Thursday, 2 February 2023

Ruffled feathers

Ruffled Feathers

Contributions from the public to the
Words on the Street project

As part of the Word on the Street project with Buxton Our Street, we’re collecting contributions from local residents, visitors and passing pigeons (that will make sense I the following poet!). For more information, visit this post, or just the coordinator, Gordon, a line to


Here are a few words to walk you along our streets

Just to keep us looking at Spring Gardens, and appreciating ridiculous moment,  here are a couple more limericks

Never before in our town,

Had we seen a tall man in a gown.

We were so impressed,

That we got him undressed,

Until all he had on was his frown.


Spring Gardens is known for its shops,

With hats: bowlers, caps or tops.

What nobody knows,

And where nobody goes,

Is the lost world of rivers and rocks.

Of course Buxton’s fame grew with access to our wells and visitors would come to take the waters….

In Pursuit of a Cure

A fashionable lady in Buxton, 1820

By Dr Sarah Raybould


Ay, the pain it breeds

and rheumatism plagues these limbs – 

fayre Buxton lies my fate

to take her waters.


Tepid, from thermal spring

a thousand feet above the sea,

from holy well,

a draft to soothe a lady’s malady.


Two glasses, each a third in size

before we feast,

two more at tea -

and this, they say, will see me fit. 


Bathe and exercise with genteel folk

who languish in this town

and seek diversion and amusement

from leisurely excursions to the Crescent.


Her streets adorned with coffee houses,

rich aromas, windows stocked with

trinkets, gloves and muffs –

fine prospect for a lady’s pleasure.


Behold a poultice held in place

with strips of cloth,

and oyntment – vile the smell –

from yon apothecary’s room


where ladies gather, fashionably sick,

to breathe the vapours,

examine tinctures, bottles of broth

that boast a purgative effect.


But lo! This day beguiles

and feigning sick will take to bed.

This nyte is bleake and I am done for – 

opium my bedside drink.

once upon a time, the Cavendish Arcade was one of
those places to take the waters....


 Buxton may be a town of running water and cold stone but we are also high in the hills and the skies above us hold their own stories…when you walk along Spring Gardens, look up!

In the Town, Above the Town.

Jonathan Davey


  Winter grey washes across the wet stone,

   light mist driven away by dark wind

   blasting in across from Goyt.

  The damp, a gift from the west, comes pouring into the cup of Buxton


   From down the town

   laughter and the sound of empty beer cans.

   General daftness at the end of the week.

   A week spent chasing love or exam results or money.


   And at the end of that wet week,

   although there may be more snow to come,

   the curlew and golden plover travel in above the town

   Unknown, unseen, unheard.


   Above the grey stone buildings,

   the shouts, sirens and Friday night shenanigans,

   the winds, the mist, the wet, the snow,

   for how much longer will the silent wings travel over our town


And watch….remember this town is home to more than just human people

my flight home to Buxton

David Carlisle


I feel the fresh air of home lift me and my spirits – this is Derbyshire air.


My journey home has been long; it feels like years since I’ve been here, but has only been a few days.  I scan the green pasture beneath and spot the rolling hills in the near distance.  I have crossed many rivers and borders to be here, but now I feel the tug at my heart as I soar northwards along the Ashbourne Road.


Passing over old railway tracks, grassed over quarry lines and craggy rock faces: quarry, that steadfast employer and provider of bread and meat for generations of families.  Remnants of industrial heritage taint the air slightly with grit.  


Gloriously cut quarry stones smile up at me.  This beautiful rocky ruin holds close to its fractured core the odd mixture of dereliction, one part from abandoned chiselling and one from untouched landscape.  The scars that remain still run through the hearts of those workers left behind.  Their promised reward of lifelong work, worth everything.  


Mother earth is quick to repair, she soon soothes damage.  Still in these solid communities, hearing “quarrying’s no longer sustainable” will light the blue touch-paper of a verbal firework display.  Proud, rooted people close to nature, naturally close.  


Entering Buxton, I declare in whispered tone, “this is my home,” a place where my heart feels rested and I remember much of the past.  I like the buildings’ scars of Spring Gardens, they tell a story of exactly how it was.  No need to hide them, better to show and tell the story of how they came about – to use them to effectively teach others and point the right way to the future.


My journey is almost complete as I wheel around the Grove Hotel – grand old lady and street sentinel.   I’m tiring from the Derbyshire odyssey beneath me.  Little more than a stone plinth on a Corinthian column, but of course to a homing pigeon returning from overseas, this is my castle in the air. 

There will be more!

We have an event coming up on Sunday 19th February at the Pump Room in Buxton (details to follow very soon!) where anyone’s everyone, old friends new friends passing strangers might all drop in and put pen to paper - or just read quietly, read aloud, laugh or weep as the words call to them!


Thanks to Sarah, David and Jonathan for their poems and stories (limericks remain anonymous). if you would like to contribute, follow the link to this post for more information

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Geese, coffee and lumps of rock

water and stone lie behind everything in Buxton

Geese, coffee and lumps of rock....

As part of the Word on the Street project for Buxton Our Street, we’re collecting contributions from local residents, visitors and passing pigeons (that will make sense in a later post!). For more information, visit this post, or just contact the coordinator, Gordon, a line to


Here are a few words to walk you along our streets


Rock solid on Spring Gardens 

David Carlisle


gritstone, as yet untamed

Little noticed, running along the central spine of Spring Gardens are the rows of gritstone, the one-time product of the Council’s Street Improvement Scheme, or so the brass plaque says.  


They weave gently, these modern standing stones, echoing the rise and fall of the High Peak’s hills and valleys, themselves carved by ice and water.


Walk along with your shopping head fixed into place and you’ll never see them.  Stop and listen to the wind and you’ll hear it whisper through these musical gritstone teeth.  Once you do that, you’ll appreciate their curving lines, their sheer mass inspiring respect for heavy work done by nature in shaping the landscape and the lives of all living within it.


Gritstone sentinels of Spring Gardens, Architects have crafted with you, Builders have captured you and Shoppers have been oblivious to you.  Yet, you point the way. 


Blocky and leaning in honourable respect, they softly nod at the past and smile encouragingly towards a better future for Spring Gardens, our future.


And if David’s words have wandered us along Spring Gardens 

counting rocks, maybe we pause…


Flat White Encounter

Maggie Pollard


My friend beamed with excitement

that I should meet his online lover.

Up from the South.

I made allowances for that.


I joined them in Café Nero.

My friend stood up to greet me.

I thought the boyfriend would.

He didn’t.


Instead, he stirred his coffee,

an empty gaze reflecting back himself.

Bound to be nervous, I thought.

He wasn’t.


‘I thought it was a Spa,’ he snapped.

We chorused ‘Yes it is! It is!’

‘It’s not like Bath,’ he said.

It’s Buxton.


His disappointment filtered down

‘And why is this called Spring Gardens?

There isn’t one that I can see.’ 

He had a point.


My friend fussed with his serviette.

I stirred my untouched love heart with intent.

My friend had so hoped I’d be impressed.

I wasn’t.

in earlier days, this might have been a moment in the Hardwick Hotel

And after that perhaps we need to step out of town for an afternoon wander?


Geese over Monksdale

Jonathan Davey


We are welcome on the tableland.

Greasy limestone slabs

Helping us over the lumpy walls

leading down to the dale hidden in that featureless crust.


Slipping over the sodden steep field,

in the far distant background we hear

sounds reminding us of the shouts and cries

of a far-off childhood playground


Silence for a few seconds,

then the two- tone sounds blow in again on the east wind.

Some kind of clamorous conversation,

“Can you hear something? What is it?”


Louder and closer, the laughing sound.

We look above the rounded silhouette of hill,

the sun intimating its presence 

behind the layers of mist upon mist.


Look, there they are,

raggedly undulating line of working wanderers,

drawn across from the North Sea marshland

to the food of Morecambe Bay and Ribble


Not harsh, not sweet, but exultant celebration.

To these ears joining in the movement,

a wild conversation for us.

On that Tuesday in Derbyshire.


No matter to you Pink Foot whether you are seen or not

but it matters to me.

You don’t know me

but in my own way, I know you.



There will be more!

We have an event coming up on Sunday 19th February at the Pump Room in Buxton (details will be posted very soon! Posted on facebook just now, details, will appear in blog shortly) where anyone’s everyone, old friends new friends passing strangers might all drop in and put pen to paper - or just read quietly, read aloud, laugh or weep as the words call to them!



Tuesday, 24 January 2023

Take a pencil and purr

Draw A Big Cat

A Lost Cats of Derbyshire activity

With a growl and a snarl, claws flex, a tail twitches and a long lean body pours over the rocks

The big cats are back.


A few thousand years after they last prowled the hills of Derbyshire, we’re bringing scimitar-toothed cats, lynx and cave lions back to the Peak District


They will arrive as cave lion masks, lynx flags, scimitar puppets. They will hide in shop windows, purr from shadowed corners, smile toothy grins in classrooms….but we started with drawings. With Big cats: big drawings at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery earlier this month, visitors took time to draw. With cats as pictures to inspire us, models to handle and museum exhibits to wonder at; visitors sketched and scribbled, coloured, shaded, smudged and created a renewed world of big cats.


We thought you might like to have a go yourselves with the guides we used to help shape those drawings. We used a worksheet with simple suggestions. These follow here but if you’d like to download a copy, use this link for a pdf that should give better quality than the pictures here: Big Cat Drawings worksheet


We were working on A2 sheets of paper to give us room for our cats to stretch and started with pencils before sometimes going on to use oil pastels, felt pens and chunky water-colour pencils



Working from a circle for a face-on “I’m looking at you” moment. This way can give quite round faces so you might want to pull those feline cheeks in a bit


In profile

Still starting with a circle but now adding a rectangle, we get the strong profile (watch those teeth) of a Homotherium



A pear shape becomes a cat posed with her front paws neatly placed together. But she might not be smiling so much as waiting….


some mammoths snuck in....


And then with a stretch and a yawn, our cats can set off on a hunt


Simple ideas to get you started…why not have a go, add your own ideas, and send us a photo of your lost cat drawings?

we didn't mind hyenas either


Lost Cats is a Buxton Museum and Art Gallery project with Buxton Our Street coordinated by Creeping Toad. Lost Cats is part of the Wild Escape initiative, encouraging people to use museum collections to inspire their own explorations of the world around them

With many thanks to all our Big Cats: Big Drawings artists!

Next event: Big Cat Puppets, Thursday 23rd February 2023