Month: February 2018 (Page 1 of 2)

Feb 27th – a day of Siberian weather . . .

. . . . so, crazy Heather decides to spend 6 hours out in the sub zero temperature! My first attempt to get on t’ th’ tops was thwarted when the bus to Haworth didn’t show up. I thought it might not because the route is very exposed but I was actually surprised when I finally decided to call the bus depot, 40 minutes after it should have arrived,  and found that the bus was only running from Keighley to Oxenhope, and couldn’t get over the exposed bit into Hebden Bridge. Not one for taking this sitting down I jumped on the next bus that just happened to be going to Todmorden. Now just occasionally they have double deckers on this route and I was lucky to get the front seat on the upper deck. Next to me were three absolutely delightful sisters, who, for some reason, felt like reincarnations of the Bronte sisters. Presumable that was because I had originally had it in my head to go to Haworth, home of the Bronte sisters. IMG_9518

Todmorden was VERY quiet. There’s no outdoor market on Tuesdays and there were only a couple of indoor stalls open in the indoor market. This little doggie was in a shop window!


How much is that doggie in the window?
The one with the waggly tail
How much is that doggie in the window?
I do hope that doggie’s for sale
I must take a trip to California
And leave my poor sweetheart alone
If he has a dog, he won’t be lonesome
And the doggie will have a good home

Walking on the snow wasn’t too difficult, and I stopped to take photos of the spring flowers just poking their heads IMG_9531through their white blankets. I headed for my favourite cafe, only to find this sign on the window. Really? It occupied the old Co-op building and had retained as much of the IMG_9546.JPGinterior decor as possible – and it had always been packed when I went.  It just didn’t seem to make any sense. So, next door is my favourite coffee shop in the town, Kava, so I had lunch there – which seemed to be exactly the same as the Co-op menu, so I asked about the closure. Apparently the lady who ran it has got tired and decided to give it up – simple as that.

Nicely refreshed but not yet ready to go home I went to the bus station to see where I could get to, but all the destinations I was interested in had long waits – one or in some cases, two hours, so I got the bus back to Hebden. And jumped on the next bus up to Heptonstall.  I had nowhere to be for the rest of the day, and I could just jump on whatever bus shows up. This feels extraordinarily decadent for some reason.  I’ve never been able to do such things – ever before.


Heptonstall church


Is this a three tier wedding cake?

I spent a couple of hours in the village taking hundreds of photos. One minute I’d be in a snow storm, the next minute in sunshine. Dark clouds to blue sky. Amazing. I was the

only one out and about in the village and as I picked my way through the skeleton of the old church it felt incredibly peaceful. My ancestors had been baptised, married and buried here for over 300 years. The blanket of snow had softened the bones of the old church and the flat gravestones were covered completely. I passed the old school house where, only this week, I discovered that one of my relatives, had attended school. IMG_9578

I took a few of the side footpaths which gave me great views across to Old Town and beyond, where I had hiked last week, and on my way back down I stopped at the Tea Rooms, guided in by a lovely ginger kitty. As I sat and warmed up (the coldest part of me was my face, especially my cheeks) over a pot of tea I perused the Heptonstall News


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IMG_9672IMG_9670magazine. It was filled with village activities. Again, I ask myself,”Where are these opportunities for social interaction in the U.S. There was even a flier advertising a photography project in which ‘participants will capture the ways they think their area is (or isn’t) ‘Age Friendly. Refreshments and travel expenses will be provided – and it’s all free.’! Hmm, that sounds interesting. One of the things that made me actually dive in and make the plunge to come and live in England was a morning I had spent in Todmorden, taking photos of the elderly, the disabled, the parents with toddlers and infants in papooses who were all doing their shopping, and I wondered where all those people are in America. I remember soon after I had moved to Boston, U.S, and i was doing the grocery shopping with my baby twins, and a lady came up to me and said, “Did the Nanny not show up today?” At the playgrounds it was primarily babysitters who were in loco parentis.

I’d skidded and slid down Heptonstall Road passing Lily Hall with its view over Hebden Bridge and was walking back to my apartment along the canal when  the snow  came down in force – what fun!

Choir practice was cancelled because the director was snowed in so I spent the evening making an iMovie of my day – as the snow fell gently outside my window.

A day of contrasts


Tools of my new trade



Letter to A Gibson, Esq at Greenwood lee, dated 1934. It gets really exciting when the letter is sealed and I get to open it – maybe for the first time in 100 years!


Doggie pedigree. Date of birth, June 2nd, 1933

I spent three hours this morning tucked into the archives at the Hebden Bridge History Society opening boxes that once lived in Greenwood Lee, the house belonging to generations of Gibsons. I’d spent yesterday morning in Greenwood Lee, chatting to the current owner who still retains some of the Gibson papers. It’s a wonderful building, begun in the 11th century and as I walked up the drive a flock of pheasants flew in to join the peacocks who were just having their elevenses on the front lawn. It’s fascinating to go through these documents, and now doubly so, having been to the house. I found a hand-drawn map showing the position of Greenwood Lee in comparison to Gibson Mill (in Hardcastle Craggs). ‘In 1650 Greenwood Lee was twice sold. For a time it was in possession of the Sutcliffe family and in 1762 it was purchased at auction by Abraham Gibson. There was a rumour that Abraham was so drunk at the auction that he didn’t know what he was doing. Abraham ran a cotton spinning mill at Greenwood Lee and built on an extension to house the wheel before moving down the valley to work at Gibson Mill. Gibson Mill was eventually given to the National Trust in the early 1950’s along with Gibson Mill. The Trust sold Greenwood Lee off and it is now in private ownership.’ (From Power in the Landscape). Movie makers have expressed interest in using the home and the outlying buildings and land for movie sets. The house is directly above Hardcastle Craggs and Gibson Mill. img_9336.jpgIn the boxes I even found a doggie pedigree. The last Abraham Gibson was an avid Airdale terrier man. The current owner knew a lady who Mr Gibson used to give a ride to when she was a little girl. He had one of the first cars in Calderdale. His detailed account books are in the archives and go right up until the week he died in 1956. His personal diaries are there too, and postcards he received from friends or perhaps relatives on holiday in Blackpool and on a steam ship. Absolutely fascinating.

I made lunch when I got home using some of the delicious produce I’d purchased at the IMG_9341market on Thursday, and also got a baguette from the tiny bakery that’s directly beneath my apartment – along with the fish and chip shop. Once a week I see the potatoes arrive in big sacks carried over the delivery man’s shoulders!

After lunch in the company of the teary -eyed  British women’s curling team after their 4th place in the Winter Olympics, I tried to settle down for an afternoon at home. But the sun was streaming through my living room window, and with snow in the forecast for 5 out of the next 7 days I didn’t feel content mooching around indoors, so on the spur of the moment I put on my boots and within 5 minutes I was waiting for a bus into Halifax. Unlike yesterday it showed up on time – but this time with an Out Of service sign. Someone once remarked that they wished they lived in the town of  Out Of Service because so many buses go there. It was  bitterly cold waiting 15 minutes for the next bus and I realised that the warmth in my south facing living room had been very artificial.


Ogden reservoir’s residents


This picture reminds me of Virginia City



I was trying to capture the golden late afternoon sunshine

I was heading for Ogden water, a reservoir and country park on the North side of Halifax. Exploring Calderdale from Halifax to Hebden Bridge over the last week, getting my bearings on the lie of the land and the proximity of one village to another had made me realise that I hadn’t been North of Halifax. I popped into the bus station information office and a man with the longest fingernails I’ve ever seen informed me that I’d missed the last bus to Ogden, but I could get within about a mile by getting the bus to Illingworth. By now it was getting a bit late in the afternoon for setting out on such an expedition but I didn’t feel like giving up and going home, so I pressed on. Once past the sprawling complex of Dean Clough Mill, once the largest carpet manufacturing mill in the world (where I’d been to see a new production of Hard Times last weekend) I found myself in new territory. The landscape here is very different and reminded me of north Yorkshire. There are no steep-sides narrow valleys with fast running streams and consequently far fewer mills were built here, since there was no water power. It’s much more agricultural with rolling gentle hills. I followed Google maps so I knew where I get off the bus and walked along the crest of Keighley Road to the reservoir.

The wind was strong, the cold actually burning my cheeks but not to worry, I knew there was a cafe at the water’s edge. But . .  .Note to the Vistors’ Centre: Will you please update your website? It states that in February the Visitors’ Centre, cafe and toilets close at 5. It was 3:50 and all the buildings were  already closed. I think I must be turning into wimp because there were lots of people walking around the water, babies in buggies, even the occasional jogger in shorts for goodness sake, and a lovely old lady who reminded me of my mum. IMG_9343It’s only a couple of miles around the reservoir and I found that it reminded me a lot of Entwistle reservoir in Turton. After crossing the dam I found myself in the woods, but what was this – a pile of old Christmas trees? I did a double take. OMG. Around the entiretree.JPG IMG_9362perimeter of the reservoir is a hedge made out of recycled Christmas trees. I looked in vain, hoping to see at least one Christmas ornament, but the only object I found suspended from one tree was a price tag! By the time I got around to the far side of the lake the sun was on the horizon and the light was beautiful. Taking photos was a bit


Don’t  even ask!

tricky because I need to take my gloves off for every photo. I’m seriously considering buying a second pair of gloves and cutting out just one finger to operate the shutter. I


Even ragged plastic caught on barbed wire  can be attractive – sometimes



Silhouetted grave stones

took a footpath back to Keighley Road and was not looking forward to waiting for a bus, but what was that? One was coming. I jumped on and was back in town in 20 minutes.

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Desperate times call for desperate measures. I’d thawed out a little on the bus but I needed a hot drink to keep me company while I waited for the bus back to Hebden. It was 6 o’clock by now, almost dark and Halifax town centre had already closed its eyes and  gone to sleep. Only Costa Coffee was open, and even then I was their last customer of the day.



Per head? Of pig? Of cow?


Guess I won’t try that path!


Back in Halifax – Anyone for a beer?

Walking back home from Greenwood Lee


Just down the road from Greenwood Lee this house is for sale too.


Just before I saw this new sign I wondered why I was feeling so much joy


Oooo – vandals in Slack Bottom.


So milkmen still deliver milk in glass bottles and leave it on your doorstep in this part of the world


Abandoned but not forgotten. My dad bought one – but it had canvas sides!


Trying a new route into the town – this is Hollins.


A treat after my exciting morning – made by real Italians!


Hmmm – I bought some new shoes at the charity store – but not these ones!

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IMG_9305And there in a wood a piggy-wig stood with a ring at the end of his nose

Exploring new horizons

The market comes to town every Thursday and I buy my fruit, veggies, cheese and fish there – not to mention a bacon butty for lunch which can be eaten on The Square, weather permitting! Unlike the Farmers’ markets in the U.S this produce doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg. Total for this little lot was £8. The box of tomatoes was £1.


The weather forecast was predicting icy weather for the next few day – and for the whole of March! Knowing that I should take advantage of today’s sunny sky I decided after lunch – bacon butty, apple and satsuma – to take the bus up to Old Town and find a hike along the upper ridge and dropping down into Mytholmroyd. There were several people waiting at the bus stop. Ten minutes after the bus was due a man and his son left saying ‘We’ll go to the library instead.’ Another man, obviously quite disgruntled commented ‘I feel like getting a taxi and send ‘t bus company th’ bloody bill. Bloody bus ‘as brok’n doon agin.’ A couple of minutes later, before I could check the time of the next ‘bloody bus’ a taxi stopped to pick up three of the waiting passengers. “Hold on,” I called, “Can I come too?” So off we all went up t’th’ tops. I paid £1 to the driver and got out just by Hebden Bridge golf course, picking up the upper road where I had left it on Monday. This time I had an ordinance survey map with me so that I could pick out features in the landscape.


Looking across to Stoodley Pike


Mytholmroyd in the bottom You can just make out Sowerby church on the centre skyline where I walked from on Monday


You can just make out Sowerby church on the left skyline where I walked from on Monday


Not sure I’d want this as the name of my house! But what I learned from the Antiquarian lecture on Monday is that this indicates where a family built a dwelling for a son. So the initial family would live in Rough Farm and when the son came of age a dwelling would be built for him to weave and farm, and the family farm’s name  would change to Rough Top, and the son’s would be called Rough Bottom. (Same goes for Slack Top and Slack Bottom just above Heptonstall. There’s also Dog Bottom!

IMG_9185At some point I knew that I had to head down into the valley. Ah, I see a Public Footpath sign. Perhaps I should take that track. but what’s that I see lying in the grass?


OK, there’s no way in hell I’m going to walk through their field!

Eventually I found another path that took me to the Grove Inn on Burnley Road. Perhaps i can have a sit down and get a drink there.


Hmm – no house, free or otherwise, no B and B and certainly no food on offer.

So I joined the towpath in Brearley, having decided to continue walking all the way back to my apartment. A little farther along I saw a building I’d not noticed before: The Kitchen, adjacent to the towpath. It was advertising coffee to take away. That’s a nice idea, I thought. I’ll be very American and walk back into Hebden sipping at my coffee. People don’t do that in England very much at all. Tea or coffee is a ritual here that requires sitting down for a considerable length of time, and either musing quietly to oneself or talking animatedly depending on the company you are in. But once inside the place looked so attractive I decided to take my coffee in. Note to self: they do curries too, so I could walk along the canal from my apartment (about 2 miles) and get a curry and stroll back into town.


Wonder if my daughters would feel at home there?


First daffies I’ve seen in bloom


Late afternoon sunshine. Looking to see where I’ve walked from – the top of the farthest hill.


I always say hello to these ducks. They live at a house next to the canal and someone told me that the house used to keep chickens in a hen house. During the 2015 flood they all drowned, so now they keep ducks instead.

Thursday evenings are band night. I joined the Halifax Concert Band and next weekend we are spending Thursday and Friday evening and all day Saturday recording a CD. Here’s an extract from our rehearsal last night. The balance is all wrong because I was recording it in my coat pocket!



My next knitting project – honestly! – being given its first airing at the Antiquarian Society

I can’t help comparing England and the U.S. I’ve spent an equal amount of time in both countries. Actually, I’d prefer to say ‘cultures’ because, despite the common language (well, for the most part) the cultures are vastly different. Last night I attended my first Calderdale Antiquarian Society meeting. Despite its name it’s not a society for old people   but I was certainly one of the youngest in attendance. I got talking to a lady whose one daughter moved to Canada.We chatted about being away from our children, and she shared with me that she’s now tired of going to Canada because, naturally, she always goes to the same place to visit her daughter. It reminded me of the trips to Europe that our family did when we lived in the U.S but as the girls got older we would combine a week visiting relatives in England with a few weeks seeing parts of Europe that were new to us all. I suppose I’m thinking about this from my mum’s point of view at the moment since my daughters are coming to see me soon – and they’ve all been to Hebden Bridge before.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the meeting which was entitle Aspects of the Landscape in Upper Calderdale. About 60 people showed up on a wet, chilly night gathered in a chapel. The screen was suspended from the organ pipes. Most of the attendees sat for the 75 minutes in their coats, and not a few kept their hats on, and I thought how quintessentially British! I remember taking photos of my family on visit to England taking my mum out for lunch and she’d always wear a hat – during the meal. Tonight’s meeting was free – donation accepted.  If you want to join the society it costs £10 per year. This is just the same mindset as the lunchtime organ and brass band concert the previous day when 1000 people attended a free event. Where are these events in the U.S? And more to the point where are the equivalent people in the U.S? Shut in watching the telly? In nursing homes playing bingo? It took me all my powers of concentration to keep up with the lecture. My hopes that there would be stunning photos of ancient walls, enclosed fields and rocky outcrops were thwarted. Instead we saw a handful of landscape photos  and the remaining slides were charts and maps showing the gradual development of mini hamlets, into hamlet, thence into villages and so on into townships. We were treated to several lessons in the derivation of local place-names from the Norwegian Anglo Saxon language (!) and the influence of the Romano Celtic alphabet. Fascinating for nerds like me. Where are these lectures in Santa Cruz (pop 62000)? It’s too small a place , you may say. OK. Where are they in Oakland, in San Francisco – (pop 864000)?  Halifax’s population is 82,000: Night after night of free (or almost free) education.

A day of unexpected views – Feb 20


I don’t know who was more surprised – them or me!

‘Rain cometh said the brown cow, Ah, said the white, Grass is very tasty, Grass is alright’


A former baptist chapel – now an Airbnb


A little incongruous in this landscape, don’t you think?


Anyone for tea?


‘From troubles of the world I turn to ducks, beautiful comical things’


‘And I –  I took the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference’


‘Graceful and solemn as wafted mist’


Even if you live on a canal boat you need to get your washing dry


My next knitting project! Really.


                                                   ‘Out on the wiley, windy moors’

A little nostalgia

  • 1988852C-EF36-4C58-A129-190945F68161

    A thousand people were present for this Monday lunchtime free concert



    Flugelhorn soloist is off to U C San Diego to do a Masters in composition


    Trombone sextet


    My fellow Meetup member did a couple of drawings of one of the audience during the music.


    He was delighted with the outcome!

  • Since it’s half term this week my regular weekly events, art class, chatty crochet and choir, have all been cancelled so that gave me the opportunity to reconnect with a Meetup group and go to Leeds Town Hall for a recital by Huddersfield University Brass band and he resident town hall organist. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I walked into the Victoria Hall. The place was packed. I mean, this was a rainy Monday lunchtime concert. The Hall holds 1200 people so I judge there must have been 1000 people there! It certainly felt like it as the audience left the hall through the narrow winding hallways. We were packed like sardines still swimming in a tin. Huddersfield was one of my Alma matas so it was good to see their current band who are regarded highly. They looked SO young!

Underground theatre


Deep underground beneath the sprawling metropolis of what was once the largest carpet factory in the world is the Viaduct Theatre.


This is not a set. Just the fabric of the underground buildings.


This is NOT a set. This is the entrance to the theatre! Indoor – including the large puddle.


The stage. The wheels above are the same as the ones in my apartment


Coming home the Piece Hall looked even more splendid in the rainy reflections



In the presence of a Prince


All dressed up and awaiting the coming


Sharp shooters on the roof at the ready


Local school children having a cheerleading lesson


Members of The Black Dyke mills band on hand for the musical entertainment. Their hands must have been frozen! Wish I had taken some close up photos of the reflections of the Piece Hall in their instruments. This is the exact place where the scene of the brass band contest in the film Brassed Off was shot.


Waiting patiently. Uggs United.


Me too. Is somebody wearing the same coat- and hat – as me????


Oh, that’s who we’re all waiting for- really?


And out of the limo out pops. . .


the  Prince who is greeted by the mayor of Halifax and his wife


Camilla looks pretty in pink. How did I end up on the front row of the press area?Hmmm!



He’s far more handsome in the flesh


Touring the exhibit rooms in the Piece Hall


Everybody and his dog came along too

Lily Hall research

I spent the afternoon sifting through a tiny proportion of the Gibson papers at the Hebden Bridge Historical society. I knew that the suitcases and boxes had been left in a building for 50 years and were destined for a bonfire when the building was sold in 2000. For photos of the building and the condition of the documents see:

Abraham Gibson was a very wealthy Hebden Bridge man  1887-1956 who had owned many properties which he rented out to tenants – Lily Hall being one of them. He was also the owner of Gibson Mill, the picturesque mill in Hardcastle Crags and it was he who donated it to the National Trust. I found a map of the mill in 1847 when it was owned by Abraham’s father, Abraham! (1827-1807) Then I found this article in the newspaper:

Leeds Times – Saturday 02 April 1898

The body of Dawson Greenwood, a young married man, who resides at Lily Hall, Heptonstall. was I 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.

What a tragic link between the owner of Lily Hall, and the tenant.

I was shown a video of the room in which the documents were discovered – and  .  . . lo and behold it was in the building where I’d gone to view the first apartment that I took a look at in Hebden Bridge.

Croft Terrace, Hebden BridgeA terrace of 4 houses built around 1855 by James Lister [1817-1887] Son of George Lister, timber merchant. He was a timber merchant [1838] / a timber merchant and quarry owner at Hebden Bridge [1851]He had business at Hebden Wharf.Croft House was Number 4, Croft Terrace.Owners and tenants of other houses in the Terrace have included Hebden Bridge Nursing Institute [1897], Thomas Binney Gibson, (my first cousin four times removed!) Edward Binney Gibson, (my second cousin three times removed!) and Miss Corrie’s School [1950s]. In the 1970s, the houses became the Hebden Lodge Hotel


First day working on the Gibson papersJPG

The boxes on the shelves are just a portion of the Gibson  documents that need cataloguing!

File of Gibson papers

Dust and water have taken their toll on the papers

Unearthing the Gibson papers

List of properties gibson owned including Lily HallJPG

Document from 1920 showing a portion of the houses that Gibson owned. Lilley Hall is clearly divided into ‘House’ and ‘Farm. ‘ And quite by accident when I’d taken my walk from Pecket Well that very morning I had passed several of these properties.

Letter from AE Riley asking Gibson to buy a fieldJPG

A Mr A. E Riley was living at Lily Hall farm in 1922, and is obviously a farmer.

Increase in rent from gibsonJPG

A notice send by Greenwood to all his tenants notifying them of an increase in rent, in1922

Letter from Riley, Lily Hall farm saying he can't afford the rent increaseJPG


The response by Albert E Riley saying that he can’t afford the increase in rent and will therefore be vacating Lily Hall. I looked up Albert Riley and he was from Southowram, and was baptised at St Anne’s in the Grove, Southowram, where Rachel and I once spent a lovely afternoon with the vicar.

letter from Gibson accepting Riley's end of lease

Gibson’s counter proposal


the Mashonaland Railway Company, Zimbabwe, 1927 . .  .

Gibson invested in Emu railroad Australia

and the Emu Bay Railway Company, Tasmania in I929

Gibson invester in Madras railroadJPG

. . .  and the Madras railway Company, India.

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