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When the devastating floods hit Hebden Bridge and the other Calder Valley towns on Boxing Day 2015 many people’s Christmas was washed away – literally. So today the town celebrated Christmas. There were brass bands, choirs singing carols, the shops had Christmas displays in their windows. Jugglers, angels on stilts were scattered through the town and several band stages were set up. One of my favorite was a young lad playing a ukelele. He appeared to be about 13. he writes and sings his own songs and has 2 CDs out – such poise. The town was packed. Lines for ice-cream snaked around the bouncy castles, a climbing wall echoed the outlines of the factory chimneys beyond and folks wearing their best Christmas jumpers stood patiently in line at the fish and chip shop.

I began the day at the outdoor market where I saw black pudding pies – apparently they’re  ‘good sellers’ and then I went on to try Vimto flavored fudge – ugh- and gingerbread fudge which has chunks of gingerbread biscuits in. A pudding lady was giving out samples of delicious Christmas pudding and the RSPB was giving away hedgehogs to anyone becoming a member.

I made a house out of clay which will go on display in the Town hall later this year. I cut out a washing line full of trousers  from music manuscript paper to add to a collage celebrating trouser town. I watched children playing with old-time toys, people adding their homes on IMG_5821 (1)a giant map (for a blue plaque ceremony) and helped to colour in a giant drawing of the town. I drew myself on it and labeled it ‘Crazy Californian lady!’ I was photographed and  interviewed by the festival event people.


In the evening I attended a sort of drama  production where 5 people of varying ages told of their associations with trouser town.I was joined at my table by three delightful ladies who had grown up in the area and were happy to tell me takes of their working lives. I ended up

talking at length to the owners of the original mill building. It’s been a labor of love for 40 years, saving the mill, with its medieval origins, from demolition. David and Hilary Fletcher told me a great story about their adventures in the Tenderloin of San Francisco

and their visit to Monterey. They’ve also traveled extensively through South and central America, and through the former Soviet block countries. They apologized that they couldn’t invite me to their home but they’re leaving for another trip on Monday!