Wild—On—Medlock A Hidden Nature zine by Victoria Baths
Introduction Welcome to Wild-On-Medlock, the brand new Victoria Baths zine. It’s been created for Heritage Open Days festival this September. In normal times we’d have thrown open the doors, and welcomed people for a weekend of swimming in the Gala Pool, exploring the building from top to bottom, and making merry. But with the COVID19 pandemic forcing us to close we’ve had to adapt, and find other ways for everyone to get involved. So we invited people to get to know a little more of the history of our area, Chorlton-OnMedlock, by taking part in a Scavenger Hunt, and we gathered submissions for the zine you're reading, inviting people to share with us how nature has affected them during 2020. Thank you to everyone who’s contributed. If you want to find out more about Victoria Baths, find us on the socials @victoriabaths, or head to our website.
Keep in touch and thank you for reading, we hope you like it! Ariane
Amelia Barlow—Furlough Film
Jo Flynn — Red Drumhead (1787) and Earth Star
Janice Drake — Growing Beans
Leaves from the Victoria Baths Scavenger Hunt
Lily Windows in the Gala Pool
Becca Vafeas — Butterflies
Jade Hanley — Into the Mirror
Kit Roberts — Diving Back Into Nature
Chris Tucker — Elizabeth Gaskell’s Garden
Gwyneth Broadmeadow — Window View
Lok Yee Liu — Window Weather
Roxy and Reuben — Hidden Nature at Home
The VB Volunteers — Sunflower Competition
Gwyneth and Graeme — Almond and Blackberry Shortbread
Anon — Here’s the sun!
Sarah-Clare Conlon — Flight Silhouettes
Cover credit to Becca Vafeas
Amelia Barlow â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Furlough Film
Jo Flynn Red Drumhead (1787) Indigo frills and fresh cut grass green veins interrupted with cheesegrater holes, like a vermin doily. An infinite opening of near black leaves cascade over a swollen centre of violet. The heart violated by hungry soldiers of slime violence.
Earth Star Pockmarked and pale pallid puff growing from other plantsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; expendable energy; smelling of petrichor and persistence. Harbingers of the lot. Soil clings to a perfectly brushed exterior protecting a web of pleated underbelly. The fungi feed us all.
Janice Drake Growing beans in her garden while working from home.
Leaves from the Victoria Baths Heritage Open Days Scavenger Trail
The Lily Windows - Gala Pool at Victoria Baths
Into the Mirror
Diving Back Into Nature At Sale Water Park Kit Roberts It’s easy to see the appeal of open water swimming. This is swimming in nature, surrounded by greenery and birdsong. Instead of the smell of chlorine and disinfectant, you have fresh air. The water is fresh, bracing, and you come out with a renewed appreciation for the natural world. My only real concern, having spoken to a few experienced swimmers at my local pool, was the cold. But it was fine, you can hire a wetsuit, and in my optimism I thought this might still be possible. “Sorry, we aren’t doing moment because of COVID.”
I grimaced. Oh dear. Unperturbed, I donned my trunks and after a safety briefing from the attendants (if you’re in distress, lie on your back and stick your arm in the air, a kayak will come and get you), I tentatively got my shoulders into the water. If you do want to try open water swimming, take a wetsuit. The cold literally takes your breath away. Pressing on, I stopped at a buoy to catch my breath. The initial shock of the cold had worn off, and with my legs dangling into the inky green depths I began to take in more of my surroundings. Sale Water Park is beautiful. It was created in the 1970s in a gravel pit from the construction of the nearby motorway, with a disconcerting depth of 27m at its deepest point. Considering its immediate proximity to the M60, it is a little bubble of tranquillity, a hidden oasis in the Green Belt bordering south Manchester.
Trees surround it, and flocks of canada geese, swans, and ducks glide across its surface. Beneath, shoals of little fish ripple through the dense, green water. A glance online told me it is also home to carp and catfish, though thankfully no pike. My breath back, I set off for the shore. Fifteen minutes later, pink in the face, I felt the slimy but welcome touch of the bottom on my feet. Refreshed, I sat on the pontoon to dry in the sun. Although getting back to nature is glorious, open water swimming is not for the faint hearted. But in exposing vulnerability, it reminds us of the immense, immovable power of the natural world, a lesson that is becoming increasingly important for each and every one of us. An extended version of this feature can be read on the authorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Medium page.
Elizabeth Gaskellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Garden Chris Tucker The garden is more than a decorative setting for Elizabeth Gaskellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s House. It is the surviving part of the private garden enjoyed by Elizabeth Gaskellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s family and it has been planted to reflect their lives and her novels and other writings. However, unlike the garden known to Elizabeth Gaskell, the modern garden is not a hidden one. When the gates are open, people can walk through. They were closed during the lockdown, but anyone on the street could see the garden and could see the seasons passing as the flowers bloomed. Once lockdown eased some of the garden volunteers came in to maintain the garden, enjoying the relief that working in an open space could bring. From the pavement you could see the primroses flowering in early spring. As the seasons passed you could enjoy the blue irises, the yellow tulips, the white blossom of the Amelanchier, the deep red roses on the walls and fence, and the pillar-box red of the hollyhocks. Across the lawn the pergola was covered with pale pink roses. Autumn has brought the dahlias and fuchsias. The gates may have been shut but all who walk past could see the garden. Happily, both house and garden are now open.
Lok Yee Liu Window Weather At first, raging heat beat down its tyranny, shot down in rays. Berating the earth for its selfish ways. But still, we remained inside, hiding, Sprawled out, like fat cats. Stretching Out our muscles, all but once a day. Then came, thunderous rain. Ferocious storms crackled as the wind whipped up what was left of the summer. Natureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cocoon. The outside world mattered more than ever but At the same time, not at all. All eyes through the looking glass. Our normal Life so small. A molecule of dust. And now that speck, ripped apart the ground, still arid and dry, but without a sound Settles back down. Until we see a shoot emerge. Sunflower. A reminder that the Earth comes first.
At the start of lockdown, our lovely group of volunteers decided to have a sunflower growing competition. They shared out a packet of seeds, and got planting. They found joy and community a shared experience of nature from their homes. Check out Margretâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s winning entry below!
Almond and Blackberry Shortbread
Keeps for a few days in a tin, if you don’t scoff it all at once. Perfect with a cup of tea.
Icing sugar 50g
Story behind the recipe:
Pinch of salt
Plain flour 75g
Ground almonds 50g
Handful of flaked almonds
We love picking blackberries in late summer. A new find this year was some bushes along the edges of a path near our house; and the graveyard over the road from our house has been brilliant in previous years. Graeme made some delicious blackberry icecream and I normally make an apple/blackberry crumble cake, but decided instead to invent something new for a change - this shortbread recipe. Sadly the blackberries have now finished for this year, but we’ll be on the hunt again next August.
I used an 8” round cake tin, but you could use a square tin – line with baking parchment/ greaseproof paper.
Mix the butter and icing sugar until soft and fluffy, sift in the salt and flour then gently stir in the ground almonds and semolina. Form the dough into a ball then press into the cake tin – I used the Gwyneth and Graeme, back of a wooden spoon for this. Push the blackberries Altrincham. lightly into the top of the dough and scatter the flaked almonds across it. Bake at 160/Gas Mark 3 for 30 mins. Cool, then slice.
“You don’t need light at the end of the tunnel, here’s the sun!” On the day my partner, who was in intensive care with Covid, was extubated from the ventilator I took and sent them this photo. It still makes me cry. Submitted anonymously
Flight Silhouettes In front of my eyes bright colours swimming â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a sunrise, suspended in stained glass; two swallows, ascending, carrying souls to heaven. Shadows flash the pool length, a perfect V the surface skimming. I watch, wait, sit stock still, breath held as if under water looking up â&#x20AC;&#x201C; yet in the Gala gallery gazing down. Not a ripple, not a sound. The air so thick with steam, you can almost taste the summer.