Posts Tagged ‘library’

Gradbach Mill (day 2)

This is day 2 of a trip to a Youth Hostel (which opened in 1984) called Gradbach Mill. It seems like an odd name to me. Looking up the history tells us the name possibly comes from a Henry Gratebach mentioned as living in the area in 1374.

We decided on the full breakfast to start us off: orange juice, grapefruit, cereal, big fry-up, toast, & tea. We set off walking up the hill. Initially on the road we soon came to a turn off and began the cross country stuff. OS map in hand we were making for a village I’ve mentioned in a previous post but will keep it as a surprise for now. Here’s a narrow bridge over a stream

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Then just a bit further on a TV aerial attached to a drystone wall. We couldn’t immediately see which house might be using it but closer inspection revealed the wire to it was broken. It does show how difficult it is to get reception in the area and the lengths people will go to to try and get a signal. (You might remember I mentioned that the hostel didn’t have any for TV, phones or PC.)

After crossing a few more fields we were onto tarmac for a short while. The road had been resurfaced recently and there was a 10mph speed limit sign. Here it is.

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This gentleman had obviously fallen over. We deduced he had probably been running and therefore exceeded the speed limit causing him to end up flat on the road. (He seems to be pointing at the sign to warn us.) We thanked him and moved on. There wasn’t time to help him but we hoped he was ok.

Across a few more fields and we were nearing our target. Here’s the sign

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Yes, it’s the sign for a village called Flash. If you remember the post from 10.4.13 (I is for interesting) you will know that this is the village whose height above sea level has been measured and found to be the highest in England and in fact the whole UK. We wondered what to expect but set off on the 1 mile to get there indicated by the sign; not surprisingly it was all uphill! The edge of the village is some way out from the houses and here’s the sign. Shortly after, a cyclist went past us and we almost felt as if we should be cheering and running alongside like they do in the Tour De France and maybe shouting Allez-allez. We didn’t.image

And a little further on in the village itself we saw this sign on the wall of the pub

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Yes that’s right – the highest pub in the British Isles. If you need an edge that’s not a bad one is it? After 2 hours walking across fields, up hill and down dale we were ready for a quick stop: a drink in the highest pub in the UK would be nice. We knocked on the door and were told that it didn’t open till 4pm! (It was 10.58am.) There are some who believe the term “flash money” comes from the alleged counterfeiting of banknotes in the village. It’s a nice idea and seems to fit but it’s probably an inference made from a novel (Flash) written in 1928 by Judge Alfred Ruegg rather than historical facts.

The next building was the old schoolhouse.

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And a little bit further

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Of course there’s no “new” police station.

We carried on and came to the local primary school. Here’s the sign.

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Now read that motto under the logo at the top: ‘Reaching Ever Higher’. Remember where we are – the highest village in the UK! I liked that. However after a bit of research and a conversation with a local person we found out that the school was actually closed. Apparently, in Sept 2012, the school roll fell from 7 in 2011 to zero pupils and the school closed at the end of Dec 2012. The local council said that in the last 10 years only one child had been born in the catchment area. Property prices also meant it was difficult to attract younger families to the area. The village had had a school for over 250 years (since 1760) so very sad it could not continue. (The Ofsted inspection in April last year gave a figure of over £22,000 funding required for each pupil; a comparable figure for my local urban primary school is £3,700 per pupil.)

Next building of interest was this one

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It looks like a large square house but originally it was a Wesleyan Chapel built in 1784 (and rebuilt in 1821 according to the date stone). There were 60 members of the Methodist Society which grew to 90 by 1790. In the 1851 Census there were 180 attending the evening service. It closed in 1974 and, as with many old chapels, is now a private house.

We walked on. Although a fair way out of the village we came to a place called “Flash Bar Stores And Coffee Shop”. We got some food here as it was almost lunch time. As we sat outside this vehicle pulled up in the parking area next to us.

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On the top right above the windscreen you might be able to see “Your Library”. Yep that’s right in these more isolated places there is no local library so the villages depend on a mobile one. I spoke to the driver who told me he covers quite a large area. Each stop has a scheduled time so people know when to expect him. While we were there a couple of folks came; one lady had an armful of books. I do hope this service will keep going as it’s a big help for those who can’t get to the town libraries often miles away.

After lunch we walked all of 20 feet (6 metres) across to the Traveller’s Rest for a drink. The place had a bit of a theme of “ye olde England” with the toilets being labelled – Knights & Damsels.

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Soon it was time to head off as we were only half way round on our walk and it had taken 4½ hours so far. (Lunch and drink though had taken longer than we had anticipated!)

On a lane we came to one of those stalls left unattended with an honesty box for stuff you buy. Although we didn’t buy anything there was a note hanging on it

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I think you can probably read it. Imagine that a colony of Wallabies once existed in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

This next pic looks simply like a stone bridge.

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Could be anywhere? No, this is quite a special place called “Three Shires’ Head”. It’s the point on Axe Edge Moor where the borders of 3 English counties meet: Cheshire, Derbyshire & Staffordshire. It’s an 18th century packhorse bridge over the River Dane; remember that’s the river that our Youth Hostel in its original incarnation used to drive the big water wheel that powered the mill machinery.

The rest of the route back had one difficult part. We came to a field of cows and of course we needed to be the other side. When you get close up to cows you realise just how big they are and how easily just 2 or 3 could cause you a lot of damage. You don’t mess with cows, you will lose! (Same for horses by the way – when our kids were younger we were walking across a field and a herd of horses surrounded us. Unsure of how to react, and being townies, we tried to push our way through. Man versus horse – another one you’re not going to win. Fortunately something took their attention and a small gap appeared so we could make our escape.) We skirted the herd of cows keeping close eye on them. Heads came up and a few started heading towards us. We took a bigger sweep out onto a farm track behind another wall before coming back into their field and heading for the stile at the other side.

And soon we were back at the hostel. Then it was evening meal, more backgammon & head off to bed for night 2. We liked this place.

 

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An inconvenient birthday

About three years ago, I was in my final year at uni and my dissertation was due three days after my birthday. I was planning to let my birthday go by and then celebrate when my dissertation was finished.

I’d had a bit of a bust up with my flatmate, which consisted of her telling me that the flat was too messy and me agreeing but saying I couldn’t do anything about it at the time as my dissertation was due. I was therefore holed up in the library the majority of the time, trying to avoid more confrontation.

I had been to America the previous month, doing research for my dissertation, so it was really important to me that I did well. I hadn’t eaten or slept properly in days. Or changed my clothes. I just needed to get it done.

In the midst of all this, a friend said to me, “O, let’s go out for dinner for your birthday.”

I was like, how oblivious can you be? I’m clearly way too busy right now. Just hold off until the weekend and then I’ll be free.

In the nicest possible way, I kind of said, “I’d prefer not to.”

But he was insistent. “Yeh, let’s go for dinner for your birthday.” Another friend was there, looking at me expectantly.

I then kind of tried to say in a nice way, “Ok, but it needs to be really close by so that I can come straight back to the library.”

But no! He wanted to half way across London to Paddington. What. On. Earth! This is ridiculous. And really annoying. Why would you go all across London when there’s plenty of places for dinner near uni and you know I’m busy.

“It’s a great little place which does Lebanese food.”

I’m sorry, pardon? Lebanese food? You’ve brought me all the way across London to a random little restaurant, right in the middle of working on my dissertation and not being in a good mood after having a bit of an argument with my flatmate…. For Lebanese food. I mean there’s nothing wrong with Lebanese food, its nice, but it’s not like I’m a well known Lebanese food lover. Italian, yes. French, ok. Thai, I’m there. But never in a million years would I choose a Lebanese restaurant myself.

“Just go into the pub next door for a quick drink while I make sure everything’s ready in there.”

What. On. Earth. I need to eat and leave ASAP. I don’t need to be hanging around ‘having a drink’. I was on the verge of saying, “Thanks for the effort and everything but I’m going to go now. I’m trying not to offend you because I see that you’ve made loads of effort but I have to do my dissertation.”

Anyway, I go into this pub with my other friend, while the organising friend goes to the restaurant. We go in and there’s a bar upstairs that I’m told to go to as it’s quieter.

Up the stairs I go, into the little bar and….

“SURPRISE!” shout a load of my friends. I look into the room, see everyone looking at me and walk off…..

Not the traditional response, I realise. But really now… A party all the way across London, three days before I’m due to hand in my dissertation, my final peice of work for my degree, the culmination of three years of hard work. Really?

I sat in the toilet for about 20 minutes assessing the situation while another friend convinced me it would be fine. Eventually I chilled out a bit and rejoined the party. And it was lovely. Of course it was lovely. It was fabulous to see everyone in the same place. And I had a great time after managing to force myself to forget about the deadline. But I’m not going to lie, it was extremely badly timed.

The same friend who organised it also got me a nice dress (to wear to the party, but when he tried to convince me to wear it, I gave him a look that said I was not pleased). A few weeks later, I decided to wear the dress somewhere. I put it on and it was faaaaar too big. He had bought me a dress two sizes up from what I wear. TWO sizes up! How can you guess a dress size which takes someone from an average size to a definitely quite large size?

You know sometimes when you’re like ‘Are you EVER paying attention when I speak or do anything?’ That was how this incident felt.

How does a person sitting in a library day in day out for about two weeks, three days away from handing in a peice of work which really matters to her, make you think, o I’ll throw a surprise party right before her hand in date?

And that is my one and only experience of surprise parties! No-one else has thrown one for me since. I think I know why…

When not to fall asleep (and a little bit of Joan Rivers)

Back to my gap year today for some handy hints on how not to behave when in a position of importance.

We ran a newspaper, Lucy and I, which was the only town newspaper. It was important that we reported all the local events as people in the town were quite proud of their little local paper. I can’t tell you how many HIV/AIDs workshops we went to. Everything that was happening, we were at.

So the biggest and best event of the year had arrived. Independence Day! Everyone had been looking forward to it for months. Plans were under way, the kids from the local schools had fantastic little routines organised, the mayor would be there, the country’s national football team would be there. It would be AMAZING.

The day before we had been at the local Crayfish Derby, which was massive fun. But it was quite a way out of town and we had had to leave midway through to walk back into town for a meeting about youth empowerment and small businesses. After the meeting we had then walked back out of town, quite a trek, to the Crayfish Derby to finish reporting on that. Walking under the sun is quite tiring.

The next day, we woke up early to go to the Independence Day celebrations, which were just at the bottom of the hill we lived on. Easy. We arrived, found some seats in the stadium and waited. It’s quite normal to wait a while for most stuff but it takes a little bit of getting used to when you first go there. They played a bit of Celine Dion, they loved her there. Some kids did some dancing. We waited. The sun beat down on our faces. We feebly made notes in our notebooks. And kept waiting.

And then we made that fateful decision. We needed some water, we were far too hot, we were going to faint, it was urgent! We left our seats and saw a good friend arriving. He looked puzzled about why we were walking out, not in. We explained that we’d be back in a mo. We just needed some water. We were far too hot. See you soon!

We staggered up the hill, gasping. When we got home we gulped tons of water and sat down for a second to stay out of the heat until we had recovered…. And then we woke up, disorientated, and ran out of the house, and looked down the hill. And the celebration was over! Oops! We’d been asleep for the whole day!

We had to write about it for the newspaper though. Everyone would be expecting it. And it had to be front page, it was the biggest event of the year. Damn.

We had about three photos of the kids dancing before the celebrations had started. We blew them up really big so they took up loads of space, meaning we didn’t need to write as much. We worked in a few of the local schools so we knew they had been organising a special dance routine, so we mentioned that. We had a fairly good idea of what the mayor had probably said, given that we had sat in on a lot of speeches she had made. We talked about people who had been there, like the football team and a few others we had seen before we left. And summed it up by saying it was a great day and loads of fun! Then put it on the front page and hoped no-one would notice. Loads of stuff must have happened that we didn’t mention. Thankfully they didn’t notice but I still wonder how we got away with it!

The moral from today is = Don’t fall asleep when there’s something of national importance happening and you write the most popular newspaper in town.

Feedback from yesterday’s Getting Excited mission, which was to celebrate all things Filipino by wearing red and blue (two of the colours on the flag) and saying Hola to greet people (NOT how they say hello but there’s a Spanish connection and I figured people would at least know what I was talking about) and by having fish for dinner (I remember eating a lot of fish in the Philippines). So in my not-very-spectacular way, I did all of these things and, while it didn’t cause any great variation in my day, it did make me think of my friend who’s birthday it is every time I did something. And that was nice. Because she’s a nice friend. It was nice to be more conscious of reasons why the day was different to the others, instead of being all same-old-same-old.

Today I have two things to get excited about. One is that I’m going swimming when I’ve finished writing this… twice in a week after years of not even owning a swimming costume! I’m doing well. The other is that it’s Joan Rivers’ birthday today. (And the world’s smallest man, but I can’t do very much in terms of getting excited about that. I’m already quite short.) So Joan Rivers it is. On my way back from the swimming pool, I’m going to stop in the library and see if they have any of her books and I’ll spend some time this afternoon being excited about Joan Rivers’ birthday by reading a book she wrote. Maybe I’ll get plastic surgery in honour of her as well….