Sunday, 6 October 2013

A life full of adventure.

Last year at about this time we had a letter from our GP telling us that we were entitled to a free flu vaccination: one of the perks of being old fogies! So we went along to the local surgery and found a queue that went half way down the road. It was raining. We abandoned the idea of a flue vaccination. This year we had the same letter but the jab was not available at our immediately local surgery. We had to go all the way to Uppermill, about three or four miles away. Such hardship! So after the rain stopped on Friday we combined a visit to the doctor’s with a walk, taking our kindles along so that we had reading matter if the wait proved to be long. In the event, we waited about 10 minutes and were summoned to the nurse’s room, jabbed and sent on our way: a veritable production line. Since then Phil has been sneezing and snuffling. Did they inject him with actual flu and not just whatever mild version it is they vaccinate you with? 

Yesterday I went off on a trip to Holmfirth with my daughter and the grandchildren. Holmfirth, or the centre of the place at any rate, is a picture postcard Pennine village with stone buildings and winding streets full of tat shops (aka antique shops), fancy bakeries and twee boutiques. It really is very pretty. It’s the place they chose to film the old TV series, last of the summer wine and on the outskirts has a fish and chips emporium known as Compo’s Cafe, named after one of the three retired gents who behave like naughty schoolboys in the aforementioned TV series. 

 The purpose of the visit was mainly so that I could visit the wool shop there. I have a knitting project in mind and wool shops are a dying breed in the UK, few and far between, even harder to find than proper greengrocer’s and ironmonger’s/hardware shops. As for fabric shops and haberdasher’s, well, don’t get me started! All of these things still exist in Galicia. For how long remains to be seen but for the time being they are still around and seem to be doing all right. Anyway, we found the wool shop I was looking for, still in the same place as when I last visited it, some ten years ago. 

Now, I have always knitted ever since I was about eight years old but I have never regarded it as a spectator sport. Norwegian national broadcaster NRK is apparently going to air "National Knitting Night" next month, in which competitors will attempt to break the world record for producing a sweater, from shearing a sheep to final stitches. It would seem that the show is part of the country's "Slow TV" phenomenon, which has previously included a leisurely multi-day cruise through the fjords, and 10 hours' coverage of a train journey between Oslo and Bergen. The most controversial show so far has been "National Firewood Night", which featured showing wood being chopped and then eight hours of a fireplace burning the logs. I will never again complain about British or Spanish television. 

 Anyway, after I had bought my wool, we strolled about Holmfirth for a while, admiring the tat in the antiques shops and wondering who bought huge metal giraffes and suits of armour, until the grandchildren declared that they were STARVING!!! They eschewed the offerings of the fancy cake shops and said that they wanted to visit Compo’s Cafe – see above. So we went and bought portions of sausage and chips and rag pudding and chips. For those who have never heard of this latter dish and wonder at the idea of a dish made of rags, here is a description: 

Rag pudding is a savoury dish consisting of minced meat and onions wrapped in a suet pastry which is then cooked in a cheesecloth. The dish was invented in the 19th century in the Lancashire mill town of Oldham, a centre of England's cotton industry. Rag Pudding pre-dates ceramic basins and plastic boiling bags in cookery, and so the cotton or muslin rag cloths common in Oldham were used in the dish's preparation. Rag Pudding is similar in composition and preparation to Steak and kidney pudding, and may be purchased from traditional local butcher's shops in Greater Manchester. 

Personally, I am not a fan but I am just one person. Neither do I enjoy tripe and onions or black pudding but that does not prevent others from relishing these dishes. 

To accompany the food we also purchased cans of cream soda and dandelion and burdock: fizzy drinks from my childhood. And so, having obtained supplies, we set off for Digley reservoir, a local beauty spot where we sat on or near huge boulders to enjoy the fresh air and the food. Grandchild number three manfully made his way through chips covered in curry sauce (aka spicy sludge) and was about to embark on his rag pudding, to me a rather unappetising-looking thing, as I have already said, but he was looking forward to it. At that moment a small amount of chaos ensued. 

A rather inept chap threw his dog’s toy, one of those balls on a string, in such a silly way that it landed in our midst, much to my daughter’s especial annoyance as it struck her on the arm and left dog-slobber on her sleeve. While the rather inept chap apologised at length, his dog, clearly a crafty beast well able to spot an opportunity, ran round the back of the group and wolfed down the rag pudding. The small boy was not best pleased but did eventually see the funny side. 

These are the adventures that can happen in the currently sunny north west of England.

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