Lost in the Dales
July 4th was perhaps the best I've ever had, if only for the reason there were no fireworks. It was fairly rainy, but this we ignored as we headed to Skipton, about 20 miles from our cottage. First we prowled the flea market, stalls lined up along the high street, at which we bought cheese and umbrellas -- two indispensible Yorkshire amenties.
Then we toured the quite intact but bare-bones 15th-century Skipton Castle, which was laid out a bit like a maze on three floors -- Nick led us through with a map. I was especially impressed with the "grotto" constructed of coral liberally embedded with mother-of-pearl oyster shells. We stopped for lunch (with a slight detour to a shop boasting 450 types of single-malt whiskey) and then toured the small Craven Museum (Craven being the name of a local historical bigwig, but it is tempting to read it as an adjective when it is appended to nearly everything, such as Craven Insurance). A swap meet was taking place in the museum but we especially relished the archeological items on display upstairs, including msyterious ancient clay "tablets" like dice.
From Skipton we went to Bolton Abbey (the name of the town -- actually it's a priory, not an abbey).
The rain had cleared and the boys spent a long time crossing the brown river on wobbly stepping stones, watching ducklings, and pursuing cows. The priory was picturesque in its grassy glade. We took a wrong turn on the way back and wound up going north into the moors on one-track roads. Got totally lost and finally found someone to ask directions from, but now I can say we've seen the hamlet of Appletreewick.
We got back in time for the boys to fire off some party poppers in lieu of fireworks, sending paper and foil confetti over the front lawn. Mr. Brunswick looked on bemusedly and confirmed that, as in Barnsley, real fireworks have been outlawed except for holidays, since they were being used regularly by drug dealers to signal when their new shipments had arrived.
Locks and Art
We visited the 3-rise and 5-rise locks in Bingley, walking through intermittent rain along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, which permits brightly colored 'narrow boats' to move up and down the steep hills of the Pennines. The site had changed since I last saw it in 1995 -- a new motorway has been put through! We got fairly wet despite our bumbershoots but dried off in the Salts Mill art gallery/bookshop/cafe in the nearby 19th-century company town of Saltaire. An extremely expensive lunch but we (at least I) enjoyed the bookshop and the David Hockney drawings and paintings. Also saw a stunning Italian sportscar in the carpark -- a Tuscan TVR; the boys are in heaven with all the Aston-Martins, etc., plus antique MGs, Jaguars, etc. We even saw a fantastic old Alvin the other day. The boys were bushed so I left them to watch "The Mouse That Roared" on TV while I drove across the moors to Wycoller, via Stanbury. Stopped at the Ponden Mill shop and bought a much-needed rain jacket to replace my Irish one recently lost in Bellevue. However, I again got thoroughly lost in the one-track lanes, which were bordered by stone walls -- at one point I could see over them and found I was in a literal maze of walled pastures.
Upon return I fixed dinner and we watched "Ladettes to Ladies" on TV, a reality show about several rude Cockney girls at a finishing school. The winner not only managed to "improve" her posture, her accent, her clothes, her manners, and her looks, and learn to cook a really unappetizing-looking dessert, but drove off in a new red MG.