So, I contacted some literally OLD friends (Havent seen them for 30 years!) and went up to Yorkshire to see them. I was warned not to by the BBC, as there had been “unusually mild weather” (13 degrees! double digits!) and thus it rained instead of snowed, so many rivers had flooded, including Leeds where they live. Anyway, never one to heed warnings, I went off nevertheless on a beautiful day with sun and not a spot of rain.
I wound (what odd spelling) along the Severn river (pronounced seven) and crossed it 70 times 7. It was flowing very strongly, but beautiful and terrifying in its strength. I stopped in at some really ruined castles..actually this is an old manor house in the middle of nowhere. Lost track of time and then realised that I had better get a move on as it was 2pm and night sets at 4pm and I didn’t really know where I was going, and had to find Yeadon (pronounced yeedon), so I took the motorway past Manchester.. a huge city..4 lane traffic backed up 20 miles (that is 30km)..worse than London. Luckily I was against it, and being told not to go through Leeds itself on account of the flooding, I cleverly got off at Halifax planning to go through Bradford…looked like a little town on my map.
Anyway, on the way, I encountered the Industrial revolution. The houses were long avenues of rows of what was then low cost housing.. a bit prettier than Lavender Hill, cape Town, but what struck me was the blackness of the walls.
For literally hundreds of miles the valley was black. I knew there was pollution at that time because of the mills driven by coal, but I never realised how bad it must have been! People have tried to clean the house walls, but the black is seeped in.These are cleaned houses.
The drystone walls were never cleaned, and this is where you really see it. Nails worth, where I live in the Cotswolds down south is where the wool industry began using Cotswold sheep that look like they have dreadlocks and water mills, that were much cleaner, but not as efficient as coal. Apparently it moved to the North, which is the centre of Industrial England. I was told by my OLD friends that Yorkshire is real England, and certainly it is where I at last encountered some poverty.
I got lost in Bradford, which turned out to be a huge city and not a little town on the map as I thought, with few signs. I went round and round trying to find where I was. It was dark by then, and I completely lost my bearings..North, south east west? Where was Yeadon..a small place unmarked. The roads told you of the next neighbouring town, which always had some odd name that was too small to appear on my map. Then I ran out of the 3 vital P’s: Phone time, petrol and needed to Pee. Luckily some other P’s from Pakistan, kindly helped me load time onto my smartphone that I still havent managed to use properly and I phoned my OLD friends. They wondered how I got where I was, and I was headed in totally the wrong direction and would have ended up in scotland if I’d gone much further.
They told me to find a curry house, because they knew all the curry houses, which I finally did after finally locating a Petrol station, and young scot, who gabbled away in a thick accent. I couldn’t quite follow what he said, but I followed the road he pointed at and finally found a curry house, where my OLD friends met me. Now bald and grey. I didnt inspect their teeth. Then, they were long haired poster boys.
Well, we had a hilarious time laughing about old days and English ways. Despite 30 years, they were actually EXACTLY the same. The antique cabinet was just there to fool you. I also met a real British gal, wife of one of my Old friends. She was wonderful and I recognised the lovely side of English girls, who are so warm, bubbly and unapologetic. I had read about, but not yet encountered someone quite like her, and we shared a bottle or two of wine.
So I went on a guided tour of Yorkshire and we went to find the fairies at Cottingley…a place as small as the fairies, but they ad a comemorative garden:
and to Harrogate “to take the waters”. A very larny place which smells of sulphur from the many sulphur springs that bubble up, with fancy baths used by royalty in the 1800s. Most springs have lids on and taste like rotten eggs.
Theres a tea shop which is so famous that people queue outside it..never seen that before
After the feasting and a lot of laughing, I headed back through the moors..there IS a national park without houses. The wind Is icy and gale force even without the snow, but you will still see crazy Yorkshiremen cycling up these desolate hills that uphill for miles and miles.
This is at the top of the hill.I could barely stand up because of the wind. The sign on the frame says: Some people look but do not see.
I also saw a strange notice in the middle of literally nowhere!
Also, you see very clearly the miles of stone enclosures..now used for sheep and cows, but also echo the enclosure laws that drove people off the land and through subsequent poverty into the factories, where they and their children were horribly exploited with child labour and being paid pittance. The old day equivalent of sweatshops. Read Charles Dickens.
Then I moseyed down south following the A38, right through the enormous city of Birmingham. When driving you have to remain alert, as the routes change without warning. You can never relax on a straight road as in Africa, as you will always hit a circle. Each circle twists you around, and If I didn’t have my driving glasses, I would not know Arthur from Martha. Except, the problem was, to consult my map, I had to use my reading glasses. Try to do that while driving. I eventually put both pairs on, one below the other like bifocals.
As is typical, one moment of lack of attention and you lose the route marker, and so I got lost..once again in Gloucester, where all the roads go around the cathedral and over and back across the Severn in circles, and despite having been there several times, I got lost again.
Finally home to Nailsworth, where I look over the town. It was new year, and I had a view of everyones fireworks, that popped through the night. I was too tired to hear them. Happy new year!