Back to Daisy Nook.

Wandering the sloppy banks of Crime Lake, a buzzard flew overhead, and my dog Panda flashed his muddy black and white coat as he bounded ahead. I hadn’t visited Daisy Nook Country Park in ages. On a damp December afternoon, I left Newton Heath with Panda after a brief lunch.

The walk there involved passing through Clayton Vale, crossing Clayton Bridge, heading under the railway viaduct by Millstream Animal Sanctuary along a grim industrial road called Green Lane. Green, in other parts, but not by Lord’s Brook and the stinky sewage works. Trudging through the soggy pathway at Medlock Valley Fisheries, the rough path saddled alongside the River Medlock and nearby railway. At a footbridge by Hadfield Wood Recyclers, a left turn headed us onto the Manchester and Ashton-under-Lyne Canal Hollinwood Branch. This is a pretty area within Greater Manchester. It is worth visiting every season.

The pathway sweeps along ruins and flooded canal troughs until the M60 motorway disects the route, offering a bleak metal bridge. Afterwards, the canal returns, flooded by plants and trees overlooking hither and dither. By Lumb Lane and below tiding stables. A cafe and car park adds accessibility to the various pathways and bridleways.

The unique Daisy Nook Country Park features water Sammy’s Basin, Crime Lake, and Bardsley Canal. Water creatures are varied, from coots, moorhens, swans, and so on to otters and river rodents. Dozens of old canal relics remain, including double locks, bold staircase locks, and odd right angle turns. The Waterhouses Aqueduct passes over the River Medlock. The views above and below are worth the steep walks on either side.

Author Ben Brierley published A Day Out, which was set around Waterhouses and featured an area called Daisy Nook. That moniker stuck with locals. The name Crime Lake comes from Crime Valley, which isn’t a Scandinavian drama. Crime used to mean land intersected by a stream. Now, it’s more associated with crime. Fishing without a permit is a crime.

Daisy Nook is a special part of Failsworth, an area of Oldham Town, and a place my Gran used to live. Crime Lane Aqueduct is as picturesque a place as you can possibly see. This is a unique spot to sit and enjoy the sunset and explore Benjamin Outram’s ironworks lay under the outwardly brick appearance of Crime Lake Aqueduct. This hybrid bridge was a place I visited with Gran and Ernie when I was young. Daisy Nook still has magic and a draw. Many dogwalkers and friendly people said hello, as did a curious kingfisher and a big grey heron.

On the pathway back, instead of taking the right turn alongside the railway after the Hollinwood Canal, I crossed the wooden floored bridge and turned right immediately. A cycle path marked by solar lights guided us back towards Clayton Vale. Sadly, at Taunton Brook, we had to go off-road to avoid the deeply flooded pathway and then scramble around other parts. At the Greenside Lane (Droylsden) to Edge Lane path, it was necessary to double back and head up Clock House Avenue to find a route to Clayton Vale. That negotiated it was plain sailing, and we made it home for a deserved dinner.

Kicking this habit?

Hello! 你好! Nǐ hǎo! S’mae!

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.” – Garrison Keillor (author of The Lake Wobegon Virus)

I read a few chapters before bed. I carry a book in my pocket almost religiously. I aim to have books on my desks and near my bedside. The bookshelf I have is full to bursting despite attempts to forever re-home unwanted texts. If I can read on a walk, at lunch or between classes, I do. It has always been my way. Reading is a lifelong pleasure and habit. It helps me to feel relaxed and whenever I have felt tired, alone or under the weather, reading has been my medicine and friend.

“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.” – Kofi Annan (Late UN Secretary-General)

Having a to do list is seen as normal in many households. Why not create a list of texts and books to read? Mine keeps getting longer. It never reduces. That’s the joy of reading: there’s always something new to expand your horizons. I find my television and movie viewing list also remains quite lengthy. By being balanced and principled, I can reduce my screen time in favour of reading. I often use TV as a reward for completing a reading target.

“One of the greatest gifts adults can give – to their offspring and to their society – is to read to children.: – Carl Sagan (Scientist)

Pale Blue Dot: food for thought?

I recall the joy of Mum and occasionally my Dad reading to me when I was a child. Those bonds and memories never fade. As a child I listened to it as we shared a reading habit development together! Such quality time is essential for reading habits. I recall how my Mum used to log when I would start and end a book. There was a list of great books we read together, those I picked up at school and some I had read all alone. Reading can instill self-esteem.

“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty.  It should be offered to them as a precious gift.” – Kate DiCamillo

The library was a weekly excursion. It was a few hours outside of the house to explore new worlds from the pages. And, on occasion, Mum would ensure I had a special trip to buy secondhand books or new books from stalls at Manchester Victoria railway station. There, I’d often find books that gripped my attention and make me want to read. Not everything read must be a masterpiece. Those books would make for a wonderful day or hour here and there. Having a day, every month set aside just for reading has become a way to slow the pace of life down and enjoy new works. Mum gave me lots of choices for reading. That’s important. What interests me may not interest you. You can recommend reading materials but giving a child a chance to pick will always work best. 

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King

reading with parentsset times
always carry a bookexplore bookshops
create reading listsreduce your screen time
log ituse the library
find compelling bookschoose a quiet & pleasurable place
Ten possible steps to positive reading habits.

“We read to know we are not alone.” – C.S. Lewis

Some of my favourite places to read: the old Levenshulme Library; the domed Great Hall of the Manchester Central library; hiking towards Everest Base Camp (at various points); a really cool tree in Songshan Lake park (Dongguan, China); my apartment office; on train journeys (especially The Cambrian Coast line in Wales); a rock at the Old Man of Coniston; near an abandoned cabin in Yunnan; and my bed.

Goodbye! 再见! Zàijiàn! Ta’ra!