On Saturday the sun shone, flooding the kitchen with warmth and brightness. We pottered and prepared for Sunday, which would be one of the busiest days in the church year, and just enjoyed the sunlit peace.
Most of the leaves have now fallen from the mighty oaks just beyond our boundary. We have lost the canopy of leaves that shelter the garden during the autumn. Light reflecting off the snow further enhanced the brightness, even during hours of relative darkness.
Three o'clock in the morning seems to be a pivotal time in weather predictions. I wonder if the reasoning is that we will all be tucked up in bed and no-one will be awake to assess the accuracy of the forecasts. Who knows what time the snow actually began, but we awoke to the most significant snowfall for several years.
Access to the church is up a hill,
or a long steep hill.
Alternatively there is a very steep hill.
Many of those who live close enough to walk, would not want to risk hip and wrist. For the first time that I can recall we cancelled our services, as did the majority of the other churches in town. We all stayed home, and watched the flakes falling relentlessly from the sky. I felt like I was trapped in a computer-generated graphics file with no escape from the visual confetti.
Snow often triggers nostalgia, as we recall snowball fights and other snowy exploits from our youth. In 1964 my town was selected to be a 'new town'. I am always amazed when I go elsewhere and see factories adjacent to houses - in Redditch this doesn't happen. Development was planned and zoned. We had one of the first shopping centres, miles of footpaths with underpasses, lots of trees and an excellent road system that bewilders visitors. However, there was a price for all this investment. The town centre of my childhood was bulldozed - covered over by concrete, steel stuctures and slippery floor tiles (which have since been replaced).
A facebook page has recently appeared, sharing old photographs of the town - places I never knew and some I had forgotten. One photo that impacted me showed the rear entrance from Woollies onto Walford Street. I had completely forgotten that these doors had ever existed, or that they came out close to the market. Seeing the photograph reminded me of the time I got left behind in Woolworth's when my mother, distracted by my younger brother, accidentally left the shop without me. I remember standing inside these doors, sobbing at my abandonment. My Mother soon reappeared, retrieved and admonished me for not paying attention! The building remains, but the rear now has an elevated goods access to the first floor of the building, the doors presumably bricked up. Walford Street has long gone, but the name lives on in Walford Walk in the Kingfisher shopping centre.
I cannot deny that there are advantages to having an indoor shopping centre, especially during the winter months, but I wish they had just provided roofing above the streets and let the town gently age, instead of inflicting such an abrasive facelift, and in the process, eradicating the past so abruptly.
Back in the 60's, new towns were needed to provide replacement homes for those living in slums. New schools were built, some of which only lasted a couple of generations before being declared surplus to requirements. It is over 50 years since the first new houses were built by the Development Corporation. Ideas on town planning have continued to evolve. The brutalist architecture, that replaced the Victorian streets, feels strangely appropriate for a change imposed by an unelected and unaccountable organisation. Change would have happened anyway, just not at such a pace, and without such apparent disregard for the past. The planner's legacy is a town with good facilities. We have much to be grateful for, but those who knew the town before, have memories of places that were indescriminately wiped off the map.
We hanker for the past, appreciate the present, and look forward to the future.