Tuesday, March 24, 2009

T'was a muggle sort of day

We seem to be constantly buying too many vegetables as though to make up for all the days we miss them. So this morning we try to finish some and have mushroom and leek on toast with the last few eggs. Was a tasty change! Pork roast last night was followed by Michael's Bread and Butter Custard served wth collapsed strawberries and raspberries. Hels was on Skype in time for us to tease her by showing the dessert! See, even when you are travelling, you can still cook up a treat!

When we arrived here the other night, host Laura told us to watch out for the red squirrel that calls by the feed box near the back door regularly. We saw it yesterday but when Michael opened the door to get a photo he shot off. I was luckier this morning - not only getting a couple of photos, but in also seeing a second red squirrel up the tree behind. They are endangered and their is an active campaign locally to save them with lots of signs up around the place.

The next town to Skirwith is Langwarthby which is on the Carlisle-Settle rail route. The friends of this particular railway claim that it is England's most scenic rail route. Now, not having travelled on too many others, I am not prepared to blindly back the claim, but it really does cross a beautiful part of the country.
It is also home to the Ribblehead Viaduct famous because it was across this bridge that the Hogwarts Express was seen steaming into the night. Nary a flying car in sight, we muggled along in a 3 car diesel train to go take a look. The train crew were very helpful, announcing when we about to come onto the bridge and how to get a good look. Trouble was that in the early afternoon, the sunlight (what little there was) is hitting the train windows and so it was almost impossible to get a good photo without the reflections from inside the train. If only we had more time, we could have driven across and taken a photo from across the valley as it really is a stunning site. Oh well. Managed to get one of the train website though!

We pass through not only beautiful countryside but through large towns such as Bingley where the Damart Factory is located (& at 6 degrees today and then lower with the wind chill, I guess that necessity is the mother of invention!) and Shipley that is very industrial.

Another thing I keep forgetting to mention is the prevelence of red kites in the area. The birds of prey that is! We have seen a lot over the last week or so, soaring high, lazily riding the thermals and at times almost hanging stationary in the sky. A truly amazing site and we saw heaps out the train windows today.

When we looked at where we could go today, the best option seemed to be to board the train (diesel) at Langwathby and then travel through to Settle and then on to Leeds. We would only get a couple of hours in this city that really deserves more time, but some time is better than none. First stop on arrival is the Visitor Information Centre for a map and then we caught a taxi around to the Royal Armouries Museum. Could have walked as it was only 0.6 mile, but we are really time pressed and will only get a couple of hours in.

Now, wasn't this a surprise. The guide at the information desk suggests that we go initially to the second floor and take in one of the museum interpreters giving an account of 'his' involvement in the Battle of Towton in 1461. He was dressed in the battle garb of an archer - mail covered by a cloth tunic and had his longbow, arrows and short sword and tiny tiny shield (the size of a dinner plate) on this belt. We stayed around to talk with him a little more after his recounting which was superbly done. He would not be out of place in any Shakespearean company! Unfortunately, we didn't get his name - so well done galant soldier!

Following this highlight, we spent the next two hours hurriedly having a look at the collections and their histories. Really far too rushed, even I could spend at least half a day here and Michael could have probably spent a week!! This museum collection is the oldest in Britain and one of the oldest in Europe. The collection was begun by William the Conqueror, has been used to provide arms and equipment to early English armed forces and contains artefacts dating back to 450 BC and from right across the civilisations.

Another Leeds highlight were the two City Cabs Leeds cabbies that got us to the Museum and back to Leeds Railway. They were chatty without being obnoxious, had lots of tips and showed genuine interest in us. All this while safely navigating inner city (and peak hour) traffic.

Travelling home it is raining and the wind is howling - even in the closed and heated train carriaes you could hear the wind above the clickety clack of the wheels on the rails. The wind is forcing the raindrops to trace spidery lines across the windows. As we pass back through little towns bedding down for the night, we see the signal boxes at Kirkby Stephen and Appelby are still manned - levers on the ready and traffic board with their lights shining. You only notice them at night because of the dark outside. Almost feels like we are travelling in another time.

Soup tonight for dinner - pea and ham with the leftover pork cut up into it and the remaining fresh peas, carrot and broccoli cooked and added as well. At least we have finished all the veges now!

No comments: