Yes, I was looking back through my Albums on Flickr, those days when we were confined to our homes, with just an hour to walk in the park. I took photos of each full moon, and the first daffodils of 2020 - and I've not been to Heaton Park since! I walked along the crappy Irk and the Irwell, took shots of the eerily empty streets of Prestwich and of the queues outside Tesco's.
In May 2020, the restrictions were lifted enough to allow travel 20 miles, and I drove to the White House pub (closed of course) at Blackstone Edge, and just sneaked across the border into Yorkshire. Later, I could go to Wharfedale and Ribblehead, with just the six-in-a-group restriction. In July, as soon as this was possible, I stayed at a B&B in Swanage and, on the 11th, I was present at Swanage CC the day cricket was at last permitted. The photos bring back the memories very strongly.
Two years later, we are still hedged in with restrictions, I still can't get to see my doctor. Is he even alive? In the country? Our rulers are reluctant to free us from the rules they introduced, for our benefit of course...and they clearly didn't apply to them, personally. Boris could party, but you couldn't go to your dad's funeral.
I will be travelling to Yorkshire again next week to take some Autumn photos, but I have to say it's my least favourite time of the whole year, October and November, I have cancelled my trip to St Lucia because of the Covid restrictions there - mask-wearing on public transport and in crowded places. What sort of holiday is that? Plus I can't afford the insurance any more, and if they don't allow you on the aircraft because you've got a temperature, you're screwed. I might have a week in the Canaries, sometime. Never been there.
When I looked on the Webcam for Ribblehead first thing this morning it was light rain. at the moment it seems to be brewing up to a storm'
The last time I travelled on the settle to Carlisle rail, pulled by steam was a 65th birthday treat for my wife. Who says romance is dead?
For my wife's 60th birthday I bought her a Senior Railcard, drove to Wales, travelled down the west coast, over all the estuaries and viaducts, stopovers at Port Merion, Aberystwyth etc., beautiful views we'd previously seen fleetingly from the car. There's a theme here but I'm not obsessed with trains.
The first time however that we'd travelled on the Settle to Carlisle line was about twenty-five years ago. The two of us and our 8-year-old daughter each had our own backpacks, made our way along the line and on to Glasgow. Went to several sites there, afternoon tea at the (Macintosh ) Willow Tea Rooms and early next morning we caught the airport bus. Got on a tiny plane and flew to the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides. Landed on the beach in Cockleshell Bay - the only schedules flights where the schedule is set by the tides. For those of you who are old enough Barra is the Island upon which Sir Compton McKenzie based his book (later Film) Whiskey Galore - this was based on a real event when
(I think) the ship SS Politician) ran aground and 'freed' thousands of bottles of whiskey to the grateful islanders. Stayed in the Isle of Barra Hotel, right on the beach and where the Highland and Islands council had their 'meetings' There is at first glance nothing to do on the Isle of Barra. but nothing could be further from the truth, there's plenty to do, especially when you have an 8-year-old child with you.
After 5 days there caught the Cal-Mac ferry to Oban and on with our adventure
Some years later I arranged a funeral for my late uncle, who lived in York. He was not a religious person but in his writings was a quotation from Tom Paine (a revolutionary who spent some time in America) and who wrote ' Rights of man' at about the time of the French Revolution. The quote was ' My fellow man is my religion' - so for my late uncle I managed to arrange a Humanist service and made contact with a Humanist speaker who lived in Doncaster (Humanists do not believe in God but their ethos, if I can put it this wa,y is that people live on in all our memories.
It was a brilliant service, and I spent some time talking with the speaker who coincidently was born on the Isle of Barra. He told me the tale of one of his cousins who died on the Isle from Aluminium poisoning and which for some time was a great mystery. It appears that some of the contraband whiskey bottles were hidden in the peat and the action of the acidic peat dissolved some aluminium from the bottle caps into the whiskey itself turning it slightly milky. Straining it through cloth removed most of the cloudy stuff but not enough.
My wife and I have been back to Barra and on this occasion flying from Stornoway - we must go back again though, lovely people.
I had meant to say something brief, so I'll just finish by refering to the Canaries as mentioned by Dave morton. Again some years ago I'd been working hard and at the same time trying to complete my professional exams. It was late September and i was being taxi's home when I got into conversation with the driver. We spoke about holidays and where we liked to go, I said "Well it's a bit late this year to go anywhere warm" and he mentioned the Canaries. "Oh, where's that then"? The rest is history, temperate climate all year round, we were actually there for Nov 5th ( there were fireworks), great value for money and more than one Island. We went to Tenerife, big Island, Volcano. tropical north and desert south. Also had a hydrofoil trip to La Gomera , which was sparsely populated but wonderful , totally different. great for photography
I'd better stop now but would just mention that Tom Paine is himself mentioned in 'All along the watchtower' ( written Bob Dylan, best version Jimmy Hendrix)
One of my wife's favourite walks (or the Cleveland Way in stages) while I'm at cricket. If it rains or cricket finishes in 3 days then I walk with her. Coffee at either end too. My wife says, " Oh, to sit in the Rievaulx cafe and look out of the large picture window, heaven." Often drop her off at Helmsley on the way through, drop bags off at Wykeham and on to cricket.
I did that walk years ago, the start of the Cleveland Way, which we set out to do properly, carrying tents and food and a stove. From Rievaulx we walked uphill for hours on a blazing hot day, towards Cold Kirby. We were dreaming of a pint or an ice-cream when we got there...and there was nothing. I would have gladly nuked the place.
The next leg was better, as we walked from Sutton Bank along the edge, all day. Great views, but there was a drought - nothing to fill our water bottles, every stream dry. After a couple of days we cheated and took a bus to the coast.
I'm tempted to give it a go over a few weeks early next spring, though I may be kicking it into the long grass already by not doing it now.
There's the bit between Rievaulx and Sutton Bank and also between Bloworth crossing and Roseberry topping that I've never done, otherwise it's pretty familiar. The coastal sections are easy enough to split up into bitesize day walks using public transport, but the chunk from Sutton Bank to Guisborough will need some planning.
Bradford is not known as a tourism centre but I can strongly recommend Saltaire, Salts Mill, the Hockney Gallery, Roberts Park and the Half Moon Cafe in the park. Lovely autumnal weather so we sat out eating excellent sandwiches and drinking very good coffee overlooking Saltaire CC and its attractive old pavilion. Mentions of Sydney Barnes and local man Jim Laker in the park and cafe. There are now roads named after Brian Close and Laker in the area.
Could not agree more (my wife added, 'excellent coffee in the Opera cafe at Salts Mill, particularly on a Sunday morning with the papers'). And maybe a walk along the canal side to Five Rise Locks, Bingley, watching the football games and rowers in the river below
Speaking of Hartlepool, on the soccer thread, we actually spent 2 nights there, at the Travelodge. Glamour! But there is a really good Royal Navy museum there with a fully rigged vessel, a marina with a very good fish and chip shop, an interesting old town which even has a statue of Andy Capp. Saw the soccer ground but these days you cant just walk round.
On Friday evening after a full day out I started to watch the England World Cup game v USA and found it a bit boring, to me a nailed-on draw so searched for something better. I found a nugget :
The Scottish Isle that won the Lottery
The Isle in question is North Uist, part of the Outer Hebrides (or Long Isle) and which my wife and I had first visited nearly 50 years ago. Briefly in the North is Harris/Lewis separated by sea then three Isles of North Uist/Benbecula/South Uist (separated by causeways) and finally the Isle of Bara and which I've mentioned briefly before. North and South Uist have similar populations of just over 1,000 each, the smaller Benbecula has an airport. Most people who are able to work have several jobs, often working their crofts or smallholdings to grow food mostly for themselves but might also be a postman, carpenter, taxi-driver shopkeeper. Everyone knows everyone else's business, people aren't wealthy but, generous, welcoming and there is a strong sense of community. Must go back
The Isles are beautiful though if you looked at North Uist from the air it would look almost like a doily with bits of land interspersed with open
water. the western seaboards of the Uists are long golden white beaches with very clear blue green water. There are Viking remains and even older stone circles (older than the more famous one on Wiltshire) Watching the programme made me think back to what a great place it is, not just the scenery but the people and community. Really must make the effort and go back again.
Anyway, the postcode of North Uist won the Postcode lottery and with dozens of winners with individual amounts between about £23,000 and £184,000, everyone who won was known to everyone. Most people didn't know what to do with their winnings as although they have never had much money, they had all the basics they needed. One person splashed out on a very modest table-top freezer
One person who won £45,000 has a daughter who is a teacher and lives in Glasgow and gave her £30,000 to help her buy a home there (In the holidays she would come back to the Uists to help on the croft).
Her father said rather wistfully that children would leave the Isles for the big cities, for secure employment and hopefully many would return to the Isles.
One person, 83-year-old Duncan, spent most of his time cutting peat with a special 100-year-old spade, which enabled him to cut, turn and stack the peat to dry in one action. He thought carefully before deciding to buy a new wheelbarrow as his old one had been worn out. there wasn't a local hardware store so he travelled over the causeway to Benbecula to buy it. He actually helped to build the causeays in the 1960's, before then access was normally only at low tide, like the Holy Ilse off the Northumberland coast) - He bought the barrow and new pans, spent £145 in total
Duncan also needed a new fire-side chair as he had repaired his existing one so many times it was more repair than original chair. he wanted a recliner which could also spin round. There are no furniture shops on North Uist, so he needed to go on-line. fortunateley his friend had internet access and he carefully selected a chair, taking note of the measurements, to make sure it would fit through his doorway, it came from the mainland on a big lorry via the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry (Cal-Mac for short) .Final shot was Duncan reclining in his new chair by the side of his peat fire and pleased that it had two cup-holders.
I'd thought back to all those years ago when we'd walked down the Uists, mostly on the west coast of the Isles, on golden beaches with crystal clear blue green water. One stretch on South Uist was then basically a rocket range for testing military equipment (if you saw any remains on the beaches with you were advised not to touch them). On our last day before Cal-Macking to Bara, we walked many miles and for the final 8 we were accompanied by a dog that had adopted us. When we arrived at the croft for our night's stay, the crofter said, " Oh we know the owner, we'll return it" before showing us round the croft, pointing out the view and binoculars that we could use to watch the dolphins, seals and sea otters in the bay. They then said, "You must be tired after such a walk, you'll be ready for a shower unless you'd like a bath in which case I'll put more peat on the fire"
Magic, that's something we could do again, must go back.