Thursday, June 13, 2013

UK2013: Haworth

Diane wanted to take me to Haworth (pronounced Howuth, not Hay-worth, apparently), which is up on top of the hills about eight miles away from Hebden Bridge. We took a bus, which picked its way through the narrow roads into the hills above the town. The weather had produced lots of snow overnight; and while it was pretty light in the valleys, the hilltops got plenty of it.

Excuse the quality of the first few pictures, they were taken through the bus windows! Here's some brown grass looking strangely colourful against the stark white.

Some of the many dark dry stone walls that delineate the fields.

You have to pass through the village of Oxenhope on the way. This is the village church.

An Oxenhope village street, with some washing very optimistically put out to dry...

Once in Haworth, we visited Yorkshire Cat Rescue, where Diane volunteers. She films cats awaiting homes and posts them up to YouTube. We spent an hour meeting various cats and kittens; they were all cute. If you want a cat and live in the north, get one from here!

The cat sanctuary overlooks this valley, all covered in snow. There were huge fluffy snowflakes coming down; I haven't seen the weather like this in years!

We caught the bus again to take us back through Haworth, down to the main part of the town. We walked through a park and came out by the town hall, here.

Then we started walking up this cobbled street. It was full of interesting and nice looking shops, most of which were shut, since this was a Sunday before noon.

Here's some more. It was a very pretty street. I suspect it hasn't changed much to look at in quite some time.

At the top, we find Haworth Parish Church, and a pub. Behind me was a little brewery which attracted my attention... Another time. Watch those steps in the snow; I nearly went A over T on the way back down, saved only by a hasty railing grab!

Into the church we go. Note the snow coming down, in front of this door. Check out the iron scrollwork hinges, aren't they fabulous?

Inside, it looks like a fairly typical British parish church, if a bit larger than most. Good solid stone arches, carved pulpit etc.

Let's look at the windows. This is the one at the far end as seen in the picture above. If memory serves, the bottom five panels show Yorkshire things to be thankful for; I can see animals and the weather depicted there, amongst other things.

This is at the opposite end, near the door (behind you as you come in). I think this one shows the Apostles.

Haworth was the home of the Bronte family. Patrick Bronte was the vicar here for many years, while his daughters Emily Jane, Charlotte and Anne wrote novels. English Literature students the world over have probably studied these famous works, except in my school. (No complaints. We read 'To Kill a Mockingbird', which was awesome.) To my shame, I have not actually read any of the Brontes' books; a situation that I really must fix soon! Anyway, the Brontes lived in the Parsonage close by the church, and they are buried here (with the exception of Anne).

This is the Bronte Chapel, on one side of the church.

These are the windows on the right hand side, with another tablet commemorating the family.

Back outside, and looking at the choir and altar of the main church.

A couple more windows, featuring familiar names: Saints Gabriel and Michael on this one, with the Good Shepherd in the middle.

Here's a properly British window; Sir Galahad and Saint George. You can just see the Dragon behind St George's legs.

How about a wider shot of the nave, showing the beautiful wooden roof?

Leaving the church, we walked up the old road a little ways and turned to look back at it.

To our right, over the wall, was an enormous graveyard. Some graves were flat, others had vertical stones. That church website I linked to further up says there's something like 40,000 people buried here!

To our left, opposite the graveyard, is the old schoolhouse. There were some workmen braving the cold and snow to replace the old windows with new frames. Look at the new one on the ground; they have gone to town with the framing here. It's probably long since finished by now; I bet it looks great.

Further along this road is the Bronte Parsonage and Museum. We had a quick look in the gift shop but we didn't go into the main house. For one thing, there were hundreds of German school children about to take the place over, and for another thing, I figured I should maybe read some of their books first, to properly appreciate the place.

The end of the road peters out into a footpath, along which lies the Yorkshire moors. And no doubt, lots of mud, in this weather.

Some baby daffodils braving the ice and snow. I was hoping to see a lot more daffs than I saw... the long winter has kept them back.

We walked back down the hill and stopped in a bakery which was about the only thing open... Diane suggested we buy some Yorkshire cake called Parkin, which turned out to be pretty tasty. Wikipedia says that it's made from oatmeal and molasses. It seems to vary all over Yorkshire, and I even found some later in Gloucestershire, but this one was relatively dry; a little like gingerbread but without the ginger.

At the bottom of the hill, across the park and round the corner, lies the Haworth train station. We had earlier seen a steam train leaving - there's a small depot/museum that runs tourist trains in the summer, but we were out of season. However, just as we approached the station, we heard a steam whistle!

I went running in and found this splendid beastie:

Here are the gentlemen operating it. The steam created extra vapour in this cold weather.

So that was a nice surprise. A quick zoom round the gift shop (of course) and thence to the bus stop, for further adventures...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Brick oven: Rebar

It's been a while since Alan has had the time and the weather to work on the oven, but we finally got a chance this weekend. We had a bit of a setback; all the insulation blew off during a storm a couple of months ago. So the first job was to reinstall the fibreglass panels.

Then Alan set about bending lengths of rebar, to make a cage for the outside. Here's the first hoops in place.

Now we have a bottom hoop.

Now we have two more horizontal hoops, and the beginnings of the stucco mesh layer. Alan stopped at this point; more mesh will be added next time. When it's covered, we can think about the stucco layer.

At least now, if we have any more storms, it will be harder for the insulation to escape...

UK2013: Hebden Bridge

Diane wanted to show me around her home town of Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, a place I have long been wanting to discover. She keeps telling me about various aspects of the place and it always sounded intriguing.

We started by taking a walk up the hill behind her house, from which you can look over the town. It's nestled in a valley amongst several hills, as I believe many towns in Yorkshire are. It's more sheltered down there - the Yorkshire moors on the hilltops are quite bleak and exposed to weather, by comparison.

Here's the track we were walking up. There's a house at the top, although we didn't go that far. I love the dark coloured dry stone walls that were everywhere.

Here's the gate that is just visible in the previous picture. Judging by the fabulous and weatherbeaten stone pillars, it's been here a while. A footpath runs down the hill.

Here's the footpath coming from the other direction, with sun glistening on the damp ground. One of the things I miss most about the UK is the extensive network of footpaths. They just don't exist in Texas; it's all private land here; fenced off and with 'no trespassing' notices everywhere. Look at this hillside; you can see the antiquity of the landscape, and that pathway has been trodden into the hillside for centuries.

Once I tore my eyes from the land, I looked out over the houses below, and this is part of what I saw - Hebden Bridge. You can just see some snow on the hill at the top. There's at least two tall mill chimneys in this shot - one up the hill in the distance; one in the middle of town. There were plenty more but they're out of shot.

You can see the whole view in this panorama. Click on the image to make it bigger.

We descended the hill again to go into town. Here's a piece of wall that we walked alongside. Look at the stones here, there's at least three different kinds of moss on them. Everything is very damp and well watered. We were lucky with the weather on this day - there was high overcast and a hint of sun, although it was cold. Yorkshire - like the rest of the UK - has had plenty of rain and snow this winter and it didn't look like ending any time soon.

Down in the valley, there is a river and a canal. Here's some old mill buildings next to the canal. Most are not used as mills any more but house various kinds of business. The water was quite still (apart from that duck landing on the right) as it was relatively early in the morning.

Resident geese come to see if we have any bread.

Here's a view from a little further on, looking back across the first set of lock gates. You can see the water level drops here; the lock is currently at the lower level.

Here's the entire lock. Boats can come and raise or lower the water level in order to pass.

Some of the boats in question. Most of these seemed to be residents as far as I could tell, rather than holiday rentals. Another mill sits in the background.

I liked this one: 'Marge the Barge' :-)

The war memorial is kept in good order. Even though we're in March here, the poppy wreaths look like they were placed here yesterday. Behind here is a park. There are football fields and a kids' playground in here; it was being used by plenty of folk.

This is the Bridge, for which Hebden Bridge is named. It sits in the centre of town, surrounded by pretty squares and shops and pubs.

Amongst the rocks in front of the leftmost arch in the picture above, people have been hard at work piling them up into balanced stacks. There were several; here's two of them. How they stay balanced beats me!

I told you this area had some antiquity to it. This bridge was already 266 years old when America was founded.

They like to jam houses in wherever they can on these hillsides. Building shapes become fitted to their surroundings. That is a cobbled street on the left. The sign reads 'unsuitable for motor vehicles'. Horses and carts must have been fun up and down here, especially in winter.

Here's a Millennium Clock on the side of a building opposite the town hall. The outer rings rotate around the clock face.

This is the Town Hall/visitor centre. This face of the building is original but the rest has been rebuilt and restored; it's quite modern behind here. The river is to the left of the building; the small reddish bit is the end of a bridge.

This chair is inside the building. I thought it was really cool. In case you can't tell, that is an Ordnance Survey map of Hebden Bridge. Hebden itself is on the seat of the chair. There are loudspeakers built in to the high wings of the chair; perhaps you can take an audio tour.

Here's some more houses. There are many rows of terraced houses like this lining the hillsides. Very typical Yorkshire stone.

Diane belongs to an Archery club and we went up to their shooting field to see what was going on. They have a mixture of recurve and compound bows in the club. We spoke to some of the members before wandering up the path alongside the river.

The field is contained within these living hedgerows - I forget what kind of tree/bush these are made from, but they are woven into the hedge forms while the plant is growing. It's an old local technique that is being preserved.

Back into town; following the river. Here's a wier.

Part of the river is diverted into what is now a gift shop and cafe, but used to be a mill. This water wheel inside turns fairly rapidly.
We watched it for a while over a cup of tea.

Heading back towards the Bridge again, we passed through this square which has an excellent sundial. Too bad there wasn't any direct sun to see it in action, but it's a beautiful piece.

Back through town towards the canal. Next to the tow path, we have these houses, and yet another chimney. I'd like to know what went on here; are there underground chambers below the chimney?

More canal boats. The bridge and the curves of the tow path caught my eye.

A quick diversion over the river and back...

Before ending up in the pub, for a really quite splendid Sunday lunch :-)