Tag Archives: Skipton

Be Enterprising. But don’t be Too Literal …

6 Jul

My day job involves fostering enterprise and ethical trading. Meaning that yesterday, I was all smiles when I saw a few of the locals in Addingham selling food and drink over their garden walls – to the thousands of people who have descended upon Yorkshire for the first leg of the Tour de France here.

I was gagging for a drink and had forgotten to pack my water bottle. So I nudged my 9 yr old (who is dyslexic and who also has a dab of dyscalculia – like her dear old mum) to accompany me to make a wee purchase and work out the change da dee dah.

We approached a local chappie who had set out a little table on the side of the street.

DAUGHTER: A bottle of water please. Is it fair trade water?

MAN: Dunno, actually. Can you get fair trade water?

DAUGHTER: Oh, believe me. You can get fair trade anything! So, if it isn’t … and if it’s a bad company what harms people with their water … my dad’ll have ’em for it – yeah?

MAN: Right… That’s 70 pence, my love.

DAUGHTER: (hands over correct money!) There you go.

MAN: Ta. Tell all your friends won’t you?

DAUGHTER: I will do. But it’s probably a bit pointless because it’ll be Monday- when I’m back at school. And none of them are old enough to come to Addingham on their own. And anyway – are you still going to be sitting here then? Selling water?

(Moral of the Story – Tell the world that dyslexic people tend to take things very literally …)

Stop! The water we have here in our Yorkshire taps is far nicer and cheaper than your bottled stuff!

Stop! The water we have here in our Yorkshire taps is far nicer and cheaper than your bottled stuff!





David and Victoria Beckham. See you over the Cornflakes. Okay?

4 Jul

We are currently holed-up in a (‘well-posh’) caravan.  Here in the Yorkshire Dales. We come to this wee hidey-hole very often. And this weekend we are up for a double treat. Because the Tour de France is heading – literally – past the end of our lane. Twice! On Saturday 5th and then again on Sunday 6th.

Now normally, I would happily provide a broad clue as to our exact whereabouts.  i.e. ‘everyone should know about this – this is THE most stunningly beautiful location in the world!’

But today, I got confirmation that a certain David and Victoria Beckham are staying only a few hundred yards away, in one of the swankiest yorkshire hotels known to man and to beast.

So I am tying to create a blog that  meets my own ever-burning need to remind the world that ‘if you live in the UK and have never spent time in its biggest county – YORKSHIRE – then you have never lived…’ as well as proclaiming a big welcome to the Beckhams for Le Tour de France. And sure, I want to protect the whereabouts of the B Family.  So, in an attempt to make the Beckhams feel at home in the Dales – here is my wee missive:

“Dave and Vicky – we’re only a 10 minute walk away from you. But if you want to dodge the security and the press,  just shove a fleece on yourselves and travel in the Fiat Panda. We’ve left it at the end of the hotel’s drive – with the keys under the front right tyre. They’ll never recognise you in a custard-coloured yellow Panda!

We’re at the nicest caravan  on the site. The one next to the stream with the home-made herb garden. And we have a load of post-England World Cup Carlsberg that needs necking. We’ve sorted out the fold down bed in the living room area for you (the springs no longer poke-through as badly as they did last year.) So, yeah. Just pitch up whenever you feel like it. And the only things that you need to be aware of is a) that Dave wouldn’t be allowed to kick a ball about on site. And b)  it would really naff the rest of us off if he spent ages in the teensy bathroom – doing his hair and posing about in his underpants, and all of that. But yeah – otherwise! See you tomorrow over brekkie! As well as the cornflakes, we’ve got muesli and some f those french pain au chocolat thingies from Morrisons!”

A Yorkshire caravan site good enough for any of us - and the Beckhams too!

A Yorkshire caravan site good enough for any of us – and the Beckhams too!



So exclusive in fact, that I have just heard that

Bicycles … Yorkshire … Africa?

19 May

Me. Fresh as a daisy! Yeah, right.

Back from sub-saharan Africa … a houseswap … a work-related project … and a ‘holiday’ (employing inverted commas here because is it *ever* a holiday when accompanied by humans under the age of 21 who happen to be your own, delightful offspring?)

So much to report on  and to ruminate over after our little jaunt to The Motherland. To begin with – how we dealt with such an enormous lack of internet, cell phones, a TV, doorbells and immediate neighbours (none within a mile …)

All of this was utterly weird at first. And then it became incredibly wonderful.  And I am missing it already. After the first few hours of adjustment, we began to see it all as a bit like a gift from the big guy upstairs (NB – apologies to my Brit next-door neighbour, Lisa  – who really shouldn’t take offence at the above paragraph. Our Lisa is welcome anytime of the day at our slum – especially if the cuppas are accompanied by our usual bitch-fest with regards to certain Kirklees household refuse collectors!)

But one thing that I am really noticing since we got back is the sheer volume of giddiness with regards to Le Tour Yorkshire here in The Valleys.

Don’t get me wrong – I am chuffed to mintballs about the fact that Le Tour is going to be wheeling it’s way through God’s Own Country. Many of our local writer-sorts worked their batties off in order to get a teensy bit of grant-funding so that we could mix n’ mash writing and the arts and expose the usual wheely-obsessed sorts to our local scribbling talent (YOU GO Holme village and the Yurt and our postcard project!)

But having had many conversations with desperately poor people in southern Africa as to the the tiny things that would improve their lives, I cannot help but have a slightly different perspective on things on my return home.  Apart from food, healthcare and education – one of the things that cropped up time and again was ‘transport’.

“Just a bicycle to share between our families, would really make such a difference,” was something that we heard an awful lot…

Owning a bicycle would mean that those people in Namibia, in rural Botswana, Zambia, Zim or South Africa – those who might live out in the former townships and who are the fortunate ones to have jobs out in the towns – don’t have to spend one-fifth of their meagre wages on transport. Owning a bicycle would mean access to emergency help when problems arise. Owning a bicycle would mean true independence – a foothold on the ladder to dignity. Owning a bicycle would mean having enough food in order to stop your children from dying of malnutrition.

And really, I am not exaggerating this last point. I’ve just arrived back home to the UK. I witnessed a deterioration in circumstances for the poorest people in Namibia since only a few years ago, when I lived there myself. I saw what a difference just a few pennies a week can make. In terms of life and death amongst the bairns in the Kalahari…

But more on that, later.

So. for now.  Let’s celebrate our marvellous chance to show the world how Yorkshire Rocks in terms of our hills and valleys – but let’s also have a serious think about how we can turn some of the media spotlight and the inevitable money involved in Le Tour – into something that will actually benefit the world’s poor.

And yeah. I am inviting Answers and Ideas On A Postcard. Please!

Le Tour Yorkshire – and indeed Holmfirth – came with us. But we would have loved to have left a permanent legacy in a land that so desperately needs two-wheelers…


Laugh? I was choked (or was I nearly strangled?)

22 Jun
Calm waters at Skipton...until it all went horribly wrong.

Calm waters at Skipton…until it all went horribly wrong.

Scene: Driving around Skipton, Yorkshire – trying to find a parking space. Radio 4 blaring out. We are discussing ‘those pics’ of Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi.

Him: Well, they say of course, that Nick Clegg gave a really unprofessional answer. Regardless of the truth of those photos. He shouldn’t have attempted to answer it at all. He’s a senior statesman and should have known better.

Me: Yeah. I would have said – hang on a minute… if you go to Morrisons we can park there for a couple of hours – I would have said, ‘I can’t really comment on this particular situation and I don’t think it’s fair to the people involved and….’

Him: Oh crap! I’ve just taken a wrong turn.

Me: No – no, don’t turn around…if you go down this way you’ll get stuck in the traffic…turn around – go on!

Him: No – I can’t. Oh sod. Hang on, I’ll go the other way.

Me: (back on subject) Yes – it is pretty weird that Nick Clegg tried to go down the path of giving people his overall opinion on domestic violence. And anyway. Why do we call it ‘domestic violence’ if it’s going on in public? That’s just bloody daft that is…Hey! You’ve made the wrong turning again! Honestly! How many times have we been to Skipton? You’re bloody’ useless at directions aren’t you? My dad was right….you’re like a…

Him: (interrupts me) Nyeh Nyeh Nyeh…. (with his best ‘stop nagging me’ voice)

Me: But also and just turn down this road here ’cause that’s the best way to Morrisons – I mean, also if you DID see someone slapping someone else about in public, then surely you would have intervened? Surely people in the restaurant would have commented amongst themselves and someone would have gotten to the newspapers or….here we go. There’s a space just over there.

Him: Well. You’d hope so. But this was Top Notch London wasn’t it? This was Another World away from the likes of you and me…

Me: (correcting him) You and I. And apart from all of that, surely Nick Clegg should have said that it was just … Well. Just Well Chavvy behaviour! I mean – knocking your other half around in public? In the Well Posh Side of London! I mean – those Rich People Of The Establishment sorts should be setting an example for the rest of us plebs….

Him: Sorry but you’re assuming the story that the media are spinning out here…Is this a One Way Street?

Me: No – there would be big blue signs if it was a One Way Street. And – anyway – For God’s sake! The woman looked scared! I don’t care HOW much dosh her parents had, how bloody loaded she is… and how much her husbands has – she looked well upset!

Him: Yeah, fair enough. But photos tell a different story sometimes. Those Charles and Di photos in the Guardian denied that they were about to split up….it was all ‘oh this is just how the media depicts the photos in the tabloids and they are well happy together…’ Oh shit – is this a new mini roundabout?

Me: Yes. You’ve driven here before. What’s the matter with you? We’ve parked here a million times before!

Him: I don’t know. It’s weird when the kids aren’t in the back and killing each other. I’ve lost all normal reference points Is this road next to the canal then? Anyway. All’s I’m not disagreeing with you. It’s a bit tragic. It’s like The Establishment can’t even comfortably talk about abuse – physical abuse or whatever we’re calling it these days.

Me: Well, I’m with you on that one. Just goes to show you how the whole story changes when the affluent are involved….

Him: Yeah. I reckon they’d all be okay to talk about it and have a smooth and really articulate opinion on it if it had happened in your Stalybridge Bismallah on a Saturday night. But not at some posh restaurant amongst the pig-sick rich in Chelsea….

Me: Look, just pack it in being rude about Stalybridge will you? You’ve got room to talk – you’re from Birmingham! And turn LEFT! For God’s Sake!! Turn Left!! What’s the matter with you?!

(We park up in Morrisons’ car park)

Me: Bloody here at last! The car park ticket machine is over there. Do you think you can find your way to it ok without getting lost?

Him: AARGHHHH! I CAN’T COPE WITH THIS ANYMORE!! (lurches over to me and grabs me by the throat – pretending to strangle me.)


(there is a knock at the window. He stops throttling me and winds the window down)

Man Outside: Er…just saw you pull up and wondered if you wanted my car park ticket. Doesn’t expire for a couple of hours y’see…

Him: Oh. Yes. Thanks. That would be really nice. Thanks!

Me: Awwww… That’s lovely of you! Thanks so much! That’s really sweet!

(Man leaves.)

Him: Wow. Just goes to show you…..that bloke didn’t bat an eyelid at us having a massive domestic!

Me: He just felt sorry for you because you’re crap at directions. And anyway. You can’t have a ‘domestic’ in a Fiat Panda. There isn’t the room.
* Note to reader – Of course, we then nearly wet our respective car seats with laughter. Huge irony and Huge Silliness. But as always…. an important point.

As a person who works alongside people who have suffered terribly as a result of violence in the home – this little sketch by no means wants to make light of the whole issue. Rather, it aims to emphasise the ‘Niceness’ – that infamous ‘Politeness’ of the British…

1. Was the Oh-So Nice man who wanted to give us free parking really ignoring the fact that he had seen some kind of bizarre ‘throttling/choking’ motion upon a wee blonde lady in the passenger seat? Was he simply Far Too Polite To Comment?

2. Or was he a Nick Griffin Sort? (Ha-ha – throttling your wife is So Hillarious!)

3. Or was he ‘fast’ enough to see that we were Having a Larf?

Looking back on the entire Skit / Reality Dialogue – Option number 1 worries me the most. Yes I was laughing (me and the other half both were.) It was bizarre, surreal in the extreme. But both of us were left wondering this…

At what point do ANY of us feel comfortable with saying to a total stranger who seems to be involved in some kind of assault or even crazy-wrestle – ‘Hey- all okay there?’…