Mummy Can I go and Play on the Swings ?


Of course dear just so long as you put on your swimming costume….


Well that was a weekend to remember. Gales and very heavy rains. Flooding in most parts of the country, some very much worse than here.

The sun did pop out for brief look around, just long enough for Buster and I to have a walkies…. obviously muddy underfoot but at least w didn’t get wet. Not that we were going for a picnic, that would have been a problem….


Just up stream from here the River Derwent has overflowed its banks but here most of this flood water is from the sky. Taking a look at the weir here at Darley Abbey Mills there is still some headroom for the river but it is clear that the head waters will soon reach here and no doubt add to the floods…


It is also a good job that it isn’t the Cricket Season as there is no chance of play today….or for some time..



The forecast for the week does not sound good…. whilst Storm Dennis will leave us sometime Monday the remainder of the week looks decidedly wet.

17th February

(C) David Oakes 2020

It goes un-noticed….. well its only a bridge


Handyside Bridge, Darley, Derby, Derbyshire

Its is walked and cycled over everyday by hundreds of people…. those out for recreation, as it now forms part of a Walking Trail and Long Distance Cycle Route….. and by many on the daily commute to work. Not particularly glamorous with a solid utilitarian look.  But a clue is in its width….once a twin track railway line ran across this bridge.

The design style may well be familiar, being featured on a great many railway, road and canal bridges…. but this was the very first.

Designed by Richard Johnson the Chief Engineer of the Great Norther Railway it was built by Andrew Handyside and his Engineering Company in 1878.  Hence the name Handyside Bridge and it spans the River Derwent on the norther outskirts of Derby.


So what makes Handyside Bridge special.  Well it was the first underslung Bow Shaped Rivetted Girder Bridge.  It spans 145ft, supported on either side of the river on stone plinths.  There is no central plinth and that together with its height above the river was designed to allow river navigation.

As the construction was unproven Handyside had to establish that the bridge could carry heavy railway traffic.  So once the bridge was in place, and with a high degree of flair and showmanship, Handyside arranged for 6 heavy steam locomotives, a weight of over 432 tons, to sit on the bridge at the same time….now that must have been something worth seeing.


The bridge was in use till 1968 but like much of our rail network it fell under the Beeching Axe…..cuts, of which many have been much regretted.

So Handyside Bridge really lives up to its name and proves very ‘handy’ for walkers and cyclist everyday of the week.

13th February

(C) David Oakes 2020





So Far….. So Good



Sunny Sunday Morning, Darley, Derbyshire

Storm Atiyah was due to ravage the UK this weekend….and indeed it has brought gales, high seas and heavy rain.  Sunday out TV Weather Forecasters and the maps presented showed, that whilst we here in our little part of the country were not in the eye of the storm, we best batten down the hatches and be cautious if we had to head out.  For those not far away from us who have suffered badly in the resents floods it must have been the news they did not want to hear.

Luckily good fortune seems to be on our side and we could all breath a little more easily.

Even today, Monday morning, the warnings are in place.  But again we appear to have been very lucky…just another rather nice sunny December day.

Fingers crossed for the rest of the week which we are told is going to be full of wet and windy ups and downs…we will see.

9th December

(C) David Oakes 2019


Hydrangea’s Everywhere….. The National Collection


We paid a visit to the National Collection here at Darley, Derby a few weeks ago….it was earlier than planned, we had heard that the collection had opened earlier this season due to the warm (and at times) damp weather. Indeed the many of the Hydrangea’s were looking large and blousy but as was to be expected many more had to rich full bloom.

Since that visit we have had a heatwave with record breaking high temperatures.  We have also had some sever rain storms, torrential downpours that have done much damage to many gardens.

I had promised to take you for a longer look. So it was with a little trepidation that we headed back to see just how well the Collection had survived…. as to be expected some blooms were showing signs of stress but for the most part as you will see there was plenty of colour and variety to satisfy.

 Nor is the collection complete…and extension has been planted in a lower part of the walled garden.


Rough and ready but in a few years it will blend seamlessly with the rest


2nd August

(C) David Oakes 2019