Tag Archives: Yorkshire Dales

Passing Through

This is going to be something of a scattergun post. I’m sitting in the SAS lounge in the international area of Oslo Airport, though not in the true inner sanctum of the Diamond and Gold cardholders. I bid for an upgrade (it seems several airlines do this now) and got it for my Oslo – Bardufoss flight. As upgrading that flight was cheaper than upgrading the Manchester – Oslo flight, I thought I’d be limited to the domestic lounge, but cheekily tried the international one and, to my surprise, was waved on through. There’s unlimited food in here, so with nine hours to kill, it’s probably cheaper than paying for a couple of meals and drinks.

Anyway, most of this post will be photographs from my holiday. I don’t have my computer, so I’m not going to type much, but I hope you enjoy a whizz through of a walk along Water Lane and a tour of Skipton Castle.

Firstly a walk with my dad. It was a gorgeous evening and we wandered across green fields and over stone stiles to get to the lovely, shadowed Water Lane.

There were birds singing in the trees, and though we didn’t see them, I stopped to identify some of them using the Merlin birdsounds app. There were chaffinches, blackbirds and a robin, which I wouldn’t have known without the app. I recommend downloading it, if you’ve ever wondered which bird was singing.

We left Water Lane and turned onto Lodge Road. So many flowers, though as a vet, I definitely wouldn’t recommend making hay or silage with all those buttercups.

Skipton Castle was interesting. There are very few ancient buildings in Norway, due to the custom of building using wood. I love exploring old, stone buildings, especially in summer, when the thick walls and small windows make for cool, shady protection from the sun.

We stopped for a very English cup of tea in the Castle grounds. With hindsight, I should have stuck to plain Yorkshire Tea. Instead I plumped for Chai tea. I think there was a bit too much water for the single teabag…

Add in a book fair:

And some Elderflower Cordial (beside attractively presented bird and insect supplies) in the garden behind the Victoria Hall, where the book fair was held…

…I’ve really had a very pleasant week.

Afternoon Tea in Langcliffe

I thought I’d share a few photos from yesterday. Mum, Dad and I walked from Settle to Langcliffe, where we had afternoon tea in the village institute. I felt I was wandering through a James Herriot book!

There were flowers everywhere.

Dry stone walls scaled the heights of the fells, we heard the lambs bleating for their mothers and we looked down over stone barns and tiled rooftops.

The afternoon tea was a selection of homemade cakes. There’s afternoon tea every Sunday afternoon in Langcliffe. The cakes were delicious, though I should have got there earlier to photograph them in their full, delicious glory!

And to top it all off, there was a gorgeous Border Collie called Jess, slumbering under one of the tables.

Today we are going to a book fair in the Victoria Hall. See you soon!

Happy Place

It’s been an interesting week. I’ll start with an update on the water situation. The temporary fix with the tank and pump failed on Sunday due to an airlock. Sunday wasn’t great, but the main concern was still that it might be tough and costly to get the problem sorted out.

On Monday, the representative for the insurance company came back and quickly fixed the airlock (this time I remembered to ask him how he did it. After that, he went off to speak to the owner of the house nearest the well. He called me back about an hour later. Apparently the other house owner had actually begun to run out of water on Friday evening, but despite having our phone number, he hadn’t thought to tell us. There was an ice bridge blocking the stream further up, which meant the well had gradually emptied. Our water disappeared first because our pipe was highest up. So the mystery was solved and (thank goodness) no major digging works were required. So all in all, a bit inconvenient, but several lessons learned about where everything is and what to check if it happens again!

We had an interesting case at the abattoir on Wednesday. Some animals were sent in that were thin enough to set the alarm bells ringing, not only in me, but in the abattoir workers that work with the live animals. It’s almost a physical punch to see animals that are so obviously struggling. It’s quite a big job when we start to document such a case. I took a number of photographs while the animals were still in the pen, though I was worried enough about them that I didn’t go in and stir them up. The last thing I want to do is cause any additional distress.

I asked the animal handlers to call me back when the time came for the animals to be slaughtered. That way, I could photograph and handle them when they were already restrained. I then went back and sent messages to Hilde and Thomas. This case was serious enough to warrant immediate follow up.

I came back to examine the animals as they were being brought onto the line. It wasn’t reassuring. Close up, the animals were distressingly thin. The animal handlers obviously felt the same as I did and while it was upsetting, at least I was doing my utmost to make sure we had plenty of evidence.

The farm where the animals came from has been on our radar for a while, but things had been improving, so this was a real blow. But there was a curveball on the way, because after the animals had been killed, it was discovered that quite a large percentage of them had very unpleasant looking lung lesions.

Having spent some time inspecting the lungs, it was obvious we needed to find out what disease this was. So having photographed the carcasses and the lungs (evidence of everything must be recorded) I sent off various samples to the lab. It doesn’t sound so much when I write it down, but with all the extra tasks in addition to my normal work, it ended up being a ten hour working day. I spoke to Hilde and Thomas after I had finished and Thomas had already set up a visit for the next day.

I had been planning to catch up on some paperwork on Thursday as Ann was coming in to cover my morning shift, but I really wanted to be involved in the follow-up and so, mentally casting aside the reindeer overtime fees calculation checks I had been sent, I asked Thomas if I could join him and he agreed.

Though the thinness of the animals had been distressing, the farm visit was actually somewhat reassuring. There were thin animals there as well, and though things weren’t perfect, various steps were being taken. The grass is starting to grow now, so some of the problems will resolve once the animals are back outside and major plans for improvement are under way. But now we also have to throw in the possibility of some kind of infection on the farm. Once we know what caused the lung problems, then we will have to work out how to manage the problem. That could involve anything from a new vaccination program, right up to mass culling. Either way, we will be offering whatever support we can to the farmer, who has already expressed himself as being very grateful for any insight we can give on what’s going wrong.

This is the kind of work I signed up for when I chose to be a vet. I know there are times when it is incredibly heavy work, but at the end of the day, this really is what I want to be doing.

But as you can see from the photo at the top of the page, I am now a very long way from all that. I flew into Manchester yesterday, into the chaos of a failure in the electronic passport system. Having survived that, I am now back in beautiful Yorkshire, where the summer is coming in. There are fat, healthy cattle in the field behind the house and everything in the garden is beginning to bloom. And now I can hear that mum and dad are up and the kettle is on, so I will drop a few photos here and then go and join them. Have a lovely week everyone!

Holiday Reflections

I thought I’d start with a few thoughts about my stay. Someone commented last time I was in the UK, that they were interested to find out what changes I’d noticed since I was last here, in 2019. I can’t say I’ve noticed too many, though of course my parents notice many things I haven’t, such as changes in the NHS. Prices have probably gone up, or portion sizes have shrunk, but that’s happened elsewhere too.

I think perhaps it’s me that has changed more, and that’s partly to do with the pandemic. Living in the north of Norway, along with general pandemic precautions, I am unused to being close to large numbers of people. In Glasgow I went to a Marks and Spencer Food Hall, which was (to me) heinously busy. I pretty much ran to the section I wanted, grabbed something, and rushed out. It was much the same when we stopped at a service station on the motorway. I escaped outside as soon as I possibly could. I also had a discussion with John about driving. He’s learned to drive in Norway in an area where there are relatively few cars on the road. He was watching the drivers on the A65 with a kind of horrified fascination as they drove in close convoys, with only a meter or two between each car.

Other things struck me anew, which I had forgotten because I hadn’t been here for so long. Nobody in Norway has a string light switch in their bathroom! Anna tells me one of her friends was mystified, trying to turn the light on when he visited. Then again, Norwegian houses seem to burn down quite often, which is probably because a lot of the electric wiring is DIY. That and all the candles, of course. Most of the taps (faucets) in Norway are mixer taps, so I was freshly frustrated trying to rinse my hands before the hot tap got too volcanic. Cash? There was consternation recently when the entire card network went down for one of the major Norwegian supermarket chains. I had to go and find an ATM. I’ve lived in Finnsnes for two years and didn’t know where it was. Lots of people still seem to use cash here. And for anyone who likes their floors to stay clean, Norway is the place to be. I still can’t adjust back to keeping my shoes on in the house. I kick them off at the door, every time.

Food wise, it’s been a frustrating holiday. I’ve been sticking to low fat foods throughout. Fortunately, there’s a fairly good selection, though it can’t have done my teeth much good eating so many iced buns and scones with jam. There has also been a glut of bacon and ham rolls, slathered in delicious chutney, but without butter. Eating out is difficult, though full marks to Rosa and Matteo’s Italian Restaurant in Settle, which made me a wonderful low fat Pasta e ceci – pasta with chickpeas – (twice) but there have been a few occasions where I’ve watched everyone else eating fish and chips or curry, and wished I could join in. Still, there’s much more choice here, even with my health limitations. I think I might get thinner when I go back.

What I would have liked to eat in The Golden Lion in Settle – sausage, mash, onion rings, peas and gravy
What I ate – noodle salad with mixed leaves, roasted courgettes, peppers, cherry tomatoes, sweetcorn, coriander and lime

Still, I managed to fit in a couple of walks this week. On Tuesday, Helen and I were driven over to Long Preston, and walked back to Settle over the fells. We also took a detour up to see Scaleber Force waterfall, though Force is a complete misnomer at the moment as there’s hardly any water in it. Still, it was a pleasant, 9km walk, taken early in the morning, before the day started to heat up.

The second walk was this afternoon, with Dad. We didn’t go far: just along the riverside in Settle itself, but I was glad to have the time together, before I have to leave tomorrow.

The Ribble as it runs along the back of Ribble Terrace

We’ve also managed a bit of shopping. Andrew took us on a hunt for Raven Forge in Crosshills. We almost missed it, as it looked like a unit in an industrial estate, but we stopped and asked someone who was working there, and found ourselves invited in to a wonderful display of swords and weaponry, from all kinds of games and films.

Weaponry display at Raven Forge

We also went upstairs in The Geek Side, a little gift shop in a rather magical arcade in Skipton, and discovered a veritable Harry Potter paradise.

Harry Potter merchandise in The Geek Side shop in Skipton

And if you want some sweets, you could do worse than The Dalesman Café in Gargrave.

An old-fashioned sweetshop in The Dalesman Café, Gargrave

But in the end of the day, it all comes down to the wonderful view from my parents’ garden. As the sun goes down, and the shadows lengthen on my last day in this golden oasis, I can only hope that it won’t be too long before I can return.

Wildflower garden with golden evening sunlight on the hillside behind

A Tale of Two Walks

This week’s post will mainly be about two walks I took this week, the first with my dad, the second with John, but first a quick update on things I forgot last week when I was unable to use my computer. My health is moderately stable. Because of the likelihood of some kind of blockage of my bile duct, I have been eating a low fat diet. This has mostly worked, but any time I deviate from it, I develop pain. It’s nowhere near as bad as the pain before I had my gall bladder removed ten years ago. It’s only somewhat physically troublesome, but psychologically more so.

On the subject of submissions and publishers, there’s nothing much to report. Another couple of rejections, but with some positive feedback about my writing. Too commercial, seems to be the main objection at present, which presumably means it doesn’t fit the style they’re looking for, and not that they think it will sell too well. One editor gave more specific feedback that she “wasn’t sure [it] had quite the escapist, romantic tone [she was] looking for at present”. She did say it was well written though, so I hope that somewhere there is an editor who will fall in love with it. Commercial fiction within traditional publishing tends to fall into very specific genres at the moment and what I’ve written doesn’t fall neatly into any of them, so it was always going to be challenging.

I guess it would be odd to write this without also noting that John, Andrew and I have ended up in the UK at a time of mass upheaval in parliament. The astonishing events of the past week, with dozens of resignations within the Conservative Party, resulting in the resignation of Boris Johnson (though he hasn’t gone yet which, given his recent maverick activities, seems risky) have been something to behold. It has interested me, watching from Norway, that in the UK press at least, it has appeared that Johnson has been credited with handling the pandemic marvellously, based mostly on his roll-out of vaccinations. Watching from the relative calm of Norway, with its early lockdown and only marginally slower vaccination roll out, it seemed bizarre that he received quite so much credit, but of course I don’t know what it felt like on the ground. I can’t say I’m sad to see him go. He seems an unfit person to be in power, with his history of lies and profligacy, but he’s obviously one of those divisive figures that some people love and others don’t.

Anyway, onto the walks and photographs. I went for a walk on Sunday with my dad. After not seeing him for two and a half years, all the time wondering whether we would ever do such a thing again, it felt wonderful to be out in the Yorkshire countryside: a very precious moment together. We walked to Langcliffe, which is a village not far outside Settle. We walked past an old mill, then on up the hill to Langcliffe itself, which is even more charming than Settle, with its terraced stone houses, quiet country church, and village green. We called into the village institute, where volunteers were serving tea and cakes. It felt very much like being inside a James Herriot novel (though without the animals, obviously) which I found very pleasing!

View of Ribblesdale through a wooden farm gate

The second walk was a 7km hike with John. We drove to Malham, then went up the almost 400 steps to the top of Malham Cove.

On the top of Malham Cove is a limestone pavement. It’s amazing to look out over the valley below from this incredible structure with its weathered stone, the cracks between the rocks filled with ferns and tiny flowers.

Having reached the top of Malham Cove, and finding my second wind, we decided we would go on a circuit from the top of the cove to meet a road that went back down into Malham village. As we reached the road, we spoke to a couple we met, who had come up via Janet’s Foss, so rather than walking down the road as planned, we took another detour down the shady river valley, past Janet’s Foss (my Norwegian friends will know what that is, as Foss in Norwegian for waterfall) and back through some gorgeous green pasture, where cattle stood knee deep in grass.

We finished with a well deserved drink in the Buck Inn. A lovely end to a wonderful sunny day.

Narrow Lanes

We flew out of Tromsø last Sunday. Despite the threat of strikes and potential airport chaos, for us everything went without a hitch. Flying out of Tromsø is spectacular. The island the city inhabits is still surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

Snow-capped mountain peaks and Tromsø from the air

Andrew and I arrived in Edinburgh in the evening, then the next day we took the train, via Carlisle, to Settle in the Yorkshire Dales. My dad met us as we climbed down onto the platform. It was both wonderful to see him after two and a half years, and jarring at the same time as he stood well back: the first time we’ve met and not hugged immediately in many years.

I had booked an AirBnb – an old workers’ cottage in Upper Settle. Our intention was to quarantine for a week before moving into my parents’ house, but our plans changed with the sad death of my mother-in-law. Instead of quarantining, Anna joined Andrew and me and we drove to Glasgow to attend her funeral two days ago.

Driving in the UK again was something of a challenge. When I bought my car two years ago in Norway, I went for a sturdy SUV. it had to be suitable for winter driving and potentially farm roads. I wasn’t looking for an automatic, but as luck had it, that was what I got. Mum and Dad’s manual, diesel Polo couldn’t be much different. Add in the fact that the national speed limit in Norway is 50mph and I hadn’t driven on the left for three years and starting out was something of a challenge. Our practice run into Skipton was … interesting! Sixty mph on the narrow, winding road seemed impossible. I kept slowing down to go through the towns and villages, only to realise I was already only doing forty. I was amused then, when Dad solemnly bade me not to drive too fast as I set off a couple of days later to drive to Glasgow.

John also flew over and joined us for the funeral, which was only very small, but which fortunately went well. He returned with us to Yorkshire, and so yesterday afternoon, for the first time in many years, John, Anna, Andrew and I all sat in my parents’ conservatory together.

Though I was in the UK in spring, with Anna, it’s different being back in Yorkshire. The contrast with the northern Norway summer is striking. Where the growth around Troms is short-lived, wild and uncontrolled, here the green has a quiet maturity, with its dry stone walls climbing the fellsides and the clustered grey houses on steep lanes. The rest of this entry then, will be a few of the photographs I’ve taken this week, in sunshine and showers, both in my parents’ garden and as I’ve wandered round the town.

Green fields and drystone walls – view from Ingfield Lane
Dry stone walls and graceful trees