Month: October 2017 (page 2 of 2)

Oct 12th

One of the joys of living in the very centre of Hebden Bridge is that when I step outside my apartment I find myself in the very centre of the hustle and bustle of the town and unexpected things can happen. Take this morning, for instance. I needed to go to the Post Office to purchase some stamps. Unlike yesterday when we had torrential rain until tea-time it was clear, but since the post office is only across the street – less than three minutes walk – I put on my sandals and off I went. Imagine my perturbation when I found men painting the door and a sign saying ‘Closed for Two Weeks.’ I mean – it’s the town’s only post office and the only place to purchase international stamps. ‘Where’s the nearest one?’ I asked. ‘Mytholmroyd.’ OK, it’s only a mile and a half’s walk along the canal. It’s incredibly liberating to be faced with such a decision. I mean, I hadn’t got anything else planned for this morning! I wondered if I should go back home and change into boots but basically I couldn’t be bothered, so off I set, to the accompanying choir of mallards and geese. Puddle-jumping certainly increased the excitement of the walk and once in the village I had to ask for directions to the Post Office, but everything got done that needed to be done.

Rather than walk back I thought I’d get the train. I passed by the church and on an impulse decided to try the door. Someone had told me it was worth taking a look inside. I was somewhat taken aback when the door opened and someone called, “Yawreet?” It was immediately obvious that major renovation work was taking place and none other than the vicar was there to show me round. I was invited to the rededication on November 5th. ‘With or without fireworks?’ I inquired. The church was severely damaged  in the Boxing day floods of 2015. This week the organ has been removed for renovation and they have installed a little portative one that needs to be mic’d. I was also told that the carol service is lovely. In 1922 the whole chancel was decorated in mosaic and the carol service is by candle light bringing out the glittering gold glass fragments. Back to Hebden on the train. It takes 5 minutes and I noticed that it was  market day. I took a quick glance around buying Brussel sprouts, Spring onions and garlic but I was very tempted by the Mexican and Indian food trucks.

After lunch I went to Cafe Culture at the Town Hall. A guest speaker was giving a talk with musical accompaniment about the roll of the music hall and variety shows during the 1st and 2nd World Wars. From what I could gather most of the attendees had come in a bus from Age UK – perhaps that’s a nursing home. One man in a powered wheelchair was complaining light heartedly that the bus had left him but he’d beaten it to the venue! Filled was ‘daft’ jokes which are apparently typical of Yorkshire humour, while Liverpool jokes are ‘witty’ , the guest serenaded us with banjo, ukelele and mandola (a Spanish mandolin).

Arriving home I unpacked my iron that I’d bought in Halifax yesterday. It’s tiny – and it doesn’t have a handle. Still, it should do for quilting. I ironed all the fabric scraps that I had picked up at the Rag Fair on Saturday and am eager to begin my Doors project. Then I set about trying to figure out how to record myself on my keyboard – using a Sequencer. Consulting an online manual is not my strong point but I was quite thrilled when I actually recoded myself playing my ‘Andorran Landscape.’

My first guest


Keith surveys his starter at the White Lion and pronounces it delicious


We walked along the Rochdale Canal all the way to Lancashire!


Sampling the delights of The Crown (with Cookie Monster looking on)


On the way to hear . . .  . this . . .  .

Hebden Bridge Junior band outside the Town Hall

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Coincidences galore

Hebden Bridge Picture House is directly across the street from my apartment. This is no glittering steel and glass monstrosity but a graceful stone building.  Hebden Bridge’s Picture House cinema first opened its doors in 1921 and is one of the last civic owned cinemas in Britain. Originally boasting over 900 seats its first screening was a double bill of Torn Sails and The Iron Stair, with the Picture House rapidly becoming the main place of entertainment for the weavers, mill-workers, and other residents of Hebden Bridge and the upper Calder Valley. It has been in use as a cinema ever since. On Thursday evening I went to see Limehouse Golem, which, despite the presence of Bill Nighy, was rather gorey and not particularly to my liking. However, the next night i went to see Victoria and Abdul, about the queen’s relationship with an Indian servant. As I waited for the main feature to begin a lady came to sit next to me and we got chatting. It turned out that like me she had taught at a predominantly Muslim school – but unlike me she had learned Urdu. After a divorce she  began to travel alone for the first time. It transpired that we were both in the Shetland Isles at the very same time in August of this year! “Coming for a drink after?’ she asked as the feature started. ‘of course. It’s this spontaneity that brings me to Hebden Bridge!’ I thoroughly enjoyed the film and as we left we bumped into two other ladies that she knew and we all went across the road to The Railway pub (which, of course, my Wrigley ancestor built in 1861, two year before he built the house where I’m living!) Other l

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ady number one had not only attended Durham University but had been at St. Mary’s College Durham just before me, so we chatted about the difficulty of the Durham dialect. Lady number two, lives alone on a canal boat. At eighty she finds the only difficulty in her life-style is not having enough upper body strength to work the locks. Ah, these are the people who fill me with inspiration. An open mike was happening in the back room and suddenly I heard a very creditable version of the Rufus Wainwright song ‘I’m tired of you America’ which became Sarah’s anthem of our trip to England this summer. I hurried into the back room just in time to shoot a short video before my phone died, but at that moment I was grabbed by the arm and led onto the floor to join the dancing by a young girl my daughter’s age. The next time I looked at my watch it was past midnight and I took my leave of the other two ladies, one of whom had still to walk back up the hill to Heptonstall when she eventually left around 1 a.m.

The following evening three of us were back at the Picture House, this time to see La Boheme live from the English National Opera. It was neat to realise it was also being shown live in Santa Cruz. It was a brand new production which brought back memories of seeing Opera San Jose’s production earlier this year. You can read my review of that production:

After, we all retired to The Trades Club to further our friendship and exchange contact info.

October 6 A Day Out in Manchester

IMG_5807When I looked through the window this morning everything looked fuzzy. I realised that the windows were covered in condensation, something I’d forgotten existed after living with double glazing for the last 12 years! The thermometer outside registered a chilly 42F as I set off for the station to catch the train to Manchester. On the canal the boats were spewing smoke from their furnaces, but I have to admit that it looked very IMG_5810picturesque. The new Stoller Hall, the recital hall at Chetham’s School of Music is directly across the road from Victoria station. The hall was filled with  far more students than members of the public. Some of the students couldn’t have been more than 8 years old so it was asking a lot of them to sit still for the hour’s recital and then a two hour masterclass but they seemed very used to this sort of thing. I remember one of my classmates at Bolton School, a vocalist called Freda Farnworth,  leaving when she was about 13 to go to Chetham’s. Sir Humphrey Chetham (10 July 1580 – 1653) was an English merchant, responsible for the creation of Chetham’s Hospital and Chetham’s Library, the oldest public library in the English-speaking world.  In 1628 he bought Turton Tower which Sarah and I had visited in June.

Steinway artist Simon Callaghan began with Scriabin and IMG_5825Rachmaninov before launching into Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard the original piano version of this work. I’m far more familiar with Ravel’s orchestrated version and Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s version. (Keith Emerson, by the way, was a native of Todmorden where I’d spent the previous morning at the market). Simon’s performance was magical! He made sounds on the piano that I’d never heard before – amazing! In the masterclass that followed four students from year 12 and 13 performed Russian pieces as part of this festival marking the 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution. The final student , Elias Ackerley, played Rachmaninov’s Sonata #2 – unbelievable. Within an hour of the final note I was sitting in the White Lion in Hebden Bridge where I bumped into Nicola and friends for the first time since I took residence.


October 5th

Dear diary, Well, it’s been a while. I feel far removed, both in time and place, from my previous entry on August 25th as I set off back to America. Having made the momentous decision to move back to England, about the week before I had an uneventful flight. I gave myself exactly one month to pack up my entire possessions into 15 boxes which


15 boxes

would follow me to Hebden Bridge in 8-10 weeks, and stored a few items of sentimental value at the house in Santa Cruz. I’d intended to rent the house out furnished but on the advice of the property manager I’d gradually come to the decision to rent it out unfurnished. This took many, many trips to the Goodwill thrift store, the library, Bookshop Santa Cruz, AA auctions,  Streetlight records to dispose of anything that I didn’t class as essential. In this I was helped not only by my children but by Alice, Pegatha, Bob, Sam  and Russ who stopped by to make the  trips so that I could concentrate on sorting. i sold my piano on Craigslist and it left for its new home on a cattle ranch  in Jackson in the Sierra Foothills.

A few days before I left Sarah put me in touch with a student family who were excited to


Tilly’s new family

adopt Tilly and we were even able to visit her in her new home, though apart from coming out to lick my fingers a few times she stayed firmly under the bed for the rest of our visit! Alice, Pegatha, Carol, Tom and Bob treated me to lunch/dinner before I left and

then the final Bon Voyage party was held at Pour where the girls decorated the big table beautifully with everything from balloons to a Willow Patterned teapot. We had a lovely time, and it was surprisingly upbeat. Two days later I boarded Aer Lingus for my trip to Hebden Bridge. I felt calm – perhaps that was how I was dealing with the trauma of the situation. Danny and Sarah said their farewells at my house and Anna drove me and Rachel to SFO where they assisted me in the check-in of two enormous bags. As they left I entered the line for security bawling my eyes out. The line was short and within 15 minutes I was in the Business Class lounge. I’d no idea that there were such calm, quiet places in airports. Faced with two hours to wait to board the plane to Dublin I would normally have become stressed by the hustle and bustle of music, light, hurrying people, flight announcements, security warnings. Here I was sitting silently at a bar watching the planes leave and land through the big windows. I’d treated myself to a Business class ticket because when I emigrated to America in 1985 we had flown Ambassador Class since Colin’s company were paying, and I was pregnant, so I thought it only fitting that I


All dressed up for my party


Gabrielle and Bob at the Bon Voyage party 


With Carol


Bob and the girls


Sorting stuff


Elegant Anna, vacuuming wearing crystals (a present to my from my auntie Elsie when I was a teenager)


Brunch at Iveta before leaving for the airport


Final flying fling!


Yikes! is this really happening? SFO lounge

complete the circle.

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