Weekend miscellany

This is the view that confronts me every lunchtime as I sit down in the kitchen and chow down on one of a small, unimaginative range of homemade snacks. Think cheese salad / tuna mayonnaise sandwiches or soup and toast and you’ll be right on the money. A selection of limp, neglected plants droop down from a shelf just high enough to make regular watering an inconvenient nuisance, while the cork-board beneath groans under the accumulated strata of family snaps, flyers from every tradesman and takeaway in Brighton, calendars and postcards that date back to, er, when we first moved here, approximately.

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Last weekend was an extended four-day job spent in Yorkshire, when we spent a couple of days in Bradford visiting my Mum and Our Kid (that’s brother for non-Northerners) then a couple more in Sheffield to see our son, Sam.

Whenever we’re in Bradford Lynn and I always try to get out to the Yorkshire Dales for a walk – it’s a stunningly beautiful part of the country. This time we headed for Kettlewell – less than a year away from providing part of the backdrop to for the opening day of next year’s Tour de France – for a splendid, squelchy 8-mile tramp through peat bogs high above the village, in high winds and horizontal rain. Lovely – especially when you can warm up and dry off afterwards in a country pub as archetypally perfect as the Racehorse Inn.

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The following morning, before moving on to Sheffield, we all spent a couple of hours (nowhere near long enough) at the always-engaging Salts Mill in the World-heritage village of Saltaire, a stone’s throw from my old Grammar School, just the other side of the river Aire. The Mill is now home to a permanent collection of work by Bradford’s own David Hockney alongside a café, restaurant and several enticing retail outlets that even a vehement non-shopper such as myself cannot help being slightly beguiled by. An essential destination if you’re ever in the area.

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Saturday we drove with Sam down to Bakewell in the Peak District and hired bikes to ride the Monsal Trail, something we attempted last winter in the snow before we were thwarted by the icy conditions. It follows a re-purposed stretch of  Midland Railway line (closed in 1968) through several beautifully engineered Victorian tunnels, across the Monsal viaduct and past disused industrial-scale lime-kilns and refurbished station buildings, all amid some truly drop-dead scenery. Another outing that easily justified braving the grim weather.

Oh, and if you’ve never sampled a Bakewell Pudding (not tart), you’re missing out on one of the great British delicacies.

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