Little Observations on Everyday Life

Is it just me it happens to or are other people out there who cannot fill their car up without going over to the penny?

Say you want £30 worth of fuel and you click off at say, £29.67 and spend the next few seconds of your life, gradually clicking a bit more petrol in the tank as it inches towards that nice round number. You get to £29.97, 98, 99. You’re concentrating so much that your tongue is sticking out. Just one more flick of the finger and bingo.

Except of going up in increments of one like the last few clicks, it suddenly leaps by two and you’re staring at £30.01. How did that happen? You pull a pained face and probably swear inadvertently loudly at the pump, alarming fellow motorists.

Now here’s the thing. Were you heavy fingered or are the pumps programmed to always show £30.01.

I’m convinced it’s the latter. I always ask the checkout staff and they smile and mutter about collecting points. Other drivers smile wryly. After all, if it’s happens to all the motorists filling up, that’s a lot of extra pennies being collected. It’s now becoming a challenge every time I fill up – can I avoid going over and giving the petroleum companies more profit? More often I fail miserably, pull a face and traipse across the forecourt cussing under my breath. Little things ………

Damp Around the Edges

It’s one of those dark, damp, miserable sort of days that Britain sort of specialises in.

It wasn’t good when we woke up with rain pouring down. Always the optimist, I declared it may brighten later. The Dog and I pottered around the house until a mate rang and asked if I wanted a walk? I asked her if she had actually looked out of the window? No, came the reply and a better deal of a coffee was struck.

On my return, The Dog was pacing, wanting a walk. The rain had eased off but mist was lurking. My weather prediction was sort of true – it had improved slightly as it wasn’t raining anymore! Where could we go without having to a) wear wellies b) slither in gooey squelchy mud and get blathered. I needed petrol first, so headed off racking the old brain cells where I could go and crossing off each one. ” Looking like we’re walking the streets” I yelled at Dog in the boot of the car, which thrilled both me and The Dog – not. It was when I was idly filling the car, that the perfect solution cropped up and pleased with myself, The Dog and I headed off.

We drove to Yeadon Tarn, a suburb in north west Leeds, squeezed between the High Street and the Leeds Bradford Airport’s runway. It is home to the sailing club and on summer days, there’s usually a range of sailing vessels bobbing on its surface. Numerous birds also gather here, scrounging food off visitors and at the end, there’s a sectioned off area for conservation. For me and The Dog, it has a paved path circling the Tarn, which ticked a huge box for us and we headed off into the deepening mist.

Told you. Not a good day for photography. Couldn’t tell if it was a mist or just very low cloud. I couldn’t even see the runway of the airport which is literally next door and could hear aeroplanes taking off, but nothing else. It was also drizzling slightly. The whole place is waterlogged too after last week’s snow melt and the rain. Puddles are everywhere and the grass boggy. (Thanks, Dog for going to the toilet about 10 foot from the path, in a particularly boggy area and I had my fashion boots on as I thought I would be on tarmac!!)

We did three circuits of the Tarn, before I was getting chilly. The Dog dredged a ridiculously long branch from the Tarn, (a habit of hers to find the biggest stick, branch, log she can find and drag it around with her, usually clipping the back of your leg as she passes), but thoughtfully dropped it on the grass out of the way.

We headed home. Not much of a report today with such dire weather, but at least we stretched our legs and got some fresh air. Roll on summer.

Soapbox Corner

People. They are a funny breed.

There’s me and my friend having a deep intellectual personal chat, albeit on a table for 6 – 8 people, in the local MacDonalds. Yeah, yeah not my favourite place and haven’t been in one for years, but my friend wanted a MacDonalds hot chocolate (I must admit their milkshakes are something else) and so, there we were sitting chatting in the restaurant, which was about a quarter full.

Towards the end of draining our drinks, one woman plonked herself two seats away from my friend on the acres of table we had occupied (we were sitting on the end) and I thought that was odd, to practically sit on top of somebody else. Within minutes, another 4 or 5 women joined her, dumping their handbags on the table next to us and spreading their food. I was nearly inclined to ask if I could snitch a chip, but felt that the Donald Trump wall they had built with their bags, deterred me.

I had my back to the rest of the restaurant, so imagine my dismay and deep annoyance, to find two more equally large and completely tables free, after my friend and I decided that they were encroaching our personal space and decided to leave. I felt like yelling in their faces Why???? and highlighting in dramatic fashion the bleeding obvious. Of all the space, you plonk yourself on top of me and my friend. Couldn’t you walk a little further??

Saying that, I noticed that MacDonalds now have built in iPads or similar on the tables, to occupy little kids whilst eating their way through a Happy Meal, saving their parents the chore of reminding their 2 month old to remember to bring their own iPad. I will save that one for another soapbox.

Of course, being very British, I huffed and puffed, swore under my breath and spitted feathers at my friend and left. You feel like publicly humiliating these people of very little brain, but feel you wouldn’t get anywhere. So I came home and now spitting feathers with my little group of followers. Well, honestly.

A Grand Day for walking.

Surprise View, Otley

A beautiful sunny day and The Dog and I decided to go up to Surprise View, another part of the Otley Chevin estate. It offers fantastic views up and down the Wharfedale Valley and it was far better weather than yesterday.

See, told you! This is looking west up towards Ilkley and beyond.

The market town of Otley, nestling in the valley.

There are many ruins on the Chevin, of old buildings that sadly fell into disrepair. The Chevin has a chequered history and one of my friends has done a lot of research on it (see the link below).This is where Jenny’s cottage used to be, with unenviable views along the valley.

There’s been a lot of work to supply information boards telling you the story behind the buildings.

If it had been a tad warmer and I had remembered to bring me sarnies, I would of had me lunch there.

The Dog and I dropped down into the wooded part of the Chevin and this photo doesn’t do it justice. These tall majestic trees remind of the Hobbit stories and I imagine them whispering to each other as we come in. They are just like soldiers on sentry duty.

The Chevin is full of boulders from the ice age and this one has fallen free many moons ago. It looks like it’s been dumped there by a giant’s hand. There are lots of stories of how stones end up where they are, usually fantastic mythical ones involving angry giants and devils who wreak revenge and throw boulders in temper.

At the beginning of the walk, you can almost get a 360 degree view. You can look towards Leeds Bradford airport and beyond into the city centre of Leeds and follow it around towards the outskirts of Bradford, Yeadon, Guiseley, along the edge of Ilkley Moor into the Wharfe Valley, scan across towards York and back to Leeds.

Here we are looking across towards Guiseley/Menston and the old High Royds Asylum Hospital. It was derelict for severalj years after the last patient left until building developers got it and transformed into homes. The old Victorian building has been saved and turned it into apartments and studios and surrounded by a variety of different houses on its grounds. It’s is a majestic, imposing old building and it retains its dignity. A few years a photographer got permission to enter it when it was derelict and took photos of the wards, corridors and treatment rooms. It was very creepy and made you wonder what it was like to be a patient there. 5e stories that old building could tell if it could talk.

Just a couple of pictures looking west at Ilkley Moor. It’s amazing to think that behind me is the hulking cities of Leeds and Bradford, with their teeming masses and then there’s this stunning countryside and amazing views.

Isn’t Mother Nature just brilliant at art?

And this is equally beautiful too, the fungi on this tree.

Now for some man made art. I need to find out the history of these stones and why they are placed like this. It’s just great, a whole line of them standing bolt upright.

The provenance of this line of stones below Surprise View on Otley Chevin is unknown but they are undoubtedly of ancient origin, probably marking an old property boundary.

Scattered around the Chevin, the local woodcutters have been busy over the years and done this with a huge chainsaw and a picture in their heads. I would have trouble getting the chainsaw even started, let alone trying to carve something. You would end up with a pile of woodchip with me!

This is the White House, the old rangers building. If you stand anywhere in Otley you will be able to spot this halfway up in the trees. Probably an old farmhouse, Leeds City Council have used it for years for their rangers to work out of. Opposite there is an education room where a Wildlife Watch Group used to be held.

The back of the White House with the cafe building in front of it. Somehow I always rock up and the cafe is closed, which always a huge disappointment as it’s at the bottom of a steep hill. There’s nothing worse than having to trail back up when denied a coffee and a sticky bun.

The trouble is, visiting the White House, is that it’s a long haul uphill back to the car. The Dog looked at me with pity as I slithered and squelched my way slowly up the incline, while she, with four paw drive, leapt like a gazelle through the oozing mud. My Dog has a good line of withering looks for my inadequacies as a human – the minutes wasted putting layers of clothing on, the interminable wait for changing of shoes to wellies and her raised eyebrow look reserved for all two legged animals trying to walk through mud and precious seconds lost to that activity.

We finally get back to Surprise View and have one more look across the valley and reluctantly head off.

Otley Chevin

The Dog needed a walk and we visited one of my favourite places – Otley Chevin.

The Chevin rears up from the little market town of Otley where at the top, you can view the most panoramic views up and down Wharfedale. On good days, you can see York Minster, some 30 miles away or peer into the Yorkshire Dales.

Yesterday’s early morning dumping of snow still remains up here.

A huge swathe of the Chevin is covered in woodland with sturdy paths criss crossing through the trees. Every now and again you come across old foundations of building that once stood and now long gone, all with their own little piece of history. It’s great for The Dog who spends a majority of her time chasing imaginary squirrels or sometimes, real ones. She’s not exactly a stealth dog and crashes through the undergrowth giving the squirrel ample time to scamper up the nearest tree and then blow raspberries back at her in triumph.

A glorious sunny day and relatively warm, the views are pretty good today. Dotted around are information boards which tell you a little bit about the Chevin. Here we’re looking over towards Harrogate.

The view looking west with Otley nestling in the valley beside the River Wharfedale. To the left of the photo is Ilkley Moor (of “On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at” fame – the unofficial anthem of Yorkshire. Translated it means On Ilkley Moor without a hat). In the distance is Beamsley Beacon and beyond that, the town of Ilkley itself.

One of the information boards dotted around the Chevin. Here it describes the deer park and Keeper’s Cottage which no longer survives.

Around the Chevin are these signs, naming the different parts of the site. It also dates them too so you can admire the trees and go “wow, they’re 58 years old”. It’s saves you hauling in a chainsaw, cutting one down and counting its rings, which is rather convenient. They always remind me, for some strange reason, of the Winnie the Pooh stories and signs for the Hundred Acre Wood. Wouldn’t it that be great to have such a sign on the Chevin?

There’s a lot more about the Chevin, that I’ve hardly touched upon. Watch this space for more stories on my dog walking escapades on this lovely little area.


Kicking myself today as I was so busy yesterday,I forgot to take photos and then forgot to blog! But here’s a quick update.

Travelled to Leeds today, but as I got up this morning, listening to the radio, I tuned into the weather reports. Initially it was snow on the higher ground of Wales, the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales, but then Leeds kept being mentioned with the M62 and A1. I checked in with a friend who sent me a photo of a street in North Leeds at 8am, showing deep snow that had fallen within a 2 hour window. Hells Bells.

I left at lunchtime with a couple of warnings of being careful around Skipton ringing in my ears. There’s wasn’t a single flake in my little corner of England except trapped piles of old snow from last week’s “Beast from the East” episode, caught behind dry stone walls and shady cols. I swept past Skipton and through Ilkley with vast green fields and dry roads, passing grubby heaps of unmelted drifted snow on the roadside. I was beginning to scoff when just west of Otley, the fields were suddenly covered in the white stuff, the roads were slushy and the hills blanketed. Wow. It was almost if a solitary cloud had dumped it just on Leeds and this cloud had its own parameters.

The sun was out and it was a balmy 6 degrees, so the snow as rapidly melting and soaking everything. By teatime it was a different world with only a hint of the chaos of that morning. The only thing that stuck out was the haphazard parking of the early morning commuters who had abandoned any attempt to park their car parallel with the kerb that morning and had left a trail of cars with their backends sticking out, the front ends in danger of being clipped or just left in the middle of the carriageway, about three foot from the kerb. It looked like the zombie apocalypse had arrived. No, just commuters who can’t deal with 3cm of snow on the road! That’s why I love this crazy country of mine.

8am this morning on a main road in Leeds. At 6am there hadn’t been a flake of snow. The red faced weather forecasters hadn’t expected it to fall on lower levels and definitely not on Leeds.

Little hidden gems

Came across this fantastic piece of history on my travels today. A plague stone. To prevent the spread of the disease, the villagers were quarantined in their own community – voluntary or enforced, I’m not sure and unable to travel beyond its boundaries. The locals from other villages would bring food to the stricken hamlet in return for payment, pushing it through this small hole in the boundary wall for collection. What great community spirit too – not abandoning them to their fate in fear of contracting the disease themselves.

And I love the idea that they disinfected everything with vinegar……….