THE FROST FADES away. In Thornes Park, Wakefield, a few Black-headed Gulls have gathered on the muddy football pitch. Their dark brown masks have now faded away. In winter plumage they have just a smudge behind the eye. There are a couple of Mistle Thrushes in the thorns by the driveway, along with two Magpies and a Wood Pigeon.
For me, on this short winter's day, this isn't much of a dose of nature, but at least by leaving my car a mile from the centre of town, where I've got a meeting, I have the excuse for a brisk walk across the park.
Rooks (or Crows?) are gathering over a clump of trees at the west end of the park.
Gaskell’s Homers’ or ‘Gaskell’s Roamers’ was what the locals called the Rooks that nested in a large rookery in Thornes Park (the Gaskell family lived in Thornes House). Organised shoots kept their numbers in check.
My meeting in town goes on longer than I expected and I end up striding back across Low Hill in the dark, hoping they don't lock the park gates at sunset. This historic hill, which once boasted a timber-built castle, is an oasis of tranquility surrounded by a tide of rush hour traffic. A panorama of city lights sparkles below but here, as I walk across the ridges of a medieval open field, there's an atmosphere of brooding calm that sends a shiver down my spine.
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