Market Square, Otley

‘In Yorkshire…there is a central organisation called Yorkshire Culture. People in Grimsby would think of that as an oxymoron’, said Austin Mitchell, MP for Grimsby. Cheeky beggar.

I have written before about Moira and Wendy, the ladies who lunch. Moira, from Birkenshaw, and Wendy, from Saltaire, like things to be done properly and so when they go to these places it is rather like one of those TV shows or newspaper articles where the experts arrive incognito. Usually they enjoy afternoon tea at one of Yorkshire’s finest establishments but this Spring they had an awayday and went to the Palm Court at The Ritz in Piccadilly.

Tea was accompanied by four types of sandwiches – smoked salmon, egg and cress, chicken and mayonnaise, and cucumber and cream cheese. Of course. They also had pastries, cakes, scones, cream and ‘organic strawberry preserve’. That’s jam in Birkenshaw. Since you ask, Ł36 per person. Moira said that the service was impeccable and very friendly (despite being London). Those of you planning to go should bear in mind that the menu makes clear that ‘jeans and training shoes’ are not permitted in the Palm Court. Training shoes. Bless them.

My goodness, the authorities in Otley take no prisoners. Lawbreakers can expect zero tolerance. A shock headline in the Wharfedale and Airedale Observer screamed, ‘Runaway cow is shot dead by police’.

A battle is raging in Otley because the Council feels obliged to fence off the river which runs through the town. Generations of Otley people have enjoyed feeding the ducks and strolling next to the water. An action group is hoping to prevent the fence being built. We can only hope that the Council officials fall in. With their wishes.

River Wharfe, Otley

Meanwhile another small pleasure is taken from us. When the boys were younger they loved walking across the lake using the stepping-stones at Studley Royal. We all did. So did many others. The stepping-stones are flat and close together. You know what’s coming, don’t you? Yes, the National Trust feels obliged to remove them. Far too dangerous. Health and Safety. Litigation.


Studley Royal

Not good football news, I’m afraid. Sheffield United were relegated from the Premiership. BBC Look North said that as a result Yorkshire has no club in the Premiership. Hello Middlesbrough; you must get sick of insults like that. Thanks for continuing to fly Yorkshire’s flag in the top division. Leeds United were relegated to Division Three (in old money). A message on Chelsea’s website said, ‘Agent Bates. Agent Wise. Mission Accomplished’. Bradford City went into Division Four and joined the likes of Accrington Stanley. Bradford have the doubtful distinction of having fallen through four divisions in six seasons.

Sheffield United

 Leeds United

 Bradford City

At Easter we went to Barcelona and Huesca in Aragon, where we met my elder son, for a week’s holiday. The last time I had been to Spain was with my parents in 1966 when General Franco was still in power. Impressions this time. I like the way you don’t pay for things in bars until you leave. I like the fact that most bars, cafes and indeed shops are still owner-managed. I enjoyed seeing the old guys meet for lunch and cards and conversation. I like the way bar and café owners decide whether their establishments are smoking or non-smoking. Take your pick. A nice compromise in a free country. Public transport was good. Street cleansing seemed very good. Barcelona is a fine cosmopolitan city. We enjoyed ourselves.

We met my 21 year old son who is having a year in Spain as part of his degree course in Modern Languages. We were part of that scene I have witnessed many times but not myself been part of before. Parents of the child, now grown up, meet him in his world, not theirs. Parents are slightly awkward, diffident, strangely on the back foot, unused to this new dimension to their relationship. Until now it has always been their world and they were always in charge. Life, Jim.

Spanish Flag

My wife’s mobile phone knew she was in Spain. Deutsche Bank’s cash machine ‘spoke’ to me in English. At the galleries there were always English translations. I’m glad I could confirm that I was looking at Miro’s ‘Man and Woman in front of a Pile of Excrement’. I had thought it was something like that.

On the plane coming home I had to sit next to a young woman in her early twenties who had with her a two year old and a baby. Shortly before take-off the steward came and asked me quietly whether I had paid for a seat for the baby. ‘It’s nothing to do with me’, I said quickly, a little flattered that he thought it was mine. From the way the steward spoke I don’t think it was likely to be his either.


Leeds Bradford Airport

Back in Yorkshire a news report said that three members of the Basque separatist body, ETA, had been arrested in Sheffield. This world is getting confusing, isn’t it?

In the Rhubarb Triangle, Yorkshire’s growers are trying to get Protected Designation of Origin from the EU for their rhubarb. Like Parma ham and Champagne and Newcastle Brown Ale. Well, they can ask for it but they can’t force them. But then of course they can. And they do.