A new month and a new view on the Coxley Valley Calendar that hangs on our kitchen wall: this photograph of Perkin Wood, in the mid-section of the valley (which lies four miles south-west of Wakefield), was taken by Christel Adib on the 9th May 1990, at 10 a.m.
Christel, who arrived in West Yorkshire in the summer of 1975 recalls:
The Coxley Valley Calendar 2003 was published in a limited edition, all profits to Horbury Heritage Appeal.
At about the time that Christel discovered the wood I made this sketch of woodland flowers in Perkin Wood for my Natural History of Wakefield.
The deeply cleft leaves on the left are wood anemone. Along with the bluebells these were in flower today. One small clump of anemones had lilac flowers. There's a solitary bluebell, not yet in flower, in the centre of my sketch and leaves of Dogs Mercury, a plant that has inconspicuous greenish flowers, on the right.
We're walking through the wood today on our way to vote at Middlestown School. It's not just Christel and I who treasure the valley; it has been one of the leading issues in the local election with pledges to prevent housing development within the valley and to try and stop motorbikes churning up the footpaths. I have to say that our local councillors, both Labour and Conservative, have long been solid in their support of residents who've fought off threats to the valley, on occasion risking financial penalties for their troubles. There have already been some improvements, for instance a new stile in very solid timber will discourage all but the most enthusiastic motorbike riders from entering Perkin Wood by the Coxley Dam footpath.
On this May Day afternoon with the trees in fresh green leaf, a waft of wild garlic by the stream and the sweet heady scent of bluebells on the wooded slopes it's obvious that the wood has a huge capacity for regeneration, if only it gets a little help from its friends.