Marigold Says...

Random thoughts on travelling and life in general.

Marigold, ace bargain hunter

Marigold Says...

Did a run on the charity shops. Lots of bargains. Best was a duvet cover and pillow cases never opened for £2.00. It was surprisingly tasteful and didn’t have a picture of the Eiffel Tower on it.

Then went for coffee, Costa of course. Two girls about 16 in front of me. They were ordering some evil concoction with marshmallows, squirty cream and chocolate sauce bunged on top. Looked yummy. Made my latte look very boring. Cost twice as much though.

Their conversation about ‘doing A levels’ next term was fantastic.

1st girl.

‘I am thinking of doing either geography or history as a real one. I need to pick what my dad calls one proper subject at least or forget about Uni. I told him nobody else in my class is bothering about that so it doesn’t matter. Thought about doing photography but Melanie is doing that and she does my head in.’

2nd Girl.

‘Hate geography and history is sooooo boring.’

1st girl. ‘I was going to do history, and they said there was going to be a visit to Auschwitz, (she pronounced it Oozwitch). I said I didn’t know what or where that was. They told us a bit about it, so I have switched to geography as I said to my mum don’t want to go on a history holiday with the class and have to listen about all that stuff. Mum said, you should do what you want.’

Hope in geography she learns where Germany is as it appears she hasn’t got the faintest idea. I counted 20 repetitions of ‘it was like” between the two of them.

Back home, the fridge-freezer started to get frosted up and has been acting up for a while. It’s not much colder inside the fridge than in the rest of the house, which isn’t much use. Decided it must be at least 10 years old as we inherited it and may have come to the end of its usefulness. I defrosted it, quite a performance as usual, but it just laughed at me.

First port of call was an electrical shop to see about replacing it. Wanted to go local, support local businesses, etc. What a performance. We were told it would be expensive because it was integrated, blah, blah, blah, and that the one they recommended was a Bosch, would be £700 or £800, plus another £100 for fitting as ‘our’ fridge is awkward to get to and there were none to be had till next year anyway.

So why bother telling us, or should I say telling G as I had lost the will to live and was watching one of their big screen t.v’s? Price for that was £2,800.00. One electrical purchase at a time I decided.

We were also half heartedly told about cheaper models we could possibly get within a week or two but weren’t frost free, but were able to do things I had never heard of or as usual understand. When he started going on about the marvellous top of the range fridge he had at home I gave up. I seem to have lived without instant cold water and ice making machines in my fridge. We have bought cars in the past for less money. I just want a working fridge!

Had a coffee, moaned about fridges for half an hour. Went back home and savagely de-frosted freezer again by removing everything but the nuts and bolts holding it together and so far it seems a bit better. Admittedly this is not a frost free model as the floor was swimming, G was lying on the floor with a hair dryer moaning his head off about icebergs, and looked as if he had been out in the rain. I just closed the door and put some music on.

We were lost on the outskirts of Clitheroe, although G said only temporarily, and I said I would ask a window cleaner for directions. By the time I had got out of the car he was right at the top of his ladders, but he must have heard me groaning in frustration as he came down again.

‘Do you know how to get to the Bowland Food Hall?’ I asked.

‘Yes,’ he said. I waited for ages, but as he didn’t say any more I asked, ‘Can you tell me how to get there?’

He thought about it for quite a long time, then put down his bucket and said, ‘are you the driver?’

‘No.’

‘Shift out of me road then, woman and I’ll go tell the driver.’ He went round to have a ‘blokes’ chat’ with G, gave him directions and we drove straight there.

G said he was ‘helpful.’ I said, ‘well, he was to you.’

G Says...

 

WARS OF THE ROSES.

Red or white? Not wine, but roses. The Red Rose as the symbol of Lancashire; White Rose for Yorkshire. It sounds trivial, but, trust me it’s a serious business either side of the Pennines.

Yorkshire folk and Lancashire folk don’t get on. It’s a fact. A power struggle, popularly known as the Wars of the Roses, began as a series of squabbles between two factions of the same family, the Plantagenets, and escalated into civil war between the Houses of Lancaster and York to settle the right to the English throne. The war was only ended in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field when Henry Tudor, soon to become Henry the Seventh defeated Richard the Third.

1485 was a long time ago, but old rivalries persist to this day. As a ‘foreigner,’ technically, although still a proud son of the North, I can see differences. Yorkshire is much, much bigger for a start and Yorkies are not reticent about mentioning this, Yorkshire people tend to be taciturn and, let’s face it, pretty blunt, while Lancashire residents are often garrulous and can talk the hind legs off a donkey.

I’m comfortable with all of it. They’re all good Northern stock, well worth the highly prized ‘salt of the earth’ description.

Our Mystery Tour of the Northern Outposts continues. It’s only a mystery to us as we are following our tried and tested regime of going where the mood takes us. Many of our most spectacular experiences came about by taking a ‘road less travelled,’ to paraphrase Robert Frost. Unkindly, others have often remarked, ‘you get lost a lot.’

Asking for directions from strangers doesn’t come easily to me. In any case the system is massively flawed in practise. I’m ‘hard of hearing,’ which sounds kinder than ‘deaf as a post’ and unwilling to suffer the awkwardness of asking for words to be repeated I fall back on a method whereby I smile in a fatuous manner and keep on nodding despite not having understood one iota of what was said to me.

Marigold is even worse as she also nods obligingly, gives fulsome thanks to the stranger and allows them to go on their way.

‘What did they say?’ I ask. Marigold usually replies, ‘I wasn’t really listening, I thought you were.’

In the US, it became even more difficult as kind people often gave us directions including compass points as reference. Marigold declared at one point, ‘it’s no use telling me to go East, where’s East?’

Anyway, Marigold and I possess sang-froid by the bucket-full, we aren’t bothered by such trivial matters as whereabouts on the globe we happen to find ourselves at any specific time, so one person’s idea of getting lost is our concept of freedom. To boldly go…

We left York with a specific destination in mind and ended up in Knaresborough instead, many miles away. So what, we like it there. In fact, Knaresborough is one of our favourite towns, it has so much going for it. We first visited well over 40 years ago and look forward to a return trip every single time. It’s an intricate warren of medieval streets and stone staircases that weave their way up and down the hill. The town centre is perched high up on the cliffs above the River Nidd and the railway viaduct across the Nidd Gorge is a spectacular example of Victorian engineering.

We once spent two weeks in a quaint little cottage in Nidderdale – it was in my early ‘writing’ days and I was hoping to find a peaceful, relaxed haven in which I could meet a fast approaching deadline. No chance. Nidderdale, in fact the whole of the Yorkshire Dales offered far too many distractions.

That cottage was just outside Pateley Bridge and we both remembered the pies in a butcher’s window and the Oldest Sweet Shop in England, both in the Main Street. It was an early introduction to Yorkshire attitudes. We had remarked on the large meat pies in a window display, only for a complete stranger to amend our description of ‘large’ to ‘massive.’

‘You’ll not find a bigger pie anywhere,’ the man insisted. ‘Biggest in the world, I reckon.’ Okay, we thought, not having ever really considered rating meat pies by size before, but the knowledgeable local wasn’t finished with us yet.

‘That sweet shop up the road,’ he added, nodding at the shop where a sign boasted of being the oldest sweet shop in England. ‘Oldest in the world, is that,’ he told us. ‘Never mind England, it’s the oldest in the world.’

That’s typical Yorkshire; it’s England’s largest county, by some distance, and Yorkshire folk, like Texans, are rarely accused of reticence.

We were reminded of that earlier visit to the area on arrival in Knaresborough which is the home of Ye Oldest Chymist Shoppe – not a typo - the oldest chemist shop in England.

Well, of course it is!

Records reveal John Beckwith was dispensing medicines in the shop in 1720, but this use of the premises may actually date from much earlier because the building is over 200 years older and contained "dispensatories and herbals" from the seventeenth century. I very much doubt any branch of Boots the Chemist was ever described as a ‘Chymist Shoppe,’ but of course they had the misfortune to have originated in Nottinghamshire, not Yorkshire.

The River Nidd splits the town into two. One side of the valley climbs up to the town centre and the other is densely wooded. Tucked away in that woodland is Mother Shipton's cave which has been open to the public since 1630 and in typical Yorkshire fashion is claimed to be England's oldest tourist attraction.

We’re not fans of ‘tourist attractions’ – but in this Covid era you would have to prebook anyway and we hadn’t which saved us £16. It is claimed Mother Shipton – real name Ursula Sontheil - correctly prophesied many events including the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Ah, okay, that’s why it’s £8 each then.

There’s also a Petrifying Well which has minerals capable of turning everyday items into stone in just a few months thanks to the process of calcification. We’re very well versed in calcification, there are several petrifying wells in Derbyshire, so we weren’t missing much.

A hermit named Robert Flower who miraculously healed the sick also lived in a cave nearby, but we didn’t bother to investigate further after a local woman told us it was ‘rubbish.’ They don’t mince words in Yorkshire. It saves time and trouble. I approve, but can’t bring myself to be habitually blunt and dogmatic. I really wish I wasn’t cursed with politeness.

The attractions on offer, so far, had been described as ‘rubbish.’ The ruined 12th century castle on top of the hill was another matter entirely. No need for made up tales of long ago there as the fortress has a rich history. The murderers of the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket spent time hiding within its walls during the winter of 1170-71, while Edward III and King John were known visitors and Richard II was imprisoned at the castle after losing the crown in 1399.

It was in use for more than 500 years and served as a key garrison during the English Civil War. However, it was largely destroyed in 1648 when parliament ordered for Royalist castles to be dismantled. Yorkshire thrift ensured that many buildings in the town were built using stone plundered from the castle.

We like castles and it seems we aren’t alone as there were many visitors strolling around the ruins. There are resident ravens, one of them was donated by the Tower of London – ‘levelling-up’ in practise – but of course we were not allowed inside on this occasion. Covid again. It’s a good place for a picnic on the grass with spectacular views down to the river, but it was a bit too crowded for us.

Coach trips are back in business though. One party had a guide who we overheard referencing Thomas À Becket on several occasions. The ‘à’ was never associated with Becket during his lifetime and is a tenuous link at best as Becket wasn’t French and hence the Gallic convention of specifying a name as Thomas of Becket has always irritated me. Leonardo da Vinci, yes I get that, but Becket was born in London and is co-patron saint, along with St Paul no less, of that city.

Becket’s murderers hid away inside Knaresborough Castle for about a year. They were never arrested and neither did King Henry confiscate their lands, but Pope Alexander did excommunicate them. Seeking Papal forgiveness, the assassins travelled to Rome and were ordered by the Pope to serve as knights in the Holy Lands for a period of fourteen years as penance for their heinous crime.

I already knew all this, along with quite a bit more, but the professional guide merely referred to ‘some very bad men who killed Thomas à Becket and stayed here for a while.’ My sole reaction being an audible snort of derision prompted Marigold to say, ‘you’re becoming a lot more tolerant lately’ as we walked away.

The last time we were in Knaresborough I bought a top of the range ‘outward bound style’ coat in a charity shop and after paying for it left the shop without picking it up. I didn’t notice its absence until we were hundreds of miles away. Bitter memories. As we passed the shop Marigold hissed, ‘don’t you dare.’ I quickly assured her the idea of mentioning my abandoned purchase seven years ago had never crossed my mind.

North Face, extra large, navy blue with three zipped pockets, no it’s long forgotten, really.

School history lessons were often dull, but a few names stuck in memory. Turnip Townsend and Jethro Tull were significant figures of the Agricultural Revolution, but it was probably that remarkable man, Blind Jack of Knaresborough, I remembered best of all.

John Metcalf, more commonly known as Blind Jack of Knaresborough, was the first professional road builder to emerge during the Industrial Revolution. Born in 1717 in a thatched cottage opposite Knaresborough Castle he designed and helped to build around 180 miles of road across Yorkshire, Lancashire and Derbyshire. Many of his routes still survive, including the A59 on which we travelled today.

He was blind from the age of six following a smallpox infection. At age 15, Jack became the in-house fiddler at the Queen’s Head in Harrogate, and also became a guide to visitors in the local area. A blind guide? It’s not exactly common, is it?

We once popped into the Queens Head, but failed to spot a resident fiddler although many of the customers looked a bit shifty! Blind Jack eloped with Dolly Benson, the daughter of the landlord of the Royal Oak in Knaresborough, said to be the prettiest girl in the district. Sad really, that he was unable to fully appreciate his good fortune.

In 1745 Blind Jack joined the ‘Yorkshire Blues’, a 64-man militia raised in the district by Captain Thornton to fight Bonnie Prince Charlie and was present at the Battle of Culloden, which saw the decisive defeat of the Jacobite rising by the Duke of Cumberland. Town guide, soldier, fiddle player, not bad for a totally blind man.

He went on to run a stagecoach company running between York and Knaresborough and even a blind man couldn’t have failed to notice the appalling condition of the road. He obtained a contract to build a three-mile stretch of road between Ferrensby and Minskip with his gang of workmen and finally found his calling.

After all that road building, at the age of 78, Blind Jack walked from Spofforth to York - that’s 35 miles - to dictate his life story to a publisher, who printed the biography in 1795. E. & R. Pick’s The Life of John Metcalf, Commonly Called Blind Jack of Knaresborough.

I read the book at the age of 14 or 15 and have only recently tracked down a replacement copy in a dingy second hand bookshop. It details Blind Jack’s road building feats and also his exploits in hunting, card-playing, cock-fighting, bridge construction and sundry ‘other undertakings’.

Upon his death aged 93, Blind Jack left behind 4 daughters, 20 grandchildren and a phenomenal 90 great and great-great grandchildren.

We sat on a bench alongside Blind Jack outside the, (relatively new in a town full of really old pubs) Blind Jack’s pub. The bronze statue, by Barbara Asquith, has been there since 2008, the cost of £30,000 being raised by Knaresborough residents.

Pateley Bridge sweet shop. It's, er, quite old

Pateley Bridge, no crowds at six in the morning

Knaresborough. The classic view from the town centre

There's a castle too. Well, part of one

Mother Shipton, on a good day. She saw the future, so they say

Blind Jack. I think I might have mentioned him.

A bit more Yorkshire, but then it's Red Rose time.

We moved on to Skipton – the name means Sheep Town - where we had booked to stay the night. We’ve been here a few times and always enjoyed it. Skipton High Street has earned the title of Britain’s Best High Street on several occasions and rightly so. It’s a picture perfect market town with cobbled streets, lots of independent shops and various alleys and ginnels leading a visitor to hidden places.

The first time we ever came here we were told (ordered) to buy a pork pie from Stanforth’s butchers shop on Mill Street. ‘Best in the world,’ they said. Of course, this is Yorkshire where boasting is in the regional DNA and anyone with an air of modest reticence would be derided as an ‘out of towner.’

Craven Court is Skipton's Victorian themed shopping arcade and it’s lovely, but apart from the High Street and shopping arcade there are a myriad of narrow side streets and alleys. Skipton’s Market dates back to the (brief) reign of King John. They sell just about everything here and we were lucky to be there on a sunny day. Sheep and cattle aren’t auctioned in the High Street these days, we passed the new site on our way in, so Marigold missed out on the chance to bid for a pet lamb. Or heifer.

We’d been let down by our intended hotel – their feeble excuse of having no staff due to Covid related issues cut no ice with me – so I’d booked a last minute deal in a B and B that came with glowing reviews on Trip Advisor. Yes, I know, lots of five star reviews usually just denotes someone with an extended family, but it was for just one night. What could go wrong?

Quite a lot, as it turned out. Our room was above a pub, not a problem in itself, I mused. Until we pulled onto the car park, Marigold just said, ‘Michael Jackson’ and the recollections came flooding back.

We had once booked an overnight stay way up in Northumberland as we were attending a wedding the next day. On Lindisfarne, Holy Island, whichever you prefer. There was an open mic event going on in the main bar, the theme was ‘Elvis and Michael Jackson,’ a pretty incongruous pairing in our view.

Pub singers, those brave or inebriated enough to sing in public, all imagine they have talent. Very few do, but an audience of folk who’ve been supping beer all night is usually pretty tolerant. We endured a few locals imagining they sang like Elvis. As is often the case, many actually resembled Elvis, but in such cases the resemblance is always, without exception, confined to the ‘Fat Elvis’ era.

At ‘chucking out’ time, nobody moved. Instead of customers leaving there was an influx of a dozen or so refugees from the only other pub on the island. One pub followed licensing hours, the other stayed open. A local custom at that time. No idea if it still applies.

One of the newcomers sat next to Marigold and offered her a pickled egg. There were about ten pickled eggs, grey in colour and immersed in a sinister liquid that looked like turpentine. He told us he’d borrowed them from the bar of the other pub as he left and would settle up with the landlord on the following night. As we showed no interest in sharing, he ate them all, washed down with several pints of dark mild, one after another.

‘We’re just killing time,’ he confided. ‘ Me and that feller over there, we’re off back to sea when the tide turns at about half two.’ I tried to imagine spending the rest of the night on a small fishing boat, on rough seas, in the company of a man with a gallon of beer and numerous pickled eggs in his ample gut. Not for the first time I decided the life of a deep sea fisherman would not be to my taste.

When a morbidly obese man attempted to convince us he was the embodiment of Michael Jackson we headed upstairs to bed. Our room was directly over the speakers and it was noisier there than it had been down in the bar. It did quieten down eventually, but those non existent licensing laws on Holy Island meant it was already daylight when I managed to go to sleep.

‘This is Skipton,’ I said, reassuringly to Marigold. ‘They’re law abiding. It will be quiet here.’ Oh dear. Our room was approached up some rickety stairs, into a room with a ceiling height that was just over Marigold’s head on one side and only about a foot higher on the other. If I had more hair it would have brushed the ceiling which was fairly claustrophobic, but preferable to the concussion hazard that was the rest of the room.

The floors were bare, well worn oak planks which had the attractive patina of age, but were so uneven we felt we were constantly ascending and descending on our walk to inspect the bathroom. We were about to go downstairs and tell our host the advertised en-suite bathroom was absent when Marigold opened the door of a wardrobe and discovered a minuscule bath, tiny sink and an equally small lavatory. I have seen bigger 'facilities' in dolls houses.

Did we go straight down and complain, demand our money back and storm out into the night? Of course we didn’t; we fell about laughing and made a virtue out of misfortune.

‘We’ve stayed in worse,’ Marigold said. Indeed we have, this was a palace compared to some hotels we graced with our presence in Morocco and Algeria. The sink hadn’t fallen off the wall as we opened the door and there weren’t six incontinent parrots already in residence for a start. No, this would be fine. For one night.

The saloon bar below was about to close and we anticipated a lessening of the hubbub shortly. After repeated door slamming the customers departed, only to reassemble in the beer garden immediately below our window. Single glazed window. The noise wasn’t quite deafening, but came pretty close. The crowd below evidently contained half a dozen of Britain’s finest comedians as every sentence provoked raucous bellows of laughter.

‘What’s funny about that?’ Marigold asked of me after one particularly over the top reaction to some banal remark. I shrugged and resolved to take note of the local beer strength.

It was funny for ten minutes, a pain in the bum for another ten and purgatory for the next hour or so. I couldn’t even open the window to request they went elsewhere – this suggests a polite response which was not what I intended at all – as it was firmly stuck. Of course I could have stormed down the hazardous stairs and confronted a mob of inebriated locals, but Marigold thought that may be unwise.* *I wasn’t sure whether she was worried about my safety or concerned that I may join in the merriment and stay there carousing until dawn.

On reflection I have discounted the latter premise.

‘At least there’s a proper Yorkshire breakfast coming up,’ said Marigold as we contorted our bodies in the wardrobe/bathroom the next morning. In the dining area we both thought the pub landlord looked decidedly rough.

 

'I had a skinful last night,’ he exclaimed, burping loudly. ‘It were a reet good do, tha’ should’ve come down.’ We didn’t bother to explain this hadn’t been necessary as he and his rowdy friends had brought the after hours party to us. ‘You’re not going to forget our breakfasts,’ our host had announced in prescient tone when we checked in. ‘I do my own slaughtering, cure all my own bacon, raise the best laying hens in Yorkshire, you’ll be talking about it for months.’

He wasn’t wrong. Runny eggs, limp bacon, burnt toast, it was vile. We didn’t complain, given the state of him it was a miracle he could even boil water to make coffee. Oh, the coffee was very good.

There were only two other guests. They ordered kippers, to the obvious annoyance of the chef patron, and laughed out loud when they arrived. I don’t imagine they actually ate anything on their plates, but obviously enjoyed the occasion. The woman laughed uproariously at one point and Marigold looked at me with an air of recognition. We’d heard that laugh before. Many times. Most recently at two o’clock this morning.

‘Make sure you get some udder cream from Laycocks, luv,’ the woman called across to Marigold. ‘It’s brilliant stuff.’ Marigold didn’t reply. I don’t imagine anyone has suggested she may benefit from udder cream, at the breakfast table, for quite some time.

We hid items under toast on the plate to disguise how little of the food we’d eaten. As Marigold said, ‘the worst thing about that breakfast was the massive portions.’ We set off again, on foot, in search of a café.

At the top of the High Street was the gatehouse of Skipton Castle. It’s an impressive castle, over 900 years old, dating back to William the Conqueror. ‘That’s in better nick than the bedroom we were in last night,’ said Marigold. We weren’t in the mood for mediaeval castles. It’s not a given!

We found a café, hurrah, and also found Laycock’s udder cream, which is also called udder ointment. It’s a thick lotion used to soothe cows' sore udders. When dairy farmers – or their wives - discovered their own hands looked healthier and felt smoother after using the product, udder cream came to be marketed as a moisturiser for cracked or chapped hands.

‘Hands or feet,’ the woman expounding its virtues pointed out. ‘Dry elbows, all your dry, wrinkly bits, it does the lot really.’

We bought some. Of course we did. Marigold hasn’t recommended it to anyone as far as I know. Despite its undeniable virtues, confessing to using udder cream is a bit of a no-no.

Lest anyone imagine we are obsessed with Yorkshire, on our return journey we diverted to another old favourite, this time in Lancashire. We were last here just before Covid’s arrival and wanted to see if there’d been any changes. I read recently the geographical centre of Great Britain is to be found near Calderstones Hospital just outside Clitheroe. I offer this as an extra bonus fact, as confirmed by those clever scientists who undertake precise measurements on our behalf. I mentioned it to Marigold who failed to show any great interest.

She told me once that she always ignores all forms of ‘lists and measurements’ on principle. This prejudice certainly extends to map reading or any navigational tools.

There was a mist hanging over Pendle Hill, of Pendle witches fame, which ruled out any possibility of us striding to the summit to view great swathes of Lancashire. Mist can be very handy at times.

In 1652, George Fox had a ‘vision’ on top of Pendle Hill which suggested a future in which ‘a great people shall be gathered.’ Fox went on to found the Quakers Movement. If he’d been deterred by a bit of mist, we’d never have heard of James Cadbury or Joseph Rowntree, both eminent Quakers, so the confectionery world would have missed out. I was convinced the late James Dean had also been a follower and a little research confirmed it. The juxtaposition of great philanthropists and a Hollywood legend always struck me as surprising.

On our former visit I parked up between a Maserati and a freshly minted McLaren, being extra careful not to scrape either of them. Today we were in humbler company; the venerable Mini we parked alongside looked ready for the scrap yard and it was my turn to worry about anyone scratching our new car.

The town of Clitheroe actually dates back to Saxon times so by the time the imposing 12th century Norman castle that towers over the town had been built, Clitheroe had already been a community for nearly 1,000 years. That castle, supposedly the smallest Norman castle in England is wonderfully situated, but as yet we haven’t found the energy to climb up to view it at close quarters.

We went to Holmes Mill food hall first of all. Marigold loved it last time we were here and when we saw the old Citroen van was still a fixture I begged Marigold to pose for a photo, as I had done on our last visit. Marigold was far more interested in finding a toilet than posing for pictures and the subsequent photograph shows that all too clearly.

We waved to a woman who was waving at us, just to be polite as we didn’t know her. She came over and said, ‘sorry, it’s Paula, you looked like my cousin, but everyone looks the same now with these masks on don’t they?’ She then said, ‘I can tell it’s not you now,’ at which I didn’t know whether to be relieved or worried.

Paula turned out to be very useful, not only directing Marigold to the ‘Ladies,’ but adding, ‘don’t use the cubicle at the end, even if it’s empty.’ Marigold departed looking slightly concerned.

Paula wasn’t finished with me yet. She wanted to know, my views on ‘why television people think unless it’s a programme about Yorkshire we won’t be interested. The Yorkshire Vet, All Creatures Great and Small and that one about the shepherd woman who’s had about twenty children, what’s wrong with farmers and vets in Lancashire, why does it have to be stuffin’ Yorkshire?’

I shook my head in sympathetic agreement, hoping Marigold would be back soon, but the diatribe continued a fair while longer ending with, ‘don’t get me wrong, I watch ‘em all.’

There’s your answer then, I thought. Marigold returned, didn’t even mention the end cubicle, and insisted we left at once as there was a traffic warden outside.

‘I could see from the way you were standing you needed to get away,’ she explained as we went back to our car, parked in the free for two hours car park and not a traffic warden in sight. Who needs facial expressions with Marigold’s expertise in body language?

Clitheroe town centre is a bit of a throwback to former times with its specialist shops. Lots of them. Byrnes Wine Shop boasts of a vast underground storage cellar containing thousands of wine bottles. At one time this would have been an irresistible attraction, but as I no longer drink wine I didn’t bother. I no longer eat sausages either – another pleasure done away with; there have been so many downsides to plotting a recovery from heart failure – but we pressed our noses against the glass frontage of Cowman’s Sausage Shop with great interest. A placard stated, ‘Our sausages contain no slurry, slurp or goo, just quality meat.’ Well, that’s good to know.

Our previous visit to the Food Hall

This trip. Marigold appears to be prioritising a call of nature over posing for photos

Food Hall treats

Pendle Hill

Yes, of course there's a castle here too.

Not Yorkshire, not Lancashire, but Cumbria and one of our favourite towns

A trip out on a sunny day. Kirkby Lonsdale is not in Yorkshire or Lancashire, it’s in Cumbria but not many people know about this wonderful little town. It’s close to the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales and they get all the attention. Rightly so as they’re glorious, but fewer tourists is a bonus for repeat visitors like us. You can even park here. It’s a lot easier than trying to find a parking space in somewhere like Ambleside or Windermere in the summer. As we know only too well.

We’ve been here a fair few times now and on this occasion we got waylaid on our way in when Marigold saw the sign for Booths, the self-styled ‘Waitrose of the North’ and we had to go in for a wander round.

It’s not exactly a quest to visit every Booths store, but we’re well on the way to doing just that. Just to put this in perspective, there’s only 27 of them, confined to Lancashire, Cheshire, Cumbria and Yorkshire; a lot easier than setting out to visit every Tesco in England.

In 1847 the founder, Edwin Henry Booth, started trading with a one sentence ‘mission statement’ - to sell the best food and drink available, in attractive stores, staffed with first class assistants.

I was particularly taken, on our first ever visit, by the display of bread on offer specially made to mark the year of my birth. Unfortunately, on investigation, this wasn’t entirely the case. The bakery supplier, Bells of Lazonby, was established in 1946 and produce a commemorative loaf bearing that date. Nothing to do with me at all. Yet another crushing blow to my fading sense of self worth.

Kirkby Lonsdale is pretty compact. In every sense as it’s both pretty and compact, with many independent shops, charming cottages and cobblestone streets. It’s one of those places you can visit for an hour or two and on leaving wish you lived there.

With our recent trip to Skipton fresh in our memory, it was interesting to find another rival for the Best High Street Award as Kirby Lonsdale was runner-up in the 2016 Competition.

For those who place culture and aesthetics above cute shops and cafes – a group of which I’d scarcely dare claim membership - Ruskin’s View is probably Kirkby Lonsdale’s greatest feature. Our plebeian, uncultured natures probably explain why after a dozen or so visits to the town over many years we’ve never taken the trouble to include it in our ‘must do list.’

Until now!

Walking past a ridiculously pretty example of a ‘chocolate box’ cottage we sat on a bench at the edge of St Mary’s churchyard overlooking the panorama of the Lune Valley, the River Lune in the foreground, with rolling meadows set against lush green hills as a backdrop.

Impressive.

Ruskin’s view is so named because John Ruskin decided to announce in 1875 that he thought it was one of the loveliest views in England ‘and therefore the world’. A bold claim to be honest, and I assume Ruskin didn’t get out much. But, as ‘views’ go, it is a really good one.

Ruskin was a big fan of the art legend JMW Turner, who’d painted ‘Kirkby Lonsdale Churchyard’ and what we now call Ruskin’s View, which is how Ruskin came to know about it. I’ve subsequently looked at the Turner painting and it was certainly not painted from the bench we sat on, but I don’t suppose that bench was there back in Turner’s day.

We could have reached the churchyard from the river itself by climbing 86 irregular stone steps – all different sizes - installed for that exact purpose. Oh, come on, that was never going to happen.

As we sat in the lambent sunshine a middle aged couple puffed up from below, giving the impression of having climbed 860 steps not 86, barely glanced back at Ruskin’s View and asked us if we knew the quickest way to The Milking Parlour Ice Cream Shop as they were both ‘gagging for a ice cream.’

Priorities, eh?

We forgave their crass indifference to the wonders of nature as it was a warm day and their decision to clamber up those steps from the river seemed to have been a massive error of judgement. The man, when he could find enough breath to speak, was apparently determined to explain, in massively self-exculpating fashion that the decision to climb the steps had been one of the best decisions ever known to mortal man and was to be recommended to all and sundry. His puce complexion and weary attitude illustrated a very different tale.

As for the ice cream shop, I enjoyed the moment of irrational superiority that an ability to impart accurate directions habitually engenders and they waddled off, puffing and blowing, in search of ice cream, that reliable source of relief for the weary.

The Milking Parlour is a special place. What makes The Milking Parlour special? Fresh ingredients and people who really understand their trade. Ice cream needs milk. That’s pretty basic. The Crackles Family of Mill Farm have been dairy farming in Burrow, a couple of miles outside the town for over 60 years – 150 Holstein Frisian cows if you need to know more – and as soon as the morning milk has cooled it’s ready to be turned into ice cream. Cow to Cone, as the sign says. It’s made to an authentic Italian gelato recipe and is as good as any ice cream we’ve ever tasted in England.

We didn’t bother with ice cream today as there were at least a dozen people in the queue, and another dozen outside the chip shop next door, none of them masked. I’m averse to queuing at the best of times and especially so in the Covid era, but we’ve been here on queue free days and regretted missing out on an ice cream treat on this occasion.

Just along the road was a terraced house with a collection of junk outside. I’m not being unkind, it’s an accurate description. A sign advised interested passers by to ‘shout hello for attention.’ We didn’t imagine the owners afternoon slumbers were likely to be disturbed by constant shouting.

There were some weird and wonderful road names in evidence. Jingling Lane, Horse Market, Salt Pie Lane - why do ‘lanes’ get the interesting names but ‘streets’ end up with the boring ones?

One of the cottages on Salt Pie Lane was named The Mustard Pot. So much more intriguing than ‘number 7.’

We browsed, wandered, took a few photos as it’s such a photogenic town and had a bite to eat at a café. Number 44, highly recommended and very busy. Our waitress, no longer in the first flush of youth, greeted Marigold like an old friend and constantly referred to a conversation she’d had with Marigold a few days ago. As we haven’t been here in years, this could have been awkward, but Marigold performed splendidly in keeping the misconception alive and kicking. Apparently, our latest grandchild is the image of one of her own. Interesting.

One of the two women at the next table shook the salt container over her plate, the entire top fell off and salt covered all her food. Demonstrating they were English, both responded with hysterical laughter. Just about everybody else joined in to the obvious consternation of a stern faced couple on the other side of us who tutted in disapproval at the merriment.

Lunch is not supposed to be a source of humour, it is fuel for the body and nothing else! We beg to differ. Like many others in that café we find reasons aplenty to have a good laugh.

There’s a brewery in the town and a lovely barn conversion, the Royal Barn would normally have been on our visiting list, but it was closed for renovations. We popped our heads inside and a forest of scaffolding confirmed the project is going to be long-standing in nature so it would have been pointless to hang around for an hour or two until the doors opened again.

We went to look at Kirkby Lonsdale’s version of the Devil’s Bridge on the River Lune. It’s an old one, 1370, and is one of many bridges we’ve visited throughout Europe hosting the legend of ‘the Devil’ offering to build a much needed bridge.

The story doesn’t vary much. Basically, the Devil approaches a canny local, an old man or old woman, offering to build a bridge over a river in exchange for the first soul to cross over it. The old person agrees, the bridge appears, overnight, and the Devil eagerly awaits the first person to cross it in order to claim their soul. Instead the crafty locals send a dog across as, in order for the fable to have validity, dogs don’t have souls.

There’s a ‘greasy spoon’ style van there as well. ‘They do a champion bacon butty,’ we were told by a man whose body shape suggested he ate little else.. Too full to be tempted we missed out. The van has been perched on its site since 1955, far longer than most restaurants, so must be meeting a need.

Not even loosely intended as a tribute to my birth. I am devastated.

The Turner painting that captivated Ruskin. Er, okay, if it's by Turner, must be good, eh? Hmm!

I prefer my view to Turner's effort. Shame he didn't own a smartphone

Marigold adding to the appeal of Kirkby Lonsdale

Now they're proper solicitors' names