Derbyshire 112 - Chesterfield - groundhog day /Simoncelli and bike racing - Day 58


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May 17th 2020
Published: May 17th 2020
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When you go to bed at night there are three ways the night can go . The first is that you get a wonderful nights sleep . The second that you toss and turn and sleep not one jot. The third that you sleep fitfully and dream a lot . Sometimes you remember the dream . Often you cannot remember a thing . Last night I slept well waking up to not knowing what time it was , what day it was nor what date it was . A quick check of the watch suggested 6.10 and the alarm would go off in a minute or two . A glance over at the calendar showed it was Sunday and the 17th May . Groundhog Day again . Wake up, get up , breakfast , walk , come home to coffee , make dinner , make tea , watch TV and go to bed again to sleep or not sleep .

Was it really 1993 when I first watched Groundhog Day? 27 years ago . l loved the fantasy comedy written by the wonderfully talented Harold Ramis and starring the equally talented Bill Murray. The character Murray portrayed was the cynical TV weatherman Phil Collins who was covering the annual Groundhog day event in Punxsutawney , Pennsylvania where he becomes trapped in a time loop which forces him to endlessly live the same day over and over again . I am beginning to feel as if it is Groundhog Day here and we are all trapped in a never ending loop of Coronavirus. It is Day 58 - if I were swimming this length would be dedicated to Marco Simoncelli - an Italian MotoGP rider. Simoncelli died in an accident during the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix after being run over following his own fall on track from his bike. He was 24 years old with a brilliant career ahead of him . A rising star we had watched at many a race in our own country , in Italy and in Spain .

Today being Sunday was going to be quieter than normal . As I set out there was the feeling of rain in the air . A few spots landed on the ground . Was I going to get soaked on my walk ? I thought about leaving the walk until later but if I had gone home no doubt my motivation would have disappeared fast . We are heading up today and not down . For a short while that is . I saw no-one at all on the first part of the walk . I headed throught the estate which is completely dead . All the curtains were drawn and no-one had got up. The church was not open. The bells were not ringing . It was quiet everywhere .

The smell of the first roses of the season wafted from the Lodge at the top of our lane . A beautiful climbing rose . An artist palette of colour , pale lemon darkening as it got nearer the centre to an orange . Finally hints of red here and there . It had to be a photo opportunity . Round the corner from the roses I found a bench mark. A chisled horizontal mark made by a surveyor on a stone structure into which an angle iron could be placed . From the mark the leveling rod could be accurately repositioned in the same place in the future. On my search for interesting things the bench mark had been on the list of things to find .

I ended off my walk in better weather . Whilst the sun was still not shining on me it had turned warmer . The rain had held off and I found myself a new walk . Across the empty A61 , across to the Avenue . An area of parkland where nature has begun its task of taking over from the industry that used to be there . When I first moved to the area 20 years the site was derelict and polluted . Remedial work had to be undertaken to rid the site of noxious chemicals and substances . It took many years to clear it . The trees have not started to grow tall yet and the area is open but it is a welcome green space with ponds and open fields . In its heyday the Avenue Coking Works produced 1,400 tonnes of coke and 765,000 m3 of manufactured gas every single day It was producing coke and gas for over 36 years and as I walked I found it hard to believe that I was treading the paths that once were the most polluted pieces of land in Europe . What a difference time makes . The original colliery opened in the 1880's and expanded over the yeras to include both lime and iron works . The new coking works began life in 1952 becoming operational by 1956 at a time when everyone wanted smokeless fuel . The old buildings were knocked down , the ovens dismantled and ton upon ton of polluted earth was taken away . Replaced now by ponds with swans and coots , pathways to the railway lines and beyond and the promise of a cycleway all the way from Clay Cross to Chesterfield . One day perhaps it will happen . I am joined by one dog walker - I see him in the distance and one jogger who runs by . It is not the most interesting of walks but it did make a change .

Will tomorrow be another Groundhog day ? Probably although enlivened by a load of topsoil being delivered . That should break up Monday nicely .

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