Tuesday 26 September 2023

Over The Moor

                                                     By the Canal, Todmorden

It's a sunny day, so to get out of this valley and into another, Mr. Price and I go over the moor to Todmorden, past the composting (former maggot) factory and the astronomy centre.

'Tod', as it's known round here, is a post-industrial market town in the upper Calder valley- at one time it had the largest weaving shed in the world.

I first passed through in the Sixties when I was hitching from Leyland to see an old school-friend at Leeds University and I recall being appalled by the oppressive town with its blackened stone railway arches, back-to-backs and smoky mills. I'd grown up with the wide skies and open fields of West Lancashire and was shocked that other people lived in this place, trapped in this narrow valley surrounded by high, brooding moors.

Not so, now! You can see the sky, many of the buildings have been cleaned up, there are pleasant riverside and canal walks, galleries, caf├ęs and bars... it's increasingly a commuter town for people who work in Manchester, Leeds, Bradford or nearby places.

                                                  From The Golden Lion, Todmorden

We have a short stroll by the river and I take pictures of some interesting decrepit sheds which will do nicely for my ongoing shed/shack project.

Back in the town centre, there's a rum-looking bunch of loud folk, drinking outside the White Hart, which we avoid and look at the churchyard instead. 

We're perusing some tombstones which are propped up by the path when a cheerful Bavarian in full national dress pops his head round the corner and says “ Ahh! You're reating the grafestones!” He loves Todmorden, he moved here recently after selling his house in York ( “Bad times, York iss finished!”) and being able to buy two here, one for himself and one for his son. It was Octoberfest yesterday, he tells us, there was a big celebration at his house and now he's on his way to The Golden Lion for “ A hair off the dog”. I mention the nearby Hebden Bridge, a pretty tourist town. He says it's no good anymore ”Hebden Bridge iss finished!”

We were originally thinking of going to the pub ourselves but now we chicken out, fearful that we might be forced into a heavy session, ending up singing those jolly German drinking songs with our new friend, shouting “Ans, zwoa, drei, g'suffa”... we have tea in a cafe instead.

I need some supplies and go in the well-stocked friendly wholefood shop. Understandably for such specialisation, prices are high. Outside, and after we've distanced ourselves, Mr. Price exclaims “No wonder vegans are so thin, they can't afford to feed themselves!!”

                                                   Canal Bridge and Rooftops, Todmorden.


Saturday 25 February 2023

Brief Encounters


On the way to the doctor's I walk down the hill to the bus-stop, past the perpetual road works. My phone pings- it's a message from a friend, who says “I just saw you walk past, looking super-cool”... well that's a boost, she made an old lady very happy!

Two huge Clive Hurt trucks rumble by and the old hitch-hiker in me looks at how I might get up into the cab nowadays- it's very high, with two steps. I wonder, idly... would I get picked up if I stuck out my thumb? And in the cab, instead of “Yeah, I'm heading for London, meeting friends there”, I'd have to say “Just popping to the doctors to see about my cholesterol levels”. Perhaps not.

There's a friendly fat lad waiting for the bus, and later, when the driver swerves violently at my stop, I nearly end up in his lap. ' A soft landing, anyway' I think.

Waiting at the surgery, conversations drift by. “He was lovely, he's a lovely boy” “He was always a bit of a teenager, though!”... “ She does Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday”...He's such a lovely boy, we're proud of him” …. “I could tell you some proper tales!”

Later, in the chemist's, a man on his way out shouts hoarsely to the assistant “ SEE YOU SAM! BY THE WAY, SAM, I'M CALLED SAM!!!” “ Yeah, ah know”

I make my way out through 'Exit Only'. In the street I see a small girl with her mother- she's looking up, craning her neck .”Big tree!” she exclaims, and, reaching out a tiny hand to the trunk, says gently “Gonna stroke it'.                                                                                                                                    How sweet is that?

On the way homewards back up the hill  there's a young lady studying her phone outside a corner shop. She sports a bare midriff. This is Rossendale, it's February and 8 degrees, for goodness sake! She's just ASKING for a dose of cystitis!

Pictured: A Waiting Room, (although not my doctor's)