I was surprised to see sun when I opened the curtains this morning. I mist was hanging like a curtain over the valley, swishing this way and that – one minute obscuring Weasel Hall across the Calder Valley, and the next minute Weasel Hall was in full sunlight and Heptonstall was obscured by clouds. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to get out on’t’tops and I jumped onto the first bus up to Blackshaw Head, 600ft above me. There was another reason I wanted to go up there for today was Remembrance Day and one of my ancestors, Giles Sunderland, who lived on that exposed moor and was killed during WWl is remembered on the memorial stone in the chapel’s cemetery.

By the time the bus reached the scattered village, however, there was a lot more low dense cloud than swirling mist and sunshine, and I knew that it wasn’t the morning for stunning photography that I had anticipated.

My watercolour of trees in the winter always reminds me of the WWl trench warfare

I stayed on the bus at the turnaround and alighted at the wonderfully named Slack Bottom. I peeked into the lane leading down to Lumb Bank, now a writers’ retreat that had been purchased by Ted Hughes. It wasn’t until I attended the last zoom meeting of Hebden Bridge History Society last week that I learned that Ted’s parents lived in Slack Bottom and it was there that Sylvia Plath visited them, thus leading to eventual burial in Heptonstall Cemetery, a long way from her birthplace in Massachusetts, where, as it happens, my own children were born.

As I emerged from the lane back onto the main road a car pulled up and it wasn’t until “Heather!” came through its window that I saw that it was one of the Heptonstall residents. I’d painted a watercolour of poppies for the poppy display in Heptonstall church and the lady had been responsible for coordinating it. I’d dropped it off at The Cross a couple of evenings ago and now she was explaining to me where it could be found.

However, when I arrived at the church the door was locked, it still being quite early. However, the Tea Room was already open and I called in for a couple of their delicious cakes to take home with me.

Approaching Heptonstall from Slack Bottom

Back down in Hebden I passed St James’s church where I’ve been in to practice the organ in readiness for the Remembrance service on Sunday. I hadn’t been in the building for two years let alone played any music there. A group of people had been putting up a display there, an enormous blanket of knitted poppies , a painted sheet of poppies and displays about the lives of local residents who had lost their lives in WWl. Three brothers were commemorated, and they were related to me. I’d already researched their story and found their memorial in the cemetery but today three balloons had been placed on the headstone. They are buried in Europe where they fell.

My watercolour of the poppy fields