You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2008.

Stuff #1: It’s half term, so coherent thought is beyond me. Even though m’husband has taken son-in-the-middle, third-and-final, and dog away for a few days, that means me and my beloved firstborn are still here to wind one another up. Yesterday I cracked and shrieked at him in the middle of a phone conversation with m’mother, because he was pestering and trying to get me out of the study so he could go on the computer. M’mother’s response was very calm: “Rescue remedy?”

Stuff #2: It’s cold. Very cold. I don’t like cold. We still haven’t got around to installing a wood-burning stove in the dining room, and we don’t have central heating (don’t particularly want it, either) so my main daytime heat comes from an elderly gas fire which I think is coming to the end of its life. Probably needs a good clean and service to see us through this winter, then the money must be found for the woodburner in the spring.

Stuff #3: Things are looking up on the work front, with the prospect of an NHS contract. Which means I really really need to get myself more organised. However homeworking has been further compromised by:

Stuff #4: I finally got round to sorting out my facebook password and am now participating. Wasted half an hour this morning checking up on friends and doing the ‘Which Disney princess are you?’ quiz. I’m Belle, by the way, which I find quite appropriate because she’s a reader and pretty practical for a Disney princess. Then I did the ‘which Will and Grace character are you?’ quiz, and got Jack. Which I can’t see at all, personally.

Stuff #5: Facebook let me choose a Christmas tree! So I picked a pretty white traditional one. I was drawn to the gold plated with jewels tree, but decided I shouldn’t be quite so grasping. Now I’ll be wasting more time every day checking to see if anyone has sent me presents. And, shock horror, m’sister phoned to ask if I wanted to go Christmas shopping with her! This is unheard of for my sis, so I wasn’t going to say no. However I then pulled out my planner and could offer her only one evening: Tuesday November 4. I’m teaching every other weekday evening in November apart from a couple of Fridays. But she was happy with that, so we’re headed to Meadowhall next week. Sis thinks she’s going to get everything she wants in M&S, but I’m sure I can contrive to get her further into the mall.

So, today’s pictures. Autum leaves, because I loved the shades on the leaves and also the stalks. I really like to see green and gold combinations, and the way the autumn fade moves across the tree.


M’father has lost all restraint when it comes to buying horses. He keeps phoning to tell me about a new Dales mare or filly he has picked up, and then, in a total change of horsey direction, he phoned to say he had bought an American Standardbred as he wanted to be a racing owner. Here she is, with Gordon, m’father’s second cousin and right hand man in the stableyard (yes, he is smoking, and no, I’ve no chance of getting him or m’father to stop, so don’t bother going there). Her name is Savilla, but he has renamed her Tootsie (personally, I’m sticking with Savilla), she’s 18 months old and next year will go to a racing yard in York to be trained for pacing races.

Savilla is very sweet, quite a calm disposition but when something makes her jump she moves much faster than a Dales pony! Her coat is short and silky and her feet are very dainty, especially when compared to a Dales.

And now, after that elegant interruption to our usual programming, here’s a picture of Waterside Jack in all his hairy winter glory:

My bit of Yorkshire used to contain many coal mines. Combs Pit in Thornhill (where 139 men and boys were killed in an explosion in 1893 – only seven got out alive), Whitley, Shaw Cross, Chidswell, Chickenley Heath, Caphouse, Shuttle Eye at Grange Moor – these are only a few, there were many, many more. This site details all the pits which used to exist in Ossett alone, for example. There are now none, and many people have no idea of the huge role which mining played in their ancestors’ lives.

The Pin the Pits campaign has been launched asking Ordnance Survey to include mine caps and shaft markers on all new maps. I think this is an excellent idea. I love maps anyway; I like to look at the contours and the markers of ancient activity, and putting the pits on there would really bring home how big a part they used to play in town’s lives.

Here are some pictures I took the other day on the former Shaw Cross pit site.

Standing on top of the reclaimed slag heap, looking across the Calder valley towards Thornhill and Middlestown. You get a great view from up here, and could, at a push, pick out where Combs Pit used to be and the chimney and pit head equipment at Caphouse, which is now the National Mining Museum, but my little camera couldn’t cope with the contrast and detail. I shall have to drag m’husband out there with his much more sophisticated equipment. Old stories have it that the shafts from Shaw Cross met the shafts from Combs, underneath the river Calder.

Crappy slag heap soil. Takes years and years to get decent grass growing on these things. There are some tiny old slag heaps in the bottom of the valley near m’parents’ house, which must be a couple of hundred years old, and the grass is better than on this pic but still not that good. Trees seem to grow quite well on them though.

Bits of an old wall along one edge. There are roads on two sides of the site, the Dewsbury Rams stadium and pitch on the third and housing on the fourth. I’m assuming this little wall was the original site boundary.

A lonely gateway leading nowhere. Walk through it now and you’ll plunge into a ditch. The right hand gatepost is lurking in the bush.

I’m wearing my favourite red woolly jumper, my car is covered in condensation and the guinea pigs keep themselves warm at night by burying into a huge pile of hay – so I felt the need to remind myself that we have had a bit of a summer. Here are some pics I took on our rather brief summer holiday:

Sons romping out in the caravan awning.

Sparky’s not enjoying this, but she hangs on in there waiting for them to finish so she can get back to sleep.

Boys and dog on the beach between Redcar and Saltburn. All were very happy; it was a quiet spot with lots of room for running, shouting and ball throwing.

Third-and-final son, his hair blowing in the breeze.

Son-in-the-middle, moving too fast for me to pull my focus.

Firstborn. Favourite phrase on holiday: Don’t take my picture!

The beach and cliff at Saltburn – of which more later.

Really, this summer has been all rain, rain, rain… but it has resulted in an excellent apple crop (there’s so much fruit it’s rotting on the trees in my MIL’s garden) and also some very pretty fungi cropping up in unexpected places.

These were growing out in the open, rather than among the trees where I would expect to see mushrooms/ toadstools/ whatever.

As the leaves fall from the trees there’s some great light in the wood:

See the blur on the right? That’s Sparky chasing Pippa, m’brother’s Jack Russell terrier. The more time I spend looking after terriers, the more grateful I am that I have Sparky. She may be half Jack Russell, but she has definitely inherited that laidback whippet nature. Sparks is also a decent height; Pippa’s legs are so short I fall over her regularly as I don’t notice that she’s right under my feet.

This is one of the views from the path to the woods. If you were driving round the area you’d hardly notice the presence of fields as they’re tucked away behind houses and factories. To take this picture I had to look over the noisy, dusty cement works, but then I see the fields, sky and church (Mirfield Parish) and I feel much more content.

I screamed and shouted until I was hoarse, and clapped til my hands were sore – and all because of the Prince Philip Cup at the Horse of the Year Show. Emma and Faye, daughters of a friend of m’family, are stalwarts of the Badsworth Hunt Pony Club team which this year qualified for the final, and I went down to Birmingham to watch with my friend SarahP.

The whole show is fabulous. I cry regularly as the winners are so ecstatic and the atmosphere is electric. I wasn’t so bad with the tears this year as Sarah, although loving horses and riding, is not such an emotional personage as me, but even she was enthralled and totally caught up in the shouting and cheering. “Come on Badsworth!” and “Go OOOOONNNN Emma!”. One game involved a member of each team wearing an emu suit. The audience gaped in disbelief, the commentator dissolved in a fit of giggles, and the ponies, as one, went bananas and did their level best to avoid going anywhere near the scary feathery things.

Other excellent moments: 1) Ooohing and aaaahing at the showjumping classes. The Foxhunter jump off was particularly good and Sarah, who has never seen live showjumping before, remarked on how much better it was than when watching on TV (this is true. On TV you have no real idea of the size of the fences and speed and agility of the horses).  2) Watching Sarah split her sides laughing as she tried to understand the scurry class (these are 7-month pregnant sides, BTW, and I had a few nervous moments as she laughed so much I thought she was going into labour). 3) The musical ride of the Household Cavalry, ending with the troop leaving the arena at full gallop, with pennants and flags flying. They got a standing ovation, and I clapped so hard I thought my palms were going to bleed.

No photography is allowed, unfortunately, as if nothing else some shots of the ponies and the emu would have been hilarious. So here are a couple of pics m’husband took earlier this year, at Bramham Horse Trials, as Emma and Faye competed in one of the earlier heats for the Prince Philip Cup.

That’s Emma on the left, about to take the stick. She’s wearing a white band on her hat to signify she’s the last rider to go on her team. Don’t know who the other rider is.

The team take off around the arena after winning their heat.

M’sister went off last night to the Horse of the Year Show, so Willis has come to stay with us. I picked him up yesterday afternoon, and m’sister waved us off with a list of instructions and a woebegone expression. “Now I know what it’s like to send your baby to school,” she said.

I thought Sparky would be ecstatic to have her best buddy to stay, but she mainly slinks around looking petulant. Admittedly, Willis is one giddy kipper, and wants to play night and day, so Sparks has taken to wriggling under m’husband’s recliner so Willis can’t reach her.

I’m still tired. I’m also in Reading, because without thinking I agreed to attend a volunteers conference, but I have my laptop, I also have three new books, and I am desperately in love with one of them. Don’t get me wrong, the other two (Margery Allingham: Cargo of Eagles and The Mind Readers – aka Campion mysteries) will be mighty fine, but Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer by Jane Brocket is absolutely luscious. It’s full of recipes for foods from many of my favourite childhood books, such as Milly-Molly-Mandy (Milly-Molly-Mandy, Little Friend Susan and Billy Blunt’s fried onions), The Famous Five (ginger beer, fresh and goey macaroons), Mary Poppins (Mrs Banks’ bribery and corruption cocoanut cakes), Little House on the Prairie (Ma’s hand-sweetened cornbread) and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Mrs Beaver’s gloriously sticky marmalade roll).

Oh, and What Katy Did. I loved What Katy Did, What Katy Did at School, and What Katy Did Next. M’sister and I named our rag dolls Katy and Clover, and when I saw the recipe for Debby’s Jumbles I nearly cried. I shall bake them next week.

I did it, I handed the research project in. On time. After finishing at 2am on Tuesday. Final thing was the acknowledgments page, which went like this (with commentary in brackets):

For my father

John Storry Wrigglesworth

(which is only fair, he paid for it. He also thinks I should write a novel someday, but I strongly suspect I am far too attached to reading to be able to manage that, so this is the closest he’s going to get) 


Also in memory of

Kenneth Douglas Wrigglesworth

Waterside Duke

R.I.P. April 2007

(at this point I laid down my head and cried. Really cried. After five minutes I gulped it down and patted my face dry enough to write…)  


Grateful thanks to Dr Rebecca Lawton, and to my husband and sons for putting up with yet more academic angst.

(And I think I need to forget about a PhD, at least until my sons have all left home).

Once I’d handed it over, at first I was relieved. Then I managed a few hours of elation. Now I’m just plain knackered, worn out, pooped, tired and cranky. Writing those last few pages was like getting blood out of a dessicated old mummy. As in, there was blood (aka inspiration and lifeforce) there once, flowing freely, but now it’s long gone.

I could do with a bit of pampering. I fancied a half day package at Eastthorpe Spa, only a few miles from home. But it’s a bit out of my price range, especially seeing as next week I’m at the Horse of the Year Show and have elected to stay over Thursday night so I can watch the Foxhunter final. So yesterday I made a Malteser cake and keep sneaking pieces at random times of day. I had two after lunch, which was a mistake for stomach comfort. I must find something else with which to nurture and restore myself.

The cake, or rather, half a Malteser cake. Most of the other half is in me.