“My Best Day In” – a Dalesman reader's lockdown diary

It will come as no surprise but I was eagerly awaiting the end of June when I knew that my July edition of The Dalesman would arrive. During lockdown we have not been getting a Saturday postal delivery so it was a real surprise that on Saturday 27th June we did get a delivery. I am a bit like my late mother, I always try to guess what is inside an envelope from the postmark or it used to be from the handwriting of the address but sadly with word processing this is no longer a pleasure.

My father always said that he recognised HMRC!

“My Best Day In” – a Dalesman reader's lockdown diary

The late Bill Mitchell

That's a double celebration because we have the delight provided by another Yorkshire Icon this coming week - The National Treasure - Alan Bennett - Talking Heads. No 7, with Bill Mitchell No 33 in Yorkshire's Greatest Icons. With The Dalesman, it used to be that you got a sneak preview of the contents, a taster, from the front cover showing through the plastic cover but now with the recyclable brown cover the only give away is the Skipton address.

But no worry - opening the brown envelope is like opening a surprise birthday gift. As this month's edition slid out I was immediately thrilled at the cover revealing a view that I know so well. Cauldron Falls in West Burton, no wonder Turner was drawn to this stunning area and I must take another look at his painting which I think that he did not complete.

Beautiful, West Burton in Bishopdale - what fond memories are evoked of walks around the area - over to Aysgarth - over to Coverdale and further up Bishopdale. I had a leaflet of places in Yorkshire that had been painted by Turner where a seat had been placed at each location. I never did visit each site but come the end of lockdown, who knows?

What joy just from the front cover but it's time to delve inside - it is so pleasing to see the loyalty of the advertisers and the culinary triumphs of Botham's of Whitby - Yorkshire Brack and Plum Bread - I wonder do they make my favourite Yorkshire Curd Tarts?

“My Best Day In” – a Dalesman reader's lockdown diary

Swift spotting in A Dalesman's Diary

I am unable to report seeing any swifts this year but I have wonderful memories of these birds on so many of my walks in Yorkshire, ducking and diving. What I can report with delight is that the swallows that nest each year in the rafters of our garage fledged their five offspring this very morning. Last night, their hungry little beaks were peering out of the nest and this morning they were doing aerobatics off the telephone wires.

How can five little birds produce so much bird 'poop'? I hope that the good luck is in proportion! An end to lockdown would be a good start.

Do you know, I wondered about that cross on The Fylingdales Moors - 'Lilla Cross'. My friends and I have pondered over the inscriptions - G we reckoned was Goathland but C for Cholmley, well, that was a mystery - a mystery now solved. Thoughts of the sweet-smelling heather and all those tracks that promise they go somewhere but then suddenly end nowhere!

But for some tussock bashing. Honey - once bought some at Egton Bridge - giant goosberries also come to mind. A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside' - Winnie the Pooh.

“My Best Day In” – a Dalesman reader's lockdown diary

Fun and games up at Ravenseat Farm

Last month I relived my expeditions above Keld and seeing Ravenseat Farm. The pictures this month of the little girls remind me so much of those delightful paintings by Agnes Gardner-King of children - so natural in delightful surroundings.

I have seen those fleeces blocking drainage ditches and thought what a shame but now I know the reason that all is explained and I still think what a shame!

“My Best Day In” – a Dalesman reader's lockdown diary

Filming of The Railway Children in progress on The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. Photo by Gavin Morrison

I have never travelled on The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, but like so many people of the time I so well remember the TV and film productions of E Nesbit's book The Railway Children. It was rather daring with Jenny Agutter tearing the hem off her petticoat to wave as a flag.

Now I remember I took two of my grandchildren to The Shildon Railway Museum about six years ago to view '5775' as the engine was to be renovated. Railway engine renovation is a costly and timely enterprise and I wonder as to whether it has been completed - I must check. Of course one does not appreciate the amount of equipment used in such a photo shoot - probably just use a drone nowadays?

“My Best Day In” – a Dalesman reader's lockdown diary

A Lady's Slipper Orchid

Orchids - having lived for some time in the Far East I continued my interest on my return and my wife and I have grown orchids for many years.

I think that we are orchidists? Consequently, any mention of orchids raises my orchidist senses. How interesting to read of The Lady's Slipper Orchid and The Fly Orchid - such apt names.

Common orchids are all over The Dales and my wife can spot them readily. Now I must try to recollect where we have seen them - Wensleydale, Semer Water, for sure, and, without a doubt, Teesdale. Just found the app for iNaturalist - what a boon.

Goldsborough Hall - I had no idea that it was holiday venue. I have memories of my grandfather who taught classics going there to invigilate for examinations when it was a school. He would cycle each morning from Harrogate as he did not own a car.

I am encouraged to look into this amazing-looking building a bit further, a quick way would be to win the competition! I wonder how many tree-lined walks Princess Mary planted. I remember in about 1950 standing beside the Leeds to Harrogate Road at Spacey Houses and waving a Union Jack when she planted a tree on Princess Royal Way - it never seemed to thrive as well as the other trees that were planted that day!

“My Best Day In” – a Dalesman reader's lockdown diary

Staveley Wildlife Trust Reserve

I must move on - so where has Richard Bell been?

Staveley Wildlife Trust Reserve. I have not been there for ages. I must check whether it is open during lockdown - it is clearly a wildlife paradise and needs my attention and soon.

Birds, butterflies, plants and described in such an interesting fashion. I wonder where the River Tutt is - of course, I remember that it's at Boroughbridge and I remember because I walked both The Uredale Way and The Swale Way from there. Saw the Devils Arrows too - used to be out in an open field when I was a lad.

My Second Best Day In gets even better!

“My Best Day In” – a Dalesman reader's lockdown diary

Skipton-born Iain MacLeod

Skipton - well, of course, I remember Iain Macleod but so many memories of Skipton come flooding back. Do they still make Whitakers chocolate? Jon Stokoe will know!

When did we set off on the 100-mile walk from Skipton Castle to undertake The Lady Anne Way? Lady Anne Clifford - what a woman - enjoyed her life story - I meant to see her picture but I think that it is now in Kendal? Skipton Castle - home of a well known magazine!

Gosh, The Lady Ann Way was a real 100 mile walk. Oh, the memories flood back - grandparents were married in Skipton Parish Church - she was a local girl - a Harrison from Marton. Jolly good cook - Sunday afternoon teas to die for!

I had it in mind to walk the Leeds - Liverpool canal and I did parts but certainly not 204km! Gargrave Church - memories of going there on Christmas morning for a service. Our whole family were staying at Newton Grange Cottages and it rained and it flooded and we had a fabulous time - cooking a turkey with all the accompaniments - what an achievement in a holiday cottage!

At Gargrave Church they seemed to be having a Christmas lunch in the church after morning service - I have often wondered whether that is a tradition? And what do we have here - Children's Day in Roundhay Park again? My last blog prompted a comment from a friend that I had made her relive outings in her pram to Canal Gardens and her wedding reception too at The Mansion House.

“My Best Day In” – a Dalesman reader's lockdown diary

Jacqueline Sinclair's illustration for this month's Woollies & wellies

Woollies and Wellies and corn dollies - we made corn dollies at primary school.

The headteacher was a fund of knowledge in local crafts and she passed them on to we snuffly little boys and girls during craft lessons. I still have a cane basket that I made while in her class - keep the cane wet! She sourced her supplies from the local farmers who seemed to be most generous.

Happy thoughts and happy times just keep flooding in - Old Mother Shipton - didn't Paul Daniels buy her cave? I used to know some of her predictions but now I can only bring to mind that the world was going to end in 1881 - phew, and there would be horseless carriages. One out of two isn't bad.

I have been to the Bingley Arms in Bardsey - I had no idea that it was so historical.

“My Best Day In” – a Dalesman reader's lockdown diary

A view from Great Knoutberry Hill in July's Over hill & dale

Great Knoutberry Hill - the times that I have seen that from Dent Station. So why is Dent so far from Dent Station? Because they wanted it to be near the railway line!

So many memories of Dent - The Dales Way - definitely my favourite LDW. Towd Tup Ale from Dent Breweries - whatever was the strength because it certainly regulated the speed of walking in a negative direction? Dent to Ribblehead and Whernside and railway lines and Batty Moss and why do I keep thinking Jericho?

“My Best Day In” – a Dalesman reader's lockdown diary

Mrs Simkins rustles up Nodden cakes in Country Kitchen

I have never heard of Nodden cakes but anything is worth a try.

Perhaps the less healthy ones with sugar and spice and raisins will suit me? One of my daughters used to make Empire biscuits and they always turned out well - the daughter too!

“My Best Day In” – a Dalesman reader's lockdown diary

Tony Husband's cartoon for Ian McMillan's latest column

Perhaps I will read Ian McMillan to get me in the mood. How his recollections bring back memories of so many outings that I have enjoyed during the past 70 odd years.

The pleasure of the new life of ducklings swimming in line behind their proud mum. Memories of suddenly surprising deer, often with their young Bambis, squirrels racing up the nearest tree, of rabbits exiting down their holes, or hares chasing madly across a furrowed field, or is it a stoat or is it a weasel that just ran over the road. My wife and I did once see a kingfisher in Uredale and only then did I realise how small they were compared to what I had imagined from bird books.

I hope that Ian saw his kingfisher - it's a rare sight.

“My Best Day In” – a Dalesman reader's lockdown diary

What on earth? Do you know what it is? Email: [email protected]

What an earth? to ponder before tackling the crossword to end My Second Best Day In.

What will next month bring? An answer to What an earth? for a start - perhaps a hammer to test train carriage wheels on the Settle to Carlisle railway line?

“My Best Day In” – a Dalesman reader's lockdown diary

Fountains Abbey by Trevor Evans

Oh dear, I almost missed it - the stunning photograph of my favourite Fountains Abbey and from such an amazing viewpoint. And if I had missed it I might just have failed to have the opportunity to relive the Aislabie Walk from Fountains to Hackfall Woods.

It is very rarely walked nowadays but full of wildlife both botanical and zoological. All the old stone bridges still intact that William Aislabie constructed for taking his London guests on a carriage ride to heaven, or Hackfall Woods near Masham, whichever is nearer! When is the next Dalesman due?

28th July? I hope that it is on time - just before the end of 'shielding'. Soon be time for Talking Heads.

Ian M M Bagshaw.

Hurworth, Darlington

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