Wednesday, 3 January 2018


Preamble . . .

I don't seem to have written this well.

I enjoy living in Halifax so much I'm surprised when little things remind me of the past. That was the intention of post. But instead of saying it clearly I appear to have given the impression that I don't like it here at all. The opposite is the case. I'm really, really happy to be here - and the photographs are of things which delight me.

It'll get confusing if I re-write the post. That could result in email subscribers receiving a different version from those reading it straight from the page. But I think I must put in this extra little bit as a retrospective preface - I LOVE IT HERE!

From this point on, the post is as it was.

* * *

Grass growing on rounded cobbles.
Here is my new 'lawn'.
Grass growing on the anti-social cobbles designed specially for not walking on.
I'm thinking inevitably about the things I miss about Dorset and the things which are missing here; which are not necessarily the same. Nor are they quite what I would have expected.

I went for a walk on Christmas Day and what I missed was not the sound of the sea but the absence of dried out Prickly Lettuce (Lactuca serriolla) stalks rammed up against walls. I haven't properly worked out why. It might be that I knew in advance that Halifax is sea-less so the lack of a tide hasn't come as surprise. The pain of that absence becomes a part of life; a familiar dull throb of discomfort. But it never struck me to wonder if there would be prickly lettuce. I didn't know I'd mind. So I was surprised both by its not-here-ness and that it hurt. Is there really no prickly lettuce here or is it simply that I haven't walked past it yet? I have a kind of hankering, an irritability springing from 'not-knowing'.Not that it's pretty. It's a straight up plant with boring leaves and small, uninteresting flowers and at this time of year it's nothing but a dried out twig anyway. So who would care? This is the next lesson - that when missing things no-body else has noticed, one can feel very alone.

Moss growing at foot of tree
Part of my new moss garden. Miniature sculpture.
I've experienced it in lesser ways in Dorset . . . someone pours weed-killer onto a row of urban wild plants along the foot of a wall. They want rid of them. Other passers by are unlikely to identify the difference and I'm thinking 'where have they gone?' But such plants are resilient. They either grow back the next year or, failing that, nearby.
But not growing at all? That's something else.

Common Orange Lichen and other lichens on urban tree
Here's something Halifax has in common with Dorset
Common Orange Lichen (Xanthoria parietina)

I'm sitting here asking "will I miss Alexanders?  Chicory?  Vipers Bugloss?" Yes. But differently. They don't usually grow in the middle of towns so I'm not looking for them. It's part of the background ache. But I'd made the mistake of thinking urban plants grow in urban places and are, therefore, ubiquitous. Of course they may be. But maybe not. Dorset is warmer. Sunnier. Will I find Black Medic here or does it just like the south? Scarlet Pimpernel?

Creeper with purple flowers.
Escapees add an exotic element to an invisible street garden.
This one is wandering over a wall while retaining its domestic roots.

At the same time . . . of course I sort of did know things don't just pop up all over the place merely because they are familiar . . . I even wrote about hoping there would be dandelions. I'm inconsistent. And I discover there were so many thousands of dandelions along Dorset paths and roads and hedgerows I'd put them more in a more conventional wild-plant bracket.

Plant growing in a circle in a high, windowless wall.
This is something I would never have come across near my old home.
Indeed, I don't yet know what it is I'm looking at!

On Christmas Day when I went out to look for street plants, I set out in a business like fashion. I knew there would be some - there always are. And I would begin to construct from them my invisible urban garden. But I hadn't expected grief for such mundane things as prickly lettuce. And I hadn't expected to be swept by the power of shape. Moss grows everywhere in some form but each patch, even of the same variety, builds itself into distinct and therefore missable sculptures. I'll move from here one day so will I risk loving things that I will inevitably leave behind?

I hesitate.

On Christmas Day I went to visit the Alder I am 'following'.

I should be able to say 'yes, of course'. But I've had to think about it - hard - and with some gritting and grinding of teeth have decided Street Plant posts will continue in their new location. People with broken hearts can learn to love again.

Yellow flowers in car-park on Christmas Day
Flowers on Christmas Day!

Here then, may I proudly introduce you to my new, wild, scattered urban garden.

And assert, almost as an item of faith, that there is growth where there appears to be none.

Yes. Even when there really appears to be none.

Three blocks of flats in Halifax, West Yorkshire
Because Halifax is in a sort of bowl in the hills,
these three blocks of flats are a distinctive identifier for the town.
(Just as Big Ben is for London.)


VP said...

Have you come across BSBI's New Year Plant Hunt? I went for a walk yesterday - in an urban setting like your Christmas Day walk - and whilst I didn't set out with the intention of doing their Hunt, it must have been in the back of my mind because I quickly started to notice the wild flowers. I was surprised at how many I found in an urban setting in the midst of winter - so many daisies for instance. Happy New Year to you and your family Lucy.

Lyn said...

You really are not enjoying living here are you? I am sure you will one day love some aspects of Halifax.....have you been to Bankfield and it's little park (I know you didn't enjoy the peoples park) but maybe in grey, dull miserable December maybe you are being too hard on yourself....You see the beauty in things others pass by, I do hope Halifax works its way into your heart. xxx

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello VP. I didn't know about the plant hunt and will try to remember it for next year as it's an annual event. It's interesting that you noticed daisies for I would have expected them on a Weymouth walk but didn't notice any here. Now I'll look out specially.

Hello Lyn. I'm bothered that I am giving the wrong impression - because I am really glad to be here and astonished at my good fortune that this is where I am. However, I tend to think of contrasts when writing the posts so I'll have to take care not to sound negative because that's not how I feel - except when I get these startling twinges. And the park - it's not that I don't like it, more that I'm getting used to a new concept. No. That's not quite right. I didn't like it when I first went into it . . . but things grow on me as I get used to them. Not been to Bankside yet. Thinking Manor Heath will be my next expedition into park-land. Was up on the hill above Littleborough yesterday. Awe inspiring. And cold!

Anonymous said...

An enjoyable post and good pictures.
I like that you take time to really look at the world around you and see what most people would ignore. xx

Liz said...

Well, I miss the fields of poppies and flax from living in the South. I did even miss the oil seed rape but that's made its way up to Airedale in the last few years so now I can go back to thinking of it as a ubiquitous weed. I hope you start to feel more at home in Halifax soon - I think it's a lovely place and visit it often to mooch around Dean Clough and the Square Chapel. It does sometimes feel as though your photos focus on the most rundown aspects of Halifax - I suppose that's where the wild flowers are in town. It's quite a handsome place on the whole I just wish they hadn't built the horrible Vue Cinema in front of the view of the town hall spire.

liz said...

It seems that holidays, especially, bring out our nostalgia. Your moss sculpture, lichen, and “escapee” are lovely. You’ve called our attention to what we are likely to pass by, be it in Dorset or in Halifax and that is a good thing.

Down by the sea said...

I'm glad you are enjoying living in Hailfax.

We found even moving along the coast it was exciting to go out and explore and make new discoveries. You shall an exciting year looking out for new plants and having new favourites. Sarah x

Lyn said...

I'm glad you love living here! xxx

Hollis said...

Looking forward to meeting denizens of your new urban garden :)

Anonymous said...

A lovely post - I can tell you are enjoying the "differentness" of Halifax.
The quality of the light up there looks particularly interesting - I suppose it's the Pennine air and the distinctive stone.
I'm so glad you are continuing to call the subject "street plants", because that's what they are...
All the best for 2018 :)

Share my Garden said...

What's so pleasing about this post is that you take the time to look and in doing so find treasures - wherever you are. Lovely.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Mike. Glad you like the post. Yes. I enjoy looking at small and un-noticed things. In part this is because my writing is inspired by my photography and the bigger picture doesn't provide enough material for a regular blog!

Hello Liz in Airedale. One of the interesting things about Halifax and the region around it is that there is much run-down-ness and run-down-ness provides constant change . . . and one of the inspiring things is that much of it is being caught just in time and turned around. (Like Dean Clough and The Piece Hall.) Whether all the old mills and terraces can be transformed . . ? some of them appear to be beyond this but are fascinating all the same - as in the post where Buddleia seems to be colonising the inside of the top floor of the mill on Pellon Lane.

The yellow flowers in this post are on the edge of an un-surfaced car-park close to the town centre. Do you know my other blog, Message in a Milk Bottle? That's just photographs - no commentary - and almost daily. I'm gradually getting the 'hang' of the area there too.

Hello other Liz. It's not really nostalgia . . . it's more that part of being in a new place is getting to know its differences as well as what it is like in its own right. I think it would be hard to find anywhere more different from Dorset than Halifax without going right outside what might broadly be described as a temperate zone. And all the time I'm being struck by the thought 'wow, I'm here' . . . and at the same time as that feeling truly and immediately at home. It's an odd combination.

Hello Sarah. One of the things I need to keep reminding myself of is that I'll be here for a long time so I don't need to see everything at once!

Hi, Lyn. Yes I really do.

Hello Hollis. It's great knowing there are bloggers, like you and others, who read Dorset Loose and Leafy over the years and are sort of coming with the blog into this new area, thus doing a long-distance exploration alongside me.

Hello Squirrelbasket. The light is certainly different. The sea light of Dorset is very white. And even along the Dorset Coast it varies from place to place. The colours of the cliffs make a big difference. And here . . . the stone of the buildings and walls is very dark so light reflects differently . . . and as I've mentioned before, leaves have much more blue in them than in Dorset. Friends visiting over the New Year moved from South Africa to Manchester about ten years ago and they said the blue-ness in the green was something which first struck them too.

Hello Share my Garden. I'm glad you enjoy the way I look for the apparently insignificant within the bigger scene. Having said which, I will have to make sure to write some posts about some of the broader aspects of Halifax. The trouble is, the area is so very varied, it's hard to say 'it's like this, folks'. But that brings me back to . . . that I'll be a long time here so I don't have to say everything at once!

karen gimson said...

I’m glad you are settling into the place and enjoying it more. You have the ability to notice things that other people just walk right past. I always enjoy your insights into what’s around you. All the best for 2018. Xx

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I enjoyed touring your new home and will definitely go and look at a map as soon as I leave your blog -- I am not even sure how far you've moved. It was fun browsing and seeing how you are getting used to your new surroundings, which are beautiful. and I think perfectly understandable to compare it to the old, without meaning that you don't enjoy the new. (But we are travelers and lived full time in our RV (caravan) for 10 years living in various warm) places -- there were always many things to love in everyplace we stayed and we never stopped loving our home area in Oregon ... a traveler's heart can hold many different places!!!

Candi said...

Belated Happy Christmas and glad you are settling into Halifax, and I think it's not surprising you are missing elements of life in Dorset too x

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Karen. Glad you too enjoy seeing the 'small' things in the world around us - it's a pleasure to draw them to attention.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Sallie at FullTime-Life. I'm glad you understand. The move is 300 miles which, in some countries would not be far but here it is a long way.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Candi. Settling in but still exploring.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! Never too late to wish you well. Maybe I'll be able to remember to wish you a happy middle of the year when we get to July. July 2018!

Diana Studer said...

the blue-ness in the green - sounds lovely, against our gold in the green.