Sunday, November 27, 2022

Waking up to sunshine in Sowerby Bridge, Hebden Bridge, visiting Heaton Grove and Bradford Grammar School, meeting Michael at Betty's in Harrogate, to sleep like a "Siberian marmot", goodbye Yorkshire, home again, my DNA ethnicity revealed and other stories.

Home again, Sunday 27th November, 2022 

I got a very warm welcome from Simon the headmaster of Bradford Grammar School. Here in the heart of the school, the Price Hall, when I visited on Monday. 

Good morning friends and readers. I can't believe I'm home again. My 7 days in Yorkshire flew past. It's never enough but I packed a lot in. Let me tell you about it. 

Last Sunday I woke up in Sowerby Bridge. Amanda's brother Simon and his wife Gill were the perfect hosts and my goodness what an amazing house they have. Their hospitality was top notch and it was a wonderful feeling to be their guest. I felt so welcome. So thank you for everything. I was up at 6 am and when it got light the sun came out - possibly the first  rays of sun I saw during my 7 day stay. I went out into their amazing garden to feast my eyes on all the beauty around me. It was a tonic to start the day that way. Here are some photos so you get the gist of what I am trying to express.

Simon and Gill's wonderful house and garden in Sowerby Bridge
It was the perfect weather for a walk, my first and last if you don't count walking in the rain shopping in Leeds on my second day in Yorkshire.

My friends took us to Baitings Reservoir which must be a favourite walk for them. Oh how lucky they are as the setting and views of the Pennines are a sight for sore eyes. It was sunny but blustery and rather cold for me, despite wearing 3 layers of clothes, hahahaha. Amanda was the photographer that day and here is one of the photos she took of us to remember it.
At Baitings Reservoir last Sunday

From the reservoir which wasn't very full  we set off to Hebden Bridge. It is a large village which is quite upmarket and a bit of a tourist destination. I think my first date was there many years ago. It was Kevin W. who took me there. He only found out after a couple of dates that my father was actually his teacher at Bradford Grammar School and was horrified hahahhaha. I had been back once I think but loved it last Sunday as it was full of life. It's quite the cultural centre of the area and is apparently Britain's lesbian capital. Sadly, though, it is also famous for its suicide rate, something Simon told us. This article explains more.  The real reason is drugs. That is why the local police call it "Happy Valley". A famous Yorkshire detective series is actually set there and also called "Happy Valley". So Hebden Bridge,  that picturesque  little Yorkshire town which seems very vibrant has a very dark side to it. 

We didn't see the dark side and felt like tourists. We parked at the station and walked into the centre through a beautiful park and across the Rochdale Canal. I love the canals in Yorkshire built during the Industrial Revolution and I love the locks too like the one in the picture below that Amanda took. 
By the canal in Hebden Bridge last Sunday
The place was thronging with people and lots was going on. What was good was that the shops were open so we could escape the cold and wonder in and out of beautiful shops like the one below. 
One of the beautiful shops in Hebden Bridge
I loved the cobbled streets too which felt like the setting for the Hovis advert  which only those my age will remember. 

The main street in Hebden Bridge last Sunday
I couldn't quite believe people were eating outside but that's Yorkshre folk for you. They are made of stronger stuff.  There was an outdoor market open too and I would have bought lots of things if I had been staying longer or had more room in my suitcase. I only wish I had bought a great big mug with the wording  "Yorkshire born and bred" which I am not actually. Sarcastically, Simon told me another version and it is "Yorkshire born and Yorkshire bred, strong in the arm and thick in the head" which I completely disagree with. Yorkshire people are the best in England my friends and the warmest. 

A table was booked at the White Lion pub. Thus I was able to experience one pub lunch during my week in Yorkshire. It was a great one too, as most are. The food was divine but we were all very good and only had a mains. I would have died for the sticky toffee pudding but had to resist because of my diet of course.

Soon it was time to part ways and say our goodbyes. Simon was taking Amanda back to Sowerby Bridge from where she would get her car and drive all the way back to Devon - at least 8 hours and in the dark. Gill, very kindly, drove me to Keighley where I was to spend the last 3 nights of my stay. We arrived in pouring rain but soon I was inside Kathy and Phil's lovely warm lounge where the fire was blazing. Phil and Kathy are not just wonderful hosts, they feel like family to me. Thank you my dear friends. 

We spent the whole time chatting, from about 5 pm until we went to bed at around 11.  As Kathy said "Oh I could talk for England". Well, as you know, I can too hahahaha.

Monday morning came and it was to be a memorable one. I had arranged a quick visit to Bradford Grammar School where my father taught from 1964 for 20 years. I went to have tea with the headmaster, Simon, who has been such a support since I first got in touch with him when my father turned 100. 

I took a taxi and asked it to stop outside our old house - 6 Heaton Grove  - on Manningham Lane; about a 10 minute walk to the school, a walk my father did every day he went to work. We moved there in 1964 and my father, Charles Courtenay Lloyd, lived there until 2005 when he moved to Spain to live with us. Oh that house was such a vibrant, international home where everyone was welcome. My mother would be proud of my renting out rooms to people from all corners of the world. In my youth my very progressive and welcoming parents - mostly my Russian born mother -  let me bring anyone I wanted home to visit, to eat, to sleep, whatever. Everyone was welcome. So in my teenage years I would hold parties, big parties, nearly every weekend. My best friend Amanda's brother Simon was a BGS pupil and that's how our friends, our gang, our crowd, boyfriends and flings were sourced from the school. It was a bit awkward sometimes because my father was their teacher. He would often hide  but my mother loved all our gang and would prepare food for us at midnight, all of us sitting round the long pink formica table in our huge kitchen. Those were the days, my friends. My parties were so successful I even needed a gatekeeper. That was Mark Ashley, one of the school's best rugby players. Anyone reading this who came to the Lloyd's Heaton Grove parties would agree they were the place to be in the 70's in Bradford. 

As I stood outside "my house" in the rain of dark November, I had so much to reflect on. Heaton Grove was really a happy place, an unusual home to be brought up in rather conservative England for those days. This the house, the only house I have ever felt a real  attachment to. It had 4 floors, 20 rooms but just one bathroom and one separate "bog" which my brother and I used to fight over. Today, houses have en suite bedrooms but not back then when it wasn't even an issue. You will have seen 6 Heaton Grove before but  here it is as seen on Monday morning in the rain, still as solid as ever, with its wonderful Yorkshire stone. These houses were built for German wool merchants during the Industrial Revoloution and are magnificent still today. 
Happy memories of Heaton Grove
From my old house, I consciously walked in my father's footsteps to his old school. Everything was so  emotionally  familiar to me. When I left England in 1981 or went to University in 1976, all I wanted was to get out of Bradford which I hated (the city, not the county) but now in my golden years going "home" is so nostalgic. Walking along Heaton Grove and then on to Manningham Lane, opposite Frizinghall meant so much to me and reminded me of my own walks to school, SJC, a bit further along from BGS. First I walked past the entrance to what we used to call "the snicket" - a quarter mile narrow, steep path which leads to Heaton. It's a bit of an eerie path but I had to have a photo.
The snicket by Heaton Grove

I also walked past The Turf (pub) where I spent many an evening which is now  a curry house. It is right across  the entrance to  Lister Park which is so beautiful. Built by Sir Titus Salt who gave fame to Saltaire, I was flooded with memories.
The entrance on Elm Hill to Lister Park on Manningham Lane
As to the school, well, it is magnificent. This is how I saw it last Monday morning. It is, I think, Bradford's saving grace. What a place to go to school to. 
Bradford Grammar School as seen on Monday morning
It was not my school but I feel intimately linked to it because of my father and all my old friends (and boy friends, hahahaha). I was there to see the headmaster Simon who is  a very busy man but made me feel so welcome. He made it feel like home and it is in a way.

We sat and had tea and coffee in his lovely office and had lots to catch up on since we had last met for my father's memorial events back in May. I wanted to know all about the arrival of King Charles in his helicopter on 8th November. I only later reaalised that he had visited on the 1st anniversary of my father's death. But what an honour for the school. Simon explained that royalty always use the grounds for landing there when visiting the area. Apparently though, the school is not allowed to publicise the fact. But when the school posted a couple of pictures on Twitter, the local paper, The T&A, caught whiff and it made headline news and so it should except that Simon got into trouble with the Palace hahaha. This is the photo he took when the King arrived with all his detail. 
King Charles arriving at BGS this month
Normally royalty use the grounds to land but don't visit the school. But on this occasion the King wanted to (nice gesture). Instead of taking him inside to meet the staff, Simon suggested he greet the boys and girls who were all outside waiting for him with their little British flags. He spent 20 minutes there, longer than his programme allowed, to the joy of the pupils. Thus Simon never got a photo with him. He did with me though, hahahhaa, and I have chosen it as this week's feature photo.  Also because, bless him, Simon reads my blog.

Simon had more news for me. He had been up to London for an Old Boys dinner that weekend where an illustrious old pupil, Sir Stephen Morris, now a high court judge, gave a speech where he mentioned my father who he said had a big influence on him. Imagine how my heart swelled hearing that. Then totally coincidentally, Simon also included my father in his speech, about the strength of the larger BGS family which I think he now includes me in. He showed me the seating plans for the dinner and I recognised the name of one of  my first boyfriends. I will not go into details. Suffice it to say he was drop dead gorgeous at the time. 

Over tea in Simon's office, I had a favour to ask. One day I want my grandchildren to spend a month or a term at my father's old school, so as to get a complete immersion into an English school and improve their knowledge of my mother tongue. I got a resounding "yes". Thank you so much Simon. I would love Elliot and Juliet to have even a fleeting experience of what it is like to go to Bradford Grammar School where their great grandfather once taught. 

Before leaving we had a photo together in the Price Hall. I know it well too as once I was in a play - yes, Don Quixote - when the school needed girls for the female roles and of course they turned to my school, a  girls only catholic grammar, right next door. 

I left feeling good and very happy. The next item on the agenda was visiting the city centre, to do more shopping at M&S. Phil and Kathy were to pick me up so until they arrived, I walked into the city as my father did thousands of time. I didn't used to when I lived in Bradford,  preferring to go by bus, but on Monday I wanted to walk. Once in Bradford, once again I was flooded with memories, this time of shopping with my Mother. We would go into her bank - Barclays where she would get lots of cash out. Then we would go to C&A to buy clothes.  I particularly remember buying "midi" and "maxi" skirts there which probably looked awful on me as I was short and dumpy then - probably still am. Then she would take me to the Acropolis a semi Greek cafe where I loved to order a "rum barbar" which probably added to my being so "dumpy". She would have loved the new Broadway shopping centre. But I would have preferred to be able to go Busby's or Brown and Muffs.Never mind, Broadway would have to do. 

While shopping, I was completely ignorant to the fact that England was playing their first match in this year's very controversial World Cup being held in corrupt and repressive Qatar of all places where not just homosexuality is equal to a prison sentence but where human rights are ignored and alcohol is banned. England has an easy group (Iran, USA and Wales). Spain's group is tougher that includes Costa Rica. Japan and Germany). Well, in Monday's match where classes stopped for BGS pupils to watch from The Price Hall, what was music to my ears was that the Iranian players refused to sing their national anthem. This was of course their sign of  support for the pro freedom demonstrations in their home country. I wrote to my Iranian guest, Shabnam "there is hope". I wonder though what that means for them when they get home; big trouble I think; so they were very very brave. On the other side of the coin, neither the British nor the Welsh team wore their armbands in support of gay rights which they were supposed to do. England beating Iran 6-2 was not the news. The news was that they bowed to FIFA and the corrupt Qatari government by not wearing the arm bands. 

But back to my shopping that morning as a free woman in the western world - lucky me. At M&S, often called Marks and Sparks -  I bought more clothes and lingerie and then had a quick foray into Boots to get more (not really) "essentials". Coffee was at Esquire's Cafe where the coffee looks more like dirty water. I also went  into the Food Store where I picked up some healthy "nibbles" to contribute to lunch at Kathy's sister's  house later in the afternoon.

Liz, who also reads my blog, bless her, had kindly invited us over and we spent a very pleasant afternoon and evening with her catching up on lots of family stuff.

It was early to bed again and I slept well. Tuesday came and it was my last full day in Yorkshire. My last day in Yorkshire was to be in Harrogate, one of the "poshest" towns not only in Yorkshire but in England.  If you haven't been, go, it's beautiful. I was to meet Michael (Forte) at Betty's (of course) for lunch. Michael was my father's pupil of Russian at BGS and we had last met 50 years ago!!!!! We had been in touch but had not seen each other. He has fond memories of my father and we would have lots to talk about. 

But first for a bit of shopping in the town. Phil and Kathy drove me there, bless them, and also had lunch out. We parked at the Victoria centre in a multi story car park. They were keen to go into TK Maxx  - an all sorts of type shop where you can find bargains. I was more interested in visiting WH Smiths, another British shop I love. There I bought Christmas present stickers and a set of cards for any occasion. I wandered out onto Cambridge Street with lots of enticing shops. I promise I did not mean to buy any more clothes but could not resist a jumper I saw at Next - not a shop I usually go into. It was just so colourful. This is it.
The  jumper I bought at Next in Harrogate
I had the assistance of a girl called "Misha" (I'm Masha) so she was obviously of Russian origin which made for an interesting encounter. I walked out feeling good again. There is nothing like buying clothes that look good on you to give you an uplift.

I didn't need an uplift that morning as just being in Harrogate, knowing I was going to my beloved Betty's to meet an old friend from 50 years ago, was enough to make me feel on top of the world. I went early to queue up and make sure we got a seat in the first dining room looking out on the Cenotaph rather than being ushered to the downstairs dining room where there are no windows. That room meant a lot to me as years ago,  before Eladio and I were married I took him there for tea one afternoon at around Christmas time. I have a photo somewhere of me in a white jumper with my long hair smoking (impossible today) while my dear future husband kept taking photos of me. Was I aware then I wonder if we would still be together in our old age? I don't know. All I know was that I was deeply in love with him then and still am today. I feel lucky. I had to wait for my table of course but I had plenty of time so looked at the beautiful window display where you want to buy everything but can't. I did though get some fondant cakes for the girls. 
Beautiful Betty's in Harrogate
Michael was bang on time and it was lovely to see him again. I told him he looked drop dead gorgeous - he really is a good looking man with beautiful blue eyes. He paid me the same compliment. I don't look bad but OMG I hate my wrinkles hahahaha. In 50 years, we had aged of course; gracefully I like to think. 

We both ordered tea and fish and chips. I hadn't had any while in Yorkshire and this was my chance. I got the waitress to take a photo of us. This is one of them to remember the moment.
Lunch with Michael at Betty's in Harrogate on Tuesday. 
Would you believe we talked so much I couldn't even finish my delicious fish and chips? We had so much to say and not much time. Honestly we could have talked all night I think. We have a lot in common; our roots, my father, his teachers at BGS, our own careers but not our education. Michael got a scholarship to study Russian at Oxford. I was never good enough even to contemplate going there but then again BGS was an Oxbridge conveyor belt and the teachers were so much better than mine at SJC. But I didn't do too badly getting a 2.1 in Hispanic Studies at Nottingham. Before leaving we took a photo of each other. This is Michael and below a radiant me. What a wonderful reunion. We have agreed we won't wait another 50 years hahahhaa.

Michael and I at Betty's on Tuesday
Dear Michael kindly walked me back to the Victoria Centre where Phil and Kath were waiting for me. We hugged and parted until we meet again which I hope is soon.

It's about a 45 minute drive home to my friends' house in Utley (Kieghley) and we were soon home with our purchases. As usual I got dressed for the evening, aka putting on my pyjamas,  so as to curl up on one of my friends' comfortable sofas in their front lounge. They put the fire on which I have to show you as it is such a beautiful fire place. It made the atmosphere cozy and warm. Thank you Phil and Kathy once again for your amazing hospitality.
Phil and Kath's fire place - love it
I sat with a glass of wine I nursed all night until unbelievably I was hungry again. Kath prepared me some ham and salad and life was good. We watched the BBC 10 o'clock news and it was dire - rail strikes,  nurses' strikes, rising prices and of course the World Cup. Would you believe the BBC did not cover the opening ceremony? Good for them I thought. 

My eyes were shutting just before 11 pm and that night I slept, to quote my father, "like a Siberian Marmot. You probably don't know the expression. Let me explain. Once when Phil and Kath were staying, Phil asked my father how he had slept and that was his answer. I sort of presumed it was a typical Russian expression he used in English but I later looked it up and it comes from the German "schlafen wie ein murmeltier" but the word Siberian is not used so maybe my father added it for extra emphasis. Apparently a marmot sleeps for 6 months of the year. My father loved words and their origin and I think I do too although I have never studied etymology. Michael has and it was my father who introduced him to the subject. My father was very proud of his Sanskrit etymology book  or dictionary which I'm afraid he threw away when he left Bradford. 

Unlike a Siberian marmot,  I woke up early on Wednesday, the day of my departure, but luckily fell asleep again until 7.30. I woke up to foul weather but I didn't care. 
Dark and wet in Yorkshire on my last day there. 
I had all the time in the world to pack and more, so off we went to Sainsbury's for last minute shopping. I got food for my journey and to take home such as cherry tomatoes, sliced beef and ham, humus, pineapple and mango, as well as Eladio's favourite; "smoked mackerel". I also remembered to get this year's Christmas pudding. I was very luck to find crab meat and got 2 little packets. This would do both for my lunch on the way and our dinner at home and more. Most importantly of all, I got each of my daughters a  packet of jelly babies. Later I would also get some smarties. When they were little my parents who visited us in Spain at Christmas, Easter and in the summer always brought them these very English sweets which they still love today. You see, yet another memory I cherish and a tradition that I have carried on from them. 

Of course I needed another suitcase for everything I had bought in England. Thus Kathy returned the one I had lent her when they left Spain last month. When Raj, from Oxford taxis, arrived at 1 pm or so, he was supposed to bring both of my suitcases down my friends' typically very steep English staircase. Poor Phil who is shortly to have a shoulder operation, carried down the large one. So once again I was standing there saying goodbye to my wonderful friends; my family in Yorkshire. No doubt we shall see each other next year but I always wish we lived near each other.

Raj, who, like Danny (taxi driver from Keighley to Sowerby Bridge), must think I am entertainment as he brought his wife with him for the journey - 1.5h across the Pennines to Manchester airport. We chatted non stop, that is Raj and I. His wife didn't open her mouth. Amazingly, the skies cleared and I enjoyed going over the moors into Lancashire with sheep grazing in the fields - a typical image of Yorkshire. By 2.30 or so I was at Terminal 3 and very shortly through check in. Unbelievably, even security was quite quick. I hate it today. Thanks to Bin Laden and his liquid bombs in the 11th September drama, passengers today can only carry up to 100ml of liquid and it has to go in a clear bag. Then you have to take your belt, watch and boots off, take out all electronic equipment and finally you are standing there feeling as if you are nearly naked. I got through all right but hated the process. I have read it might be soon be the end of liquid allowance and getting out your laptop etc, owing to new scanners being introduced. 

Meanwhile, my daughter Olivia and family were having a grand time in Valencia where they went for a week. Neither Eladio nor I knew they were there until Oli sent us some lovely pictures taken at Bioparc (a sort of humane zoo). They are so lovely that I have to share them with you. Ah and there is another one where Oli, Elliot and Juliet are all eating pop corn. So funny!

Oli and family having a good time in Valencia this week
I only wished I could be with them and not in the departure lounge of Terminal 3 at dreary Manchester airport. I somehow whittled the time away and amazingly my Ryan Air flight was actually early. Thus I arrived after a very boring journey at 8.30 Spanish time instead of 9 pm. As I am a seasoned traveler, I was through passport control really easily. The best news when I switched my phone on was to see Spain had thrashed Costa Rica 7-0 in their opening match. I also read Germany had been defeated by Japan in another surprise defeat, similar to Argentina. Maybe Spain's opener was a fluke. We will see. 

Once in the baggage retrieval lounge I couldn't believe my eyes that the Manchester flight carousel was already in motion and my suitcases were there before my eyes. I only had to walk out of the old Terminal 1 (the fastest) and up to Departures where it is easier to pick people up from. And there was my dear husband arriving in our old Volvo just as I walked outside. So, a really smooth journey indeed. Ryan Air did an unpleasant job quite well.

It was much warmer in Madrid - 13c at 9 pm - which felt veritably warm compared to Yorkshire. Once again I reflected that one of the main reasons for living in Spain is the weather. We were soon on an empty M11 and M40 and within half an hour we were home. Dear Pippa went ecstatic when she saw me - me too to tell the truth. Eladio took all my luggage upstairs, bless him and I just got out the Sainsbury's food for our dinner as our cupboards were completely bare. 

It took me a while to unpack as I had so much luggage. I so enjoyed my shopping spree mostly at M&S, Boots, Sainsbury's and Next. I now have new clothes and underwear which should last years. I must remember to throw my old knickers away now.

I managed to sleep rather well, not quite as well as a "Siberian Marmot" but I wasn't complaining. I was up at 6.45 on Thursday morning and you know what? It was not raining and the sun came out later. That's Spain for you. 

I woke up to a quiet house with only one guest - Roger. Pilar came on Friday and left this morning. I got more last minute guests so the house has been full this weekend which is amazing for November.  Tomorrow I have a new guest who is bringing a great big Harley Davidson. He wanted a place with a garage for it so I suppose that is why he chose our house.  

We should have gone for a walk but had to do the weekly shop as there was not one piece of fruit left. Off we went at around 10.30 and went straight for Mercadona. From there we drove to Alverán for our morning coffee which we had inside as it wasn't really warm enough to be outdoors. Our last stop was at Carrefour Market for the gourmet stuff and by 12ish we were home. 

I left Lucy to unpack and make our lunch as I had an important job to do; renew my British passport online as it had been pointed out to me at Manchester Airport that it runs out in August. As I filled out the form online I read that it can take up to 10 weeks or more. Luckily, I now have a Spanish passport if I want to travel while the renewal is being processed. The only difficult part was getting past the photo check. Eladio tried several times until one was finally approved as "good". I didn't think it was good; it was awful. Smiling is not allowed and your mouth must be shut. Thus this ghastly photo of me looking rather down although I didn't feel it. I will now have to live with this photo on my new passport for 10 years. When that runs out I will be 75!!!! OMG: 

The awful photo for my new passport
I have kept my first passports, probably like many of you do, and dug out my very first or maybe second; I don't know. In any case it was issued in 1973 when I was just 16. So, wait for it  - 49 years ago, I looked like this; a bit down in the mouth too but so, so young. 
My 1973-1983 passport which I still have. 
Where have the years gone? How can I now be facing old age? I don't know. One thing I do know is that I still want to travel as I still have the itchy feet syndrome passed on to me by my parents. Anyway, I finished the process which was quite easy - and placed my current passport into an envelope to send to HM Passport Office in Hemel Hempstead the next day. It had to include a photocopy of my new Spanish passport - every single page even if they are blank and there are over 30 and the cost was 116 pounds which I think is extortionate. 

Lunch was lovely; just the two of us in the dining room served by dear Lucy. I spent a lazy afternoon and watched the beginning of "This England". It is about how Boris Johnson and his government, including Dom Cummings, dealt with Covid and they don't come out looking too good but it all seems so real and so recent. The actor playing Johnson is marvelous and the voice is just his. Makes for chilling watching though. 

Just as we were finishing dinner Suzy arrived back from a 4 day trip to Santa Pola. She came in beaming and looking refreshed. I gave her the jelly babies and smarties I had brought from England, just like my parents used to, and the little Betty's box with 4 mini fondant cakes. Suzy was the one who pointed out that Betty's was founded in 1919, the year my father was born. How uncanny and oh how he loved that Swiss Yorkshire tea room which used to have a branch in Bradford when we first went to live there in 1964. 

Friday came and FB once again showed me memories from the past. One was a photo of me 10 years ago at Yoigo chairing what we used to call "Yoigo Mornings" a sort of staff meeting.  I was wearing the very same M&S blue and off white knitted dress I wore in England this week and it's still going strong. To quote my friend Sandra I am "the woman in stripes". She is right, I love them.  Here I am 10 years younger.

Me 10 years, the Corporate woman in stripes
I wondered to myself if I missed the corporate world and you know what? I do not. It was a battlefield out there, especially for a woman in Spain. I far prefer getting my retirement pension and being an Airbnb and Booking host. I really enjoy it. 

It was Black Friday this week but I didn't take a blind bit of notice. The day also brought some sunshine but I  didn't know if if would last but I did know that we would go on our walk that morning with Pippa. It did last for our walk but was bitterly cold for us at about 10ºc. But I loved the sunshine.
A cold but sunny walk on Friday morning with Eladio and Pippa

My walk was rather interrupted by my hosting business. A Chinese girl called "Sky" began messaging me to rent a room for two this weekend. After a hundred questions, all of which could be answered by actually reading the blurb on the listing, she booked. Sky was coming at 2 then at 4 then at 6 then at 9.30 and finally arrived at 11 pm that night. She messaged me all day, even after her arrival. I was so tired that it was Eladio, for once, who received our new guests. Sky's friend was hilariously called "Weewee" - even he chuckled. They seemed to love the room, especially the almonds, chocolates, flowers, fresh orange juice and filtered water we always provide. She sent me this picture from "The Green Room" - my favourite room, bless her.

Sky, my Chinese guest, happy to be in our house
 After our walk and with the lunch bubbling on the stove and looked after by Lucy - "cocido madrileño" - Eladio and I went out on morning errands. First was coffee together, then a trip to the bank to pay some taxes and then to the post office to send my current passport to Hemel Hempstead. On our way home we stopped at Mercadona to buy essential ready cooked chickpeas for my "cocido".

Just as I got home, I saw a flash message from "My Heritage". They had the results of my DNA ethnicity tests. I was intrigued and couldn't wait to see them. Thus lunch was late. So here is the summary of where my origins come from. Only 11% is English my friends:

My roots revealed after taking the DNA ethnicity test on My Heritage
In order, my origins are from:

North and West Europe: 35.5 % (Germany, France, Netherlands, etc but not Scandinavia) 

East European: 29.3% (Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and neighbouring countries)

Irish, Welsh and Scottish: 20.5 % (My grandfather was Welsh and his mother Irish)

English: 11% 

Balkan: 2.2% (that's a surprise)

Mesoamerican and Andean: 1.5% (the biggest surprise)

What surprised me most was that I am 35.5% North and West European when neither of my parents or grandparents were from there. I had expected English, Welsh, Irish, Russian, Baltic and Scandinavian but not North and West Europe.  I also got some DNA matches to  people  My Heritage have in their data base. They are mostly of distant and very distant relatives. They live all over the world. I have found a few "Sculls", my paternal grandmother's maiden name. My great grandfather had lots of brothers so that may explain it. 

I was so intrigued with the results there was no time for a siesta on Friday. Besides I had medical appointments. At 16.15 I was to have a stand up X-ray of my knees to determine their state vs a vs having an operation on a torn meniscus or not. At 16.50 I was to have a follow up consultation with the traumatologist. He more or less told me my knees have degenerative arthritis and that the issue of the torn meniscus is not as bad as the former. He advised me against an operation if I am not in pain. Well, my friends, I am not, so am very relieved not to have to go through an operation which would have me literally "on my knees" for probably a month. I nearly skipped outside I was so delighted. I shall just have to live with this slight disability

Once home, I had an hour to kill until my final medical appointment. I got my flu and Covid booster jab (Pfizer for once) at 6.30 on the dot. The flu jab was in my left arm and the Pfizer in my right. So far both hurt just a little bit but, thankfully, no other side effects. 

I was home soon but out again later. I had booked a table at La Flaca which opened recently very near our house. We enjoyed a quiet dinner together while in the background we could see England playing the USA. It ended in a boring 0-0. Tonight Spain plays Germany and that will be a tough match.

Saturday dawned and brought more sunshine.  That morning, workers arrived to mend parts of the drive where the tiles are broken - probably because of the weight of the cars. It was in dire need of mending especially as I have now burst a tire twice on my Mini for which I blame the broken tiles.  The problem has been to find the exact same tiles and these are a slightly darker colour. Here is the WIP (work in progress):

Tiles being replaced on the drive yesterday
We had an estimate from them which was very reasonable but as things normally go, it went up as we pointed out more areas of the drive and surrounding the house where more tiles needed replacing. They had finished by lunchtime and until Tuesday or so no car will be allowed on the property. Eladio has made sure of that by placing garden furniture around the mended parts hahahaha. That meant that last night there were 6 cars outside on the street. It's a cul de sac so no worries. I can hardly believe there were 10 people sleeping here last night when I only saw a couple of them. 

The workers who I think were from Ecuador, were still at it when we got back. All I had to do, or so I thought, was to prepare our lunch; coq au vin. Ah but then I was immersed in negotiating a long term stay in December with past guests from Shanghai who want to come again next month. Wow, that means December will be busy too. I remarked to Eladio yesterday that this year has been exceptional with more guests than ever even in the low season. I put this down to people's frenzy to travel after the pandemic. I have no other explanation.

The rest of the day was quiet with not much more to report. Today promises to be so too but next week will be busy again. You can read all about it in next Sunday's post. Cheers till then, my friends,


Sunday, November 20, 2022

Home from Santa Pola, RIP Val, international gathering of guests, off to Yorkshire, shopping in Leeds, visiting my parents' grave, school reunion, Juliet walks and other tales of the week.

West Yorkshire, Sunday 20th November, 2022

Visiting my parents' grave, now with my father's inscription. 

Good morning all from my beloved Yorkshire, the country where I lived from the age of 7 to 18. I may have been born in Cambridge but my English roots are well and truly entrenched in God's Own Country. If I am writing this week from Yorkshire, this time last week I was writing from Santa Pola from our apartment near the beach. 

We were leaving that day after a pleasant 8 nights there, setting it up for the next season and also enjoying our time. The weather was amazing on Sunday; beach weather again but unfortunately it was time to go home.

We set off at around 11 and at 12 on the dot were enjoying a coffee at a run of the mill roadside cafe, By 2 we were sitting down to lunch at Mesón los Rosales where I had the biggest steak I have ever been offered, even in the USA. I ate as much as I could, about half of it, as it was delicious. Eladio had baby goat. I feel too much for goats to eat them. 

We were home just after 5 and I was happy to greet Lili and our Iranian guests, Shabnam and her daughter. She had made home made baklava, a sweet I adore but had to resist because of my diet. My mother and Aunty Masha loved it too and used to make it. That was because they had lived in Bulgaria as children where it is local delicacy.  I have even made it myself, years ago and it is quite fiddly. 

In a short while I had unpacked which was pretty easy as most of the contents of our suitcases went straight into the laundry basket. When I had finished I heard the piano being played, my grandmother's Broadway which had recently been tuned. The player was my Ukranian guest, Iaroslav who I met for the first time. The poor man is from Kiev where he had to stay to fight while his wife and child escaped to the Czech Republic. He can no longer fight as he has a liver problem. He has moved to Spain to live near his 4 year old daughter, a refugee here and used our house to find long term accommodation.  I was awed to meet a Kyvian (is that correct?). When I asked him what it was like, he simply said "war". Of course. I could only sympathise with him and his traumatised daughter. She is a disturbed little girl and my heart went out to her as I led her to play with Juliet and Elliot's toy. I did not see Roger, our Panamian/Canadian guest but I would later,

Suzy was back later and soon we were having a simple dinner together in the dining room. It was early to bed that first night back and oh how comfortable my bed felt.

Monday came and suddenly it was autumn proper; so different from Santa Pola. It was colder, rained on and off and the garden was full of leaves. That got me down a bit as I knew that the was the last of proper sunshine this year. 

The best news of the week came on Monday. Lucy was back from Paraguay. Lucy has been our housekeeper for 3 years and was my father's carer. In the middle of September she had to return to her country - for the first time in 5 years, to take care of her husband who was very ill. Fortunately he is now completely recovered. It was just great to have her back. Things are now back to normal in the daily running of the house. Lili, her niece and substitute, did a good job but it was never the same. She left that day, apparently, to take up a job in Alicante. We wish her well. 

We were one car short as the Volvo was still in the garage so would leave the food shopping until the next day. The highlight of Monday was seeing my grandchildren in the afternoon at Oli's flat. We went in the dark and came home in the rain.  Iaroslav was making his dinner and later we had a chat together. How hard his life is as a Ukranian refugee. It has been difficult for him to find accommodation in Madrid. .The demand for renting is higher than the supply. Shabnam is in the same situation. She has been with us for nearly 3 weeks now and she and Suzy have become fast friends.

It was while I was going up to bed I got a very, very sad message from my friend and former Airbnb guest, Joanna from Lancashire. Her sister Val who I met in Wales had died of cancer aged just 66 on Remembrance Day last week. Joanna  was instrumental in the coming together of my father's book when I was finding out more about my grandfather, Revd. Canon John Collins Lloyd, who was born in Anglesey. It was a huge coincidence to find out that Joanna's older sister, Val, lived there and not just anywhere but in the village made famous for having the second longest name in the world. Even more coincidentally, his first church was there. 

The full name is  Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch and apparently translates into something like St Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel. Apparently "Llan" means church in Welsh. 

My grandfather's first church in Anglesey, St. Mary's,  just happened to be in  Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch  also known as Llanfairpwl for short

My grandfather's first pastoral job  was as a curate there in 1910 for 3 years where he lived at the White Lodge. Val's house is part of what was once the Rectory, a place my grandfather would have gone to many times. So when we went to Anglesey in June 2019 as part of a trip to my father's roots after writing his book, I got to know Val who hosted us with so much enthusiasm and love. From her house there are views of the church and it is a short walk down. I was there so I know and this is a lovely photo I took of the view of the church while at her house 3 years ago.

The view of my grandfather's first church from Val's garden
While in Anglesey, I hosted a marvelous dinner for Joanna, her daughter Elisa and Val as well as Barry and his wife. Barry had helped enormously too with local research. I shall never forget that night when I handed them all a book each. 
The wonderful gathering of new friends, including Val, who made my book come true - Anglesey June 2019. 

I shall never forget either Val's warm welcome to that beautiful part of Wales where my grandfather was born. When I got the very sad message I rang Joanna who was still in Val's lovely house. I was happy to hear there will be a headstone for her at my grandfather's church. Her ashes will be scattered in the Menai Strait by her house and the church. RIP Val. It was a very sad end to the day.

Tuesday had its ups and downs. Suzy left early in the morning to prepare the kids for school when a tire of my Mini burst. That meant Miguel had to come with Elliot to pick her up. She would use his car to take them and Miguel had to go to work by taxi. When Eladio was up he called the insurance company who came to tow the car to a garage. It would be ready by 12 or so they said. Meanwhile we had Miguel's car and did the shopping. Then bad luck struck when we were told the anti tire theft key was missing and only the BMW/Mini garage could do something about it. That meant towing it again - later Eladio found the missing key. But the Mini had to stay there not just to mend or replace the tire but for service.  Not having a car where we live is an issue. 

Thus we stayed the rest of the day at home. We did not go for a walk once again as the weather was foul, at least for me; about 14ºc and raining. I hate the rain although I know it is good for the country.

My Skype call with Amanda was one of the more pleasant moments of Tuesday. We spoke about our plans for this weekend as I am staying with her at her brother Simon's in Sowerby Bridge. But more about that later.

That evening I had something very special to look forward to. Shabnam (Shabby) whose name Eladio can't pronounce - he calls her "Chavi" - Xavi in Spanish - and Suzy had come up with the idea of having an international gathering or dinner that night for all our guests. What a great idea. We would be hosting guests from Canada/Panama, Ukraine and Iran.  Add to that that Lucy is from Paraguay, my own multi cultural roots and Eladio being Spanish, there were more nationalities represented that night than people. Wow what a mixture of cultures. Lucy, Suzy and  Shabnam (means "dew" in Farsi) cooked and I was in charge of laying the table and the general logistics. By 7.30 or so we were all in the kitchen with a drink in our hands.  Soon we were sitting at our dining room table and I welcomed everyone. I thanked our guests for being there and of course made a big mention that our sympathies lie with Iran - freedom for women - and Ukraine - peace. Before we tucked in,  as always, photos had to be taken. Here are two from that very special and very international evening. 

From left to right - Lucy (Paraguay), Suzy, Roger (Panama/Canada), Shabnam (Iran), Ioroslav (Ukraine) and Eladio

A selfie taken before dinner with our international guests
Conversation flowed in Spanish and English and we all learned more about each other. I have to say that being an Airbnb host gives me the great privilege of meeting fascinating people from all over the world. We have had people from every corner of the planet and having someone from Iran and from Ukraine in these troubled times brings their countries' problems more alive than reading the papers. I think everyone at the table had similar thoughts. The evening ended with the last of the Taylor's port wine, singing by Suzy and piano playing by Iaroslav. 

We were in bed early and there was nothing but rubbish on the TV. I took a while to fall asleep and dammit, on Wednesday morning was awake at 5.45 - back to my old habits. 

I woke up to the news of Russian missiles landing in Poland and killing two people and all that could mean.  Later it was confirmed they were actually Ukrainian. Thank God as if they had really been Russian we would technically be at war with Putin. I also woke up to the news that bloody Donald Trumps announced he is running for President again in 2024. I hope he is not voted for as that would be a complete disaster. 

Wednesday was the day of my departure but it would be a very long day as my flight wasn't until 9.30 pm. I got through the dark day somehow and so did poor Eladio who was battling to get both our  cars back from the garages. We left at 6.30, I was at the airport by 7.30 and I thought I had plenty of time except I had not factored in so many long queues for check in, security and getting on the Ryan Air flight, the only airline that flies to Manchester. I was worried that as it was a late flight it might get cancelled but it wasn't. The whole procedure was unpleasant. Flying is not what it was but at least we arrived on time in Manchester. This was the weather when I arrived, not exactly a warm welcome to my birth country but then again it's England and November so it is to be expected.

The forecast for the weather here during my stay
Raj from Oxford taxis in Keighley who charged me more for the ride both ways than my flight had cost, arrived an hour late. It was a challenge finding him but I did. Then the main road to my destination, the M66 was closed for road works so we had to go through Bradford. Thus I didn't get to Phil and Kath's until nearly 2 am (UK time). I was shattered and grateful to Kathy for getting up to let me in and to Raj for taking my huge suitcase upstairs to my lovely room

After unpacking - I always have to unpack as soon as I arrive anywhere, including all my technology, cables and chargers -  I lay down in the wonderful memory foam bed but I couldn't sleep. It was probably due to what my mother used to call "reisefieber"  - travel fever. I probably missed my husband too who always gives me a relaxing back and neck massage every night (lucky me).

On Thursday morning, my first day in Yorkshire, I was up at about 7. Of course it was raining but I didn't really mind. Kathy and Phil had organised a day out shopping in Leeds. I don't think I had been there since I lived in Yorkshire. My mother used to teach at Leeds Uni so I remember going often, but not so much to shop.  Once I did though when I was given 100 pounds in about  1974 when I was aged 17. It was an enormous amount of the money at the time and I remember going with my friend Amanda and spending the whole day and all the money. Some of it went on some very colourful enormously high platform shoes which were in fashion in the 70's!. I would need a lot more money this week. 

We took the train from Keighley station where I had my first photo of this trip taken. Thanks Kathy.
Waiting in Keighley for the train to Leeds
Arriving at Leeds central station brought back memories of taking the train to London in excitement or to Nottingham when I was at Uni. I always loved traveling by train, long distance that is. I remember the times when I would have a full English breakfast in the restaurant car when taking an early train to King's Cross. But Leeds would have to do and I have to say it is a fabulous city for shopping. The rain spoiled it a bit.  Leeds has some beautiful Victorian buildings but some awful ones too. My friends took me into the Queens Hotel next to the station for a coffee before our shopping spree and what a marvelous place it is, like something out of a period drama. 

Enjoying a coffee at The Queen's Hotel in Leeds on Tuesday

Kathy was our Leeds city centre shopping trip guide and she knows the shops. I would have loved to go into Harvey Nichols or even John Lewis but M+S and Boots was fine by me. At M+S I had the time of my life, mostly in the lingerie department but I also got some great jeans. Kathy joined me in search of jumpers and I had to go for the one in the picture below - lots of stripes and bright colours. As we had done once in York we both tried on the same jumper. Only I ended up buying it. I love it. Little did I know that Marks and Spencer would too hahahhaa.
A fun moment trying on jumpers in M+S in Leeds on Tuesday
Phil, like Eladio, who gets bored of clothes shopping, headed for the fresh food market - lovely place. We went to Waterstones - that outstanding British book shop. There I got some books for Juliet and Elliot, books in English I would not be able to find in Spain. 

We then met at The Ivy, a famous Leeds restaurant where my friends had been before. My conclusion. It's absolutely stunning inside and out but the food is not so good. 

The Ivy in Leeds
Even the bathrooms were spectacular, so much so I had to take a picture to share here. Merit where merit is due.
One of the bathrooms at The Ivy
We all ordered the lobster and prawn cocktail except that there was no lobster to be found. I complained and got a new plate where there was one tiny little piece. I ordered an underdone steak which came medium rare  and Phil's fish was smothered in salty soy sauce and was over cooked. The manager came to talk to us and we explained what was wrong with the food. It turned out he was from Argentina but had lived in Spain for years. He agreed the food was not as good as it should be and the dear man invited us to free desserts and coffee and knocked off about 50 quid off the bill. Kathy reckons it was because we spoke to him in Spanish. Maybe she was right. In any case a good time was had by all.

Before heading back to the train station we went to the beautiful old fresh food market to get my favourite food in the world, dressed crab. Thank you Phil. It can't be bought for love or money in Spain so it's not often I get to eat it.

Our last stop was Boots for some more "essentials" and then we rushed in the rain to catch the train. Once home it was time for a "cuppa", in my case, decaf tea. 

The main news that day was the new budget announced by Jeremy Hunt, basically tax rises and spending cuts which won't make people happy at all. I completely understand. 

I count myself as fortunate enough to not be too affected by the rise in prices but that's because we have paid taxes all our lives and have decent pensions; not to mention my new entrepreneurship little business, aka Aibnb. Thus I was able to continue shopping on Friday too. Friday morning was set aside for a visit to Sainsbury's, mainly to buy clothes for Juliet and Elliot. I also got a lovely jumper dress for myself. This is it and it's gorgeous. 
My lovely and warm jumper dress from Sainsbury's

The main reason to go to Sainsbury's was to buy flowers for my parents' grave which we visited before lunch. Coffee that morning was in Saltaire  at Kathy's sister Debby's house, the only sister I had not yet met. They have a wonderful Yorkshire stone house just up the road from St. Peter's church where I used to go to the Girl Guides. That is where I met Brandon Jackson who eventually married Eladio and I in Madrid but that's another story.

After coffee at Debby's where we also met her young daughter Frances and baby, it was time to visit my parents' grave at Charlestown Cemetery. It would be my first visit since my father's interment back in May and I was eager to see the new headstone with his inscription. In fact the main mission of my visit to Yorkshire was to see it. The dear man had left very little room for himself but I managed to fill it in. I have chosen that photo as this week's feature photo. I took others too with the beautiful roses. 
Roses for my parents 

If in May the cemetery was covered in cherry blossom, this week it was covered in autumn leaves. I suspect my father would have preferred chocolates hahahaa but that could not be. It was a very emotional moment and I am extremely grateful to my dear friends Phil and Kathy for giving me a home away from home in my beloved Yorkshire. I am also grateful to them for being with me that day.

I could well have chosen another photo for this week's feature photo - the one of Kathy and I in the matching M+S jumpers above. and one I posted on Insgtagram (of course). As were driving away from the cemetery and up Hollins Hill where my brother once crashed on his bicycle, I saw a message from Marks and Spencers which really made my day. This was it
M+S want to feature my photo with Kathy in the same jumper on their website!

I couldn't believe my eyes when I read they wanted to use the photo for their website. It tickled us pink and I shall look forward to seeing that picture there. Maybe we could be models for M+S hahaha. I suppose we are their target age group -  hahahaha again. 

We were late home and had a late lunch, more like Spanish times and we were all starving. That was the day we ate the delicious dressed crab. 

On Friday at 5 a taxi was coming to take me to Simon and Gill's  where Amanda was heading to from Devon. She too had come for the school reunion which was the main excuse for my trip here but it was also to meet friends and do some Christmas shopping of course. The drive from Keighley to Sowerby Bridge which is only 16 miles away was something of a challenge over the moors in the dark. I had a very young Pakistani taxi driver, Danny, and I think I gave him the time of his life. He said he didn't need the radio when I asked him to turn the rapper "music" off, as I was entertainment. He is young and wants to get out of Keighley so I sort of mentored him and I think I helped him or at least I hoped I did. He asked to see me picture of me when I was young, so I got out a wedding day photo. He made my day by saying I was even more stunning now aged 65. That was an extraordinary compliment. I do seem to get on very well with the Pakistani taxi drivers in Yorkshire. I always like talking to them with their broad Yorkshire accents which I can hardly understand hahahahah.

It's a challenge to find Simon and Gill's slightly hidden but beautiful, large Yorkshire stone house overlooking a valley. I have been her many times but I don't think I could ever make it up their very steep drive. But Danny made it and soon I was in their lovely warm house greeting them like old friends which is what they are. Simon was at Bradford Grammar School where my father taught and thanks to him, Amanda and I were introduced to many of his friends. We became a group of happy teenagers and have never forgotten those wonderful years - in the mid 70's - where we grew up together. 

Amanda had taken over 8 h to get to Yorkshire and I was very grateful that she did. As you will know she is my best friend from school where we met at the tender age of 11. I was immediately ushered into their spacious kitchen and given a glass of white wine. It would last me all evening. Simon is the cook and he is a good one. He made a meal of a sort of fish shepherd's pie and vegetables perfectly cooked and we ate in peace and harmony with so much to talk about. Simon and Gill had been at my father's funeral events which I am also grateful for. 

The evening was wonderful and as to the hospitality, well, words can't describe it. We went to bed quite early and I had a lovely bedroom and bed but, as usual, it was not easy to sleep although I managed. So instead of getting up at 6 or so I was awake at 7.30 yesterday morning, Saturday.  I made a beeline for the kitchen to make my first cup of coffee of the morning. Amazingly, it wasn't raining and the sun had come up (a bit) so I had to take a few photos to show you the lovely house and part of the garden - absolutely stunning, I am sure you will agree.

Simon and Gill's amazing house and garden where I am staying until this afternoon
Yesterday was the day of our St. Joseph's School reunion. In our day it was a grammar school and apparently one of the best Catholic grammar schools in the country or so we read. We were happy there and I remember my school years mostly fondly. It was run by lovely (Cross and Passion) Irish nuns but sadly today there are  none left. Joining us too were other "girls" from our year, Maureen, Catherine, Debra and Trisha.  The first item on the agenda was mass in Our Lady's Hall. Oh that hall brings back so many memories, mostly of morning assembly. We sat on the front row as you can see in the photos below. 

The mass began at around 11.30 and was conducted by the school chaplain. It was mostly focused on death, the death of past pupils and staff which wasn't exactly uplifting. In fact it had Maureen in tears. 

Mass at the school
Neither Amanda nor I are catholic and I'm not sure why we were allowed to go to St. Joseph's. Neither of us had passed our 11 plus so maybe our parents persuaded St. Wilfred (the headmistress). In any case I do remember that as non catholics we were allowed to miss mass. However, our catholic education still somehow had an effect on us. It was a happy school, not great academically, unfortunately, but the atmosphere and school culture were very positive. I was not a good girl as school and feel a bit ashamed I didn't make more of my education there. Finally though I did get my A levels but not with great grades and managed to get into Nottingham University. My much brainier or hard working friend Amanda got into Oxford which was really something special for her and the school at the time, unlike next door's Bradford Grammar School. My father taught there and it was a veritable machine for getting a large percentage of the 6th form into "Oxbridge". All these thoughts were in my head as I was sitting in Our Lady's Hall. Amanda and I and the "other girls" were at St. Joseph's (SJC) from 1968-1975. We are talking more than 50 years ago and it says something for the school if we want to go back after so long.

The event itself was nothing special and not very well organised. After the Mass and a speech by Miss Jackson (maths teacher, past pupil who retired in 2013), I leaped up into the chapel grabbing a pupil to take a group photo. Amanda and Miss Jackson laughed, the latter saying "she was just like that when she was at school". But if it hadn't been for me there wouldn't have been a photo of the day. Here is one of them - me in the middle trying to balance my knee with the torn menisco (hahahaha).
Group photo at the end of the mass during the school reunion

As to the attendants, most of us were old ladies, "girls" who had been at the school in the 40's (yes), 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's. If the school was better organised in their communication with past pupils and staff, no doubt there would have been many more old girls attending yesterday. They are very lacking in that aspect unfortunately and Amanda and I only got to go through word of mouth communication. 

From Our Lady's Hall we all headed to the dining room (canteen) for a school lunch,called "dinner" in Yorkshire. Oh that definitely brought back memories, mainly of our awful school "dinners". I used to hate the boiled cabbage and mashed potatoes served from huge steel tureens. As the puddings, mostly steamed or milky ones like rice pudding, semolina and tapioca, I hated them. So I wasn't expecting great quality but the food was edible - shepherd's pie. There was wine even if it was served in plastic glasses. 
School lunch yesterday
From the canteen we made our way to the library which is now housed in the old staff common room. There waiting for us were albums of photos and clippings all rather badly organised. Someone has to do something with the school archives. Two of our friends came across an old school magazine with a poem published there which Amanda and I had written about our old teachers, Miss Scorer (history)  Miss Fair, (Geography and head of careers) .Miss Tidmarsh (Latin), Miss Blackburn (Spanish) and Miss Doyle (French)- funny they were all spinsters I thought. We were delighted and actually remembered writing it. If you are interested, this is it. 
Poem written in the school magazine by Amanda and I when we were in 4 Kappa (4th year, aged around 13 or 14). 
Amanda came across a school handbook mostly about comportment which would be very old fashioned for today's pupils. I remember it well. Maybe I should send the school  some of my photos. I don't have many but I do have a set  I took in the 6th form probably after A levels. I once made it into a DVD to share with school friends.  We look so sluttish I'm afraid. Here it is for your enjoyment. See if you can spot me. 

After the visit to the library it was more or less the end of the school reunion and we were left to our own devices. Some of us visited parts of the school. We remembered many of them but some parts are new. The ghastly swimming pool is still there.  We used to hate swimming classes in the winter where we couldn't even dry our hair after lessons and would come out in the freezing cold. I hope they have hair dryers today. So at about 3 pm we left in the rain but I managed to get a couple of photos of the school before rushing into the car.
The school as we left yesterday
On our way home to Sowerby Bridge, we decided to drive past Amanda's old house on Yew Tree Avenue near Allerton Road and the Bradford Royal Infirmary where my dear mother died in 1999. Saturday really was a trip down memory lane.

It was on our way home that I got news from Olivia. Juliet had taken her first solo steps. Juliet is walking. We had been waiting for the moment. She is now just over 1 year and 2 months and has taken her time, bless her. You can see the historic moment in the video Oli sent me which is now on my YouTube channel. 

We came home to the welcome of Simon and Gill at their amazing, beautiful and warm home. They had even more exciting news. Their younger daughter, Abbey, had got engaged that day. Thus Gill handed us a glass of bubbly to celebrate. I wish my daughters would get engaged hahahahaha. 

We were ushered into the huge lounge made cozy by the fire and clambered onto the extremely comfortable sofas to unwind. Meanwhile, Simon was cooking us a delicious dinner of chicken and salad which we had in their amazing kitchen.

I think we were all terribly tired last night so we went to bed early, at around 10 pm. I slept well but I woke up at 6 am this morning. I have another lovely day to look forward to but not much time left in Yorkshire as I go back on Wednesday. Oh how time seems to fly past. I wish it would go a bit slower.

But we shall take things slowly this morning. Hopefully we will get a walk in and then we shall go out for a pub lunch in Hebden Bridge - apparently the "lesbian capital of the UK". I am looking forward to my first pub lunch here today and the company of Amanda, Simon and Gill. This afternoon we shall be parting company and the next stage of my trip will begin. You will hear all about it next Sunday when all will be over. My father always used to say "all good things come to an end". I should add that I will enjoy them meantime. 

Cheers then for now until next Sunday,