Parlez-vous Tyke

Anyone with the slightest interest in cycling will have heard of the Tour de France, but I wonder how many will know that the first three stages this year will be held in England. And where will two of these three stages will be held?

Yes, Yorkshire…..but I guess the blog title gave that away 😉

Every year T and I are glued to the TV, watching the race filmed from the motorbikes and helicopters and drinking in the amazing scenery, this year we’d planned to stop at my mum’s and see it all in the flesh, but it doesn’t look like that will happen now.

As I mentioned in an earlier post mum’s house went on the market in April, and sold within a couple of days. Although contracts have yet to be signed, if everything goes to plan, I don’t envisage still owning the house in July when the race takes place.

Stage 1, July 5th, After leaving Leeds and travelling through some of Yorkshires’s magnificent scenery, there will be a sprint finish into Harrogate. I can imagine the whole town will be bubbling over with Tour fever as the riders descend on the town, especially as Harrogate is home town to the mother of Mark Cavendish.

Stage 2, July 6th The riders leave York en route for Sheffield. Some 17 miles after leaving York, they will pass through Knaresborough, then a mile uphill into Starbeck and a couple of hundred yards from my mums house.

All the information about the two Yorkshire stages, plus the stage 3, Cambridge to London, can be read here

Tour fever has also gripped Knaresborough. Those of you who read my blog will know we’ve spent quite a lot of time in this old market town over the last few months. I wrote about the Knaresborough windows, or Trompe l’oeil to give them their proper title in an earlier post.


A new window has appeared depicting Beryl Burton and Brian Robinson, two cycling greats from Yorkshire.


Theres a commemorative section of drystone wall.


and some carved wooden sheep.


There are yellow flags, union flags and French flags flying from almost every building.


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and yellow bikes everywhere.


The countdown, this photo was taken on 6th May, so with my reckoning it will say 50 today.

I love the knitted bunting jumpers. Harrogate Borough Council had put a request out for knitters to help them with their bunting a few months ago, and had added the knitting pattern here.

It appears everyone wanted to have a go as they now have over 23,000 😼

We may have a couple more visits to mum’s house, before the sale is completed so I’ll try and get into Harrogate next time for photos of the bunting there.



Pistol packing Mama

After the last two sad posts I am going to try and lighten the mood now 😉

As anyone who has dealt with the death of a close relative will know, there is an awful lot of private and personal things to sort out.

I knew my mum kept anything of importance in the desk in the back room. So bracing myself for what I expected to be quite a tearful time, I plonked myself on the floor in front of the desk.

The desk in question is a fairly modern teak one, she’d got rid of the solid oak one (and matching table) that we’d had in the family for as long as I can remember, not long after my dad had died, stating that oak was too dark and she preferred teak.

Anyway, what I am getting around to, is that everything in that desk had only been in there since 2000.

I turned the key and opened the drop down flap. It was full of stationery of one sort and another, paper clips, sellotape, pens, pencils, erasers, bluetac, envelopes………… and the list goes on. if I didn’t know better, I’d have sworn she was running a stationery shop from her back room.

I discarded what I didn’t need, closed the flap and moved onto the first of three drawers.

This drawer was easy, it was obviously the keeping in touch drawer, full of unused christmas wrapping and cards, christmas decorations  and birthday cards.

My mum bless her, was highly organised when sending birthday, anniversary and Christmas cards.

The second drawer was full of folders containing old utility bills, plus receipts and guarantees for items purchased.

The bottom drawer had instruction books for almost every item she’d ever bought. An old pipe of my dad’s, two silver cigarette cases and a rolled up plastic bag containing what looked like some silver, bone handled serving cutlery.

I unrolled the bag, reached inside and ……………

“F***ING HELL”…… I shouted out, which made T, who had been quietly reading the paper, jump out of his skin.

 “What ever’s the matter” he spluttered.

“I’ve just found a gun” I replied, as I pulled it out of the bag.

We both stared in disbelief at what I was holding in my hand……….What on earth was my eighty five year old mum doing with a gun rolled up in a plastic bag along with some cutlery.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the UK has one of the toughest firearm laws in the world. Here for anyone interested is the Home Office Guide on Firearms Licensing Law

I knew it had to be reported, but how?

Should I phone them up and risk having a cop car pull up outside my mums house the day after her funeral?

Should I just walk into the police station with a gun?

What if something happened to me on the way there and I was found with it in my possession?

After much deliberation, we decided it was probably best to go to the police station (without the gun), explain what I’d found, and ask them what I needed to do.

A very helpful woman officer put my mind at rest ” Don’t worry, we get all sorts from old folks houses, Lugers are the most popular.

“Just bring it in and I’ll get our firearms officer to take it off your hands”

Walking back into my mums house, T, full of concern  jokingly announced “Oh, they let you out then”

Later that afternoon, after T had offered to go with me for protection (so he said LOL) we returned to Knaresborough.  Sitting on a bus with a gun in my bag, I’ve never felt so conspicuous in my life.

Handing it over to the firearms officer, he took one look at it and said….

“It’s a six shot Belgian Pinfire pistol, dating from the mid to late 1800’s.  As it is an antique, and ammunition is rare or non existent, you are OK to keep it”.

We had a good chat about it, and he gave me his card, to carry with it, in case anything happened on our drive back to the midlands.

One thought did cross my mind, which I mentioned to the officer, Could it possibly have belonged to a woman in the French Resistance, who my nan had contact with during the war.

His reply, “it would be a typical type of pistol carried by a woman for protection”.

If only it could speak, I wonder what it could tell us.


Marks on pistol

Not quite what it appears

Following on from a recent Weekly Photo Challenge post on my other blog Pic a colour 4 me I set myself the challenge, that on my next trip to Knaresborough I would try to locate and photograph as many of the other trompe l’oeil ‘windows’ that I could find.

Leaving Harrogate hospital after visiting mum, we hopped onto the bus back to her house. We I decided instead of getting off at my mums stop, it would be a good idea to stay on the bus and pop into Knaresborough for my ‘challenge’

Dragging T- rather reluctantly with me – for moral support and a second pair of eyes, we jumped off the bus in the quaint Yorkshire market town.

I knew the location of a few of these amazing artworks, so not too hard a challenge, or so I though 😕

The first we found was easy, in the High Street and facing the bus station, I’d seen it many times.


This ‘window’ represents the zoo that Knaresborough once had. Not a very pleasant place, I can remember my parents glee in telling me the zoo had finally closed.

Next we set off down High Street towards the River Nidd, as I knew I’d seen two just off this main street.


This one is in the alleyway leading to the Frazer Theatre, which is just off the High Street next to Tesco. The figures are life size and rather spooky  when first seen.

I then dragged T down one side of the High Street and back up the other, looking for another similar painting of some people entering an open door, which I knew I’d seen somewhere.

After about twenty minutes without any luck, I got the usual……… ‘Are you sure you haven’t dreamt it?’ ….. ‘Are you sure they weren’t real people going through a proper door?’ …. ‘Had I been to the pub first?’

‘Never mind’ I replied ‘perhaps it wasn’t in this street at all, let’s go to Blind Jacks, I know there’s one there’

T’s eyes lit up ‘Now you’re talking sense’ he replied………. Blind Jacks by the way, is T’s favourite pub in Knaresborough.

We headed off towards the pub in the Market Place. It was market day, and the centre of the town was alive with the hustle and bustle of all the stall holders.


While I took a photo of the painting of Blind Jack entertaining the pub clientele, T walked towards the door of the pub hoping to join the real drinkers for a pint, only to find it was another three hours before it opened.

Oh dear, this certainly dampened what little bit of enthusiasm he had with my search.

After checking on the internet before leaving home, I knew others were to be found in the vicinity of the Market Place, and the small streets leading off.

We must have looked a very odd couple, not looking at the stalls, but carefully picking our way between them looking skyward at the surrounding buildings. The odd person we passed, did look at us and then up to see what we were looking at 😀


This one of King John in Castlegate was the only other one we could find, it depicts the first Royal Maundy which apparently took place in Knaresborough 5th April 1210.

‘Aha!’ I suddenly had a brainwave, ‘let’s go and check with the tourist centre’ I said, as I dragged the now totally fed up T with me. Only to find it closed for lunch 😩

‘That’s it, I’ve had enough, I’m going back to your mums house’, he announced as he headed off towards the bus station.

I decided to wait until it opened up, so to kill a bit of time, I grabbed something from a local bakery and went to sit in the castle grounds, overlooking the river to eat it, by which time the tourist centre had re-opened.

The assistant in the tourist centre was extremely helpful, she gave me a leaflet with information about the windows and their whereabouts. She also confirmed there were several temporary trompe l’oeil painted for the annual Feva festival, which confirmed my memory of the ‘door and people’ painting I’d been searching for had not been a figment of my imagination.

Armed with my information and map, I set off in search again, but I only managed to find two more before the light started to fail.


Local Hero, James”Ginger” Lacey, one of the best know fighter pilots of World War II.


Plus a self portrait of Julie Cope,  the artist who painted the zoo and the Guy Fawkes themed one on my Pic a colour blog mentioned above.

Later that evening, when we returned to Knaresborough for something to eat (and a drink in Blind Jacks), I asked the location of ‘I can see the world’s end from here’ painting. No wonder I didn’t find it earlier, it was three storeys up.

The next trip to Yorkshire, I will get that photo and hopefully find the rest 🙂

Below is the leaflet I have scanned (hopefully not illegally) with all the information. I haven’t reduced the images of it too much, so they info should be legible.



A change of direction – part two

With mum improving daily, we decided Thursday would be a day in York.

The Leeds/York train calls at the station in the area of Harrogate where my mum lives, so a five minute walk and we are standing, rail passes in hand, waiting for the train.

The next stop is Knaresborough, the train trundled across the high rail bridge (photo in part one), I tried to capture a photo of where I’d been standing to take the bridge photo……..sorry, I wasn’t quick enough 😩

It wasn’t long before we were pulling into York station.

Where shall we go? what shall we do?

When we’d been chatting to the landlady of  the Dropping Well Inn, she’d mentioned an excellent real ale pub in the city, so that was on T’s priority list. I was just happy to wander around the streets with my camera.

We headed towards the famous walls, that surround the city. A walk of over two miles completely round, we’ve done it before (well I’ve done it several times), so we didn’t plan on doing it this time, but hopping onto them gives easy access to all parts of the city. There is an interesting PDF file on the walls.

The Ouse from Lendal bridge

Jumping off the walls (well not literally, as they are rather high), near Lendal bridge, we crossed the river Ouse and headed into the centre.

We located the pub, but decided we’d call back later for refreshments, so continued to wander around the narrow streets.

They were bustling with people shopping, buskers on street corners and sightseers with cameras (ooops, that was me :eek:)

The Shambles

One of the famous streets is The Shambles, where in parts the building are so close at the top you’d be able to shake hands with the neighbours opposite.

I wanted to take a photograph of Cliffords Tower, that my uncle Gerald had painted, see here so we headed back onto the walls again.

Cliffords Tower

The sky was becoming very dark, as rain threatened, so we dashed over to shelter in the nearby Castle museum. This was a regular school trip during my childhood, I remember being totally fascinated with the old Victorian street inside the building. The Olde Worlde sweet shoppe had a distinctive smell about it, and to this day I can still remember it.

More info on the street here

I’d fancied a walk along the river bank, but as the rain looked like it was in for the day, we headed back into the centre, past the queues waiting to view the Jorvik Centre. This is well worth a visit too!

With time to kill before our train back, we decided to have a look in the National Railway Museum. Again, this is an excellent museum, housing some of the famous stream engines of yesteryear. It is free to enter, all they ask for is a donation.

York big wheel

We didn’t get as far as the museum though, walking past this big wheel, we both decided it would be good fun to have a ride on it.

view across York from the wheel

So that is how I managed to get an aerial shot of the city, complete with raindrops.

When we got off the wheel, it was too late for our planned train back to Harrogate, so having well over half an hour to kill, T decided we’d have a drink in the pub we’d found earlier.

Sat there discussing the days events, we almost missed the next train too. Speed walking through a crowded city is not recommended, but we made it with seconds to spare, flopping into the train seats just as the whistle blew.

Visiting my mum later that evening I found even more improvement with her out of bed and sitting on the chair beside her bed.

Whenever I return to Yorkshire, I never seem to get chance to visit my home city of Leeds.

Friday I’d woken in the early hours with a flash of inspiration, I’ll catch the train going in the opposite direction, and I can spend the day there. I didn’t for one minute think T would be interested.

Waking in the morning, almost the first thing he said was “Shall we go into Leeds today”………….talk about reading my mind!!

So a similar pattern emerged to Thursday………walk the dogs………..grab a quick bite to eat…………then a five minute walk down to the station……….

…..and we find ourselves on the opposite platform waiting for the York/Leeds train.

A journey of a similar distance, I was getting quite excited at the prospect of reminiscing as the train pulled into the city station.

I don’t know what I expected, as time obviously doesn’t stand still, but I’d conjured up a romantic vision of the steam engines that used to whisk me off on holiday, the machines that my dad would stamp my name onto a metal strip, the ‘ladies waiting room’, the old guards in their smart uniforms, the trollies with the old leather cases on, but more than anything that nostalgic smell of the coal smoke………..this station we’d pulled into wasn’t the Leeds station I remembered from my childhood.

Walking out of the station, even that didn’t seem right, my memory had convinced me the first thing I’d see would be the statue of The Black Prince in city square, but all I could see were buses, even they were different……. blue buses…… purple buses……. white with flashes of colour buses…… where were the green buses? Leeds always had green buses!!  😩

I was starting to feel cheated, like a stranger in the place I’d grown up in.

We started to walk to the left away from this alien place, when suddenly I saw him.

The Black Prince

The Black Prince, still on his horse, with the Queens Hotel in the background.

I left Leeds just before I was eighteen, I guess at that age, architecture was the last thing on my mind, but I do remember the very imposing Town Hall situated on The Headrow, so we set off up Park Row in search of it.

Leeds Town Hall

Wow, it was even more imposing than I remember, I’m so pleased we had blue sky for that photo, a grey sky wouldn’t have done it justice.

Continuing along The Headrow, I went in search of the old department store Schofields, my best friend used to work there on the perfume counter, and I’d often go in for a free squirt of the latest smelly during my lunch break. I didn’t really expect to find it, but I didn’t even see any buildings that looked familiar.

Back down into Briggate, the main shopping area, which is now pedestrianised, losing all the hustle, bustle and old charm, that the city had.

I was extremely pleased to see the arcades were still there, totally restored to their former glory.

County Arcade

Above is County Arcade

Thorntons Arcade?

I may be wrong, but I think this is Thorntons Arcade.

Walking down through Briggate, and turning left, I spotted the building on the corner of Call Lane where I used to work, now divided into what looks like several small premises, it once housed W.H.Smith (Wholesale).

Tetley’s Brewery is just down that road, and I remember the dray horses clattering down the side street.

Past the impressive Corn Exchange building, which was impossible to get a photo of, due to all the traffic,  we made our way to the Market Hall, now this is some building for a market hall though I can’t say I ever took much notice of it in my youth.

Leeds City Market Hall

Leeds City Market. I’ve spent many a shilling in there, but one memory that really sticks in my mind, was going there with my mum, she used to buy all her material for making clothes from a stall in there, and just opposite the material stall was a pet stall, selling puppies and kittens 😩 😩 where I’d spend ages looking and longing.

Time was getting on, so after a quick coffee and a bite to eat, we made our way back to the station for the train back to Harrogate.

We hadn’t been in long, when the phone rang, it was my mum, they’re were discharging her at 6pm and could we pick her up.

We stayed in all day Saturday to keep my mum company.

On the Sunday her friend paid her a visit, so I joined T in Knaresborough at a pub called Blind Jacks.

Blind Jacks pub in Knaresborough market square

Blind Jack  was a civil engineer who lost his sight at the age of six, an amazing character, the wiki link is well worth a read.

statue of Blind Jack in Knaresborough

T sat with Blind Jack…….a little too much ale there T 😉

The oldest chemist shop in Britain

Finally another bit of history, the small building in the middle is the oldest chemist shop in Britain, dating from around 1720, it can be found in Knaresborough market square.

Monday afternoon, after making sure everything was sorted for my mums continued care, we set off back to the midlands.

A strange, unexpected but still enjoyable break……was it fate that the campsite was full on the Sunday? I think so, as the hospital would not have been able to contact me if we’d been on a campsite down south.

A change of direction – part one

Sunday night 21st October, the campsite was booked and the motorhome all prepared for our planned holiday to the south coast, to visit our eldest daughter.
We had originally planned to set off on the Sunday morning, but as the campsite had been fully booked for that night, we had to delay the trip by a day, so hence everything was ready for an early start on the Monday……or so we thought!

The early hours of Monday morning, I was woken by the phone ringing, it was Harrogate hospital, my mum had been rushed in with chest and stomach pains, she was waiting for a scan, and they would let me know as soon as they had more information.
At 10am, with no news from the hospital, I phoned them, to be told they suspected my mum had had a heart attack, it wasn’t a bad one, but the doctors still recommended it would be a good idea to travel up to Yorkshire to see her.

To make matters worse, my mum was panicking as she’d left Cindy, her Yorkshire terrier home alone, and the hospital wanted to send the police in to collect her and take her to a rescue centre.

Here started my mad panic!
Frantically searching directory enquiries for neighbours phone numbers, I eventually located one of her friends (S) who offered to pick up mum’s house key from the hospital and collect Cindy.
30 minutes later I got a call from S, she was at my mums house, but Cindy wasn’t there. 😼

OMG, all sorts of things were flashing through my mind, had Cindy escaped as the paramedics had taken my mum out, how on earth would I explain that to mum, with her heart in a fragile state.
S said she’d start knocking the neighbours doors to see if anyone knew anything.
In the meantime, T and I unpacked the motorhome, and loaded up the discovery ready for our journey north.

It seemed a lifetime, but was probably only about fifteen minutes, S phoned back. Cindy was with D&K (mums neighbours opposite), they’d noticed my mums curtains closed, and fearing the worst, had let themselves in (they have a key) to see if my mum was OK, found Cindy alone, so taken her back to their house.

After a three hour drive, we arrived in Harrogate, collected Cindy (and a very welcome lasagne that K had cooked) from D&K, and settled into my mums house.
I visited her that night, and was quite relieved to see her sitting up in bed, and quite chatty.

Tuesday, with visiting hours twice a day, we did the afternoon and evening, with mum looking better by the minute.

Wednesday, we felt happy enough to venture further afield.

The morning we decided we take the dogs to Swinsty reservoir for a walk, we also wanted to check my dad’s seat was still in good repair.

T, Sal, Jasp and Cindy checking the seat, well I don’t know about Sal, she appears to have found something more interesting the rabbits have left.

My dad’s seat overlooking Swinsty reservoir

The seat looks out over Swinsty reservoir, the walk around the reservoir is just over three miles, and was a favourite walk for my mum and dad for many years. In fact, my dad totally astounded me, when he walked the whole way round only four months before lung cancer took him.

Knaresborough was on the cards for the afternoon, so leaving the dogs behind, and being extremely lazy ourselves, as it is only a mile away, we caught the bus at the end of the road into the town.

The East Gate

We explored the old castle ruins, something I’ve done many times before, and still enjoy doing.

Knaresborough castle is steeped in history, I won’t go into detail on here, as there is a website on Knaresborough which is full of information.

The Kings Tower toilet shaft

This is the toilet shaft from the Kings Tower, it leads from the room called the garderobe. I guess hundreds of years ago, everything coming down this shute, would go directly into the river Nidd below.

rail bridge over the Nidd

We continued walking round the castle grounds, which tower above the river below, and looked down onto the famous rail bridge. This bridge is a well know landmark of Knaresborough, always found on postcards, often on jigsaws……..

Roughseas painting of Knaresborough

…….and paintings………  Roughseas kindly sent me this photo of the painting that is mentioned in her Art for arts sake (2)

Stone steps lead down from the ruins to the narrow road below which is just visible in the photo above. Once down the steps, we set of towards Low Bridge, where there is an amazing pub called the Dropping Well.

This pub is truly steeped in history,  with royalty from many countries taking it’s ales over many hundreds of years.

Just to the rear of the pub, is Mothers Shipton’s cave. Ursula Southeil (Mother Shipton), supposedly born in the cave during a violent storm as lightening crackled, is a well know prophetess of the area.

A little more info is here: Mother Shipton

The interior of the pub houses an old oak table, belonging to Guy Fawkes, T insisted I took a photo of his pint on the table.

After being suitably refreshed, we set off back into the town, ready for the bus back to my mum”s house.

Walking through the town, we noticed many of the buildings have had windows painted on them with famous people looking out. These painted bricked up windows were probably a throw back to the window tax which wasn’t abolished until 1851.

Here’s a snippet from Wiki, regarding this odd tax:

The window tax was a property tax based on the number of  windows in a house. It was a significant social, cultural, and architectural force in England, France and Scotland during the 18th and 19th centuries. To avoid the tax some houses from the period can be seen to have bricked-up window-spaces (ready to be glazed at a later date), as a result of the tax. It was introduced in 1696 and was repealed in 1851, 156 years after first being introduced. Spain and France both had window taxes as well for similar reasons.

more info can be read here.

I visited my mum that evening to find she’d been moved out of the cardio ward and into the general ladies ward, so everything was going in the right direction.

To be continued…….