Today's agenda featured a trip to the Meandowhall Shopping Centre in order to stock up with whatever will be needed for the next phase of our holidays. But four hours in what non-shoppers often call "Meadowhell" was too much of an undertaking for me, and therefore I managed to escape for a couple of hours and take a walk along the tow-path of the South Yorkshire Canal.
Some thirty-five years ago I undertook a few weeks teaching Economic and Social History at Rotherham College, a couple of miles east of what today is Meadowhall. Very quickly I realised that trying to teach the subject in a sterile lecture-room was a bit pointless and eventually took the entire class for a walk along the canal, in the belief that the existence, so close, of a living laboratory of British Economic and Social history was too good an opportunity to miss. And we saw it all: the steelworks, the little workshops, the large factories, the railways, roads and canals. I was anxious to discover how much had changed in thirty-five years.
And there were many changes. The rotting bedsteads had been replaced by pretty barges and the dark factories had become lush leisure opportunities. Sheds were now shops, cobbled tracks were now tiled malls. I walked for mile after mile along the tow-path, thinking about change and listening to Sandy Denny singing "Who Knows Where The Time Goes". It was my idea of a nice day out.