Pocket Plum

Wednesday, 8th June 2005

As we wait in Argos for them to adjust the links in Barbara's new Eco-drive watch (a flywheel arrangement charges up the battery) I can't get enthusiastic about the display units and the rows of catalogues as subjects so I stand there drawing my hand.

Likewise in Pizza Hut, I find the whitebeams in the car park a more appealing subject than the restaurant interior, even though it's been revamped since our last visit a year ago.

A greenfinch is perching on the thicket of rugosa rose by the roundabout. Perhaps it's nesting there.

'Pocket Plum', the Bladder Bullace Fungus, Taphrina pruni, infests the developing fruits on many of the Blackthorn bushes around Pugneys Lake.

bin, Thornes ParkCircle of Green

After our errands in town we walk back across Thornes Park which in the evening sun and the fresh lush greenness looks like the grounds of some English country house (as it was before Thornes House burnt down in the 1950s).

Driving back I suggest to Barbara that we walk around Pugneys Lake (a former opencast coal mine). Although it's one of the low points around Wakefield, Pugneys has a panoramic topography; it sits in a wide stretch of valley so you can see the Pennines in the distance in one direction, the cathedral spire in another while Sandal Castle looms over it on the ridge, caught in low sun.

It's feels good to have time to do impromptu things again. For most of the last few years I seem to have been in a state where there's always been some errand looming.

ternWe hadn't thought to bring our binoculars but just being here with the open water, terns and gulls makes us want to get back to some wildness and we decide that it was time we had another trip to Flamborough. It will be good to see puffins again.

But this is the nearest thing we can get to a wilderness experience around Wakefield this afternoon. There's a feeling of a great green circle - the lakes and the gulls, terns, ducks and swans - so it feels like being surrounded by a kind of wilderness, even though there are built up areas hiding away in almost every direction. 90% of what we can see is random vegetation - rushes, reeds, willows - sheets of water, a big sky.

Puck's Meadow

The name Pugneys is thought to mean 'Puck's meadow' or 'goblins water meadow' in Anglo Saxon. Puck appears in A Midsummer Night's Dream, he was also known as Robin Goodfellow. It might have been will o-the-wisps, glowing marsh gas, that made people associate the marshy area with this capricious nature spirit.

There are so many people enjoying the country park, walking, cycling, a few rowing on the lake. While not every one of the strollers is here for the natural history I'm glad that these days so many of them appreciate these green places. I heard on the radio that the appreciation of natural history, of various types, is now the number one pastime in this country with 2 million people for whom that is their main leisure interest.

strollersI like the experience of being on my own, or with just one companion, when I'm walking but sharing this place with people who were simply enjoying the place without wishing to destroy it in the many ways we have of destroying the spirit of places, was a part of the experience, it was a part of the feeling of harmony on this summer evening. Next Page

Richard Bell, richard@willowisland.co.uk