Three days by canals

After Sunday's walk to Saltaire my knee was complaining but still functioning. We wanted to spend the day exploring Saltaire village. A major part of my plan for this holiday is to remind myself, by gentle increments, how walking works, so we walked straight along the road to Salt's Mill, and straight past it, heading for the Victoria Hall, to which the Tourist Office has been relocated. "Relocated" means "replaced by a couple of racks of leaflets" but fortunately one of those leaflets was a map of the village and suggested tour - which we did backwards, because we could.

We lunched at the Terrace, a deeply French bistro on the Shipley Road - to the extent that the ladies' had one of those soaps shaped like an outsized egg impaled on a metal bar above the handbasin. I was entirely charmed, and my fish soup was good too (and would probably have served two less greedy people).

The plan was to call in at Salt's Mill on our return, for a comfort break and such refreshment and bookshop as tempted us. But it is not currently open on Mondays, so there was no chance to recuperate before following the canal home, and it didn't seem too far at all.

Nonetheless, yesterday we decided to do something different, and went to Skipton. Outbound, we took the scenic route, driving up into the clouds - which turned into mist as we rose into them, and followed us down in the form of rain on the other side. Skipton, like Saltaire, is on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, and we took a short - half hour - cruise along it. Pennine Cruisers name their boats in pairs: Rosie & Jim, Jack & Jill, Bill & Ben, but we were on board Leo, eight human passengers and two dogs (one of which was no trouble at all, and rather sweet). Pity about the rain, but we enjoyed the trip, and walked a little along the route we had taken, afterwards.

Today was unexpectedly sunny, and we went to Hebden Bridge (over the moors, past Haworth) and had fun visiting actual shops - I may have had more fun with this than [personal profile] durham_rambler but he is very long-suffering, and didn't complain. Here, too, there is interesting architecture, and mill chimneys, and both a river and a canal:

Black Pit Lock 9

At this point, though you can't see it from the picture, is the aqueduct which carries the Rochdale Canal over the River Calder.

After this excitement, we returned to the café in the square for coffee and icecream: [personal profile] durham_rambler checked his e-mail, I and listened to the busker (I recognised On both sides the Tweed and Beeswing) and it was all very mellow. This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.

A Skippy centenary

If [personal profile] poliphilo had not posted that his mother, born in 1921, was celebrating her 100th birthday, I might not have realised that wait a minute, my mother was born in 1921, or indeed that 1921 was 100 years ago. But she was, and it is, so today, although she is not around to celebrate it, is my mother's hundredth birthday.

I don't know what to say about this, but it feels necessary to say something. She loved a party. Here she is, having fun, making mischief, and all in a good cause. (She wasn't Mayoress of Islington, she was Mayor - among many other things she was, but that's the Press for you!) This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.

The alpacas of Saltaire

Our apartment is in Victoria Mills, a development of renovated historic mills and newbuild, between the river Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool canal. It's not exactly a gated community, but it is sufficiently security conscious that access to either of these is not as easy as the map might suggest, but after a few wrong choices yesterday morning we found our way to the canal and almost immediately we were within the World Heritage site of Saltaire village.

Our destination was the Shipley Glen Tramway, a cable-hauled tramway run by volunteers, and only open on Sunday afternoons - so we turned away from Salt's Mill and through Roberts Park, to the bottom station of the tramway. There are two canopied tramcars, one red one blue, and as one rises, the other descends. As we rode up the wooded hillside, the voice of one of the volunteer staff behind me asked: "Did we all watch the tennis last night?" and [personal profile] durham_rambler admitted that he had. (My impression is that he was not the only person who had watched, and I was not the only one who had not). From the upper station it's a short walk to a country park, but we didn't really investigate this: we had just come for the ride, so after a drink and a sit-down in the pub, we returned to the tramway, and back down to the park.

This time instead of skirting the park, we went straight through the middle, to the bandstand (where people in 'Yorkshire Choral Group' - or something close to that - were massing) and the statue opposite, which is, of course, of Titus Salt, erected to mark the centenary of his birth. If the light had been favourable, I might have put some effort into taling his portrait, but as it was what caught by eye were the plaques on the sides of the plinth. On one side was a splendidly horned 'Angora goat' and on the other this - as the label says - 'Alpaca goat':

Salt's alpaca

This was unexpected, but makes sense: these magnificent mills were all about the textles. Collapse ) This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.

Another World Heritage Site

We are spending a week in Saltaire, staying in a very swish apartment in an old mill (which is New Mill, of course). We didn't get away as early as I had hoped, but we did eventually get away, and we are here, and this is the view from our bedroom window:

From the bedroom window

I hope that I have cropped it enough to conceal that I got tired of unpacking. I will have to do more. But first I must see if I can drive the cooker ... This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.

First Sunday of autumn

Farmers' Market

Sedgefield Farmers's Market is on the first Sunday of the month. We've talked vaguely about giving it a try, and Sunday was a lovely sunny morning, there had been gaps in my shopping (because reasons) and [personal profile] durham_rambler had picked up a reminder from Twitter...

We'd been warned that you have to go early, that things sell out, so as soon as we'd finished breakfast we set off. Parking was easier than I'd expected, and there was a band playing, and we strolled round and bought things. We bought pies from the couple who no longer come to Durham Farmers' Market, because they have opened a shop in Sedgefield; we stocked up on meat which we would otherwise have gone to the farm shop to buy; chatted to the lady whose exotic jams I had bought at Seaham (and bought some pear and chocolate brioche).

And we bought the first beetroot of the season from the winter veg people. So it's definitely autumn. This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.


Can I seriously be proposing to write a travel post about a trip we took more than ten years ago? Apparently I can, though not necessarily in one sitting: this has been a Work in Not-very-much Progress since around the time of my birthday in April.

Ten years before we had spent a week on the Antrim coast. Our aim was to spend my significant birthday on the Giant's Causeway, and so we did, but my notebook for the day itself says simply "The Giant's Causeway in 106 pictures (plus some I prepared earlier)" I have not yet worked through those 106 pictures, but I'm ready to post a selection of those I took the day before my birthday, when we drove west into the South. Irish geography being, as it is, a product of history and politics, the southernmost point of the island - Malin Head, of Shipping Forecast fame - is not in Northern Ireland but in the south, the Republic, and to get there we drove west from our base by the Causeway. But we stopped off on the way, at Downhill Demesne, which - but I won't rush straight to the highlight. Here's an appropriate entrance, to lure you through the cut:


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This seems to haveexhausted my note-taking ability for the week. The next day, as I said, I wrote only "The Giant's Causeway in 106 pictures (plus some I prepared earlier)", and the following day, when we visited Rathlin Island, I wrote nothing at all. Maybe the photographs will reveal all, eventually. This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.

Whitby @ Home

If Whitby Folk Festival were happening in person this year, it's unlikely we'd be there: in the past the Bears have spent the week at the festival, and we've joined them for a day - but thatwas in the past, we haven't done it for a while ...

And even if we were there, we'd have been unlikely to see the Melrose Quartet, because their concerts are so oversubscribed there's no real chance of getting in.

So there are benefits to a virtual festival, even if it isn't the same as the real thing: for here are the Quartet as the Festival's patrons, available to all on their YouTube channel:

It's a short 'hour with', but packed full of good things, strung together by the Festival theme (apparently, though I can't find anything about that) of remembering songwriters Keoth Marsden and Peter Bellamy.

Other concerts and events from the Festival are available. This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.


Happy birthday, [personal profile] boybear!

We were at a birthday party - sort of - last night. The Murder Squad crimewriters' group are celebrating 21 years since they first joined forces to promote their books. The original plan was to organise lots and lots of events for their 20th year, but when that didn't happen they got writing instead, and have produced a 21st birthday collection of short stories. It's called Many Deadly Returns, and last night was the launch party, at Whitley Bay's new (yes, opened if not quite under lockdown then certainly at a time of restrictions).

We were invited to the party as the Squad's website team and longtime collaborators. We did it properly (by our standards): I put on rings and a necklace, which I haven't done all year, and smart shoes (which may have been a mistake). We joined the group who were eating an early dinner at Hinnies restaurant on the seafront, then all walked en masse round to the bookshop, where there was fizz, and an elaborately iced cake (both bookshaped and murderous, of course) and talking about books, mostly, to old friends - and complete strangers! Plus one former colleague from - oh, probably also from twenty years ago.

All of which was delightful, but felt a bit strange. I haven't been wih so many people indoors since before the first lockdown: I'm thinking it must have been the last quiz that was actually at the Elm Tree. I enjoyed myseld, and wasn't particularly spooked by it. But I also feel that I could do with a rest before I do it again! This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.

Up among the heather

Yesterday, for the first time this week, the sun was shining, so we went for a short walk on Waldridge Fell to admire the heather.

Waldridge Fell

It isn't actually 'up' at all, but lowland heath, which is rare: it's a site of Special Scientific Interest. Also a pleasant place to walk - or sit; it's well provided with benches - in the sunshine, and come across patches of blueberries, and of harebells ...

Once there was colliery here, and a pit village. The car parks scattered about the site still bear the names of the village streets. [personal profile] durham_rambler and I both remembered the story that the village was demolished by the BBC during the filming of Zola's Germinal, but this local history site has a different version. This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.

Baby's first lateral flow test

[personal profile] durham_rambler had to test himself as a condition of attending the count (in the Parish Council election); he hadn't had cause to do it again since, and I never had. But I was impressed by the reassurance of a friend we have a date with next month, that she and her husband are testing regularly at home. We are beginning to go out more, and making plans to see other people: testing twice a week, as recommended by the government, seems like overkill, but once in a while, as and when, seemed like a good idea. We have a social date tomorrow: so there is no time like the present.

It's a palaver, isn't it? Open this, prepare that, read the instructions... [personal profile] durham_rambler was very kind about talking me through the process, which felt like being the audience for a conjuring trick: I am opening this sachet, and you will see there is a wand inside it. Take hold of it - carefully! by the end! between thumb and forefinger! I had been warned that swabbing the back of your throat is unpleasant, so it was the sticking the thing up my nose that took me by surprise. I was sneezing for half an hour afterwards.

I have an uneasy feeling that if it's that complicated, I've probably done it wrong. But for what it's worth, we each have a recent negative test, and can party with a clear conscience. This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.