Wednesday, July 20, 2011

You can take a lass out o' Yorkshire, but you can't take Yorkshire out't lass, what a great holiday, goodbye England and lovely to be home again.

Eladio and I at Airton on a walk in the Dales with Simon and Gill.

Hi everyone,

I can’t believe our holiday is at an end.  Here I am writing this post on the train from Leeds to London, from where we will take the tube to Heathrow and catch our plane to Madrid later this evening.  We will leave this land of rain and wind where we have slept with thick duvets and the central heating on and we shall get off the plane at Madrid and be hit by the heat which will feel like a sauna after more than two weeks of temperatures mainly below 20ºc.  Not so long ago I was writing my blog on the train up to Leeds and here I am now at the end of my trip down memory lane.  We always say in my family: “all good things come to an end” and indeed they do.

I have titled my blog: “You can take a lass out o' Yorkshire, but you can't take Yorkshire out't lass” because it was an expression I first learned from Jackie and then heard again this week and sort of sums up my feelings this holiday.  I wasn’t born in Yorkshire, but Cambridge (I love having been born somewhere so illustrious). However I came to live here when I was 7 so my formative years were spent here.   Today, nearing my mid fifties, I really think there is something of a Yorkshire “lass” (girl) in me and always will be.  I posted the expression on FB and immediately got reactions from friends saying there were similar ones for Jewish or African boys or girls and I am sure you could use the idea for any area of the world.  In any case I love it.

The holiday has been fantastic.  You may have read about the jam packed first week in my last post.  Well this week has been just as crammed full of visits and activities.  Let me tell you all about them.

Monday was another trip down memory, this time not in Yorkshire but in the nearby Lake District.  When I lived at home we used to have lodgers and one of them was Sally (Dalglish). Her mother had a cottage called Nokka in the tiny village of Rosthwaite in between Derwent Water and Buttermere, where we used to stay in the holidays.
Outside the cottage (Nokka) in Rosthwaite

I would often go just with my Father and Amanda and loved the 16th century freezing little cottage with the fireplace in the lounge, its library and enormous stone kitchen. So much so that I took Eladio there at New Year on his first visit to England after we had met in the summer of 1980.  We remember walking up the steep Honnister Pass in rain and snow and our umbrella flying away in the wind.  We also remember arriving at Buttermere, one of the smaller and lesser known lakes, but perhaps one of the most dramatic, to find the place deserted and not a bus in sight to take back. 

So on Monday, we headed through Settle, Kendal, Windermere and Ambleside towards Keswick until we reached the tiny village of Rosthwaite.  It hadn’t changed, except that I did see one burka clad woman.  I asked at the local shop if Sally’s mother still owned Nokka but was told it now belonged to a mountaineering association.  We took lots of photos and asked a couple to take this one of us together mentioning that it was our first time back after 30 or so years. They asked us what the secret was and at that moment I was a bit stuck for an answer.  Maybe it is respect, a spirit of constancy and doing things together.

In Rosthwaite last week

From Rosthwaite we made our way up the very steep Honnister Pass with gradients of more than 25% in some areas. Soon we were nearing the beautiful lake we remembered so well. It was lunchtime so we asked where we could get a good meal. We were directed to the Michelin Guide recommended Bridge Hotel.  Guess what we had?  Yes, fish and chips again, after which we were in desperate need of a long walk.  Buttermere was waiting for us and we walked all the way around which took just over two hours.  The lake and views are spectacular but if you add to this the nostalgic factor, you get what for us was “our walk of the year”.  On the plus side too, our visit to the Lakes coincided with the best weather we had throughout our holiday, i.e. a few degrees over 20ºc but with the sun shining all day. 
Beautiful Buttermere, just as we remembered it.

After the walk we returned to Keswick, this time via the slightly less steep Newlands Pass.  We spent an hour or so visiting elegant Keswick.  We were very impressed with the lovely “Hope Park” with its green lawns and flowers, but also, of course with the nearby lake, Derwent Water
Eladio in Keswick

The drive home was long of course, an hour and a half or so, but the trip turned out to be one of the main highlights of our holiday.  We would have loved to stop at Grassmere where I once stayed with my Father and my friends or at Ambleside or Windermere of Beatrice Potter and Williams Wordsworth fame, but our destination was plainly marked “memory lane” on Monday and that meant Rosthwaite, Buttermere and Keswick only, as there was no time for more in just one day.

Tuesday came and brought with it one of the most important items on our busy agenda, a visit to the Great Yorkshire Show.  This is England’s premiere agricultural show and takes place in Yorkshire’s poshest town, the lovely ex spa, Harrogate.  I had acquired tickets which turned out be free as we were classed as “overseas visitors”.  They were even posted to me at Gargrave and included a parking ticket.  I was amazed to see they were “members’ tickets” which gave you access to absolutely everywhere. 

The show is absolutely huge.  Some 170.000 people visit it over 3 days.  There are some 2.000 sheep, 1.000 cattle and the numbers carry on for all types of farm and country animals, including hunting beagles with their pack owners dressed in the formal pink hunting colours which is what we most wanted to see.  We got lost on many occasions, trying to find the pigs or the sheep shearing or the food hall.  I think what impressed us most were the many types of sheep breeds, some of them being quite bizarre. 
Sheep (or rather rams) competing at the Great Yorkshire Show

We enjoyed seeing young girls showing off their huge black or pink pigs and were disappointed to miss the Pig of the Year contest which was taking place on the last day.  The atmosphere is very upper Yorkshire class and the officials and judges and members added to the colour of the show.  Unfortunately we were to miss the visit of Prince Charles as he was visiting the next day. You can see the full collection of the photos we took here.  All in all the show is well worth visiting and I am very grateful to Jane, the PA to the director, for the very generous free tickets.  When I lived in Yorkshire I had always wanted to visit the show, so this occasion was like a small dream come true.
There was even a competition for potatoes at the Great Yorkshire Show

Later that day, Kathy and Phil were visiting us in Gargrave to go for a walk on the canal.  They had brought me some of Kathy’s father, Brian’s, prize winning roses which were spectacular.  Brian used to be a judge of the roses at the Yorkshire show but unfortunately this year there was to be no such competition.  Here is a photo of his fragrant roses which later bloomed into at least triple their original size.  Thank you Brian, I loved them.
Brian's wonderful roses

The walk on the canal took us nearly an hour and a half. Eladio and I had been on it quite a few times but this time we went further.  As always, we enjoyed walking on the tow path, past pretty cottages and hedgerows, over the river and past fields with grazing cows and sheep.
On the walk by the canal in Gargrave with Kathy

By half past eight we were ready for dinner but were disappointed that the local Old Swan pub closed its kitchen midweek at around that time.  In Spain the kitchen would just be opening!  That was thus the perfect excuse to try out the Bollywood Cottage local curry house which had been highly recommended to us.  It turned out to be just as good as we had been promised.  Funnily enough the Pakistani waiter turned out to be a past pupil of Phil’s and a friend of one of Kathy’s sons; a small world eh!
Dinner at the Bollywood cottage Indian restaurant in Gargrave with Kathy and Phil

On Wednesday our heavy programme continued.  We decided to visit Harrogate as on Monday we had been there for the show but didn’t have time to see the pretty town. The last time we had been there was possibly just before we got married at Christmas time in 1982.  That time we spent the whole afternoon sitting in the wonderful Bettys tea rooms by the windows and Eladio spent most of the time taking photographs of me, like this one here.
Me at Bettys in Harrogate, a photo Eladio took of me there at Christmas in 1982

Harrogate is so special and well kept, with its many flower beds and the glorious stretch of grass called the “stray” surrounding the centre.  It used to be a place where rich people came to be cured, because of the special sulphur waters produced by its many wells.  I read that after the introduction of the NHS, it became less popular of course. However during the industrial revolution, many rich mill owners and industrialists came to live in the pretty and up market town to get away from the filth and smell of towns like Leeds or Bradford. I suspect that is still the case today.
Harrogate is simply stunning, the beginning of the Stray

We visited the Royal Pump Room, where the special waters used to be dispensed. I tried a little and it was quite disgusting.
Trying the ghastly water at the Royal Pump Room

Afterwards it was time for lunch at Bettys as dictates tradition whenever we are in York, Ilkley or Harrogate.  Here we had to queue up but as always it was worth it.  This time, for the record, I did not have fish and chips.
At Bettys in Harrogate, 31 years later and still looking good I hope

Later we went to visit the Valley Gardens to work our lunch off and enjoyed this Victorian park with its spectacular  flower beds, grandstands, sun pavilion and stretches of the greenest grass you can imagine.

At the beautiful Valley Gardens in Harrogate

From the Valley Gardens we walked into the Pinewoods and after about 2 or 3 miles reached the famous Harlow Carr Gardens.  I say famous because whenever I mentioned them, everyone seemed to know them, yet I wasn’t aware of their existence when I used to live in Yorkshire.  That again, is because they were not on my bus routes, as my parents never had a car and we went everywhere by bus.  It cost 8 pounds each to visit the gardens but it was worth it.  They are beautiful.  I especially liked the scented garden and the gardens in times gone by, a sort of living history of gardens through the past few centuries.
In the scented garden at Harlow Carr Gardens in Harrogate, what a discovery

Soon it was time to return to Gargrave as we had an engagement that evening.  We were expected for dinner at Valya’s and Richard was joining us.  Valya, who is 85, has just lost her husband George and is very much in mourning.  Even so she made a huge effort and laid on an enormous Russian meal including “zakuski” (starters).  Valya used to be my Mother’s colleague at the Russian department at Leeds University where Richard still works.  The evening, if a little sad, was an important item on our programme, as whenever I am in Yorkshire, I just have to meet up with both Valya and Richard.  Valya lives in a sort of maze of streets on the outskirts of Leeds and last time we went we got totally lost and had to get a taxi to follow by car in order to get there. This time I relied on the sat nav in my Samsung Galaxy S phone which brought us there without a hitch. 
With Valya and Richard

On Thursday, we had a date for a walk in the Strid Wood mentioned before and which is near Bolton Abbey.  You may remember on the walk there the previous week, it rained and we had to turn back.  So of course we returned as a trip to Yorkshire is never complete for me without doing that walk.  It was as glorious as ever and this time we went further than ever and reached the aqueduct and walked back on the other side.  All in all this took at least 2 hours, enough to work up an appetite for lunch which we had at our cottage for a change.
At the Strid in Bolton Abbey, it forever fascinates me

Later that afternoon we had another appointment.  We were going to spend the night at Simon and Gill’s who live in Sowerby Bridge near Halifax.  Simon was my Father’s pupil at Bradford Grammar School but more importantly the older brother of my oldest and best friend, Amanda, who, unfortunately, this time, could not join us as she and Andy were moving into their new house in Devon.  We were to be spending the night there and the next day together in the Dales.  Simon, being an excellent chef, had prepared a scrumptious dinner. They had invited their best friends, David and Alex who run a local printing company.  We were joined too by Becky, Simon’s daughter.  Funnily enough I had bumped into her in Bradford city the week before which demonstrates what a truly small world we live in.  For the record we had amazing lamb followed by tarte tartin.  Ah and we also had Sainsbury’s mini millionaire shortbread, something I was to buy for our trip back and which Eladio referred to as “the bomb”.  It was and is delicious and highly recommendable.
At Simon and Gill's on Thursday night.

The next day the four of us had lunch in Hetton at The Angel, a so-called “gastro pub” where we had been in 2009 with Simon, Gill, Andy, Amanda and my Father.  This place is a foodie’s paradise and we were tickled pink to see on the menu something called “Yapas” which turned out to be Yorkshire tapas!  
Outside The Angel in Hetton with Gill and Simon

After lunch we drove to nearby Kirby Malham from where we went on a 4.5 mile walk to nearby Airton and then back to Kirby Malham.  We went through fields with the proverbial cows and sheep and past old Yorkshire styles and gates and were very lucky the rain held off until our walk was over.  We followed a route Simon found in their Yorkshire pub walks book which sometimes felt like an orienteering course but which was a great antidote for so much food, so early in the day.  Lunch at The Angel was at 12.30, early again for us.
On the walk in the Dales with Simon and Gill, love the style

Later we drove to Malham Cove and Malham Tarn but by then it was pouring down.
Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales

The next day, Saturday, we were “checking out” of our lovely cottage so spent most of the evening packing.  I had booked a two week stay but our trip was two days longer and we couldn’t stay on at The Arbour as new guests were arriving.  I had reserved a room for two nights at the Rombalds hotel in nearby Ilkley, another beautiful little town in West Yorkshire, a bit like Harrogate but smaller. Ilkley is famous for its moor and when I was a little girl my Father would bring my brother and I there most Sundays.  He used to call me his “little moor’s girl” which I actually wasn’t because I have never ever enjoyed walking uphill.  I always prefer the flat.  I would go along for the sweets afterwards only but I suppose he guessed that as he himself has a very sweet tooth which many of you will know I have inherited.  I have not, however, inherited his trim figure.
The Rombalds Hotel in Ilkley where we spent the last 2 nights of our holiday

Funnily enough The Rombalds was on the hill we would walk up from the bus stop to reach the Moor of “Ilkley Moor baht ’at” fame which brought me right back to my childhood as soon as I saw it.

We left our cottage at 10 in the morning and couldn’t check into the Rombalds until 3 in the afternoon.  This was the perfect time then to drive  to Bingley to see the Five Rise Locks on the Leeds Liverpool canal, a place I wasn’t aware of when I lived here as a child, but which is an important local landmark.  This amazing feat of engineering was built in 1774 and is the steepest lock staircase in Britain.  We were lucky to see a boat going through it when we arrived, with the help and guidance of the local lock keeper, of course.  I was told it takes a boat about 40 minutes to get through the five locks.  Eladio was fascinated.  It rained all morning as it would until we left, but that didn’t deter us walking along the canal and enjoying the scenery, such as the old mills now converted into luxury housing.
The Bingley Five Rise Lock

Lunch that day was in Ilkley and there is no other choice for me there than Bettys Tea Rooms. This time we did have fish and chips, the last of our trip I should say.  Thank goodness I am going back to my Dukan diet to lose any weight I will certainly have put on after 2 weeks gorging in Yorkshire.  Who said English food was not good?  It has improved enormously since I left the country.  Besides, the supermarkets are packed with enticing produce I would love to be able to find in Spain, such as meringue nests we had nearly every day with English strawberries and raspberries and cream.

Later we booked into the Rombalds, a tired little place which in some ways resembles Fawlty Towers with its strict rules.  Anyway it was clean and comfortable so we quickly settled in.  Eladio slept his proverbial siesta whilst I wandered out to explore the 2 main streets of Ilkley. The sun had come out and the town was looking lovely.  There was music coming from the local band stand and the posh Ilkley ladies were enjoying their shopping as was I at Boots, one of the English establishments I miss most in Spain. 
Pretty Ilkley, another spa town in Yorkshire

Later I went back for Eladio and we ventured out again.  Apart from seeing the main streets again, we visited the local park set on the Wharfe River and watched the world go by.  Soon I had to return to the hotel to get ready for another important item on my agenda, the second of my school reunions which was to take place that evening in nearby Addingham at the famed Fleece, another so-called “gastro pub”.
By the River Wharfe in Ilkley

Kathy and Phil came to pick me up.  I had dressed for the occasion and was a little stressed to find that my dress did not fit as well as it had when I wore it for the first school reunion two weeks previously.

Dressed and ready to go the second SJC reunion dinner

Trisha was in the car with Kathy and I’m sorry to say I did not remember her from school. The rest of the “girls” arrived just as we did and the beginning was a little confusing as we didn’t really recognize each other.  It didn’t help, of course, that all their surnames had changed.  There were 10 of us and, thanks to Kathy’s little note, the names are: Geraldine, Frances, Mary, Maureen, Debra, Catherine, Beverley, Kathy and myself. Phil patiently took photographs of us all with 10 cameras for each picture.  We had a great night, catching up on our lives since school but also reminiscing about our times at St. Joseph’s College.  My only regret that night was not ordering the sticky toffee pudding for dessert. You can see the full set of photos of this reunion here.
The second St. Joseph's College reunion dinner, this one in Addingham

The next day was our last day, but it was to be one of the best.  In the morning Kathy, Liz and Libby came to fetch me and we drove to Pudsey to the gigantic Marks and Spencers.  Here we spent a good three hours shopping with just a quick stop for a bite at the cafeteria.  I was conscious I didn’t have much room in our suitcases and that I couldn’t buy anything too heavy because of the weight limit.  So I stocked up mostly on underwear, socks and beachwear.  The three hours came to an end far too fast and a good time was had by all.  Here is the photo of the four of us outside M+S my favourite store in the world.
At the gigantic Marks and Spencers in Pudsey with Kathy, Liz and Libby. Great girly shopping indeed

We then went back to Ilkley to pick Eladio up and drove to Phil and Kathy’s house in Keighley.  Tom, Kath’s son, and his girlfriend, Liam, were waiting to greet us before heading back to their home in Manchester.  Tom is the local football hero and is the goalkeeper for Chesterfield F.C. which is in the First Division.  Good looking Tom learned his trade at Manchester United where he started at the age of 12.  Apparently Gerard Piqué, now playing for Barcelona and boyfriend of the Colombian singer, Shakira, was one of his best friends.  It was great to talk to Tom about sport and get his opinion on Casillas.  He said that, of course, he was a legend but that for him the best goalkeeper in the world was Pepe Reina.  That was interesting to hear.

Meanwhile Phil was preparing a wonderful indoor barbecue which we all polished down in their quirky kitchen.  Here are Phil and Kath, in their kitchen, by the table, groaning with delicious food he had prepared, the perfect hosts.
Phil and Kathy in their kitchen just before the lovely last dinner in Yorkshire.

The meal was the perfect end to our stay in England which finished yesterday when we returned to Spain.  I am now writing from home, after starting yesterday on the train from Leeds to Kings Cross.  But let me tell you what we did that morning before catching the train.  We checked out early from the hotel in Ilkley in the pouring rain and drove to Bradford.  To do so we had to go past Baildon and on the spur of the moment I asked Eladio to go up Roundwood Road, where we had lived for 9 months before we bought 6 Heaton Grove.  I’m not sure but I think this was the house.
Roundwood Road in Baildon where we lived for 9 months in 1964 when I was just 7

We also stopped a little way on, just before Shipley, to take a photo of the little wooden church my brother and I attended when we lived in Baildon.  Unlike my old primary school, it is still standing and is as beautiful as ever.
The old wooden church George and I used to go to near Baildon when we were 7 and 9.

From here we continued our way, past our old house, and into Bradford city.  Here we parked next to Morrisons and went for a walk in the town, in the pouring rain, before we had to return our car and catch the 13.05 train to Leeds.  Our packed lunch was of course bought at M+S in Darley Street.  Bradford was pretty dismal that day because of the rain and I felt very fortunate that I live in a country with sun most of the year round.
Raining in Bradford on the last day

It was interesting to see the old Halifax Building Society in Darley Street, where my parents both had accounts, now bearing the Santander logo on the old Victorian building.  I thought it really funny that a Spanish bank could own this Yorkshire institution; something we would probably have frowned at in the 60’s when Spain seemed so backward to us all.  Well it has leaped forward since then.
The Halifax Building Society in Darley Street Bradford which now belongs to the Banco Santander

After leaving our hired car at Europcar in Nelson Road, we made our way to the Bradford Interchange, a place on memory lane too, from my travels when I lived in Yorkshire.  Here I have a picture of Eladio, surrounded by Asians, the norm these days.  Bradford has a population of over 300.000 people and more than half of them are Asian.  When I mentioned to Susan Wright that there seemed to be very few white people on the street, she said that was because of the “white flight”.  When I googled the term, it appears it is a widespread practice in England today.  I went to live in Bradford in 1964 (I think) and there were no Asians at that time.  I do remember at the age of 9 or 10 when there was one Indian or Pakistani boy in my class which we all thought was very exotic.  Today, many classes are outnumbered the other way round, in the industrial towns in England.  What I also noticed on this trip was the profusion of completely covered Asian women with just slits in their eyes.  In my times, that didn’t happen.  The Asian women wore bright coloured saris and did not cover their faces or the rest of their bodies.  What has happened I ask myself?
Eladio at the Bradford Interchange on Monday

The train journey was uneventful and the train left on time.  We enjoyed the M+S packed lunch enormously and I spent the rest of the time writing the first half of this blog post. At Kings Cross I went outside to the news stand to buy Eladio El País and happened upon a lot of people taking photos of what looked like a wall.  When I looked closer I was delighted to see it was the supposed “platform 9 ¾” from the Harry Potter books.  Thus I had my own photo taken by a willing Japanese tourist who was standing nearby. 
At the Harry Potter platform at Kings Cross in London

The rest of the journey was the typical obstacle race air travel has become and after waiting in a queue at the LHR underground station to get a refund on our Oyster card, we had to rush to catch the plane.  Time was not on our side.  Our suitcases were bulging and we knew they were overweight.  We had to take stuff out for the scales to go down to 23 kilos per case, so there we were carrying shoes and whatever was at the top of the case only to realize later when we went through customs that we were carrying jam. These days jam is considered a liquid, so it was taken off us and we had to go through strict security procedures to be let through to catch our plane.  Thank you Mr. Bin Laden for making air travel the nightmare it has become.  Once on the plane which we thought we had caught by the skin of our teeth, it was then delayed on the ground for another hour.  We touched down in Madrid just after 23.30. Suzy was there to meet us and the reunion was sweet.  It was great to be greeted by 25ºc at nearly midnight when the thermometer in England had never gone above 20ºc, even at midday for the duration of our stay.

Soon we were home and unpacking and handing Suzy our gifts, mostly from M+S.  Poor Oli was asleep when we arrived as she arrives at after midnight from her work with the evening news programme and has to be up at 6 in the morning to be at the morning programme by 7.  I left her M+S bag outside her door and wasn’t able to hug and greet her until lunchtime today.  That was equally sweet.

It was wonderful to be home but above all to sleep in our own beds.  Ah, and of course, it was great to see Norah again too. She cried with joy when she saw us and I nearly did too.  This morning I was able to greet my Father and give him his gifts too, mostly chocolates and biscuits I must say.  Later I showed him my photos which I knew he would love to see because of his obvious interest in our trip, after having lived more than 40 years in Yorkshire. 

For now I have had my full injection of Yorkshire and England and am happy to be home again.  Now it’s time to settle back into the routine of our life here and to get back to my work at full steam.

And that my friends, is the story of the rest of our wonderful trip to Yorkshire. 

Cheers till next week


PS, you can see the full albums of photos of our trip to England in two sets, the first half is here and the second one here.


Ken said...

Hello Masha Lloyd , I was very interested in your part of the blog about Harrogate and that wonderful photo of you smoking in Bettys. I am an admin for a Facebook Harrogate nostalgia page and was wondering if you had anymore photo's of Harrogate taken in 1982? If you are a Facebooker and would like to join our group and contribute here is the link.

Masha Lloyd said...

Hiya, not sure that I have but will look and try and if I find anything post on your FB page