Pathways to Freedom

Spent the morning at Olive House which is a residential home right next door to the park.  Janet Eaton, who I’ve met on my perambulations round the park, works there and kindly introduced me to everyone.  I talked in particular to Peter who was telling me Butch Cassidy’s father came from Oswaldtwistle (is this true?!), and Liz who told me all about picking wild Winberries with her Mum on the hill above Stubbylee.  Lyla, (who’s in her 90s), was at first struggling to remember the park, but then a few clicks seemed to happen, and she started to talk about playing tennis and being on the swings  “Eee, now that’s taking me back!” she kept saying.  The sad thing was she kept asking me if I ‘remembered the park’ – as if it was something that was long lost… when actually it was only a hundred yards from where she was sitting.  The staff used to take all the residents over to the park regularly, but then a new extension was added, which closed off the path.  Now the journey’s a bit of an obstacle course for the less mobile residents, and for those in wheelchairs.  But apparently there are plans for a new path.  I hope so.  It seems that as there’s such a beautiful natural resource (and source of memories) on the doorstep, it’s a shame that it’s not being used by the residents all the time.

Then this afternoon I went off to visit Orly in Marsden park, we worked with some students to signpost the park in unusual ways…

And a very talented lass made some temporary graffitti – a bird flying away from a tree -created out of birdseed in a flowerbed.

All of these were Orly’s ideas in practice – I was performing the part of her glamorous assistant.  Tomorrow we plan to take the signpost to Stubbylee and see what my dog-walkers make of it all…

Old and New (with a bit of dog poo)

Well it rained.  But were we deterred?

Well a little – it was a bit quiet in Stubbylee today but I still had a great day - meeting up with old park acquaintances, like Gary with his chickens…

…and new people, like Rose and her dog Tiny…

…and also taking quiet moments to write-up some of the stories floating around in my head.  I’m currently writing a monologue about a fictional dog-walking widower, (based on an amalgam of lots of stories I’ve heard), and one of the Greenhouse volunteers has agreed to record it with me on Thursday.  So I better get it written now…

A lot of the people I’ve met are dog-walkers, so if you can’t beat ‘em – borrow a couple of dogs and get dragged around the park for half an hour.  Meet my husky team – Moomin and Cookie:

Cookie initiated me into my first ‘Poo-bagging’.  Which was nice.  And at the end of the day Laura, ’The Grand Fromage’ (Terry’s words, not mine), came to visit, and started to carve out a new career for herself.

And now – back to writing that monologue…






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.



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.