Tuesday 30 August 2011

Halifax Piece Hall

Eleanor has been asking to go to Halifax Piece Hall since the start of the holidays, so with nothing else planned yesterday, we headed off.

The Piece Hall was built in 1779 as a marketplace for the cloth trade, and is the only survivor of the 18th century northern cloth halls. It's a grade 1 listed building and is now home to independent retailers.

It's a shame that many of the units are standing empty. Since we were last there, more retailers have closed down, though a couple of new ones have sprung up too, and we noticed a sign advertising a vintage shop which will be opening in September.

We were disappointed to find that many shops were closed due to the bank holiday. The old fashioned sweet shop was tempting us with it's wares, but drool was all we could do, as it too was closed.

There's a huge range of shops at the Piece Hall, that's what I love about it. Comics can be bought in Legacy Comics, bespoke, handcrafted miniature clay characters in Little You, Pagan and Spiritual artefacts in Friendly Dragon Too, and traditional games in Red Patch. There are a number of cafes too, including Maktub Tea House where you can buy 30 kinds of loose leaf tea.

Creative Crystals is a lovely shop which sells crystals, fossils, gems and jewellery from around the world. It was one of the few shops which was open yesterday.

Although the second hand bookshop was closed, the owner had left books out on the windowsills and asked for payment to be posted through the letterbox. It's nice to see that trust is still put in people in this day and age.

One shop I was looking forward to visiting was Three Bags Full, a wool shop. I didn't realise that the shop only opens from Tuesday to Saturday. Mick had already told me that I could treat myself, so it was hugely disappointing.

I liked their closed sign.

As most of the shops were closed, it didn't take us long to see everything so we headed off in to Halifax city centre. Most of the shops there were open so we had a mooch around before coming home.

We're now in to the last week of the school holidays. School starts again on Monday, though it's a teacher training day, so Eleanor goes back next Tuesday, and as Daniel is starting in the sixth form he doesn't go back until next Thursday.

It's my birthday on Saturday so Mick decided to take Monday off work to make it a long weekend, but Daniel has to go in to school for an hour in the afternoon as he's considering changing one of his A level subjects. This will cut right in to our day, so instead of Monday, Mick is now taking this Friday off. It'll be nice to have another long weekend all together before the onslaught of school.

Sunday 28 August 2011

Another Trip To The Dales

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know by now that I love the Yorkshire Dales. It's views like this one that really sell the area to me.

I recently read a blog post on Mo's A Small Holding blog about St. Bartholomew's Day and the Burning of Old Bartle in West Witton. It took place yesterday, and though I'd have liked to have gone, Mick and Daniel were playing cricket. The burning yesterday was followed by a fun day taking place today so we decided to go and see what it was all about.

When we arrived, the fun day was only just starting, and to be honest, there wasn't much happening. There weren't many people there, and things just hadn't got going. It was a rather cold, blustery day so we decided not to hang around, but to see what else we could find to do.

The first thing we came up on was White Rose Candles, a business celebrating it's 40th anniversary. The workshop is housed in a 19th century water mill, and is full to the brim with all manner of candles which you are able to buy.

I've been looking for some reasonably priced floating candles for a while, so came away with three yellow and three purple. I also bought a candle snuffler.

Eleanor loves to have candles burning while she's in the bath, so she treated herself to half a dozen scented tea lights. They smell delicious.

Outside the candle workshop is Wensley Waterfall. I do love the sound of gushing water, it's so relaxing.

In the grounds of White Rose Candles is Wensley Community Wildlife Garden.

It's chock a block full with plants and flowers and is on quite a steep incline with a path weaving it's way down to the bottom.

Our next port of call was Wensleydale Creamery.

We didn't take a tour of the cheese factory, but we visited the shop. They're so generous with their samples, we must have tried a couple of dozen cheeses, all were delicious, but Wensleydale Special Reserve is still my favourite, so I bought a block of it to bring home.

We then headed in to Hawes, which is located at the head of Wensleydale. It's a small market town and was thriving with tourists today. I don't think I've ever visited Hawes when it's been quiet. It's got a main street with some lovely shops.

We saw our second waterfall of the day from the bridge over the river, though it wasn't really a waterfall, it was a weir.

Wensleydale pottery is at the bottom of main street. I would have liked to have visited the workshop but it was closed today, so we had a look around the shop instead.

We never visit Hawes without a look in The Old Sweet Shop. It was so busy today that we came away without making a purchase.

After our trip to Hawes, we headed south to Appletreewick and stopped for a drink at the Craven Arms. It's good to find a pub which will allow dogs in. I remember this pub being featured on a Yorkshire Television programme when they were building a cruck barn at the back of the pub. This building is now used as a restaurant.

There are fabulous views from the front of the pub.

After our light refreshment, Eleanor requested that we stop off at Barden on the way home. We've often visited this area in the Yorkshire Dales.

Daniel and Eleanor enjoyed skimming stones in the river.

I can't finish this post without a photo of Archie. He was itching to get in the river, but he wasn't allowed.

I'm hoping for some decent weather tomorrow so we can get out for the day again.

Thursday 25 August 2011

GCSE Results Day

Today's the day that thousands of kids in the UK get their GCSE results.

I got Daniel up bright and early to go pick his results up from school. If it had been left up to him, he would have left it till this afternoon, he's so laid back about everything.

He's done extremely well, 3 A*'s, 8 A's and 2 B's. He also got a C in additional maths, which is a FSMQ (Free Standing Maths Qualification).

We're taking Daniel to Frankie and Benny's later to celebrate his brilliant results.

The hard work starts all over again in September when he begins his A levels.

Monday 22 August 2011

I Should Have Done It Sooner

I've finally put my foot down and locked away the laptops and Ipods. Kids these days spend far too much time looking at screens and not enough time talking to each other and doing other things.

Instead of whiling away all their time on computers, Daniel and Eleanor have found the box games and are actually getting on with each other, for a change.

I'm going to kick them outside soon so they can get some fresh air.

Isn't this what our summer holidays always used to be about when we were kids?

Saturday 20 August 2011

Temple Newsam

It was Mick's birthday on Sunday so we decided to go out for a carvery for dinner, and delicious it was too. Afterwards, we thought we should walk off what we'd just eaten so we headed off to Temple Newsam, which is about a ten minute drive away from us, and is therefore, a regular haunt.

Temple Newsam is a Tudor-Jacobean house which is set within over 1500 acres of land and was landscaped by Capability Brown.

It has it's own rare breed Home Farm housing over 400 animals. It suffered an arson attack in January this year when a barn containing hay was set alight. Luckily, no animals were killed, but eighty rare breed cattle had to be moved away from danger.

In the Stable Courtyard there are tea rooms where you can sample some of the estate's own rare breed sausages and burgers. It's good to know that food for the cafe is sourced as locally as possible and that care is given to the cafe's carbon footprint. There's also an ice cream shop and a well stocked gift shop in the courtyard.

Just outside the courtyard is the ampitheatre where I remember watching plays as a child.

My mum and dad have lived very close to Temple Newsam for forty years so it's been a place I've frequented throughout my life. My school was just outside the grounds and I remember many games lessons running through Temple Newsam woods doing cross country, or taking a carrier bag to the running track where there is a hill to sledge down when snow was on the ground. I'm sure the pupils won't be allowed to do that in this day and age, there'll be some health and safety law which prevents it.

Archie enjoyed himself on Sunday. He met two other Cavalier King Charles Spaniels who he played with, and had a great time chasing his ball.

Temple Newsam is very familiar to Archie. He used to go to dog training classes there on a Sunday morning, though we soon packed it in when the weather got too cold. It's hard to tear yourself away from your cosy bed when the only prospect is icy cold winds and howling dogs at 9am on a Sunday morning.

There's many other areas in Temple Newsam which I haven't included in this post so I'll let you see those another time.

If you decide to take a trip to Temple Newsam, be aware that you have to pay to use the car park near the house, whereas the other car parks are free. Admission to the grounds is free but you have to pay to go inside the house or farm.

Our day out ended our holiday on a perfect note. Sadly, it was back to work for Mick on Monday but he's got a few four day weeks in the pipeline so it's not all bad.

Thursday 18 August 2011

Devon 2011

The second week of our holiday was spent in Huxham in the Exe Valley, close to Exeter in Devon. We stayed in the same cottage which we stayed in last year, part of a complex of seven cottages which have been converted from old farm buildings. This is the back of the cottage. It sleeps six, so it's very spacious for our family of four, and it looks out across a field and on to a fishing lake. Other facilities on site include an outdoor swimming pool, a games room and an adventure playground.

We had some lovely days out whilst in Devon, one of them to Brixham, a fishing port at the southern end of Torbay. We've never been here before and we enjoyed looking in the little shops which surround the harbour.

There's a full sized replica of The Golden Hind, Sir Francis Drake's ship, in Brixham harbour. You can take a tour of it, though we didn't.

We visited Teignmouth more than once, we like the beach here, and Daniel had a go at sea fishing, though he didn't catch anything.

We visited lots of other places including Cockington Court, a manor house, craft centre and country park which is in Torquay. Agatha Christie is reported to have played here as a child and it was just the place to let Archie off his lead for a good run before heading off in to Torquay itself for a mooch around.

Other places we visited were Exmouth, Sidmouth, Seaton and Paignton, we had a true seaside holiday in every sense of the word.

We're all back in to the swing of things now, Mick was back to work on Monday, and I'm still catching up with all the washing and ironing which coming home from holiday brings. I'm still trying to catch up with everyone's blogs too, you've all been so busy whilst I've been away.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

We're Home

We're back home after a wonderful fortnight away. The first week was spent in a lodge near Bude in Cornwall, and the second week was in a cottage near Exeter in Devon.

The weather was mixed, we had some gorgeous sunny and hot days but also some rainy ones, though it didn't matter as there was plenty to keep us occupied.

This is the lodge which we stayed in for the first week, if you look closely you can see Archie looking out from behind the door wondering what I'm doing.

The place where we stayed was in Kilkhampton, a lovely little village which is about five miles away from Bude. There were ten lodges and two cottages on the site, and the amenities were fantastic. There were tennis courts, an indoor swimming pool, a games room, outdoor games, a playground and three fishing lakes. This is the view which we had from our lodge. One of the lakes is behind the trees.

The first place we visited was Padstow which is a fishing port. Rick Stein has restaurants, cafes and shops here. We didn't eat in there but the cafe menu looked very reasonably priced. There's lots of little gift shops to look round which we enjoyed.

Later that same day we took our first trip to the beach at Bude where Archie had his first taste of the sea, quite literally.

Another fishing port which we visited was Boscastle. We've been here before, but it's such a lovely little place that I wanted to have another look around. This is the harbour, though the tide was out when we were there.

On this very day, 16th August, in 2004, Boscastle suffered flash floods which caused extensive damage. You can see an arrow on this building which indicates the flood level. It's hard to imagine.

To say that Archie had never seen the sea before this holiday, he certainly took a liking to swimming in it. The only problem was that once he came out of the sea, he tried to dry off by rolling in the sand, which makes for one very dirty dog. This was Black Rock beach at Widemouth Bay and it's great for dogs as they can be let off their lead here.

All that swimming was exhausting though, as you can see.

Another thing which Archie took a liking to was ice cream, as you can see.

Each evening, Mick, Daniel and Eleanor went off for a spot of fishing. They managed to catch 103 fish between them in the first week, some were only little, like the one that Eleanor's holding, but some were considerably bigger. They were all put back in to the lake.

That was our first week in Cornwall, and I think I've written enough for one day. I'll risk boring you to death with more tales of my holiday and tell you a bit about Devon in my next post. In the meantime, I'm still catching up with all the washing and ironing which we've brought home with us, and I shall be catching up with all the blogs I read too.