Roachside Cottage

Part of the living landscape of the Roaches

Peak District National Park - Upper Hulme, Nr Leek ST13 8UB

This is Ron.

Ron was the first attempt at sculpting in clay by my old mate Phil & is inspired by "Gluttony" in the Hieronymus Bosch painting of the Seven Deadly Sins. Bosch ( born about 1450, died1516 ) was a Dutch master painter who specialised in fantastical, religious and allegorical works. Some of his depictions of Hell are seriously dark and macabre and were an obvious influence on later painters such as Pieter Bruegel.

Sometimes, when I come to clean the cottage after guests have left, Ron has been turned round to face out of the window. Can it be that Ron's inscrutable gaze spooks people?

Or maybe the allegorical theme of Gluttony is too much to handle when you're scoffing Pringles on the sofa?

If you'd like one of Phil's more recent sculptures, his "Arion" is available at 

       https://www.thesculpturepark.com/philip-maskery/

You need a spare £36k though (+VAT, obviously!).

Since "yours truly" is getting older and everything takes that bit longer to do, we've started trying to  give ourselves a day's space in between guests. Stripping & making beds, dusting, hoovering, resupplying  and cleaning the entire cottage between the departure of one party and the arrival of another in the afternoon of the same day can be a bit "full on" for people in their 7th decade.

Of course, most guests make great efforts to leave the place as they found it, and for that we are very appreciative, but occasionally we do have the "unforeseen" to contend with.

On those day, it gets a bit frenetic and, about to enter my 69th year, "frenetic" is something best avoided where possible!

Hence, this week we had a very leisurely changeover. The departing guests had left everything pretty spotless and had dutifully sorted and separated the recyclables (often an hours work in itself), so it was a breeze to prepare. So, what to do with the spare day and night?

Well, we always have our travel kit in the car, so we decided to have a stayover - dinner at The Lazy Trout followed by coffee and a good book as the sun set over the telecom tower on Sutton Common. 

Not the most dramatic sunset, but good enough. A very pleasant way to spend a midsummer evening!

The British weather!

II know that the weather is a preoccupation for all "staycationers" in the UK and, since restrictions eased in April, that weather has been unkind to those getting in an early holiday.

It's been cold. Uncomfortably cold.

It's been largely dry, but very, very cold for the spring, with a savage northerly wind  swooping down from the polar icecap. The spring flowers were later, the Cuckoo was later and, even today, the Swallows are just flitting about and not yet nest-building. 

The farmers were still supplementing the feed for sheep with new lambs because the grass just wasn't growing.

Thankfully, all that changed last week and the whole of the Peak District was suddenly overwhelmed with crowds of visitors, bursting with pent-up energy and eager for some recreation in the sun.

We even succumbed ourselves & got out for a couple of kayaking sessions on Rudyard Lake.

Scout loves being out in the "Tupperware Tub", sliding over the water and gliding silently up behind ducks, Moorhens and Coots. She gets so excited that as soon as the 'yak is off the roofrack, she dives into the cockpit and it's a heck of a job for me to get her out long enough to carry it to the water.  

Paddling with a dog on-board isn't for the uninitiated! When she spots something ahead in the water, she's apt to jump  up onto the front deck. making for a dramatic wobble.

If you've never tried slipping into a kayak, there are local companies who do taster days and instructional sessions. The two closest to Roachside are Tittesworth Watersports and Moorland Adventure.

Go on! Give it a try. We love it.

We're very proud of our ecological credentials here at Roachside, We have 4 pairs of Swallows in our log shed. We have common lizards living in our drystone walls and elsewhere on  these pages you can read about our recent efforts to establish a new copse in the garden by planting hundreds of trees.

It stands to reason, then, that we also participate (or should it be not participate?) in "No-Mow May",  sponsored by may organisations like the National Trust and Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. This requires owners of grassland to refrain from mowing their various patches of scrubby grass until the spring wildflowers have given the butterflies and other insects chance to plunder the nectar and get them off to a good start to the breeding season.

Up here on The Roaches, 1100 feet above sea level, No-Mow May has to be extended into mid-June, since everything happens so much later at this elevation and latitude.

Unfortunately for us, this year "No-Mow May" was followed by "No-Start Petrol Strimmer".

When we took the gummed-up beast into the repair shop, the assistant wrote out the docket and instructed me to place the wretched thing on the floor next to the dozen or more similar bits of petrol fuelled gardening kit requiring the attention of the one fitter who wasn't "self-isolating".

Hence, only today have we been able to attack the rampant growth along the roadside verge

It's been a bit like that haircut I had in mid-April!

It's been freezing cold here in the Peak District!

For a month now, there has been a huge high pressure out to the west of Ireland causing air from the Arctic to stream southwards over the UK. Morning frosts and daytime temperatures peaking out at 8 or 9 degrees, day after day, and a constant raw Northerly wind have hardly been conducive to hibernating animals getting out an about.

Odd, then, that over the last 4 weeks, we've seen quite a bit of activity from the lizards who live in our drystone walls.

These little chaps (Zootoca Vivipara, to give them their proper scientific names) have been basking in the grass whenever the sun has come out.

I can only think that the "wind chill" is considerably reduced at grass-top level!

Spring must be here soon - we heard our first Cuckoo at Roachside a few days ago.

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