12th June 2017

We brought with us a ‘summer’ case and a ‘winter’ case because we didn’t want to take 2 cases on the plane to Ireland. So, we took the winter case to Ireland and left the summer case with our daughter, Jenni, until we got back to Runcorn. We then left the winter case with her and took the summer case with us for the months of June and July while we are in Bedford and Glasgow. First day or so in Bedford was glorious weather. Then it got cold – and it rained – and it rained some more – and the wind blew – and we only had the summer case. All the wrong clothes. But, to be fair, even if I’d had a raincoat with me I still wouldn’t have gone out in the downpours we had, so we’ve had a week of chilling out. David has a lot of music in the house, so we’ve listened to some of that, read, watched tv and generally had some r&r.

Finally, the weather has brightened up and my Mum and Dad have timed their visit to us well, so we managed to get out and have a proper look at what’s around us.

A prominent feature of the town centre is the sculpture ‘Reflections of Bedford’ by Rick Kirby. Two enormous faces, 5 metres high stare at each other almost nose to nose at the entrance of the pedestrian precinct. It represents the diversity of ethnic backgrounds in the town and its links with brick and lace. The faces are etched with designs of brick and lace at the front (facing the high street). The backs are plain. It was apparently quite controversial when it was first erected – but that’s often the case with public works of art. As a visitor to the town I was quite impressed with it.

The river that runs through Bedford is the Great Ouse. The locals seem to refer to it just as the Ouse which made me wonder if it was the same Ouse that York stands on. It isn’t. Apparently there are several rivers called Ouse – this is the longest of them and, at 143 miles, one of the longest rivers in the UK –  and the name comes from a Celtic or possibly pre-Celtic word that means simply ‘water’ or ‘slow-flowing river’. Its best known tributary is the Cam which flows through Cambridge.

The Great Ouse has been historically important for commercial navigation, and for draining the low-lying region through which it flows. Its lower course passes through drained wetlands and fens and has been extensively modified, or channelised, to relieve flooding and provide a better route for barge traffic. Though the unmodified river probably changed course regularly after floods, it now enters the Wash after passing through the port of Kings Lynn south of its earliest-recorded route to the sea.

We had a lovely walk along the embankment today. The area is very pretty and well-kept and obviously well used by the locals. There are loads of swans on the river. More than I have ever seen in one place before.

Swans on the Great Ouse:

Swans

The War Memorial

War Memorial

The sculptor Charles Sargent Jagger was commissioned in 1920 to create this memorial which was unveiled on 20th July 1922. Although it was initially created to commemorate the men of Bedford who died in the First World War, it has since become the town’s main war memorial and now also marks the Second World War, the Korean War and subsequent conflicts.

The armour-clad warrior figure is made from white Carrera marble and is named ‘Justice Armed’. When it was completed, the sculptor visited the town to see its proposed location and was told the story of a great 10th century battle thought to have taken place in the area between the Mercians , led by Queen Aethelflaed and the invading Danes. This story had an immediate appeal to him and he felt it appropriate to encompass it into the design. He decided to rework the figure revealing pigtails and softening the face so that its appearance was changed from male to female.

We ended our Sunday stroll at a local hostelry and enjoyed a lunch before returning home to sit in the sunshine in the garden.

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