Another rainy day. Today heavy clouds cover the hilltops. I decide to take the bus to Todmorden. I need to return my library book and find another page turner and Hebden Bridge library is still closed from last week’s floods. I also need some more knitting wool. As I brave the waist high splashes of cars whizzing through the puddles at the bus stop I rethink my plan. I have less students today since it’s half term. Let’s play ‘see what comes.’ Some buses to Todmorden go on to Rochdale, others go to Burnley. Some just finish in Tod. I’ll go wherever the bus takes me!. The bus arrives – I’m on my way to Rochdale, over the Pennines and in to Lancashire. it’s the first time I’ve travelled along the main road since the floods and I get a perfect view of the devastation along the River Calder, where debris in the trees on the river banks show the height the river reached – at least 6 feet above the river in many places. The cricket pitch is just a muddy quagmire and so many riverside allotments are still sub merged. Houses display vast arrays of sandbags and furniture outside the front doors wait to be collected by the bin men.

The bus follows the canal to the Summit and I can see the tow path where I crossed the Pennines walking a couple of weeks ago. We drop down into Littleborough and then through the outskirts of Rochdale. It’s fascinating to know that one branch of my family moved from Rochdale to Hebden Bridge in the mid 1800s. I had no plan of what to do in Rochdale. The market closed down last year.

But as I arrived at the bus station I saw the tower of the Town Hall and recalled going to the lovely cafe there once when I was in England for a summer and thought I’d head in that direction. The severe wind made it impossible to use my umbrella but I soon arrived at the magnificent building and entered into the peace and tranquility of the clock tower cafe with its table cloths and chandeliers.

Only a couple of tables were in use when I arrived but by the time I left it was pretty full, most people having made reservations. One area of the cafe has lovely comfy sofas so after my coffee and toasted tea cake I made myself at home and worked on my current embroidery project, a cross stitch panel of some street art I saw in Paris, for half an hour.

This coming weekend I’m looking forward to going to an exhibition of cross stitching at Towneley Hall near Burnley. I browsed the leaflets on the tables and found a booklet entitled Dippy on Tour. Ah, yes. I recalled that the Natural History Museum’s world famous diplodocus dinosaur is visiting Rochdale, his only stop in North West England. Well, this is half term week so I knew that the exhibit would be full of kiddies but, what the heck, it was only 8 minutes walk away. So off I went. I found my way easily by following the hoards of children with parents in tow. Yes, the place, Number One, Riverside, was packed but I got such a great feeling to see so many families braving the weather to show their children some natural history. Dippy was truly enormous. There can’t be many spaces where he can be displayed because of his size! Around him there were dinosaur books, dinosaur colouring pages, dinosaur jigsaws. Next week a leading Lego artist will be constructing a giant lego dinosaur and the Halle orchestra are coming to play their most monsterish music. And what’s more, the whole exhibit is free!

I headed back to the bus station, paying my respects to Gracie Fields, a Rochdale native who had associations with the same church as my Rochdale family. I was fortunate to get a seat on the bus – standing room only. I got off at Todmorden, popped into the library, went to the wool shop and arrived back home in time to watch another episode of Tony Robinson’s Coast to Coast series. I hiked that in 1980 something! I must dig out those photos.