paramotor flying above Great Notley

Over recent years there has been a craze around here for paramotors, which take off a couple of fields away to circle around and around the fields. With none of the grace of a floating hot air balloon or the usefulness of an aeroplane, paramotors are the wasps of the aviation world. In short, they are a pesky buzzing nuisance.

When the people flying these paramotors see a walker or horse rider, their instinct is to come across to take a closer look. Then they decide to entertain us with a few swoops before they head off across the field getting so low that their feet skim the crops and they have to rise up to clear the hedge at the end. Sometimes they come in pairs and chase each other up and down the fields, ascend above the trees and dive back down.  I think they do to it impress, but quite frankly I think they’re just twits*.

Last weekend, having endured the antics of one paramotor circling around us for ages, we watched in amazement as another appeared in the distance at too low a height to clear the high voltage electricity wires. Thankfully, before he reached them, he gracefully descended into the middle of the field. It was an odd place to come down, so we assumed he had problems with his equipment and as he appeared unscathed by his descent, we weren’t too sorry for him. Not even when we calculated that he would have to walk for at least a mile carrying his motor and paraglider wing until he reached the nearest road.


*That’s possibly not the word I use while they’re buzzing above my head.



something to hold

Do you worry that everything is digital nowadays and wonder if future generations will have something to hold in their hands that we touched? Everything seems to be on-screen now. Handwritten letters are rare, postcards almost non-existent and official documents are filed online.

When Bill went travelling he diligently wrote a letter to his parents once a month or thereabouts, all of which his mother kept to hand back to him when he arrived home and occasionally he flicks through them and revives a distant memory. Now, our children update us from far flung places by Facebook, which is instant but fleeting and will doubtless float off in the ether, lost to us all. Photos are stored on computers that crash or on free cloud storage with no guarantee of permanency and I have a pile of cine film, VHS tapes, cassette tapes and floppy disks loaded with memories but now unreadable.

I was pondering all this as I replaced some of the way mark discs (for the public footpaths and bridleways) around the farm that have faded or mysteriously disappeared.  I went past the flowering violets, primroses and cowslips and lichen on bare branches along a track that has been walked for hundreds of years and wondered how many people had walked along and noticed the same things, watched the seasons roll past and trees grow from tiny acorns to spreading oak trees. Almost imperceptible daily changes that we take for granted and yet add up to massive change over the years. So, of course we don’t mark or record it and the memory of how it used to be disappears.

making jelly prints

On the way I stuffed a few bits and pieces in my pockets – leaves, feathers and flowers (though I ate the violets) and used them to make jelly prints that I folded into little books as a permanent memory.

One of them is a snake book, which unfolds rather like a walk and the other has pockets in which to tuck collected things or perhaps photographs (if I get them printed) and an unfolding narrative of the walk in the back.

An evening spent in frivolous creativeness. Because sometimes it’s good to have something to hold. A reminder of how it is today, because it’s bound to change in the future. Though obviously only for me because my children will almost certainly throw them out, which I completely understand (I would do the same).

How do you store your experiences and memories for future generations? Does it really matter?