Take a walk in Blue Bell Woods listen to the sounds around you, of bird song and bees. Smell the flowers and the scent of Spring in the air. Every year is a new beginning and every day a blessing

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Country rides and footpaths.

When I was a child I never owned a bike. I did try to learn once when Sylvia borrowed her mums bike. Was a bit of a challenge being an adult bike, my chin and hands were at the level of the handle bars, and I could see over the top on the up swing only. That made for a very wobbly ride at best. So when my friend Sheila wanted to go on a bike ride we were just a bit dubiouse. Still it did sound like fun, so we all borrowed bikes. Margaret and myself met Sheila at the top of Houghton Road, Sheila lived in Dunstable so we rode to meet her. That in itself was a challenge. I think we pushed the bikes through the town as we just were not accomplished enough to deal with traffic. Come to think of it there may have been a lot of bike pushing that day. Anyway we were off, out into the countryside, not a lot of traffic so we felt safe and even began to enjoy ourselves. We headed down past Dunstable Downs and out beyond, when we got to the Green Man pub we needed to decide if we should keep going straight down past Devils Dike and Ivinghoe Beacon, or turn and head into some small villages. It was a lovely day and so far without incident, I was just getting the hang of it. About that time we began to think, we had to go back the same distance that we had already ridden.....oh no.....we decided we better go back after all. Well, it had been fun going down the hills, now time to go back up....we pushed most of the way. We decided that we would take a short cut across the Green Lanes an old Roman Road no longer in use but a footpath now and beautiful....we pushed the bikes as far as where we left Sheila and Margaret and I headed home.


Well the Green Lanes made me think of weekends with my Dad. All the footpaths and bridle paths have been there forever and as long as they are used, there they stay. They go across private lands and farms and through villages. So a fun thing to do on a weekend was to keep those paths open. Dad would carry clippers and trim back the brush as we went. It left an impression on me. Most of the footpaths are marked on a map and when the wheat grows in the fields you will see a trail through the middle of it, there would be stiles to get over fences so that gates are unneeded and cattle and sheep stay where they should. There are loads of different shapes and sizes and that in itself is quite interesting. Common land was always available years ago where people could graze cattle and kids could play. So keeping the tradition of the foot paths and the bridle ways open in modern times is a challenge but most of them have survived. It makes for a great day out, take a picnic and blanket and choose a nice spot under a tree. Back then we could drink from crystal clear streams, watch the birds and rabbits and just enjoy a day in the sunshine and fresh air. As a child I knew the names of all the trees and wildflowers, the birds and their eggs. I spent so much time alone in the fields that I knew where to look and how to recognise the types of nests and the colours of the eggs.


Most kids had an egg collection. We knew to never take more than one egg and to leave anything that only had a couple in it, to be careful not to touch the nest......we could compare our collections and most kids knew the natural world around them and appreciated the beauty of it. I think one of the things I always loved most about England and the countryside I grew up in was the history and traditions. I learned about the hedgerows and what an awesome ecosystem they were as well as a work of art. I grew up around farms and over the years grew to appreciate farm life, how hard but how rewarding it can be.

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