A Floral Reprise……. for July


Since last Autumn, through the Winter and Spring and now the Summer, the weather has certainly changed the predictability of the seasons.  This in turn has effect our flowers.  No matter if they grow in the hedgerows, fields or our gardens they have had to change with the new demands placed upon the natural world.   For long periods of time we have had high than the normal temperatures, in February and early March record highs for the month. Now in July we know we have had all time record high temperatures.   We have of course ‘enjoyed’ rain, at times it has been very welcome…. but it has also been exceptionally heavy and damaging.

Some of our plants flowered early, others much more prolific, some have suffered in either the heat or the wet, some like our Honeysuckle, normally an early flowerer,in our hedge, has this year had a ‘second coming’…… with flowers in greater abundance.

As July now comes to close, I thought we would reprise the wide variety (or at least some of the blooms) that we have enjoyed this month

In July we are always blessed with a wide variety of blooms…. but July is perhaps best famed for its Roses, this year they have certainly enjoyed the hot sun….


In one more day it will be August….I wonder what we have instore over the late Summer and into Autumn this year ?

30th July

(C) David Oakes 2019

Moody Monday….. A Dreich Day in the Torridons


Monday is rather moody after the storms that followed our heatwave.  I recall many similar days in the Torridons of the West Highlands of Scotland….. a lovely dramatic area, one I love so much, despite the ‘dreich’ weather.  Yes, there is a word used in Scotland to describe such a damp, dark miserable day, often stormy….. so on a moody Monday I guess its a fitting description – Dreich

29th July

(c) David Oakes 2019

Silent Sunday…. So off to Church


St. Michaels and All Angles Church, Kniveton, Derbyshire

It is always enjoyable and sometime revealing to explore the many Derbyshire villages we have close to us. Some 3 miles south east of the Market Town of Ashbourn is the tiny village of Kniveton. Founded I understand on the ancient estate of the Kniveton family.

Like most of the Derbyshire villages the centre piece is the Church, never that big but all sporting a rectangular Bell Tower some like here at St. Michaels have the addition of a small Spire.  I am also told that St. Michaels is also the oldest of the buildings in the village and dates back to the 12 century.  Its religious and architectural heritage is recognised by the its important Historic Grade 1 Listed Building status….and rightly so, it may be a small and very simple church in its construction but also a very intimate and beautiful centre piece for village life.

The Bell Tower sports a number of Gargoyles now showing their age and wooden stave slats allow the sound of the Church Bells, one dating to 1665 to echo round the village.  Not sure how old the main Stained Glass windows are but I feel that there style and colours indicate a great many centuries.  The Church yard and its gravestones can also tell many stories of Kniveton families over the centuries and of course no Church yard would be complete without the traditional Yew Tree.



Like so many of our Derbyshire village Churches, each is different and each worthy of exploration.

28th July

(C) David Oakes 2019


Discovering a little bit of Derbyshire Industrial Heritage


Middleton Top Engine House, Derbyshire

In a rather unprepossessing building with a tall smoke stack can be found this wonderful piece of Derbyshire Railway Heritage and one of the very earliest Railway Enterprises in the UK.


It is all part of the Cromford & High Peak Railway built in the early 1800’s to link Derbyshire (and the Cromford Canal) with Manchester and ultimately Liverpool. But the task was daunting as the rail link had to cross the high peaks of Derbyshire at heights approaching  1000ft.  Railways, as we know even today, baulk at steep inclines.

So one solution was created here at Middleton.  A static Twin Beam Steam Engine  was used to haul a line of carriages 708 yards up the 1in8 incline by means of a chain pully system. Once at the top horses were used to power the train until 1841 when steam trains arrived.  The Engine house is in itself a major engineering achievement.  Completed in 1829 and used till 1963 it stands testament to its engineers and designers.  Even water to power the mammoth steam boilers had to be lifted up the incline…the engine house being located high on the limestone ridge precluded any local water supply.

The Engine House has been lovingly restored and can be seen in operation a many Sundays over the summer months. Today it is powered by compressed air but that takes nothing away from the thrill of watching the mighty pistons driving up and down to turn the giant wheels that used to pull those chains.

A walk down the incline brings you to the Cromford Canal and its link to the railway at High Peak Junction. A museum is open most days in the old engine shed.



One other point of interest is that the rail lines on which the carriage ran were initially know as ‘fishbelly rails’, short lengths joint together on top of plates on stone sleepers


Laying that track was certainly a tough job over tough terrain….but it worked

27th July

(C) David Oakes 2019