Work need not cost the earth

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HOW beautiful it was when I looked up at the brilliant blue sky in Burn Valley today.

The early prunus were bursting into delicate pink blossom over the terraces while blackbirds, a wren, sparrows and a robin hopped about and twittered their spring refrain among the glossy holly and hedges.

On the dried, curled leaves and warming walls clusters of six spot ladybirds sunbathed and mated, having emerged from their winter hibernation.

I could hear a distant woodpecker.

Yellow mahonia is about to burst into flower over the few fading snowdrops.

A big furry bee bumbled about.

When I looked down I saw the drinks cans and plastic bottles among the blue periwinkles and the emerging grape hyacinths.

And the dreadful, dangerously uneven crazy paving, too uncomfortable to wheel my elderly arthritic mother over in her wheelchair, and likely to cause a broken hip in my elderly father, with unsteady balance as he tried to pick his way with his walking stick and support from me.

We sat down in the warm sun and sheltered from the wind on the only wooden seats, painted green over the wood carvings.

The numerous metal seats are too cold for comfort on an early March day and the metal is mangled on some.

The wind/rain shelters have been demolished.

I looked down at the lovely new play area and observed two teenage boys, about 16, playing on the new swing seat, one pushing the other like a small child.

How sad they have no work to do when, with a bit of leadership, investment and a job creation scheme, the litter could be picked up, the leaves and broken glass bottles swept up, the rubbish in the burn removed, new perennials in the empty flower beds planted.

I envisaged drifts of purple aubretia bursting into bloom over the terrace walls, where once pergolas were covered with climbing roses.

The holly tree entangled in the lovely old beech tree could be effectively pruned and people might return to enjoy the view.

This is where my mother took me in my pram over 55 years ago.

The Peter Pan statue and the pond where I fished for tadpoles have gone.

How sad to return to the town to live for a time to find Burn Valley terraces such a shadow of their former selves.

I wish I had the time to organise a working party.

I am sure many gardeners in the area could donate clumps of herbaceous perennials that they are dividing.

It would not need to cost the earth. Has anyone thought of applying for a lottery grant?

Gillian Oberlin-Harris (nee Brodie),

Clifton Avenue,

Hartlepool.