, Tom Lake, together with wife Jill, both still active in the Labour Party. I associate Tom with the word 'university'. I managed to get to sixteen without ever hearing the word or it registering in any way. He was the one 'going to university'. I had to look the word up in my dictionary. Before Friday I have had no contact with Tom for fifty years, but there he was, outside our house, instantly recognisable and the years melted away. The threads which linked us together still in place. It was Clive Kent who made contact with Tom a few months ago and it turns out Tom has a sister living in Forest Fields, very close to Lenton where we live.

Then this morning we had a 'phone call from Paul Boatfield, already mentioned in this blog posting. He remembered more about Tom than me. Paul added that I used to write letters to the Wembley News using his name (which I can't remember doing, but I don't doubt Paul for one moment — afterall, I did spend about nine months in the Young Liberals, long enough to learn about less than honest behaviour).

Add this a lovely long Saturday lunch and afternoon in the company of Keith Reeves, originally from Harrow Weald, who I met through the Central Middlesex Federation of Young Socialists, and Ivy, his wife, like Tom and Jill, both active in the Party still and you can see that my teenage past has been very much part of the last few days.

Clive (mentioned in this blog) talks about 'closing the circle' — when you come across something from your past you want to square off. A contradiction of sorts I know and some may ask, 'Why?'. Most of the time the 'invisible people' (to quote my only friend from my childhood days, who re-connected with me last year) in your life don't matter, but when some have been part of moments and events which have help shape your life, then there is satisfaction in knowing.






Friday, 5 September 2014

A 35 bus walk: Strelley to Wollaton Vale

Some months ago Bulwell TravelRight asked me to lead a walk along the line of the old Nottingham Canal, based on my April 2014 blog, In search of the abandoned Nottingham Canal, Part 1. A week before I was due to do my TravelRight walk last month, I spent a couple of hours following the line of the walk on my own. I knew that there would be little chance to take photographs on the day.

By just comparing the maps from April 2014 walk and August 2014 walk, you will see that the first walk ran from Wollaton Vale to Gallows Inn in a east to west, then north-west direction, whilst last month's walk ran in the opposite direction. This is because my walkers were coming to Strelley on a 35 bus from Bulwell and by going north to south, then east, most of the walk was downhill or on the level. Had we done the walk in the reverse direction there would have been a few hills. albeit slight, to climb and with the prospect of a few older walks, like myself, I wanted to avoid this.

The photographs which follow take us from location 1 to location 9 on the above map. It is not suitable for wheelchairs or buggies.


Location 2. Strelley Village Green is not in the village. It is actually in Nottingham, whilst the village is in Broxtowe, but, as the picture below shows, it has the feel and appearance of a village green. On the opposite side of the road is Strelley Recreation Ground. On the day I did the walk alone a 'Family Fun Day' was about to start.



Location 3. In the foreground, to the left, is what remains of a spring.


Location 5. The north end of Strelley Lane, once a more important route linking the village to Wollaton and Beeston. In May this year, I blogged about a TravelRight walk led by Chris Matthews, 'A walk around Bilborough and Strelley' and included a section about Strelley Lane. As you can see it can flood after heavy rain.


Strelley Lane is popular with local horse riders.


I like the tunnels of green which envelope Strelley Lane in the summer.


Location 6 on the map is where you leave Strelley Lane and join the footpath across the top of Trowell Moor. As with all the walk until it joins the old Nottingham Canal ( official name the Erewash Trail), there are signs.


For a good way, one side of the walk across Trowell Moor is nothing but hedging.


But the vistas south are wide open.


Occasional breaks in the hedging reveal cows grazing.


In the distance you can see Wollaton Hall, partly shrouded by a blue haze. The day I did the walk was humid, but not unpleasant.



The hedging comes to an end past Shaw's Plantation (a large wood) and views across the landscape to the north open up. In the distance and hidden is the M1 motorway, but it can be heard, albeit faintly. From her onwards it will get louder and not leave us until we reach Trowell Garden Centre (see second map a little further on).


At this point, the field boundary is marked with by this track and a line of large oaks, which are marked on Ordnance Survey maps from the early 19th century onwards.


Oaks are, as I am sure you already know, wonderful eco-systems supporting many forms of life. On one oak this large fungi caught my eye.


Past the oaks, the track becomes a narrow path and at the trees at the far end...


...the path opens out.


Location 7 where the path across Trowell Moor comes to an end...



...and you join Waterloo Lane, You turn right, heading south towards the Nottingham Road. It is an old lane, upgraded when the M1 was constructed as an access road to the M1 Trowell Service Station. 


This is a Trowell Parish Council noticeboard where Waterloo Lane and Nottingham Road meet. A bit mean on my part, but I cannot resist including because over a notice promoting a 'Keeping Trowell Alive Event' poster is the very large sign saying 'Cancelled due to lack of support'. The Derby–Nottingham conurbation has many seemingly rural communities like Trowell in its Green Belt areas. The trouble is that many have been taken over by commuters, who 'live the country dream' never more than a few minutes away from all the amenities modern city living offers. Schools, shops, post offices all disappear. In many respects, places like Trowell have been dead for a long time.

























Location 8 is the Waterloo Lane bus stop on the north side of Nottingham Road looking west. Here you can catch a Trent-Barton 'TWO' bus back to Wollaton Vale and Nottingham City Centre. They run every 12 minutes (5 an hour) Monday–Saturday daytime and every 15–30 minutes evenings and Sundays. The road is normally much busier than this!



















Location 9.  This is where you cross Nottingham Road, having walked beyond the bus stop for about about quarter-of-a-mile, until you see this gated entrance on the opposite side of the road. This is where you have to cross over. The footpath is over a stile on the right-hand side of the gate. Take care. This a very busy road.



Still location 9, this is the stile on the right-hand side of the gate. Just beyond is the second stile you have to cross.




The second stile (above) at location 9 takes you into the field (below). The path is not that clear and my three visits the field has had horses in it, who come looking for food. They can smell apples and pears and on the day of TravelRight walk, they were nudging me in the back because they could smell the pears in my backpack. In the end I gave in.


























Hug the right-hand side of the field (its western edge), which is marked by a low boundary fence with some hedging as well.


















The field path runs to the south-west corner of the field and looks as if you are walking to nowhere and that you will have to turn back. Do not lose your nerve. For in that black hole at the centre of this photograph is location 10...






















...where you will have to cross another stile (the last on this walk I promise) and...



















...once over this is the view which confronts you, the pond at Wroughton Nature Reserve which was once part of the old Nottingham Canal. Turn right after crossing the stile and you will join the Erewash Valley Trail, where you turn left (east) and start your journey back towards Wollaton Vale and the 35 bus, but first there is the Trowell Garden Centre and Nottingham Canal nature Reserve to visit (the walk route is clearly marked on the map above).

Alternatively, you can turn left once over the stile and walk along the north side of the old canal, which is hidden from view for most of the way, until you reach the old canal bridge on the western edge of Trowell Garden Centre, where the paths join up again. This is a much narrower and uneven path, so you need to take extra care.

The walk from here to Wollaton Vale is as I described in my April 2014 blog and mentioned at the beginning of this blog, except in the opposite direction (ie. from Wollaton Vale to Wroughton Pond Nature reserve, locations 1–21). Click here to see this section.

The Trowell Garden Centre is a good stopping point, with excellent toilets and tearoom. If the footpath around the garden centre was upgraded, much of the walk would be wheelchair and buggy friendly. Broxtowe Borough Council please take note.




Some parts of the old Nottingham Canal between the Garden Centre and Coventry Lane are still replete with water and are populated by water birds, including this family of ducks.




















This is the end of walk, from the Nottingham Canal Nature Reserve along Grangewood Road to Wollaton, where the 35 bus stops in both direction are on top of a pedestrian underpass which follows the course of the old Nottingham Canal. 


At a leisurely pace, the walk takes just over two hours. Each time I have taken a thirty minute break at the Trowell Garden Centre tearoom for tea and apple pie.

This walk is yet another of many excellent urban rural 35 bus route walks.