Month: February 2018 (page 2 of 2)

An impromptu hike on t’tops

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Having spent the afternoon yesterday browsing through the Gibson documents I had found references to other buildings that Gibson owned, besides Lily Hall, so, waking up to  unexpected sunshine I jumped on a bus to Pecket Well, above Old Town. I took with me an Ordinance Survey map so that I could find some of these buildings. However, it was much, much colder on t’tops that I anticipated and the wild was so strong that I was in danger of being blown over, so I decided to stick to the road rather than the muddy/frozen farm tracks. Even so, every time I took my glove off to operate my camera I felt as if I was in danger of frostbite. It even hailed for a few minutes and the strong wind blew the tiny hailstones into my eyes – ouch.

But the views were fantastic. When I get out of the valley onto the hills with the scattered buildings that were once weavers’ cottages but are now farms I feel rejuvenated in the same way that  I feel about my trips to the desert of the American South West. And if I’m alone, I feel much more connected to the landscape. I think this must be why I’ve not been chomping at the bit to go away for the weekends or longer. Everywhere I go from my apartment is traveling to a brand new place, and exploring a new village or  new road on foot is just as new and exciting as a weekend in Paris or Rome. These photos show the landscape that I can walk to from my apartment.


Snow remains in sheltered spots

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Looking towards Stoodley Pike and Heptonstall church


The boat seems a bit optimistic


Love this ruined building

Below: The Hare and Hounds pub should really be called the Chicken and Pig, I think

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I wonder what happened to the owner


The first crocuses I’ve seen blooming


That’s correct. I can’t see any dog pooping near here


Coming back into town I can see that  I’m going to have to join a long line for Paul’s Fresh Fish – my Thursday treat. He brings it all the way from the port of Fleetwood every Thursday morning!


When I got home from the market I find a new level has been added to the building outside my window.

Fun in the archives – or ‘diary of a complete nerd’

So I spent yesterday afternoon at Hebden Bridge Archives. My goal was to find any references to Lily Hall, and to find out anything about Mr John Cousins who owned the hall in 1837. He was also joint owner of Mitchel Brothers Mill in Old Town, the little village high above Hebden bridge which, unlike Hebden, was mentioned in the Domesday Book. There were two experts on hand to help me in my search, and it was so much fun digging around in boxes of uncatalogued documents – Ok. What a nerd! I even found myself volunteering to go back for a three hour stint tomorrow to help document the documents! It turns out that this wall of boxes of barely catalogued documents were actually scheduled to be burned in a big bonfire in 2000, when a house was being sold, and the old owners had to clear out everything before the new people took possession. hebden Bridge historical society got word of the issue and stepped in and took the thousands of documents which had not been touch for 50 years into their library. Of course, in my search for Lily Hall related papers (several of which I found) I got diverted. I even found an acceptance of a proposal of marriage, as well as papers that would take hours to decipher, from the late 1600’s. One of the experts was looking online for a wonderful website that has been down since Christmas because of security issues. It is called Malcolm Bull’s Calderdale companion and it’s an amazing resource, which I’ve made some contribution to as I further my own research. However, as he typed in ‘Calderdale Companion’ the screen filled with photos of ‘Asian girls, just for you in Hebden Bridge’ and ‘Russian ladies are waiting for it in Hebden Bridge.’ We burst out laughing which brought a swift response from the other researchers who laughed along with us and commented, ‘You’re having too much fun!’ We’d barely got back to our online search when we were disturbed by a lady nailing picture hooks into the wall in the corridor outside the library. “Too much banging out there” called my expert. It took a minute for the penny to drop before the whole library erupted in fits of laughter.

My quilt project is coming along. I’ve just spent a couple of days assembling the three layers which is my least favourite part of the project. Now comes the hand quilting part.

I found this reference to Lily Hall in a 1898 newspaper:

Leeds Times – Saturday 02 April 1898

The body of Dawson Greenwood, a young married man, who resides at Lily Hall, Heptonstall. was  taken out of a reservoir in the Hardcastle Crags Valley on Friday. Greenwood had been missing from home for several days.

Drowned himself in keypit Holm Dam. Temporarily insane – West Yorkshire deaths.


I found this map of where the tragedy occurred. Sarah and Anna have been to this Mill dam at Hardcastle Crags. With Anna I walked down to it from Heptonstall.


Record of repairs to Lily Hall



The assembled quilt


Snow outside the Victoria Theatre, Halifax

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I woke up to a snowy view today


Back stage tour of the Victoria Theatre, Halifax


30 people showed up for this 2 1/2 tour on a freezing, snowy  Sunday afternoon


Impressive stained glass roof


Back stage


View from the stage. Anna and I sat in the circle to see Milton Jones. 


In #1 dressing room – as used by Michael Jackson, Milton Jones, Jimmy Carr –  and soon to be used by Sarah Millican for my birthday treat!


The bar!

Day out in sunny 😎 Blackburn


View from train on the way to Blackburn (about 40 minutes)


Outside Blackburn Cathedral





Great utilisation of a now semi-redundant phone box – both a phone box and a cash machine.


Wonderful cirrus clouds above the bridge


Very sweet


Amazing crucifix formed from a hand loom


Ultra modern art work in the cathedral


Oh, dear. Never mind. I’ll just have to spend the evening with my expanding hedgehog family


The police, a penis and a guitar concerto – just a normal Saturday evening out in Manchester



So the guitar concerto finished to tumultuous applause and Ravel’s Bolero brought the concert to stunning conclusion, but my evening’s entertainment was far from over. I found myself with a full hour to kill on Manchester Victoria station before I caught the last train back to Hebden Bridge. Now, in all fairness, I had been warned by several people that catching the last train from the big city, especially on a Saturday night could be ‘a bit of a bother’ but I had smiled to myself and thought ‘I’m a woman of the world – surely it can’t be that bad!’ Ha! Ha!

First off I headed for the toilet. Now, I’d used that particular public convenience on the station concourse before, so I had my 60p ready in my hand, tut tutting to myself about the outrageous cost of a pee on British stations when, to my surprise there were three teenage boys at the turnstile where you put your money in. “We’ll hold the bar and you can get in without paying.” OK, I thought. I’ll go for that. They held the bar and I walked through into the ladies only to find every stall featured a man peeing – with the door open. ‘Oh, my god. I’ve gone into the men’s by mistake!’ and rushed out, scarlet faced. I checked the sign on the door – twice. No, I was right. This was the ladies. Ha! Ha! Good joke. I returned, found an empty stall, locked the door, and went about my business with a huge grin on my face.

Returning to the concourse I set about waiting for an hour for the last train to Hebden. I had a sandwich to eat that I’d taken to the concert with me but didn’t get to eat it in the intermission as planned because of the interesting conversation I had with the man in the adjacent seat. I asked if he’d ever heard Rodrigo’s guitar concerto played live before. He hadn’t. He wasn’t used to coming to ‘these things’ but had been to an all black production of Hamlet at the Lowry Centre the previous week and had left at the intermission because he didn’t think that Shakespeare’s characters should dressed in ‘rap gear.’ I asked if he thought that the orchestra should change into appropriate clothing for the year in which each piece was composed. This brought out such a lovely laugh that I decided to continue the conversation, rather than barge my way past him to the bar. He has just taken up the saxophone and has had four lessons. He finds the whole experience is magical – his words, not mine. He’d always wanted to play the piano as a child but he was committed to football practice 6 days a week and so his dad said no to piano. After 20 years in the army, and 20 years in business at the age of 57 he’s semi retired and just beginning to do all those things he’s never had time for. A friend took him out on a yacht, so he bought a yacht with all the trimmings, and learned to sail on the sea. Then he bought a sort of road bike – a ‘Rolls Royce’ of the biking world after seeing the Tour de France. I asked him why he chose the saxophone. He’d gone to a Barry White concert with his first girlfriend and all the girls in the audience had screamed in girly admiration of the saxophonist, so that’s why he’s chosen the sax: for the sex! By this time the 4 minute call for the restart of the concert had been sounded and I still hadn’t collected the drink I’d pre–ordered from the bar. I rushed out only to find a tub of ice-cream on my number spot. I’d ordered a bottle of water! I ran to the bar tender, was issued with a bottle of water and hurried to my seat.

Back to the station concourse. I found a bench by the barrier on which to while away an hour. Luckily I had my new book with me carefully packed for just such a circumstance. There were two benches to choose from. I stayed away from the one with the girl throwing up as her boyfriend tenderly stroked her back. There was a high police presence on the station, this being the site of the Manchester Arena bombing last May and from time to time one of the policemen checked up on the couple. Soon however, they were joined by another girl who seemed to know them. She kept doubling up and screaming. She appeared totally normal one minute and screaming the next. All this was rather distracting me from reading my book, and when the concert at the Arena let out around 10:30 the station filled, the noise was loud and the women on their stilts of stilettos reminded me more of a balancing act in a circus, than people quietly going about their business on their way home. There was zero quiet here.

Eventually the train arrived and I was careful to sit in a different carriage than the guy with the two out-of-it ladies. I settled back for a 40 minute train ride and for entertainment I watched the locals at play. Each carriage was filled and lots of people were standing. Well, more like swaying, actually. The only sober person – besides me – was a guy with his arm in a sling. A couple were making out one minute and laughing uncontrollably the next as the guy sampled the girl’s friends in turn. I presumed they all knew one another, but when we got to Littleborough, that den in iniquity, the guy got off the train, shouting ‘Nice to have met you all.’ When on the platform he ran to the carriage window and unzipped his pants and held his penis up to the carriage window – MY  window. The train started to move. He held onto the train and started to move with it. The train came to a screeching halt, the guard jumped from the train onto the platform and arrested him. As you can imagine this took some time. The girls were bouncing up and down with excitement and one of them turned to me ‘I feel so badly for you. You were just sitting there nice and quiet and then this happened.’ I laughed.

The next stop was Walsden, five minutes away. During those minutes there was some sort of altercation in the next carriage. Perhaps a fight? The girls got up to look, shoving each other out of the way to get a better look but they couldn’t make out what was going on but there was a lot of movement of people, and raised voices. Now Walsden is a tiny, tiny station in the middle of a little village whose only claim to fame is Grandma Pollard’s Fish and Chip shop. Eventually we could see the girl who’d been throwing up at Victoria Station. She was being propped up on a bench on the platform by a couple of fellas. We waited. And waited some more. The train was going nowhere. There was no information coming on the intercom from the guard. People started to get rattled. ‘Why should we wait because someone can’t hold their drink?’ ‘We want our money back for this ride!’ ‘Just leave her.’ It seemed that we had to wait until either the police or ambulance service came to collect her. So our 40 minute ride turned into an hour and a quarter. The girls called Bye Bye to me as they got off at Hebden Bridge. A very patient taxi driver had been waiting for the arrival of the train to take them through Haworth home to Keighley. I guess I now know what ‘a bit of a bother’ means!

Why I like living in Hebden Bridge

My watch stopped yesterday. I had no idea where to buy a new battery and presumed I’d have to go into Halifax, 8 miles away. So just on the off chance I googled ‘watch battery Hebden Bridge ‘  and up popped a jewellers, on MY STREET! Of course, I’d never noticed it since I’m not in the market for fine jewellry. ‘Would you have a battery to fit this watch?’ ‘Leave it with me for 10 minutes,’ came the reply. I didn’t sign a form. He didn’t even ask for my phone number, let alone a name. In those 10 minutes I went to the butcher’s, (2 Cumberland sausages) the baker’s (a seeded bloomer) and  – no, not the candlestick makers – just the greengrocer’s, ( a parsnip and some Branston pickle) and so by the time I went back to the jewellers my watch was ready. ‘Five pounds please, luv.’

The predicted snow has not arrived in force yet, just smatterings that’s not stuck on the ground, so I’ve decided to forget the weather and risk a trip into Manchester  to go to a concert tonight, which, with a great deal of  imagination since I’ll be wearing my fur boots, thermal underwear, down jacket, bobble hat and gloves,  will transport me to somewhere nice and warm : Welcome to one of the most evocative concerts of the year. Forget the damp cold winter outside and join the Hallé and Craig Ogden, who performs Rodrigo’s matchless guitar concerto, for an evening of Spanish-inspired warmth and passion.

Gergely Madaras conductor | Craig Ogden guitar

Bizet Carmen Suite No.1 and Habañera | Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez | Piazzolla Libertango (for guitar and strings) |Chabrier Rhapsody: España | Falla The Three Cornered Hat: Suite No. 1 and 2 | Ravel Bolero

A day out – filled with recollections

Yesterday I took a look out of the window and it was sunny! Ooo. The compulsion to get out into the countryside made me leap out of bed – well, with as much dexterity and speed as this aging body can handle. But then the question arose. Where could I go? It had been raining almost constantly since Thanksgiving and so footpaths through fields were more suitable for a slalom kayaking course than a pleasant walk. Then, out of the blue (sky, that is) came the answer – I think there’s a tarred footpath all the way round Hollingworth Lake. It’s a reservoir situated in beautiful rolling countryside just outside Littleborough. Sarah and I had ended up there, quite by accident, and had found a wonderful little café, The Olive and Pickle.  (I later found out that the son of Peter, the churchwarden from Sowerby Bridge was a chef there!) So, I could walk round the lake and combine it with coffee or lunch, depending on the o’clock. It was also one of my mum’s favourite excursions. Perhaps I can even find a photo of her there in one of my holiday diaries. I also recollected, vaguely, that the place had cropped up in doing some ancestor hunting – the name Pickthall came to mind. I discovered that there is a railway station only 10 minutes walk away from the lake, so off I trotted to the railway station and booked a return off peak ticket to Smithy Bridge – with a pass. In the summer I’d gone to the lake but walked from Littleborough not realizing that it was closer to the Smithy Bridge station.


Elevenses at The Olive and Pickle

There was a little frost on the road to the station and the platform had been generously gritted to prevent people with their heads glued to tiny screen from obliviously slipping into the path of an oncoming train. Snow covered ‘the tops’ as the train passed over, or rather, through, the Pennines and into Lancashire. I was the only person to leave the train at the tiny station of Smithy Bridge after a half hour ride. Amazingly, the sun was also out in Lancashire. Ten minutes later the Lake came into view, as did The Olive and Pickle. The temptation was too much. So much for a walk and then lunch. It looked as if it had to be coffee, then a walk, but at least the weather looked as if it would stay good. Why is it that the weather takes on a persona in this country? Even the forecasters on the TV and radio say things like, ‘I’m afraid it’s going to be frosty again today’ and ‘Another gloomy day in store in the North West’? It makes the weather far more personal, and I like that. The Olive and Pickle was crowded but I managed to find a table for ‘just one.’ It’s a place where retired people in little groups dress up to go for lunch and new mums treat themselves to a well earned break from the daily routine of chores, feeds and naptimes. I’d planned on beginning to read my Christmas present from Anna, Eat Pray Love, and as I opened it the waitress came over to me. “Great book” she said, “I loved the movie, and my friend read the book.” Within the first three section(that’s how long it took to consume my coffee and a scone) I’d found so many comments that I could identify with, that I just wanted to copy down word for word and claim that I’d written them.


With the sun still sparkling off the water I went to feed the ducks. I tried to feed a swan too but when I ran out of food it hissed at me in a very threatening manner – whoops! I soon had to resort to donning my sunglasses which makes me look, or perhaps I should say feel, very American. Sunglasses are just not worn here in the winter. There were loads of people walking along the water front, sampling the fish and chips. At the Wine


Brrrrr – the hardy ones

Bar, many of the outside tables were occupied. I mea, the sun was shining, so obviously you have to sit outside. Never mind that the temperature is 2 degrees above freezing and that the ice crystals surrounding the snow drops hasn’t yet thawed and its lunchtime.


First snowdrops of the season

Walking around the reservoir made me think of the hundreds of times I walked round Lafayette Reservoir, and all the people I’d walked that with over the years I lived in Walnut Creek. I stopped many times to take photos, often with some art project in mind. IMG_8603IMG_8614It’s about 3 miles in total and as I came back to a little track close to the ‘Beach’ I suddenly felt as if I’d been in that spot before. When I got home I looked it up in my travel diaries. Indeed! In May 1998 I had returned to England for a week when my dad died, and this is what I wrote: May 4th 1998 Bank Holiday Monday in England signifies lack of public transportation. Mum and I had tentatively planned to visit Hollingworth Lake and when a bus did finally appear in Tottington that was going all the way to Rochdale we thought our luck was in. However, there were no buses to the lake from there so we resorted to finding a taxi – something that my mum would never have dreamed of doing. As we neared the lake we saw that all the parking spaces were filled and the place was packed with hoards of holiday makers in T shirts and shorts, freezing in the cold wind blowing off the water. The sky was black and foreboding as children licked their ice creams


From my 1998 journal

and people in ubiquitous anoraks sat outside the pub, enjoying the fresh air whilst desperately trying to warm up their frozen hands by cuddling their mugs of hot tea. We elected to eat our pork pie inside the café where we had taken the girls on their last trip out with my dad. A pot of tea cost £1.95. I can see why so many people take thermos flasks. Instead of walking along the lakeside we opted for the less populated walk to Littleborough. I hadn’t done this before but I knew it was one of my mum and dad’s favourite walks.


My mum – 1998 journal

They used to go to a lunchtime music recital in Rochdale and then catch a bus to the lake and walk into Littleborough. So glad I have these journals. I now have no recollection of the café with the extortionate price for a cup of tea! Ending my little outing I returned to the station. Trains were every hour and my phone didn’t get a signal to find out the time of the next train, but as luck would have it, the next train to Hebden Bridge was in two minutes. I had a fun evening trying to put one of the photos I had taken of the lake into watercolour and charcoal.

This morning I found this is my mum’s journal from July 28, 1992

Regarding the letter which appeared in the Bolton Evening News approx.. 2 weeks ago. It was in the Readers’ letter page referring to a mantle clock which a person in Stockport was holding and had had in his possession for 12 years. Apparently it was inscribed ‘presended to F. V Denton and M A Pickthorn as a wedding present from the members of the choir of St Paul’s church Astley Bridge in 1913. It is a 400 day clock. I think it has a brass face. The person who advertised it was hoping to trace the descendants of the people so as it pass it on to them. Now Frank Vernon Denton and Martha Ann Pickthorn when married lived in Rochdale and had two daughters, Vera (aged 75) and Irene, known as Rene , aged 77. Rene became Mrs Cheetham of 61 Rooley Moor Raod Rochdale. Wed July 29, 1992. I phone Jack’s cousin, Rene Cheetham. She told me that in 1929 their parents (i.e Jack’s uncle Frank) left Bolton to live in Rochdale. Vera was 12 and Rene 14. She recalled the mantle clock and that it was presented to her parents. She has no recollection of the clock in Rochdale but she will ask her sister. Rene does remember the clock going to Rochdale with the family in 1929. Incidentally they used to live near Hollingworth Lake where Jack and I visited frequently after enjoying listening to Music at Lunchtime in the Champness Hall, in Drake Street, Rochdale. She also told me that whilst living there one winter the lake was frozen over and she remembers horses and carts being driven onto the frozen lake. Her dad, Frank Vernon, died in 1942 and her mother, Martha Annie, and Vera and her husband all lived together at Lake Road. I can’t find a Lake Road, just Lake Bank, which is the road that borders the lake, on which the Olive and Pickle can be found! Yet another thing to add to my Find Out Where They Lived dossier.


Work in progress


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