Succession on a Slope

Wednesday, 9th February 2005, page 2 of 2
Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

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Behind Helen's studio (see previous page) the garden continues in a strip up the slope and includes a small grassy mound which is all that is now visible of a small spoil heap from a hillside colliery. This mound was used during World War II as the site for a family air raid shelter.

There are traces of a small quarry in the outcrop of sandstone amongst the trees at the top of the hill and Helen's father thinks that it is likely that some of the stone for Sandal castle was quarried here since it's a straightforward downhill journey from here to the castle.

Oaks grow on the brow of the hill and midway there's a band of grass that gets nibbled by next door's pony. Between the oakwood and the pasture, Helen tells us, you can see a succession between open grassland and woodland. There are several stages in the process of open ground becoming colonised by woodland:


Heather (likes
stony, acid soil)

Birch saplings

Oak saplings
amongst birch

Oak woodland
with bramble

wine glassTowards the end of the afternoon

After an afternoon talking about art etc. with Helen and John it's rush hour so Barbara and I take the country roads home. As the Black Bull at Midgley looms ahead and we decide to call in for a pasta.

It's still early and quiet so we can't help overhearing bits of the conversation on the next table:

'It's a change coming here from having a meal at the home, isn't it?' says the daughter to her mum.

'Do I live in a home? I didn't know. I'll remember when I'm there.'

'Yes, you had an accident and you've got to stay in there until they say it's all right for you to go back to your bungalow.'

'Do I have a bungalow? I'll remember when I see it.'

Some older women have an ability to be relaxed - 'dotty' - about the onset of memory loss. My father, who had always been very much in control of things, found it hard to cope with and became frustrated and anxious when he became aware of what was happening to him when he started to suffer from a condition similar to Alzheimer's.

But memory loss is strangely specific and, when the daughter starts discussing some medicine they need to call for after the meal, the mother immediately informs her that the local chemist's is open until 6.30 in the evening. Next Page

Richard Bell,

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