Autumn In My Little Town

View Of Nailsworth Looking South

View Of Nailsworth Looking South

I’ve been retired for well over two years now.  New daily routines have shifted as I have settled into retirement and as the seasons have cycled around.  However, when I am not away from home, one of the daily constants has been that I walk into the local town of Nailsworth to pick up the newspaper and buy the day’s groceries.  It’s been one of my great and most consistent retirement pleasures.

These walks have been particularly splendid recently as the Autumn colours have intensified across the hills and valleys through which I walk.  Also, in recent weeks the streams in the valleys have gushed with copious amounts of rainwater and have provided a noisier soundtrack to the burgeoning Autumn colour.

Sun Catching The Tops Of Trees In Ruskin Mill Valley

Late Sun Catching The Tops Of Trees In Ruskin Mill Valley

There are multiple routes and detours that I take to create daily variety.  However, the most rewarding walk is through the bottom of the valley between our home and Nailsworth centre.  I thought I would share a few pictures of this frequent and favourite walk.

Satellite Picture (Courtesy Google) OF My Walk Into Nailsworth

Satellite Picture (Courtesy Google) Of My Walk Into Nailsworth – From The Blue Dot (Upper Downend), East Then North-East Up The Valley To Nailsworth

The start point is, of course, my home in the hamlet of Downend near Horsley.  Our field has a small stream running through it.  This joins the Downend stream nearby and I head north-east down through its valley in which our hamlet nestles.  When this reaches another, larger valley I continue north to where it opens out to a confluence of rivers around which Nailsworth has thrived, first as a mill town and now as a small (monthly) market town.

Upper Downend

Upper Downend

As I leave Downend, I pass some old cottages and houses and cross the Old Horsley Road.  I then dip downwards into the larger, wider valley flanked by dense woods to the east.  Following the ever enlarging stream, I pass some small fields and a couple of pretty lakes.  The larger of these is often the haunt of a swan, herons, kingfishers and several varieties of duck.

Much of the land in the valley, and up the slopes to the east, is owned and managed by Ruskin Mill Trust.  The college here caters for challenged teenagers.  The grounds include two historic wool mills, several acres of woodland, a biodynamic livestock and fish farm, a shop where some of the produce is sold, a forge, a popular café, and an arts centre and music venue.  Locals like me are privileged to have access to these grounds which are always evolving in interesting ways under the management of the Trust and which often teem with fish and birds.

Craft Workshops And Running Water In Ruskin Mill College Grounds

Craft Workshops And Running Water In Ruskin Mill College Grounds

Views Near Ruskin Mill College

Views Near Ruskin Mill College

Beyond the college grounds I cross the road and the stream (now a small river) once more.  As I approach the outskirts of Nailsworth, I look out for dippers in the stream.  I had never heard of these birds before seeing them here and also in Downend itself.  They are shy but fascinating to watch as they live up to their name by dipping their heads up and down and dive into the water to catch their prey.

Dipper Habitat On The Outskirts Of Nailsworth

Dipper Habitat On The Outskirts Of Nailsworth

Nailsworth sits at the junction of two valleys and is overlooked by typical Cotswold woodland and hillsides (‘Cotswold Tops’).  The best time to visit is early morning when wood smoke and mist often sits above the town but below the hill tops.  The floral displays in the town this year have been award winning and many of the narrow streets and Cotswold stone buildings are always attractive.

Nailsworth Clock Tower

Nailsworth Clock Tower

Like many such towns in this age of the internet and same day delivery, it is a struggle to establish a thriving retail business in Nailsworth.  There is a persistent turnover of small independent shops and probably more shops selling small gifts and vaping equipment than is necessary.  However, some good clothes, homeware and hardware shops have prospered.  There are also a few decent pubs and café/restaurants, plus – critically for me – a newsagent, a small supermarket and health food store.

Roofs Of Nailsworth

Roofs Of Nailsworth

I’m an urban man at heart – the country was always a place to visit rather than live in through the first 60 years of my life.  I still hanker after London having left it upon retirement.  But this Cotswold landscape I now find myself living in is very attractive.  While I still can, my daily walks into the local town will continue to help me experience and appreciate it.

Postscript: I mentioned that Ruskin Mill College have a small music venue and Long-Suffering Wife and I thoroughly enjoyed a gig there last night.  The main act was Trio Dhoore who are three young, charming Flemish brothers who play diatronic accordion, guitar and, a first for me, the hurdy gurdy.  The music was wonderfully deep, rich and warm and the banter between tunes matched this warmth perfectly.  The trio of brothers seemed to enjoy the evening as much as we did; it was a lovely couple of hours.

Trio Dhoore At Ruskin Mill

The Rather Wonderful ‘Trio Dhoore’ At Ruskin Mill

 

Getting Moving Again

The anti-climax since the trip to Australia via stops in Singapore and Hong Kong remains palpable. I miss the almost daily imperative of having to get from one location to another and to ‘tick off’ the sights. I just haven’t got fully back up to speed in getting to grips with the more mundane things in my retirement routine yet.

I am starting to get the to-do lists moving again but what has struck me in the last two weeks has been how fortunate I was to be able to retire in summer when the weather was much less of a constraint (and excuse) than it is becoming now. Also, a brief spell of illness last week reminded me of how lucky I have been to have been fit and well through the last 5-6 months.

In reality, I have no excuse not to get on with as much of my plans and to-dos as possible. I must, for example, restart my Italian for Absolute Beginners. I’m hoping I haven’t forgotten all I learnt in the first three units of the course!

I have been keeping up attendance at local music events. In the last week or so LSW and I have paid a couple more Sunday afternoon visits to a local bar (The Vault) which hosts a series of singers and small bands each week. We also made it to a venue we hadn’t tried before, the nearby Ruskin Mill College, and saw The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc. These are a triumvirate of fiddlers from The Shetlands, Sweden and Norway. They sustained a full evening of quality fiddling with a remarkable variety of styles and considerable talent. It was intimate, foot tapping and fun and I’ve signed up for more events of this type.

Ruskin Mill College - Nordic Fiddlers

Nordic Fiddlers Bloc Explaining Fiddles At Ruskin Mill College

Next week, LSW and I are in London for a couple of days. That should help shake me out of my relative torpor.

New Routines

August is coming to an end and, two months into retirement, I can look back on a relaxed and enjoyable month. I occasionally wonder about how things are progressing at work but don’t miss the patterns of everyday work at all. Instead, I’ve settled, very quickly, into a different pace of life and new routines.

I get up about an hour later than I used to. That is something I want to ‘improve upon’ since, by most criteria, its rather wasted time lying in bed doing no more than Candy Crush and Facebook/Instagram catch up.

Then on week-days, its breakfast of coffee, fruit and yogurt followed by a walk into Nailsworth, the local town, for a few groceries and the newspaper. At the weekend I have maintained the pre-retirement treat of bread and jam or toast and Marmite (yum, yum!). On Sunday’s the walk to town is typically delayed until after lunch when LSW and I drift to the bar mentioned in the previous post.

The walk to Nailsworth (of 25 minutes each way) is a highlight for me. It’s so different from the noisy, crowded commute into work in London. There are a number of alternate routes but my favourite is through the grounds of a local college that teaches practical skills to pupils who are disabled or have learning difficulties. The grounds – a former trout farm, lakes and woodland – are traversed by footpaths the college allows the public to use. It is wonderful to see the horticulture, creativity and craft of the pupils and to watch the seasons develop through the year and be reflected in the colours and wildlife.

Once I get back home, activities are driven by my to-do list and the weather. The new structure of to-do lists I introduced a couple of weeks ago is working pretty well. The only issue is that I keep putting on the daily list just those things that I want to do and none of the boring stuff I should do!

I read a chunk of the newspaper before lunch (almost always salad, much as it was pre-retirement). I might also fit in some ‘learning Italian’ if LSW isn’t around to hear my embarrassingly faltering attempts.

Afternoon and evening activities fall into a less consistent pattern than those before lunch. They are peppered by experiences that add variety to the basic, new routines that have emerged. More about some of these post-retirement experiences later…..