I took my leave of Hebden Bridge and said my bye byes to Chris. I waved bye bye to my favorite goose as  I took one last stroll along the tow path – in the rain, of course –  and IMG_7091then took a taxi to the station. Just handling my 2 roller bags on the cobbles was a major problem, but I was soon on the train to Leeds and then on to Harrogate where Judith met me at the station just like last year. This time we drove straight to the village of Birstwith, about 8 miles from town, through pretty rolling countryside, scattered with sheep and cattle. We chatted about all the festivals that I’d been to over the last month. There are lots of festivals in this area too, but these are up-market ones like the Harrogate International Music Festival, and the Great Yorkshire Show (whose fairground I past on the train) and all the events are big ticket items. There’s not the impromptu pop-up musical extravaganza in the square or the free events of the Heptonstall festival. This area looks and feels much more genteel. Gently rolling hills replace the dramatic ravines of Calderdale. There’s no sign of industry, past or present in the deep valleys and the farms have a manicured, very affluent aspect. It’s much more sparsely populated and so there are far fewer smaller, local events.

We had tea, in the English sense of salad and then took a wander around the village. The river Nidd flows through and a railway line, now abandoned accounts for the otherwise strange name of the local hostelry at the end of Judith’s street. Beside the Nidd open land dotted with stately trees looks like the country park of a wealthy landowner and above the village lies the imposed multi turreted Swarthcliffe, where Charlotte Brontë spent a very unhappy time as a governess to two small children. She would have walked along the Nidd precisely where we were. I suggested a drink at The Station. The rest of the clientele were dressed for an evening of dining and cocktails and I wondered where their customers are drawn from. The small room we chose to sit in for a pleasant hour was lined with books and customers were encouraged to bring in one, and take one, thereby the pub is fulfilling the role it had hundreds of years ago.

I chatted to Anna (at a wedding in LA) and Rachel (at the mall in SF). Sarah and Danny are  camping in Mendicino this weekend (where the sun is shining!) and booked my train ticket to Edinburgh with Judith’s help. The online booking wouldn’t accept my Visa credit card because I don’t have a ‘postcode.’ Argh!