Chiseled good looks

I met up early today with some of the members of ‘The Friends of Stubbylee’ a group who organise doing extra gardening in the park, and who are working to raise funds too.   They all really care about the park and lovely walking through every day – as do their dogs!

Recently they’ve added a bit of a workout on the outdoor gym to their regular walks – though today Eileen was just resting her hip!

At the greenhouses Terry and Sam were putting the final touches to their Tree Throne, which I happily tried out!

The insurance to have a chainsaw at the Greenhouses is too expensive, so this chair has been painstakingly chiseled out.  Hard work – but it’s given the chair an extra bit of character…

I spent the rest of the day scribbling in the park.  I’ve met so many interesting people.  I’ve got to start putting it all together now…

Now off to write about the Boggart in Stubbylee Park…




Compost and comfort

It’s been all about leaves today.

Spent most of the morning learning how to make leaf compost. Seeing steam rising from the already decaying mulch and feeling the natural heat exuded by the leaves was quite incredible.  And whilst I shoveled and carted and forked various piles of leaves I chatted away with the members of the greenhouse project.  Some have had some difficult times in the near past, but throwing themselves into the work there and getting their hands well and truly filthy seems to be having a beneficial effect to mind and soul.  Some of them also write.  Said one member “I used to be a right bad bastard, but writing and coming here – it keeps me sane and out of trouble”.

Then I sat and had my lunch and watched Paul, the head gardener in the park, as he drove around his ‘Leaf vacuum’ (technical term?), creating rather lovely patterns, as he battled the inevitable onslaught of the leaves.

Later I kicked through mounds of leaves with 2 year old Callum (a first time visitor), and his aunty Helen. ”I grew up around here – I’m used to this park – but Callum lives in Manchester.  He thought my garden was the park.  But this – all this space and the ducks and the chickens - this is blowing his mind!”




Peace and Adrenaline

Another great day at Stubbylee – sunshine everywhere.   Had a lovely early morning meeting dog-walkers and joggers, and listening to and recording some wonderful birdsong.  Birdsong – Stubbylee Sunday morn

A topic of conversation that keeps cropping up is that Stubbylee used to have animals and birds – Rabbits, and budgies and parrots and lots of people remember coming as a child to see them.  The hutches and aviary have been empty for a long while now, but in the last couple of months a family have hired one of the pens to house their Hen and her offspring… all the children who pass are delighted with them (and most of the adults were too.)

I then spent a couple of hours walking up to Lee Quarry which is on the tops behind Stubbylee and overlooks it and the town of Bacup.  Several of the people that I met had suggested I go – saying how great it is up there – so I set off to investigate.

Part of the walk up there co-incides with the Irwin Sculpture trail, so I was able to admire a couple of the sculptures by Robin Dobson.  This was my favourite – ‘The Frond’.

Then I walked on towards the Quarry.  It’s a brilliant mix of Old and New.  It is the site of the old quarry workings and oozes with the industrial past that funded the patrons of Stubbylee,

but it is also a part of the ‘Adrenaline Gateway’ a bike trail area – apparently one of the best in the country.

Whatever your interest – the intriguing history or the ‘need for speed’ of the bikers, it’s bloomin’ beautiful up there.  Really spectacular.



Lions and Tigers and Bears – Oh my!

Today I met lots of lovely people in the park.  Women who were out walking dogs, boys doing gravity-defying tricks on scooters, and lots of families enjoying the Autumn sunshine.

Had a great time chatting to Kirsty and her kids Liam and Shay, who were already busy having adventures in the dell, talking about Fairies and Dinosaurs and Tigers, and who seem really up for a bit of writing.  We’ve arranged to meet next weekend for a creative writing wander round the park!  I also met Lottie and her Mum, who had been on a Bear Hunt in the park.  And FOUND a bear!  (I think Mum may have planted the teddy earlier in the day…but don’t tell Lottie).

I’ve been thinking more and more about Stubbylee Hall, the mansion house in the centre of the park.  I saw a great picture when I was at The Nat museum in Bacup, of servants standing outside the front door.  So today I went to Bacup library, joined up, and the very helpful people there pointed me towards the local history books.  I’m going to research the Hall and how the park came to belong to the people of Bacup.  I need to mull some more…but I think it may turn into a monologue from the point of view of a Housemaid at the turn of the century.  Downton Abbey comes to Bacup?!

Boats and Organs and glorious sunshine

Had a wonderful day today – helped in no small part by the gorgeous weather.  I admired the ‘boat’ in the Fairy dell, which I am assured has been a great naturally-occurring place of Piratical entertainment for generations of children.

Pirate Boat in the Fairy Dell

Speaking to a couple who were out for a walk, we were directed to go and have a look at a disused church on the edge of the park.  It was beautiful – and I was particularly mesmerised by the delapidated organ.

Church organ

And it’s beautifully named stops

Organ Stops

There were also a few discarded collection tins (is that the official name?) on a windowsill.  They seemed to be ‘expectant’ in some way.

Collection of collections

And evidence of a child’s theological musings…

Theological difference...

A very atmospheric place with lots of stories to tell.  I kept wondering if there might be a chance of doing some kind of performance in there?   Watch this space.

Greenhouse community at Stubbylee

Met some great people at the Stubbylee Community Greenhouses today.  Such varied backgrounds and reasons for working or volunteering there.  And the start of some great stories…

I’m not around for a couple of days now, but I’ll be back in the park on Friday, and over the weekend.  Pop in if you’re passing!


The game is afoot!

We’ve arrived at the house, had food, wine, shower inductions, and are raring to go.

Looking forward to meeting everyone at the Greenhouses at Stubbylee Park tomorrow, and having a good chat with Souta about how I can work with the team there during my residency in the park.

A 40 per cent chance of showers tomorrow… I’ll take those odds.  (And my waterproofs).

Getting Ready…

Just getting together my things for the start of my residency tomorrow in Stubbylee Park in Rossendale.  Notebooks and pens, laptop, voice recorder, and my lovely map of Stubblylee Park in 1902, purchased for the princely sum of £1 from the local museum ‘The Nat’ in Bacup.  Hoping today’s glorious weather continues for the next three weeks.  Finger’s crossed!

Posted from London, England, United Kingdom.