Somerset is a beautiful county and considering some of the parts of the UK we might have to live in we're very lucky to be here.
However when you've been born and bred a Yorkshire lass sometimes nowhere else quite hits the spot and you do have to return every now and then for a fix. Nigel always says I'm pining for the fjords as in Monty Python's Norwegian Blue Parrot sketch.
On the Friday morning the house had a highly charged energy of excitement about it. Nick and Lou were setting off on their school trip to Normandy at 8am, Sarah had school but then was going out to a 'Youngsters Night' at a local night club in the evening which was to be the event of the year and we were due to head off up that road Yorkshire bound
All went according to plan until the man of the house announced he had to go into work for a meeting with some German suppliers that had been postponed from the day before because of flight delays! As you can imagine I was considerably less than pleased - especially when the 'hour' turned into several so that we didn't set off until 11.45 am - grrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!
Anyway we finally did get on up that road and after delays on the M6 necessitating a detour through the Cheshire sunshine we arrived at my sisters at around 6pm
However we did then come across another snag - the key she'd left under the mat wouldn't open the door - she was already three quarters of the way to the Lake District so we arranged to drive up the A65 and meet her halfway at Hellifield to replace it with her door key which would work.
Keys duly exchanged and her present passed over she sped off to retrace her steps to her boyfriends house and we took the opportunity for DH to have a look at Hellifield station with its preserved wrought iron canopy - fix number one for him!
However the weather was a whole different story the next day as the same photo twelve hours later shows - not quite so beautiful in the rain!
But undeterred we had a leisurely breakfast and headed off to the outskirts of Bradford and then Leeds to feed our habits - first the model train shop and then a couple of stitching establishments, firstly a haberdashery place where all sorts of treasures were acquired - pelmet vilene (well I might like to have a go at some postcards) zips for bags and purses, flower buttons - just because and other similar treasures. Then secondly a fabric place in an old mill where I found a huge bag of patchwork fabric samples generally measuring around the size of a fat eighth which were up for grabs being sold by weight at 1p per gramme. I managed to fill a bag with a kilo of fabric for a tenner and I reckon there's a good 7 or 8 metres in there so that was a real bargain. I'll show you some of this treasure in a later post when I've had the chance to take a photo or three.
Once we'd finished raiding the shops we headed back to our home for the weekend via the village I grew up in and managed to take in a flying visit to my sister's Godparents who are my parents oldest friends. They are in their very late 70s and lost their only child Rachel, my dear friend, in a car accident almost 30 years ago when she was 20. My brother, sister and I have been like surrogate children to them through the years and each time I visit them I never know if it will be the last as they are getting elderly and have had some illness. Despite the fact we didn't have our three youngsters with us it was a real delight for them to see us, it made their week so I'm so glad we took the time out to call in
Saturday night saw us heading up that A65 again to a pub near Kirby Lonsdale (not that far from Karol-Ann's - we passed the sign for her village) to have a meal with my sister and her partner Dave who we were meeting for the first time. She was absolutely delighted with her Rose wallhanging I'm pleased to say. The meal was delicious but the drive home through some pretty horrendous rain was a little hairy - especially as Nigel and I have the agreement that we share the driving when we go out at night : he drives to the pub and I drive home!
Sunday was a very mixed day weatherwise - we'd go from glorious sunshine to torrential rain at the drop of a hat.
I managed a visit to Embsay Mills where all the Rowan fabric was on sale at £4 and £5 per metre so I stocked up with that and a couple of horse fat quarters to use in the next project for my sister's birthday in November. Photos of this fabric to follow too.
Here's a shot taken when we stopped the car at the top of the divide between the Aire and the Wharfe valleys to look around - this Moorland Jock, as these sheep are affectionately known locally, was obviously very used to people stopping and she stood very still for the paparazzi!!!
Visits to Yorkshire inevitably end up as a sort of pilgrimage for me revisiting old favourites and I must say Nigel is incredibly indulgent with me.
This time we'd heard that Strid Wood near Bolton Abbey had incorporated a Sculpture Trail through the woods and I really wanted to go for a 'look-see' as I previously lived in a cottage in these woods with my former partner George who worked as a Pest Controller on the Duke of Devonshire's estate
Here is that cottage not much changed from when I lived there 20 years ago - hard to believe all that time has gone by - the garden is a little different though.
The rain had certainly put the river into spate and the water was very brown with the peat from the moors - it bore a striking resemblence to beer churning on down the valley
Here you can see The Strid where the river is forced through a narrow gap in the rocks which it is possible to jump across if you were that foolish because over the years many have been drowned in the attempt. The water is usually much lower and, if you're unlucky enough to fall in, the current drags you under the overhanging rocks where it's impossible to get enought strength to battle against the current back up to the surface again.
When George and I lived in the cottage we did have one incident where a party of Japanese students had been visiting The Strid whilst the river was in spate and as high as this. Unfortunately one of the girls slipped and fell in but luckily the high water kept her buoyant above the rock overhangs and her friends managed to drag her out to safety a few yards further down stream. Her party brought her dripping to our front door as we were the first house on the way back to the car park begging dry clothes and somewhere to change. I don't think she'll ever realise just how lucky she was not to perish.
The only other time I knew of anyone surviving a dip at this point was a story told by the old lady who was the previous occupant of our cottage. Apparently one summer's evening after a prolongued wet spell she had a knock on her door to find a man very distraught as his wife had fallen into The Strid and disappeared. The police were duly called and had just started to take details from him to start a search when there was another knock on the door. There on the doorstep was the lady in question who, it transpired, had been pushed in by the husband - bet he was shocked to say the least! Strangely she refused to press any charges against him - I'm not sure, if I were in his shoes, I'd have slept easy in my bed each night after that!
But back to the walk - the weather continued to swap from wet to dry and back again for the entire 3.5 miles which we broke nicely in the middle at a cafe to enjoy some beautiful home made cream of tomato soup
And a picture of the aqueduct we crossed over to transfer to the other side of the river at the top end of the walk which went down one side of the river and back up the other - the Victorians made the most functional things an object of beauty.
Once back to the car and totally soaked we decided to head for a tea room in the outbuildings of a nearby farm for a cuppa and a cake - the farmer is a big model train fan, much to Nigel's delight and has christened the tearoom 'Buffers' because of the train layouts up on a mezzanine floor above the cafe tables - another fix for Nigel then.
After this we headed back to where we were staying but stopped on spec to call on an old schoolfriend of mine we haven't seen for about three years.
Bless them we certainly didn't pick a particularly good time to call as they were in the middle of packing boxes to put all their worldly goods into storage in preparation for the builders moving in mid July to add a whole upstairs to their bungalow. Nevertheless it was lovely to catch up with them and we persuaded them to come down and visit us here in Taunton with their 7 yr old daughter in the autumn.
And all too soon it was Monday morning and the great treck back down the country to our little corner of Somerset
A wonderful weekend but it would be nice to be able to beam ourselves up there 'Star Trek' style to avoid five plus hours each way on congested British motorways.