Tuesday, 31 January 2012

January Stay at Homes


It has been a strange few weeks.  The weather has been so unseasonal with high winds and drizzle.  There have been days when it has never seemed to get properly light and we’ve had the lights on all day.  Even cars have been driving around with their lights on in day time.  We’ve been kept busy with working on photos and websites so we don’t waste the good weather.

Jon came to lunch as he was seeing a client in Bradford and then driving on to Manchester for a meeting.  It was great to see him and catch up on news.  I suppose it’s a sign of the times that he just logged into our network and checked his work emails and dealt with queries.  Keeping in touch is so much easier nowadays.

We have booked our flights to the USA for the summer holidays.  We are staying on Cape Cod in a lovely traditional house.  It looks as if there will be eleven of us with the possibility of another two.  Rosie and Mike will fly over on the same flight and stay on an extra week in the Boston area.  Dave, Tara and Simon will fly up and so will Vickie, Jay, Darvik and Danika.  It is going to be great, especially as we thought we wouldn’t manage a family holiday this year.

We’ve been diving out the door whenever it has been fine and not too windy to get in a few walks.  We’re lucky round here with a lot of public parks.


This one is just over the main road from us and you can see the back of Bankfield House, once the home of Colonel Akroyd who built our village, and it is now a museum.


That is winter heather above, flowering on a bank in the park and below is Pule Hill, which we can see from our house as well.


One of our favourite parks is at Lightcliffe, about three miles away.  It is known as The Stray and is a very open area of 11 acres of grass with trees.


I had always assumed that an area called ‘The Stray’ – there is one in Harrogate as well – would be associated with the gathering of stray sheep.  Apparently I was wrong and the one at Harrogate was set up to protect the springs.  Why this is called ‘The Stray’ I have no idea and Mr Google offers no clues that I can find.


The church shown above was the Congregational Church, though it is now offices. It is unusual, as a Congregational Church, for having a steeple and also a full ring of bells.  The park makes for a pleasant walk all through the year and the criss-cross of paths make it easy to get back to the car if the weather suddenly closes in.

We’ve made one longer trip in the second half of January. Last Saturday (28th) we woke to find a thin carpet of snow and bright sunshine so we decided to try and find some more snow by driving up to the the Lake District.

There was no more than at home as we climbed up to Ovenden and, when we started the run down to Denholme, there was none to be seen.  Not deterred, we drove on and, eventually saw snow on the hills in the distance and we chased it with the determination of thirsty travellers following a mirage in the desert.



Crossing Lake Windermere at the Hawkshead Ferry – the last time we shall make that journey at £4.30 for about 5 minutes of crossing! – and drove up narrow lanes to Hawkshead with the snow still a glint on the horizon.  When you meet a bus on a lane like the one below, you swing in your wing mirrors, snuggle up to the wall and think thin thoughts!


We only go to the Lake District in the winter as it is just too crowded in the summer.  This was perfect with plenty of room to swing the proverbial cat and we headed for the Queens Head for lunch.


An Inn since the early 17th century, it is welcoming and cosy with an open fire, low ceiling beams, and warm wood panelling.



Enormous pieces of beer battered fish and thick, perfectly cooked chips were consumed with no regard to cholesterol or calories.

Eventually, replete and in no mood to take the exercise we so desperately needed after such a meal, we staggered back to the car and resumed our search for snow.


Still it eluded us and we decided to take the Kirkstone Pass.  Surely there would be snow on the highest pass in the Lake District?

Alas, the pass was closed – whether to snow or for some other reason the sign did not say – so we metaphorically shook the snow of Cumbria off our car tires and set off back for home.  We were rewarded by a lovely view of Ingleborough, well covered in snow and arrived home at dusk, needing only a sandwich for supper.


Now we wait to see what February brings.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Friday the 13th–A Lovely Day

Despite its reputation as a day for disasters, Friday the 13th January 2012 showed us the best weather so far this year.

It was cold, crisp, there was no wind and, best of all . . . it was sunny.


So off we went to the hills above Haworth for a walk. This lane has some spectacular views across the valley and is quiet enough for a walk – the fields are still very muddy from all the rain.  Incidentally, this deserted lane is a bus route.



The sun is so low in the sky at the moment that the contours of the land stand out starkly.

We came back by a different route to avoid the traffic jam that is Cross Hills and collected a short list of places to go back to, including what looked like a planned village but was Keighley Workhouse in days gone by.


Alan had this exciting Christmas gift from Dave and Tara.   It is now mounted outside his study window.  The bar down is the decorative leading on the window, not a precaution against falling out of the window!

I said in my last post that we were off to research paving for the front garden.  Earlier in the week, we duly ended up at Gordon Riggs Garden Centre – not the one pictured on the front page of their site but the original one near Todmorden.  I think we have decided on paving and tubs but it’s a bit too early in the year for setting things going.

Opposite is Bottoms Mill Shop and Cafe and we popped over for lunch – a bacon buttie for those who want to know.  M’mmm!  I think we appreciate that sort of food all the more because we don’t have it often.


In the shop, is this lovely antique which will play a tune if you put 20p in a slot.  Isn’t it delightful?

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

January 2012 – Where Does Time Go?

That was a rhetorical question and I don’t expect an answer – unless anyone has a better knowledge of ‘The State of The Universe’ than I do – or even more importantly than Professor Stephen Hawking does.  Happy Birthday! to him – a few days late but I don’t suppose he will mind.

A quote from Hawking is "Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet."  I like that and we will continue to try and meet that target this year.

I’d like to follow his advice literally as well as metaphorically so perhaps at least one meteor shower will arrive when we have a clear sky?  The first didn’t so I have to wait till April to find that out.

We hope to make another trip to the USA this year for a family holiday and to see places we have not visited yet.  It looks as if there will be 10 – 13 of us and finding a house we can rent for us all is difficult.  After all, how many families nowadays plan trips with that many members?

We’ve also got a list of places to visit with the caravan this year that would require  some manipulation of the space-time continuum to manage.  We do like a challenge and are bidding on e-bay for a Police Box.  Worth a try?


Alan’s book comes on apace and he still gets a lot of contact and information from his old students – I should, perhaps, call them Alumni rather than ‘old’! To catch up on them go to his website.  It may take a bit of scrolling but we are hoping to improve that soon.  Web technology has come a long way since he started it 7 years ago.  In those days, you had to learn Dreamweaver to build a site and neither of us had the time or inclination to do that.  This blog took me less time to set up than Alan’s site.

My venture of A Yorkshire Cook, born out of numerous queries about recipes and cooking has come on well.  It is climbing the Alexa rankings nicely and visitors are beginning to comment.


As we get to eat the results of my experiments, Alan is happy.  I’m enjoying writing it and also the photography – though food photography turns out to be a tricky new skill to learn.

The weather has been as unpredictable as ever!  Far from the nasty snow and ice of last winter, so far, we have had mild weather.  The rhubarb crop is hampered by lack of frost which is needed to set it into growth. 

We have been lucky in a couple of weeks dominated by high winds.  The most we have seen is the dash for freedom of local wheelie bins which may have caused problems for those who had to go out – we just hunkered down and waited it out.  Then we handed a stray waste food bin, which had wandered into our front garden, to the recycling collectors when they arrived (a day late).

Halifax did make it into the national news when a dormer window was blown off, over a house, taking the chimney stack with it and crashing into the street!

Now we are beginning to put our heads above the parapet and today we are going on an expedition to find the right surface for our front garden.  Small as it is, I can no longer manage it and it depresses me to see weeds and a tangle of growth.  I kick myself that I didn’t think of this when we sorted the tiny back yard which has worked very well with a raised bed.

Yard view 01 - emailer

We hope to sort it this spring and leave me with a rather nice raised trough to play with.  Photos will follow when we have the job done.

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