Many shades of cyan

Tuesday started out pleasantly enough, but soon started to rain, and didn't stop. This was the day we spent sitting under a gazebo in J and J's garden.

Wednesday was bright and sunny, and we accompanied a different J to a photographic exhibition in a dimly lit gallery.

So it goes.

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So that was fun. The next day we had a date with another J, to see an exhibition of photographs by Elaine Vizor (on Facebook) at a gallery in Newton Aycliffe (there's an art gallery in Newton Aycliffe? Apparently so, based in the community college.).

Collapse ) This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.

Rush hour at the surgery

Most years autumn is well advanced before our GP summons us for our flu jab. This year is not most years, and last week [personal profile] durham_rambler received a text inviting him to make an appointment. He made appointments for both of us, in fact, so we shall never know how the surgery would have contacted me - I don't give out my mobile number, because it is ao rarely switched on.

Appointments were being booked at one minute intervals: ours was for 10.24 yesterday morning. I thought this precision was optimistic, but when we arrived at the surgery there was a steady stream of people going in, past the two reception points (under or over 65) into one of several rooms and then out through the back door, so that traffic flowed one way.

A day later, I have a slightly sore arm - my left arm, because the nurse asked nicely: We have to record what we do, and if we do something different it takes longer... - and, I hope, immunity to this year's flu variety (it usually works). This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.

Looking ahead ...

Back in April my optician wrote to say that my regular eye examination was now due. In fact, my eyes are being examined regularly by the opthalmologist, so I know that the reason my vision is deteriorating is cataracts, in both eyes; and we have discussed this and decided not to take action on it right now. So there didn't seem to be any urgency about contacting the optician.

On the other hand, every time my glasses fall off - and this is my main problem with wearing a face mask, that my glasses fall off - I think that maybe I should get in touch with the optician, and even if he can't do anything about my sight, maybe he can adjust the fit of my glasses. This morning, full of post-holiday virtue, I have picked up the phone and made that appointment.

Jonathan's first available appointment is on January 17th. Or maybe it isn't, now, because I've booked it. He's worth the wait.

Fortunately I bought next year's diary on Saturday, at the National Trust shop at Fountains Abbey. This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.

The end of the week

A week's holiday goes by so fast...

On Thursday we had a rendezvous with J and J: Salt's Mill had been a favourite destination of theirs when they lived in Keighley (it is possible that it was they who sent us to Saltaire on our long-ago first visit), and it was easy for them to catch the train from York where they now live and join us for lunch and a little light shopping. We met them from the station, and pointed out "our" chimney from the railway bridge; we had coffee and talked about alpacas (J pointed out that Titus Salt was not only a philanthropist, he was also an experimenter and innovator in the dyeing process, which is why he was able to make use of that initial batch of "Peruvian wool"); we went for lunch, and discussed their recent holiday in Cornwall and our plans to meet again in York, with added Bears; we returned to Salt's Mill, where J communed with the Hockneys, J made a mystery purchase, and I enjoyed the exhibition of watercolours by Simon Palmer. Inevitably, the ones I liked best didn't seem to be included in the accompanying book, weren't available as postcards and aren't to be found on the internet: his pure landscapes are pleasing, and his scenes from the mythical history of Saltaire are great fun, but my favourites were the landscapes with a twist of the unexplained.

After these excitements, we were all quite weary, and J and J wanted to get the train home before the rush hour struck. So [personal profile] durham_rambler and I took a boat ride along the canal - accompanied, again, by a small and very squeaky dog (on first hearing I thought that can't be an oyster catcher...) and a helpful guide who was able to tell us about the warehouse we'd noticed on our first day. We could have asked to be dropped at that end of the trip, and shortened our walk home, but we were enjoying the ride...

Friday was the last day of our stay, and we had been promising ourselves breakfast at Copper and Moss, the bar within the development (I'm guessing the name refers to stuff used in dyeing, but I don't know what colour you'd get from that combination), so we headed over there for juice and eggs benedict - I chose the yellow juice, and the egg yolks were quite a startling yellow, too. Then home for coffee, to recover. We had thought of visiting Halifax, which also has some fine industrial architecture, but roadworks meant our route would have taken us through the centre of Bradford. Instead we had a very gentle day, a little further along the Leeds and Livepool canal, at Bingley - to be precise, at Bingley Five Rise, which sounds like a secret password but describes a staircase of five locks and completely eclipses the three-lock flight not very far away. It's a short walk between the two, but very green and peaceful:

Trees by Simon Palmer

The trees reminded me of those in Simon Palmer's watercolours: the tall straight trunks, the heavy balls of foliage - I had thought he was exaggerating, and maybe he was, a little, but not entirely.

Skirting the edge of Saltaire on our way home, we noticed some sort of market in progress in the square, surrounded by signs saying 'Parking suspended - Saltaire Festival'. Oh. We had seen something about the Festival when we first arrived, triued and failed to find out more, and had completely forgotten about it. That was a disappointment, but not enough so for us to walk all the way back from the car park, so let it go. We went home and bullied the oven into cooking our Co-op pizza.

We came home via Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal - but that deserves a post of its own. This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.

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.