I keep my blog as a personal record of what I'm up to, which might be seen as working towards "An elegant sufficiency, content, retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books, ease and alternate labour, useful life"

I'm certainly not there yet.  There is quite some way to go!










Entries in Yorkshire (8)


Just off the motorway


When we were first married, we had a small paperback with this title.  Inside, there were listings of what was to be found at each motorway junction, including local pubs, petrol stations and general alternatives to the service stations.  On our way up to Wharfedale last week, we stopped somewhere far more interesting.




The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is on a stretch of the M1 which we don’t normally use.  By that time, we’ve normally turned off towards Hull or taken the M18 towards the A1.  Still, here we were on a fine Spring lunchtime, feeling peckish and in need of some fresh air.  What better place?




We’d put our boots in the boot of the car, just in case.  Good job, too, because it was a bit muddy in places and the notices by the gate, advising of the need for sturdy footwear were apt.  The visitor centre had been designed with muddy boots in mind too and I was particularly impressed by this clever pathway to the entrance acknowledging park supporters at the same time as allowing the debris from hundreds of walking boots to fall through.




Off we set, then, over the fields and through the sheep, saying good morning to Old Flo as we went, muttering about the peace of the countryside being shattered by a particularly noisy bunch behind us.




I liked the natural sculptures almost as much as the crafted ones!




Passing Bretton Hall there on the hill, I recalled the last time I was here: at the 1977 Summer Ball, with Gill, my friend (and bridesmaid!) from college days who was a student here. As we walked by, we giggled about the story of when the two of us were dancing with two blokes (oh yes, they were definitely blokes),

What’s your name?”


“What’s your friend’s name?”


“Are you sisters?”

“Yes, our Mum liked the name”.




Down there by the water was a small tree with what is surely, someone’s special place. 




A bit further along was another special place which aroused my curiosity.  Who knows?




We were in this particular corner in search of some of Anthony Gormley’s work and struggled to find it until one of us thought to look up!




Funny how, in spite of all the large works of art around here, it’s the small ones which catch my eye.  You spotted that one on the fence, didn’t you?




Another small mystery.




Did I say “large” pieces of art?  The temporary exhibit here right now is a collection of KAWS work.




It was attracting a great deal of interest, though personally, I didn’t get it.  I need to read more about the artist and his work, perhaps.




Aware that we still had a bit of a way to drive, we made our way back via the camellia house – breathtaking!




I couldn’t resist jumping up and down on the planks whilst I was there.




Goodbye, Old Flo.




I wonder how much longer you’ll sit here and take in the view of Barnsley?


Making an entrance


I don’t think I’m unusual in preferring to arrive without undue ceremony?  It’s not that I would choose to sidle in, to be sneaky in any way but just that any kind of fanfare or fuss makes me feel very awkward indeed.

The memory of one of my most embarrassing moments still makes me cringe when I think of it.  As the twenty-something daughter of a member of a company golf team, newly married to a bright young manager in that same company, I was invited for post-tournament drinks one afternoon.  I arrived at the clubhouse and made my entry through the patio doors, but as I did, my heel slipped on the polished wood floor and I fell flat on my face.  The whole bar fell silent and all heads turned in my direction.  Thankfully, a rather sweet board member recognised me, came over and helped me to my feet with the words “Hello Gill, how lovely to see you.  Can I get you a gin and tonic?” and never referred to it again!




We spent a night in Burnsall last week, at our favourite Devonshire Fell hotel where a member of staff said “Oh, you’re the lady who screamed!”.  I’m sorry to say, I had to admit it that yes, I was.

As Sophia would say, “picture it”…




As we arrived, the heavens opened and my hero ran up those steps to the entrance, carrying our bags.  As he did, I opened my umbrella and followed him.  There, between two of those clipped box trees was some kind of hawk, dealing with the pigeon it had snagged immediately before our arrival.  My hero, understanding my little foibles, drew my attention to it and advised I steer well clear…except in doing do, he inadvertently scared the hawk off.

The pigeon fluttered a bit, gathered all its strength and managed to get airborne and fluttered a bit more.  By this time, my hero was sheltering inside the porch there at the top of the steps and I was a few steps behind him.  However, the injured pigeon also decided to head for shelter and taking the most direct route under my umbrella, flew into the porch as well.

I’m sorry.  I screamed.  Those who know me well know my fear of birds and know that I will cross a road rather than walk past a pigeon on the same side of the street.  So, it will come as no surprise that I stood, cowering and shaking like a leaf out in the rain until that pigeon had been captured and taken outside.  The country folks who were in the hotel reception that afternoon were probably wondering what all the fuss was about, but I was glad that a couple of them had no qualms about picking the bird up and taking it to safety.  For how long, I don’t know, because the hawk had continued to circle high above us the whole time and would surely swoop down as soon as it spotted its prey again. 




Thankfully, the Devonshire Fell was the same, familiar comfortable haven of peace and quiet we know and love.




We especially appreciate the bright, unstuffy atmosphere there; the warm welcome and the wonderful cooking.  Since our last visit, the colour palette has been toned down a little and the fuchsia pinks and lime greens are not quite so prominent, but the walls are still full of lively and interesting artwork and that conventional exterior hides a very stylish and contemporary inside.




Thankfully, there were no more feathered encounters during our stay.


A favourite place


We’ve just spent a couple of nights in one of our favourite places.  The colours of the Devonshire Fell Hotel never fail to lift the spirits on the gloomiest of January days, though spirits were far from gloomy on this trip!




We drove up on Tuesday, taking a rather different route from our usual one and making a short stop where gold eagles perch on drainpipes





and where the interior decor reminds us of a visit we made to Las Vegas, a few years ago.




Such opulence.  So many curiosities.  So very Trafford Centre!




Having paid homage to St Michael and his friends, we stepped outside to find the most remarkable winter sky and continued our journey into Yorkshire.  Arriving in Skipton with plenty of time to spare, I stopped by The Fent Shop and Samuel Taylors in Embsay, dearly wishing they were nearer to home whilst at the same time, wondering if it’s a good job they’re not!




As we made the final leg of our journey, over Barden Moor before dropping down into Wharfedale, the late afternoon light was so magical, we stopped for a few minutes to take it all in.  What a magnificent place to be on a day like this!







The view from our window at The Devonshire Fell is a favourite.  We’ve sat watching the postman making his way down into the valley and the dustbin men working their way up and over the hill on previous visits.  This time, we simply stared and enjoyed the peace of the early morning.




Whilst one of us went into Harrogate, for curd tarts from Bettys and a day in the fresh air, I spent the day in the company of some remarkably talented women, who were eager to share their skills and more than one or two giggles with me.  What a great way to spend my time!




This morning, our favourite view was rather frosty and the temperature rather lower than we expected.




With the car de-iced, we were ready to leave for home.




With one last stop along the way to take in enough of that glorious landscape to last us until next time.

Ah, Yorkshire.


Where have all the Singers gone?

We came home via a city we both used to haunt from time to time, and yet somewhere we'd not been in years.  It''s a fine city in that grand, Northern style: I bought my wedding dress here and used to think it a great place to shop.



We think the last time we were here could have been the first day of the UK lottery, when we came for some kind of industry dinner.   



This morning, we took shelter from the chill wind in the arcades which are somewhat smarter than we remembered.  We smiled as we spotted that the city centre has been styled into "Quarters".  Hmmm.



The shops in this "Quarter" were pretty smart, with prices not quite in keeping with the Monday morning shopping crowd, most of whom like us, we simply taking the warmest option on a February day, not stopping at all.



The fantastic market hall was bustling though and hadn't changed much from what we remember.  Good to see one of the early traders here is now successful enough to sponsor the market clock.



Having one of the arcades almost to ourselves did mean that we could stand and stare a little at shop windows on both sides which were full of old sewing machines.  With at least twenty in each of four or five windows, we were left wondering where on earth they got them all from?   Now, I've googled AllSaints and find that other stores in the chain have a similar theme going on and clearly I'm not the only one to worry about them cornering the market in antique Singers.

It does appear that I'm one of the last people to blog about those sewing machine displays though!!



Off again

Dear me, that snow in January meant that all kinds of plans had to be changed and so we find ourselves in Yorkshire this weekend, following through arrangements originally planned for the first weekend of 2010.


First stop was Thirsk on Friday, where I had the privilege of working with some very talented embroiderers whilst Mark took a look at a few railway engines.  We both really enjoyed our day and met up late afternoon to continue on towards Helmsley and Harome, where we looked forward to spending a comfortable couple of nights.



A short stagger along the village street is all that's needed for a pretty good supper (not that we couldn't have enjoyed a great evening staying put at The Pheasant)  A table at The Star is to be coveted, however and does not disappoint.



We woke to a misty Saturday morning and after an hour or two in Northallerton, we headed for Barnard Castle, to the Bowes Museum.



How amazing is that?  This incredible combination of sun and mist, of blue sky and low cloud was magical



However, what lay inside was better still.



Brand new textile and costume galleries where exhibits are displayed in the most marvellous way



So clever that its possible to see all around and even a little way inside these exquisite creations.



Where for a small fee, permission is granted to take photographs so that the smallest details can be saved and brought home with me.  Beautiful goldwork, for example



 or, in the next gallery, a close up shot of Napoleon III's boots.  How clever of the artist to create the glossy shine with a mere flick of his paintbrush.



The metal galleries have also been remodelled, here showing a table setting laid out vertically, in a most attractive way.  The transparent materials and clever lighting show off the metallic shine so well.



The star of the show here is undoubtedly the Silver Swan, an automoton which is allowed to perform once a day.  At 2pm a crowd gathers to watch the 40 second performance - magnificent!

What a great way to spend a foggy February afternoon.  Definitely somewhere we'll return.


Today, we've explored another masterpiece for the first time.



The Ribblehead Viaduct is as amazing in real life as it is in pictures.  One of those feats of engineering which left us in awe of the men who dreamed they could achieve it.



Standing here at the foot of one of 24 immense arches in this vast open landscape, we felt very small indeed.



No steam trains puffing over the viaduct today, sadly, but a great cup of tea in the kitchen of our friends down the line in Long Preston!

Not to mention a delicious supper and a comfy bed tonight in another favourite haunt.