Today was a very difficult day for all of us; Helen, Peter and me. We had decided that we would spend the day together, to comfort each other. Peter took the day off work and arrived about 9.30. He and I went off to Willowbrook Garden Centre to have breakfast and just "talk". After taking Libby to a morning activity and then dropping her off at nursery, Helen arrived with Freddie about midday. We had previously agreed that we would spend the afternoon on the Lickeys, an area special to all of us as a family but even more so because it was somewhere Les loved, where she had grown up and where she and her elder brother Wayne had spent much of their free time as youngsters, enjoying the freedom of the Hills and being at one with the natural world. (Only a few days ago, Helen had bumped into her, now-retired Headmaster from Lickey First & Middle School at, of all places, a garden centre near Redditch. Small world!)
There was another reason too. Having failed in our attempt to get a memorial bench erected in Les' memory on the Lickeys, (too many benches there already according to the Parks Dept.), I had discovered that the Rangers are creating a new "Community Orchard" in a previously undeveloped corner of the Lickeys and are looking for sponsorship. I wanted Helen to see it and decide if she felt this was worth following up. It is literally only three minutes from the Visitor Centre, but adjacent to a footpath not commonly used. We "checked it out" and Helen and Peter agreed that I should set up a meeting with the Chief Ranger to discuss placing something there as a lasting memorial to Les.
After a lunch at the Visitor Centre, we went for a walk, along a path Les had probably walked many, many times in her youth. We talked and, at times, we were silent, each of us no doubt with our own thoughts and memories.
We talked about how lucky we are to have the Lickeys right on our doorstep and yet sometimes, for that very reason, we ignore it. We will drive for an hour or more and rave about somewhere, yet we have a "country park" equally appealing only a few minutes away from where we live.
It is at times like this that I am so glad of the very strong family bond we have. Helen and Peter have their own growing families but they do ensure that I am very much part of "their" lives as well. I am so grateful.
Peter has departed to collect his two from school; Helen has gone to pick Libby up from nursery. The house is silent; just me and my thoughts; what might have been, what can no longer be and yet, what I still hope to achieve.
In one sense, photography was the last thing on my mind today; yet I felt it was important to record what we did. The first photo is the four of us (three + Freddie) at the new Community Orchard and the second is of a brother and sister "walking the Lickeys".