Hayfield Show 2013

 Posted by at 01:37 on 15 October 2013
Oct 152013

A nearby town, Hayfield, puts on a carnival-type affair every year, the main attraction at which are the sheepdog trials. Here in Derbyshire, sheep may well outnumber people, from what I see in the fields. Apparently sheepdogs (to herd the sheep) are still going strong in these parts, and there are a series of trials, each announcing winners. Hayfield Show is fairly late in the sheepdog trial season, so it’s fairly far down the bracket, apparently. I’m not entirely clear on how it all works; that’s just my recollection of reading the Hayfield Show program these past few years.

We’ve yet to see any of these sheepdog trials – we can’t get any good information on what time they happen at. This year they’ve had the best information so far (a running order and a proper website, instead of the lone webpage they’ve had in previous years), which just confused me further. Previously, I’ve emailed to ask when the sheepdog trials were, and simply been told (eventually) that they were “in the morning.” This year, the website said the trials started at 9 — but the show didn’t open til 10, so I guess the public wasn’t allowed to watch? I’m still very confused.

Ho hum – we don’t go for those, obviously (though I would like to see them sometime). We go because there’s quite a lot on that’s rather enjoyable. A proper show, it includes entertainment of various sorts. This year there was a strong man, a tug of war series, some shire horses, and much more. It also has stands from charities, etc, doing silly contests to get you to pay a pound to have a go, or selling things, both to raise money for those charities. There are also stands from merchants – I have come across some interesting, good lines at Hayfield Show. There’s a craft tent, which is always full of wonderful, delightful things – and has provided us many a Christmas present! (Surface mail cutoff to the US is usually the end of September.) There’s a food tent, too, which could be more interesting and varied.

This year it was on 21 & 22 September (it’s always planned for two days, though the other year it was rained out for the Sunday, so we were pleased we’d managed to go on that Saturday). We went on that Sunday, and were quite lucky with the weather – it was glorious sunshine and blue skies all day! The field across from the show:


Entering the showground and getting our bearings …

Entering the showground – which is on quite a slope – this is what greeted us this year.


That’s the area for the dog show in the foreground, then the Entertainment tent behind it, and then the avenue of children’s amusements going on up the hill to the left, and then the food tent is at the end, on the far left (the large white one). Nothing was going on in the dog show ring when we arrived, so we checked out the entertainment tent.


The Thornsett Band was playing. I’m a woodwind player, so I never will understand the fascination with brass bands in these parts; we listened for a bit, but brass bands just aren’t our cup of tea, so we moved on quickly.

Turning away from the band, we made our way further into the show – which was very well-attended, as usual.


I watched this portrait painter for a bit – this was a good idea she had, turning so people could watch her work. I just wish she’d made her contact information prominent on that sign so I had it for future reference!


There was a fair-sized crowd around the main arena, where a gun dog demonstration was being given by Terry Frost. (My panorama didn’t line up quite right – it was too sunny for me to see the screen – but you get the idea.)


The Buxton Young Farmers’ Club Tent

We stopped by the bubble guy, back again this year, but he couldn’t blow bubbles while the dogs were in the arena (just up the hill from him). He cut a straw end into a V-shape and flattened it, and showed me how to blow it to make it make a noise like a kazoo. It’s great fun! Until he could blow bubbles, we wandered around – we found the Buxton Young Farmers’ Club tent – with their youngest member sitting out front, it looks like!


Inside, they had silly games to raise funds, which were fun, along with exhibits of their competition entries – looked like they’d entered in the Young Farmers’ Club national competition, along with running a competition just for Hayfield Show. They have a talented photographer in this chapter – someone got second place nationally for this photograph, very well-deserved!


They had a competition to make animals out of food – I found the sheep delightful!

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They also had scenes constructed in shoeboxes. I especially like the decorated sides in the last one.

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Wood carving – with a chainsaw!

Back outside, we found the chainsaw woodcarvers – Hayfield Show is the first place I ran into them, some years back. I remember standing there, mesmerized by them then. Still really cool to watch. This day, the two of them set up side by side (I think they took turns in the past, or something), so we got to see double action. Andy Burgess and Mike Burgess make some delightful things – I follow Andy on twitter to get a constant stream of his fabulous work there. These are a few of Mike’s – I thought the pair of owls was absolutely delightful.

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Andy only had a few pieces on display. The hand made a good business card holder til the wind picked up.

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And here they are, doing their thing!


We were rather confused about the tractor full of balloons behind them, though.


Anyway, moving on, I spied this great scene to show you all exactly the steepness of that slope we were on:


It takes a bit of getting used to, and it means we get our exercise just by going and walking around! Don’t get me wrong – it’s not unworkable or anything: I’m very grateful to the family that lets Hayfield Show use this field every year, because I really don’t know where they’d have it otherwise. And hey, exercise is good for us, right?


By now, the bubble man and his assistant were in full tilt, blowing both huge and lots of smaller bubbles.

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I was grinning so much when we walked away from the bubbles that my face hurt – it was great fun! ๐Ÿ™‚

Looking around the grounds …

After that, we found an out of the way part of the field, under some trees for shade (the sun was quite warm), and had our lunch. From our vantage point, we saw both the pony rides and the tractor rides going past.


After lunch, we wandered around a bit, finally getting a proper look at the police tractor – you’ll remember it led the Charlesworth Carnival Parade.


We had fun looking at the various stalls and stands, including this stall selling nothing but wellies!


Then we made our way to Kimmo, who was doing a show in the entertainment tent (the band had finished). He pulled up a boy and a girl on stage, and “made them talk” with the lips he held in front of them, and tried his hand at balloon animals – it was all vastly amusing.

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That is, until he pulled his dummy out of his case; that part of the act wasn’t to either of our tastes. So we wandered off – Chris went to watch the Birds of Prey show, and I went to look around the grounds some more.

Divide and conquer: more wandering

I checked out the tug of war competition. There was a decent-sized crowd at this. It was annoyingly very badly organized, so there was a lot of downtime between tugs. Since this was just the beginning, there were also some vastly mismatched teams – as you get in these bracket situations – so the first ones weren’t always fun to watch. Some were, though – like the one with the two guys wearing cow costumes.


I wandered away from that after a bit and dropped off my luggage with Chris (who was still watching the birds of prey show – always entertaining, but I wanted to explore the corners of the field I hadn’t gotten to in previous years) just as Ben was showing off his bald eagle. I did stop to take a few photos of this beauty.

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After a few minutes, though, the bird started walking around instead of flying, and Ben was saying he didn’t know if he’d be able to convince him to fly again – the dangers of working with animals – so I took myself off to the corner of the field, where the local 4×4 group has a track set up and lets people drive or ride around it in their offroad vehicles.

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I’ve never offroaded before – and that’s an experience I won’t soon forget! The track rutted very deeply the day before with all the rain – aided, I’m sure, by the shovels I saw at the side, as well as by the drivers driving round and round it. It was very uneven; it was a bit like a roller coaster, but a far less even and controlled track.

The man driving me around it kept me entertained with stories. He explained that there’s a rivalry between owners of different makes of 4x4s (he named two specifically, but I don’t remember which). His mate used to boast that his vehicle could do everything the other make could – repeatedly, til he (the man telling me the story) got fed up of hearing him. So he finally told his mate to put his money where his mouth was, and was promptly bet ยฃ100 that the friend’s vehicle could do everything his could do.

There was apparently a bit of a crowd around during this event; they extolled him not to follow through with this – it was stupid. He assured them that he had no plans to put the key in the ignition, though, and still he’d win the bet. Once the cash was put up for the bet, our storyteller got 7 adults seated and buckled in legally in his 4×4. He turned to his friend and told him to do that. The friend turned back and said, “You know I can’t – I’ve only got a front seat!”

The friend declared that unfair, so there were two followup challenges, both of which the boaster lost, before he admitted defeat and handed over the cash. Our storyteller handed his friend back his ยฃ100 and told him to just keep his mouth shut in the future!

Back together for the strongman exhibition & craft tent

After the offroading, I joined Chris again to see the strong man exhibition. We’d never seen one; this was The Mighty Smith, Adrian Smith, 5th in the World’s Strongest Man and three times Winner of UK’s Strongest Man Competition. Most of all, he was entertaining, so it was a good time. He started by tearing up Argos catalogs (the phone books here are quite small, but those Argos catalogs have about 1700 pages and are about 4cm/1⅝” thick). He dragged up a member of the audience and asked him to tear one catalog while he himself tore 4 or 5. The poor man failed miserably, of course, and the end time found him trying to tear it page by page.

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After that, he somehow got 3 more victims, challenging all four men to lift this “baby” ball he had – this is the smallest of the set of balls that must be lifted in the strong man competitions. He explained this was the only one he could bring because he came in a car today. That made me reflect on having so much muscle that you have to actually think about how much you weigh when loading up your car.

None of those men could pick up the ball, of course – I think it was 2,000 pounds or something, but I can’t be sure. There was another bit where he held up a chair with a girl in it by his teeth (after warning her not to wiggle around, so as to not aggravate his fillings). Then he concluded with a very fun to watch tug of war for all the children who’d been watching. He would help out one side or the other to make it last longer – twas vastly amusing.

Once that show was done, we checked out the craft tent. That was a very aggravating experience, because many of the stands were packing up while we were in there – at 4:30 when the thing’s supposed to end at 6:00. We did find a few lovely people who weren’t packing up, who did get our business, and who we had nice conversations with. The food tent was even worse – all the vendors were gone from it by the time we got there, about 4:45.

We decided that if we ever run a show, the stallholders will be required to pay a deposit, refundable if they stay til the stated end time. Just like when we rule the world, businesses will all be required to post hours and stick to them – I know, radical idea!

Home time!

So, since everyone was packing up, we headed home. While we were waiting for our lift home (the buses here have been completely unreliable in recent months, and Hayfield isn’t that far, so Paul graciously drove us there and back), we noticed this van that made us giggle – why yes, we are 12.


I have a thing about having cotton candy (candy floss) when I go to anything resembling a fair. Much to my horror, the first time I did so in this country – which I think was at Hayfield Show, come to think of it – I found they only sell stale, old, nasty cotton candy. I love cotton candy — this was horrible! Stale, old cotton candy isn’t worth eating (life is far too short for bad food), so I simply quit having cotton candy. I lusted over cotton candy machines until my wonderful friend Lisa bought me one of my very own! Woohoo! Of course, after we got home from Hayfield Show, we fired it up and made some lovely, gorgeous, wonderful cotton candy!

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I also made some less pretty cotton candy – it can be hard to get it light and feathery sometimes – which we forced ourselves to eat, somehow. Fresh but compact cotton candy is still far superior to old, nasty, also compact cotton candy, trust me.

All in all, a wonderful ending to a lovely day!

I Won!!!

 Posted by at 23:04 on 15 September 2013
Sep 152013

Eeeee! I won! I won I won I won!!! ๐Ÿ˜€


Lots of photos …

As I said this morning, I was off to this today:

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It sounded like a fabulous idea to me – just what the Inspire Festival started out meant to be. This one, with only a few weeks’ lead time, though, and focused on Charlesworth and Chisworth (two of the small villages that make up Glossopdale), was bound to be smaller. It’s also the first time anyone’s attempted anything like this – at least as far as I can recall in the past five years!

I gave the competitions some thought, and feared there might not be many entries, so decided to enter some of the classes, mostly to do my bit towards there being a decent amount of entries. I thought about entering the photo competition, but couldn’t think of any photos that answered the prompt, so gave that one a miss. Of course I’d be entering the cake class and the sewing class – I’ve made one handmade sewn item, which you’ve all heard about by now.

Just Friday, I decided I would try to enter a loaf of bread as well – this braided one I do looks nice, so I thought that’d be perfect. Mind you, I haven’t baked bread in ages – kneading it this morning, I couldn’t actually remember the last time I’d kneaded bread dough – I was just hoping I’d still recognize the point where the gluten chains all line up and the kneading has done its job. Thankfully, I did. I made no promises to myself or anyone else that the cake and the bread would come together in time – and the bread making it was looking kind of doubtful at 9am this morning, with my departure time due at 10:15, and it just starting its final rise. I must fix that recipe – I had to knead in an extra three cups or so of flour, doubling what I started with, in order to get it to a kneadable state – so kneading it took longer than it was meant to this morning. Thankfully it did rise and bake quickly enough, so I had entries for three classes for myself, plus one for Chris.

Turns out I needn’t have worried!


There were a good number of entries, in nearly every class. Yay! The cake and the scone classes each had four entries. The above flier was all the information there seemed to be on the criteria, so there was some wide variation within each class – looks like a fruit cake, a Victoria sponge, another sponge, and my coconut cream cake were all in the cake class.

Scones are what Americans call crumbly biscuits (as opposed to the flaky kind; pondering what the Brits might call flaky biscuits earlier, Chris and I decided we weren’t sure that they’d fit into British vernacular at all, which means – seeing as they’re flour-based – they’d call them cakes). I suppose there’s only so many ways to make those, but we did get plain and fruited varieties.

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The sewn items category attracted lots of entries, including some absolutely stunning patchwork. My pictures do it no justice at all – but be sure to click on them to see the detail.

The loaf of bread category also got four entires. The one in the basket was there first, and was the only other one when I went to place my entry. I looked at that basket and thought, “Oh, yeah, presentation. Shoot.” Later, when the glass cake stand appeared with that raspberry cake, I kicked myself there, too: I do actually have a nice cake stand that would’ve done; I just didn’t think about it. So yeah, I decided I wouldn’t present my bread in the foil I’d wrapped it to bring it, and propped it in the cake box top as artfully as I could manage. D’oh.

I didn’t think of just setting it on the tablecloth directly, but since it is a crusty kind, I perhaps should’ve done that.

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The children submitted several sets of decorated cupcakes.


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The gingerbread man class only got one entry, I think; the decorated rock class got quite a few. My picture of those isn’t brilliant, sadly. I quite like the three spelling out Charlesworth at the top. ๐Ÿ™‚

I failed to get photos of the photo (adults) and picture (children) classes, sadly. They were set up on the red boards to the right in this picture. There were some stunning photos, but there were too many people in my way to get decent photos of them, argh! There was also an absolutely lovely picture put together by the kids at one of the primary schools.



I’d entered the necklace holders Chris has made for me (in his name!) in the handmade wood/metal item class. They were the only entries, so he now has a first, a second, and a third rosette! ๐Ÿ˜€

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I really don’t envy the judges having to decide about these stunning works of sewing.


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My coconut cream cake came in first in the cake category!!! Woohooo! I cut some up before I left so others could try some. I always think it’s such a waste, all this food that’s prepared for competitions, and then the judges have some, and then it just sits there looking pretty until it’s thrown out. I also think that a good way to improve one’s technique is to enter competitions and learn from what others do – not being allowed to taste the thing hinders that learning process a bit! I could at least control my own entries, so I let others have a taste – after judging!

Best of all – my cardamom bread got Best In Show!!! WOOHOOO!!!


Mind, I’ve never entered one of these things before, and I’ve never been around them, either. I’ve seen the entries on display well after judging, at Bakewell Show and others like that, but I’ve not been involved ever at any level.

At some point, Rachel got everyone’s attention to announce best in show (she didn’t announce any others, which is just as well: there were so many, really!). I was on the far side of the room from her, so struggled to hear at first until the chatting died down. She impressed on all of us that the judges had a very hard time choosing a Best in Show, since the classes were all so very different (comparing apples and oranges, basically). Then she said which class the Best in Show came from – I was fully expecting it to be one of those beautiful pieces of patchwork from the sewing class. I didn’t understand what she said, because my brain did that thing where it didn’t hear what it expected, so it couldn’t make any sense of what it heard.

Then she called out my name, and I started, and I’m sure I uttered something, and started walking towards her, on auto-pilot. After a few steps, I came to, and wondered if I was meant to go to her or what – wait, I don’t know, what am I supposed to do?! Everyone was applauding and smiling at me, though, so I carried on, and Rachel gave me the Best in Show Rosette, which I took in a daze.

Photo by Dianne Boardman, High Peak Review

Photo by Dianne Boardman, High Peak Review

Photo by Dianne Boardman, High Peak Review

Photo by Dianne Boardman, High Peak Review

See? That’s me in shock. Happy shock, of course. I really didn’t expect that when I decided at the last minute to make some bread. Especially not up against that patchwork! We were told, however, that when the judges tasted my bread, it was “like a slice of heaven.” O.O

There’s a whole nother story to tell from today, of course — the people, the day, the groups, the connections — the actual point of the day. I was going to make that part two of this entry, but this has gotten long enough that I shall close this here and post that part as a separate entry. Stay tuned!

Charlesworth & Chisworth Village Get Together

 Posted by at 09:43 on 15 September 2013
Sep 152013

This is where I’ll be today:

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I’m entering Chris into class 6, and if all goes well, I’m entering classes 1, 3, and 5 – fingers crossed the baked goods come out okay! I’ll be representing Glossopdale Time Co-op while I’m there, and then afterwards covering the rest of the regular time brokering shift this afternoon at The Oakwood.

Then I’m going to come home and collapse, I’m sure.

My week so far

 Posted by at 01:06 on 12 September 2013
Sep 122013

Having just read this interesting post about challenges some bloggers have faced and their advice for others, I’m strangely inspired to write something.

Must confess, I suffer from many of the fears they mention – wondering if what I have is worth sharing, performance anxiety, etc. I’ve decided I need to just get on with posting anyway – it’ll undoubtedly be useful to me as a record, at the least!

One aim I have with this is to keep friends and family updated on my doings, so I’ll do that in this one. I have something on most days this week (versus last week, where I gloriously barely left the house – I really am such a homebody at heart). Between social functions, I’ve mostly been toying with my calendar as I find yet more sources of events to include on it. It started out with I’d just include things as I came across them; now I’m slightly addicted, seeking out local groups’ and venues’ websites to include their listings on mine. D’oh.

Click for more …

Then I started tweeting about upcoming events. I laid in bed one night, before dropping off to sleep, realizing that that might be annoying some of my followers who aren’t local to me. True, that’s not very many, really, but it also struck me that the opposite might be true – if I tweet about events, people might only want that information, and not my oh-so-clever observations as well. So, I’ve created a separate twitter account (@GlossopEvents) from which to tweet about upcoming events. For now, I’m just tweeting about things happening in the next 24 hours or so, mostly, and retweeting others’ event tweets as I see them. Not sure if another format will work better. I imagine my followers (my event twitter has followers, woohoo!) will tell me if they think of a better format.

I really need a better icon for that account, but I can’t think of anything. Do tell me if anything occurs to you. (The current icon is the front of the Market Hall.)

So what else have I been up to? Sunday afternoon found me at The Oakwood (pub) covering the time broker slot for Glossop’s time bank. We have two time brokers, and two more (including me) who are “time brokers light” – we can do most of the time broker’s jobs, but not necessarily all of it (only the time brokers can check IDs for DBS checks, for example). One time broker was at work, and one was out of town – I made the mistake of calling it on vacation before I found out he was going camping. Poor thing. That’s not vacation at all!

They don’t say out of town here. They say away. As in, “I’m sorry, I can’t, I’m away then.” I really dislike away when used this way. I’m not entirely sure why – it’s just a word, like any other word, and in other contexts I don’t mind this word. Perhaps one day I’ll figure out why I dislike it so much; til then I’ll just keep translating it and using different phrases back to them. I also hate holiday when they mean vacation. I always want to tell them (and sometimes do, depending on the conversation at the time) that holiday means Christmas, Easter, etc. But then, the British are nothing if not overloaders of words (people who give words far more than one meaning) – some time I should actually count up all the definitions I’ve found them to have for the word brilliant.

Anyhoo, so I went to that. No one turned up to see me, for which I was actually grateful. I have this ongoing mystery sinus malaise (since March), and finally saw a specialist for it a fortnight or so ago; since then, I’ve been permutating different medicines to try to get a better handle on what helps and what doesn’t. It’s made me feel more and more lousy, and I actually felt quite, quite ill that afternoon. Chris came and sat with me the last hour, actually, which was good of him.

After my shift ended, we decided to go see how our favorite restaurant, Thai To Go, looks after its refurbishment – it’s lovely! I had my very first glass of proper iced tea in this country that wasn’t made by myself or Chris – and it was yummy, to boot! They’re selling it as lemon iced tea. I’m vastly amused I’ve had to go to a Thai restaurant to get something I associate with Southern American.

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When we left the restaurant, the skies were very moody. This picture doesn’t really do it justice, but it looks cool in its own right, so I’ll share it with you.

There was crafting Sunday night – jointly with Chris and I – which was good. More on that in another post.

Monday morning, a friend of mine came over and we crafted together. She’s very busy, and we’d struggled to find time to see each other, til I came up with this idea of combining seeing each other with crafting, since she’s into lots of different crafts, and I always have something that needs mending or altering or something in my pile. I actually remembered how to do the stitch May taught me back in May at that class, a sort of hand blind stitch thing, to alter the front of a top I have. I’m almost done with that bit; next up I’ll be adding beads to that top. Fall’s definitely arrived – or perhaps winter – and with it motivation for me to finally get my warmer clothes sorted out. It was lovely to see my friend; I always enjoy our chats.

Monday evening I discovered my online order for grocery delivery from Sainsbury’s had been cancelled. (I do an online order once a month, to help reduce the amount of shopping I have to lug.) I’d not ordered from them before, but I’d gotten a coupon so I’d given it a try. I actually had coupons from three of them for the same week, so I pulled up all three and did my shopping at each one to see which would be cheaper. As I expected, they came out all very nearly the same, so I opted for the one with the biggest coupon. Anyway, turns out Sainsbury’s has some ill-thought-out policy about quantity you can order: if you order over 6 of any given item, you have to go through some “bulk order” process (I’m not sure what this entails) and order it a week in advance because, as the lady on the phone told me, “We’re not a warehouse.” Gosh, that cat food only comes individually – and she eats more than 100g (3oz) every 5 days! Righty ho, Sainsbury’s can carry right on not getting our money – not that I think they’ll notice.

Tuesday afternoon was Lunch Bunch – a certain group of 3 friends plus myself trade off hosting lunch every month or two. That was lovely, as always. The lady hosting this time had her daughter and five-month-old granddaughter there with us this time; thankfully the granddaughter was very happy and quiet most of the time. After a couple of hours she got quite fussy, so her mother took her home. It was nice to meet them, though. I do so enjoy Lunch Bunch. I hope to start another sometime, actually, because I think it’s a brilliant idea.

Today was a WI activity – Charlesworth WI went on a safari lunch. We had starters at one house, then a main course at another house, then dessert at another house. Well, actually, we broke into three smaller groups, so each group had its own house for starters and main course, and then we all converged to one house for dessert. I’ve decided that, while I see the practicality of it (preparing the whole meal yourself is a whole lot more work, to start with), I’m not keen on this idea of grazing all afternoon. I may give it another go to be sure – I really wasn’t in a social mood today, as happens sometimes for no particular reason, which I’m sure tainted my perception of things.

Tomorrow night there are three different things I’d like to go to – Simmondley WI’s meeting, my book club’s meeting, and the launch of Glossop Record Club – but my book club always wins when it conflicts with anything. This month we’re reading J.K. Rowling’s Casual Vacancy, which I must finish tomorrow. So far it’s been a decent read, though I’m not sure how much discussion we’ll get out of it!

The record club guy told me he hadn’t realized there was so much on on Thursday nights – I’m hoping my calendar becomes a useful tool for people trying to schedule things around town: I’m hoping I get enough on there (I don’t aim to include everything: that way lies madness) that they can fairly reliably use it to choose lesser-populated days – or where what is planned that day targets a different audience, at least. Fingers crossed!

Then I’ll have to get ready for Sunday – I’m looking forward to the Charlesworth & Chisworth Village Get Together! ๐Ÿ™‚

Charlesworth Carnival 2013

 Posted by at 23:14 on 7 September 2013
Sep 072013

Get ready for some time traveling … or at least posts that I should have made ages ago, really. One thing I want to use this blog for is to share my photos and stories of what I’ve done – and part of that is motivated by my desire to get my photos in order, which have been woefully neglected for a long time.

Whilst getting ready for another Charlesworth event coming up on the 15th (the Charlesworth and Chisworth Village Get Together – facebook, flier), I’m reminded that I meant to post here about the Charlesworth Carnival, but haven’t yet, so here you go!

(Note: For all the images, just click on the image to see a larger version.)

Getting there and touring the grounds

Charlesworth Carnival is always on the second Saturday in July. It was the second of two carnival weekends in a row for me (Glossop Carnival is the weekend before). Thankfully, this second one was a whole lot less work for me (and Chris). I was only helping with one stall, not two, and what I was doing for that one was a whole lot less involved: I just needed to bake some cakes/etc for the Charlesworth WI stall. This was my first time being involved with this one; last year the carnival was cancelled. There was too much rain, and the field is on a slope, so it was a quagmire.

This year we had perfect summer weather the entire month of July, though, so the carnival was definitely on. I put my baked goods in my shopping trolley and Chris and I set off together: we needed to stop by the market first, which was having its monthly farmers’ market, to see if we could find a certain gift. We found a lovely one, yay. Then I set off to the carnival, and Chris picked up a few other bits for us.

It was a glorious, sunny day. When the bus started coming into Charlesworth, my mood was lifted by all the cheerful bunting strung along most of the village. I was so distracted, I nearly missed my stop! I snapped a few photos along the way to the village green. The first thing I noticed was another lady taking photos, looking absolutely delighted. I saw these scarecrows, and I remembered Charlesworth’s scarecrow competition should be about the same time as the carnival (turns out it’s organized by the same lot), so I asked her what the theme was this year. “Adverts,” came the reply. “Oh, right, who are these guys then?” I asked.

She explained to me that when they deregulated the phone service, 118 118 was one of the first directory assistance numbers launched. Their ads always had these twin runners, she said. Most of all, she was just delighted that the church who’d put these up had linked this to the bible – she thought it was very clever. It was a lovely, upbeat conversation which I do no justice to in the telling. Anyway, after our brief conversation, we parted ways. I’d been there a few days ago, in this church, helping put together the well dressing. It has such lovely grounds.

I also found this garden full of interesting and delightful things.

And a lovely bush full of honeysuckle – one of my favorites!

I’d not been to the Charlesworth Village Green before, but had a good idea of where it should be. I was pretty sure this was it.

This was across from the village green. The bunting is from McDonald’s and says “I’m Lovin’ It.”

I was amused by the sign on the village green.

Then I went up onto the village green.

It looked really empty to me for something that was supposed to start at 10am … and this was about 11:15. I later learned that I’d been misinformed: it doesn’t really start til the parade arrives at the village green, and that doesn’t set off til noon. Anyway, I found the WI stand. This WI owns at least one gazebo, but this time opted to share a marquee with a church. A marquee’s a large tent, and many ladies commented on how much sturdier the marquee seemed than the gazebo.

I was quickly set upon by someone asking where the display board was. Chris and I have made two display boards, which we used first at the Glossop Carnival – one for Glossopdale Transition Initiative‘s stand, and one for the WI’s cream tea stand. No one had asked me if the WI could use it again at Charlesworth Carnival. Apparently it was meant to go on that small table at the back. They were in luck: it was available this day, so one of the ladies quickly drove me home and back again to get it, and up it went.

Both of the large tables forming the L-shape were filled with baked goods – as a group, we did produce quite a bit. I’d made apple muffins, banana nut muffins, and bran muffins. There were early promising sales of these, but then it dropped, and in the end these were some of the last to go. I’ll take them again next year – maybe the people who had them this year will want them again, now that they’ve tried them – but I’ll take less, and probably some different things. I’m also pondering adding “American” to the name (since they are) and see what that does. I’m hoping it’ll change them from being “weird things I’ve never heard of” to “Oooh, that’s exotic! I’ll have that!” Companies plop “American” and “American-style” on enough labels here to make me think there must be some benefit to it.

Display board dealt with, I was bored on the stand, so I wandered around the green to see what there was there. The bouncy castle was inflated by now.

I’m thinking of making some bunting – Chris and I currently string ribbons up to decorate the ceiling for various holidays, but I can sew now and all, and bunting looks easy enough to make, and I think it’s more fun. I paid special attention to all the variations in bunting as I walked around the field, and concluded there’s no right or wrong way to do it, really. My eye was caught by this bunting:

In particular, I noticed how the sewing around the letters was done. When I did it around that banner I made for Glossop Carnival, my stitching came out perpendicular to the line I was sewing along, but here it’s angled. Can you see it? If not, click on the image for a larger version. The angles look good, and I haven’t a clue how to do that. Do any of you?

I did ask the lady in the stall, but she said her friend made it, so she didn’t know. She then told me her friend’s sewing machine is “as big as an airplane,” so I wonder if it’s just a feature my machine doesn’t have. Hm.

Leaving there, I found the refreshment tent.

After my tour around the green, the PA system announced the parade would soon be arriving, so I went to watch that. Lots more photos to come in the next part!

The parade!

Once I’d finished touring the ground, the PA system announced that the parade would soon be at the bottom of the field, so I made my way down there to see the parade. Turns out I picked a lousy spot – they nearly all stopped once they got to me – but I got a few pictures anyway. The crowd waited rather restlessly (but at least we had shade – it was a rather warm day).

Eventually, the parade arrived! It was led by the police tractor. Unfortunately, they don’t really use this tractor in policing – we sure have the escaped sheep for it, as well as the marshy ground in parts of Derbyshire, and the occassional unpassable-because-of-snow parts. Nope, they’ve borrowed it to promote their new Farm Watch scheme (I love how the government here always comes out and admits it does nothing but scheme, by putting scheme directly in the name). Farm Watch is like Neighborhood Watch, but for farms. They only plan to use it in shows, carnivals, parades, etc.

Anyhoo, after the tractor was the band.

I think this was one of the carnival queens with her attendants, probably Charlesworth’s. Here’s another queen and attendants.

Next was this horse and rider – two riders, I see now – they’d used chalk to decorate themselves and the horse as skeletons. I was vastly amused and thought it was terribly clever; just wish I’d gotten better pictures!

Another queen.

Click on image for a larger version

Then there was the Walk Like An Egyptian crowd. ๐Ÿ™‚ I quite liked these costumes! The music sure livened up the parade; hopefully there’ll be more next year.

Then there was the one and only float of the sort I’m used to seeing – towed behind a truck of some sort, built up on a trailer. This is for one of the churches in the village. I do wonder why this type is so rare here.

Immediately after they passed, the last part of the parade – three floats – pulled up and stopped. These were of the style usually seen here, where they get a large lorry (semi truck / 18-wheeler) and use the back of the truck as a place to stand/sit, and decorate it. The closed up trucks here have sides that can be rolled up, so they roll those up and have a small bit of roof over them. There were two like that, plus one open flat bed trailer.

Once they stopped, the people on them started trying to get off them, onto this sidewalk that was already crammed with people. It was quite a scrum. I liked the decoration of the first float, so went about trying to get pictures of the floats. They didn’t come out very well at all, but here are a few snippets. The first one had a Where’s Wally? theme.

The second one had a Bugs World theme.

The last one was from the Boy Scouts.

After the parade, people poured onto the green – now it started looking much more like a carnival!

The carnival’s really going now!

As I saw on twitter around this time: “Daz/Ariel allergy epidemic sweeps Glossop as more and more men are unable to wear shirts and take to the streets topless.” It’s true!

This band was really good!

You can see and hear a video of them here (warning: it’s kind of loud because of the background noise, so take care with headphones).

Anyways, I spent a bit more time in the WI tent …

… but quickly got bored (I wasn’t serving), so I set off to see that well dressing I’d helped make.

The well dressings, and the tail end of the carnival

On the way to the well dressings, I found the only other scarecrow display I saw at all: another 118 118 display.

I also passed this warning sign, and this woman and child. He should be on her left! – that’s why it was scorching hot instead of nice and cool like a snowflake suggests. Clearly.

I found the well dressings!

The small one on the left and the big one were the ones being worked on in the church when I went; the small two on the right were made by the two local primary schools. One of the parents came by to have a nosy at ours after helping the kids make theirs next door, and the way she talked about it, I thought it’d be awful, but actually, it’s very well done!

Anyhoo, so closeups, going from left to right. My friend Ruth apparently did most of this one herself – they were really short-handed. She did a brilliant job!

This big one is the one I helped work on. It’s huge. This picture from when we were working on it shows the scale better:

On the right is what it looked like when I left Tuesday afternoon. That’s Ken spraying water on it so it doesn’t dry out. Between working sessions, he sprays water and covers it in plastic. To make a well dressing in these parts, you press natural things (leaves, petals, stones, peppercorns, pine needles, etc) into a big board of clay. Then you hope it’s not too hot and dry so it lasts the week once it’s up.

Here’s the finished board!

The design is Britain & Ireland plus a few of the smaller islands, with some national symbols: rose for England, daffodil for Wales, thistle for Scotland, and I really have no idea why the wheat(?) is there. Anyone know? I should remember to ask the lady who designed it sometime.

The primary school next door to the church made this one on the left. The other primary school made the one on the right.

After ogling the well dressings for awhile, I headed back to the carnival. I crossed paths with Ken, who I met while working on the well dressing. He is a friendly man, and we stopped and had a bit of a natter.

When I got back to the WI tent at about 3pm, this was all that was left!

While I was helping to sell off the last few, I saw this lady using a parasol – an actual parasol – I’ve never seen one in use in real life!

Once everything was sold, I let the others pack up since they knew what they were doing – too many helpers in things like that always annoys me, because you spend more time asking what to do and tripping over each other than anything else. I took my display board and headed home. A bus came before too long, and then I managed to catch a bus the rest of the way home after that (only because it was running 20 minutes late!). That display board is heavy, so I’m glad I didn’t have to carry it the mile home from where the first bus dropped me!

As I recall, once home, I peeled off my sweat-soaked clothing and promptly collapsed. ๐Ÿ™‚

All in all, it was a lovely day, and I’m so grateful to the committee of Charlesworth Carnival for putting it on. Looking forward to next year’s!

Navigating society as a sex object

 Posted by at 18:03 on 7 September 2013
Sep 072013

One blog I follow is Sociological Images, which is written by several sociologists. I’ve just tripped upon this series, which aims to help us females navigate this society that sexually objectifies us so much. It’s well worth a read:

Sexual Objectification Series:

  1. What Is It?
  2. The Harm
  3. Daily Rituals To Stop
    1. Stop seeking male attention.
    2. Stop consuming damaging media.
    3. Stop playing the tapes.
    4. Stop competing with other women.
  4. Daily Rituals To Start
    1. Start enjoying your body as a physical instrument.
    2. Do at least one “embarrassing” action a day.
    3. Focus on personal development that isnโ€™t related to beauty culture.
    4. Actively forgive yourself.

I can certainly vouch for how much better I feel since stopping consuming harmful media (3b) some years back; I doubt I’m the only one who can benefit from that! I think I’m blessed to not have ever suffered from the tapes (3c), at least not as all-pervasive as that author makes it sound. Yikes, I wonder how victims of that get anything done ever! Same with the next point (competing with other women for men’s attention).

If you read nothing else of the above links, I urge you – men and women both – to read part four. It’s one small subset of “how to be yourself” – which is always worth doing!

I made a little calendar

 Posted by at 17:02 on 6 September 2013
Sep 062013

This is really just for folks local to me (Glossop, England); readers from further afield are quite unlikely to make a special trip for these events.

I don’t know how other people work (at all, let alone in this regard), but I read about an upcoming event and it generally falls into one of three categories:

  1. Yes, I definitely want to go to that; I will book tickets and make arrangements now!
  2. No, I’m not interested in that at all.
  3. That sounds interesting; I might like to go, depending on how I feel about it when the time actually comes.

Now for me, I’m interested in lots of different things in the world, though I’m also busy and yet also a homebody, so a lot of stuff falls into category 3. Categories 1 and 2 are easy enough to deal with – the former goes on my calendar immediately; the latter is ignored. But what to do with all these things I might like to do, perhaps, if the mood and timing turn out to be right?

Some years back, I discovered the joys of Google calendars. To address this problem, I turned to them. These events got their own calendar, so they don’t clutter up my calendar. I can set alerts to remind me, depending on how keen I feel when I’m putting it in. I can put all the information about the event right there in the calendar entry – so when I’m out trying to find the location, I can just pull that calendar back up to see what the address was, again. As you can see, this solution has worked really well for me.

It’s occurred to me that, now that I have my own website, I can easily share that calendar with others by adding it on a page here. It might help others. I caution you, however, that this is just my calendar. You should always verify information yourself before you set off, if you can. I’ll always link to websites where I can, but much of what gets added comes from two-liners in the local paper (which don’t include websites). So, I put in what I know, and hopefully it’s enough to find them.

So, without further ado, my Glossop and area Community Events Calendar is here.

Since it’s a Google calendar, you can subscribe to it yourself – just click on the +Google Calendar in the lower-right-hand corner, and it should open a new tab for you and give you options. Once you’ve done that, I think you can set your own reminders for any given event.

Please comment on this entry or email me if you have any suggestions, things you want me to include, or comments about the calendar.

Why I use Twitter

 Posted by at 20:57 on 1 September 2013
Sep 012013

I’m famous!

My tweet is in this youtube video! I’ve also had at least one tweet published in the local(ish) paper The Metro (I don’t even read that paper). Clearly, I’m famous! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Discovering my cameo in that video yesterday got me ruminating about the uses – and power – of social media, and why I use it, particularly Twitter.

I used to be a massive Twitter-hater. This wasn’t based on having tried it, naturally: I hated the notion of limiting expression to such a small snippet. I still maintain that the soundbite society we live in is no good for us: we need to explore issues and discuss them in more than clichés; we need to realize that most of what happens are complex, many-layered things that the short form will simply never capture adequately.

Life is like a fractal ... complex at every level of zoom.

Life is like a fractal …
complex at every level of zoom.

At some point, however, I realized that the thing is: I must live in this soundbite world. I must express myself in this world. I started using twitter as a means to make me focus on and reach a point very quickly.

I’m not limiting myself to 140 characters per post on my blog, however.

Left to my own devices, I can talk. I talk in layers. For example, I might start with topic A, then bring in topic B, then C, then D, which I use to make a point about C, so then I carry on with C for awhile, then I bring in E, until I’ve linked that back up with B, which I carry on with for awhile, til I reach the point about B that I wanted to make, which brings me back to my point about topic A. This is how I work.

Thing is, most people aren’t interested in the multi-layered discussion, especially in writing; because they are used to soundbites, they want a concise and to-the-point pieces. If something appears too long, they’re loathe to read it. So, when expressing myself for public consumption, I need to discipline myself to focus more tightly on the topic at hand. Enter twitter: if I can manage to express myself there, how much clearer and stronger will the rest of my writing become?

What I’ve found in twitter is many-fold: a brilliant way to keep abreast of what’s going on locally (much of Glossop is on twitter); links to ideas, photos, information, and more that I’d have never come across in my usual internet haunts; some companies that actually respond when their customers have a problem; a vastly more reliable way of following people than facebook1; and most of all, a good bit of fun along the way.


All that ruminated around my head yesterday. Today, I came across Wil Wheaton’s post about what to expect from him if you follow him on twitter2. I am obviously no celebrity, and 4,000 people have never looked at a picture of my socks, but otherwise I’m going to reiterate one of his points, since I agree with it so strongly:

My favorite socks!  Hand-knitted to my measurements and desires by Michelle.

My favorite socks! Hand-knitted to my measurements and desires by @knitstixnstring.

The way I continue having fun with Twitter is that I do what I want with it, and I hope youโ€™ll come along for the ride if you think itโ€™s worth it. … [If] you just donโ€™t think Iโ€™m very interesting, thatโ€™s cool โ€” no one likes everything or everyone. … Just unfollow, and weโ€™ll each go our own way, cherishing the time we had together and moving on. No regrets.

I must say, the lack of drama over following and unfollowing is another thing I truly like about twitter. At least, that’s how I treat it: it’s all a bit of fun. When an account stops being informative, interesting, and/or entertaining, I quit following it. I expect the same from everyone else – really, through all mediums.

If a piece of writing of any length doesn’t inform, interest, or entertain you, there really isn’t much point in reading it, is there?

  1. Facebook doesn’t show any user all the updates from the people, businesses, groups, and organizations that they’ve liked/friended/joined/etc. Making an interest list helps, and so does the browser plugin Social Fixer, but some posts still remain hidden, since facebook is so full of bugs. []
  2. Also interesting from that post is the link to How twitter was born. []

How I Shop in Glossop

 Posted by at 22:18 on 31 August 2013
Aug 312013

One of the many things I had to learn when I arrived here in Glossop was how to shop. There is no Target, no Walmart. There is no Tesco Extra1 in my town. When I want something, I must go hunt it down, like game in the jungle, elusively mocking my inability to find it.

Glossop High Street.

At least, that’s how it felt at first. Coming from the land of find-everything-under-one-roof, where I see more and more small shops have gone the way of the dodo on each visit, to this land populated entirely by small and medium shops, I was very frustrated at first. It didn’t help that I wasn’t even familiar with what I was looking at: where’s the 409?2 the Bounty?3 the Downy? What’s “washing up liquid” and why’s that on the aisle sign in the supermarket?4 Why does searching for “sponges” on the supermarket website bring up cake?5 Where can I buy a hand dishwashing rack and bowl?6 Where do they sell unscented candles?7 WHERE is the baking soda!?!

Okay, a few of those are (slight) exaggerations, but I still really miss the ability to just look for the really big numbers 409 and quickly leave the chemicals aisle (the fumes always bother me), not to mention having just one bottle of cleaner I’m sure will pretty much work on anything.

However, I wouldn’t trade my shopping experience here with my all-under-one-roof shopping experience in the US (most days). What I have here is just too enjoyable to do that. Friday, I was out for 4.5 hours to do the shopping, and it was really lovely. Doing the shopping here is so much more a social event for me than it’s ever been before in my life; I reckon it’s outside the experience of most of my friends and family, and far too many Britons, so it’s about time I write about it.

Read all about it …

On this day, I started by seeing my beautician, Suzanne at The Beauty Room, who has the unfortunate responsibility of taming my wild eyebrows. Usually you think of waxing as rather unpleasant, but I don’t mind going to see Suzanne – the pain itself is far less from her than from other waxers I’ve had, but moreover the natter is always enjoyable and usually interesting.

I emerged from there and saw that the newly-opened bakery in town, One17, was actually open, and I was there, so I popped over to check it out. I met the proprietress, Jane, and we had a lovely chat about all sorts of things. I bought a couple of things to try, and went on my way.

I headed up to the market, to work my way back down again (I don’t usually double back, but Suzanne’s is in the middle of my path down the high street). On the way, I saw Nigel, the proprietor of Sowerbutts, taking stock as I passed by. He was sure to point out to me that they’d gotten in some smoked garlic; I thanked him and told him I’d get some on my way back down the street. Shortly after that, I ran across someone I know but haven’t seen for ages; we stopped and chatted a bit about how life’s going. I told him about Bankswoodberry this weekend, since the rock music playing there struck me as his cup of tea (I was right).

Then I picked up my local(ish) paper, the Glossop Chronicle, from the newsagent. I finally remembered to look for the Buxton Advertiser‘s new Glossop edition, only to find out that this week is the first week they haven’t published it. Apparently it didn’t sell very well, so they’ve stopped. The newsagent and I had a good laugh at the supreme localism – how some people look askance at people from o’er the hill – and how the Buxtonites, especially, can’t be trusted, after having stolen Glossop’s Howard Park gates all those years ago!

I poked around Niche Markit, after being lulled over by half-price sizable water guns. The clerk put her mind to helping me find a gift – no luck, in the end, but I definitely had to relieve them of a couple of water guns. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I waved at Maggie, who waved back while talking with someone at her card stall as I went past, and I headed into the market. The lady who runs the Market Deli was leaving to get some customers something out of the freezer as I was passing by; trust runs high in these parts – I hope rightfully so. The market bakery (The Muffin Stall) still had some oven bottom muffins (also here), so I snapped up a couple for Chris. Then I stopped at the cheesemonger’s, Parker’s, and had a lovely chat with Jean.

Jean’s hiding down at the end in this snap.

Too many times I’m in a rush when I do the shopping, but today I wasn’t, so I strolled through the market and ogled the rug stall (we need a new living room rug, but I keep forgetting to measure our floor). The stallholder came over and chatted to me again – the first time I was drawn to his stall, he told me all about his trip to New York some years ago, and we’d had a lovely chat. I wandered down to Glossop Screenprint, who’s recently set up a stall in the market. He has some very amusing shirts, but I hadn’t realized he was a screenprinter, too, until I saw something from the market’s twitter mentioning it. I have an idea for some t-shirts to make, so I got some prices and information from him. Then some socks caught my eye at Mini Muggles (a children’s clothing stall), but sadly they didn’t have the size I needed. The gal helped me work out size probabilities for a child of unknown size, and efficiently helped me find something to suit. Hooray!

Wandering around, my ear was caught by an acquaintance of mine hollering at me; I turned to find her sitting in the market café with a cup of tea. I was quite hungry by now, so I joined her for a sandwich and a chat. That was really lovely: we swapped stories of our trips around America. Mine was my recent road trip this past spring, and hers was some unspecified number of years ago. She went coast to coast, from Maine to San Francisco – all on a coach! I really don’t envy her that. But it was lovely to reminisce, and to visit with her.

We parted ways, and I finally made my way back down to Sowerbutts to get that smoked garlic, plus the rest of my greengrocer list. Three of the regular workers were there, and two different of them quickly told me about the new loyalty card program (well, the second one started to, but the first one jumped in and said, “I already told her – beat you to it!”). We pulled each others’ legs about our food preferences and dislikes, and after a bit I was the only customer in the shop, so I told them about my accent experience (from my last post), and we talked about accents a bit. I was able to ask them about the offense that might be construed by mixing up two certain accents (quite a lot, as it turns out) – which helps me understand why it is that people always phrase the question as, “Where is your accent from?” instead of “Are you from ____?” Once we’d solved all the mysteries of the universe ;-), I headed on.

I also dropped by the butcher we use, Mettrick’s. I still feel so blessed that we can get meat from a butcher who is patient and knowledgeable enough to answer all my questions (born of continuing to cook American recipes while living in England, where all the cuts of meat are called differently), and has such a short supply chain that should any problem ever occur, it will be quickly dealt with, because all the links are known – personally.

Then I found that the newest shop on High Street (it just opened on Monday) was still open, so I dropped in to have a look around. It’s lovely, and full of nice things. I chatted a bit with the proprietor Darren, and he told me that the nail salon they plan to open is planned for the upstairs – so this gives me hope that the fumes won’t keep me away after all! Happily, he reported that they’ve had a lot of lovely feedback in this first week – fingers crossed that translates into enough sales to keep them around.

Then I needed to pick up the last few things on my list from the supermarket, so I headed there. Ran across two different friends I haven’t seen in awhile, chatted a bit with each. My teacher friend thinks summer’s gone far too quickly, unsurprisingly; my other friend had just returned from ten days in France, and had to restock – especially on bacon, which she couldn’t find there — what scandal!

So that’s how I spent four and a half hours doing the weekly shopping. That’s also (part of) how to be part of a community, which is what’s being threatened by the demise of British High Streets. The connections, the humanity, the non-sterile experience: these and far more are at stake.

Connecting with people was a huge part of what I missed while I was in America this past spring. The cashiers at various supermarkets were friendly enough, but I guess the difference is it’s just one transaction at the end instead of the many different people I interact with each week here at home. The posher supermarkets now have manned cheese counters, bakeries, deli counters, fish counters, etc; I understand some here do, as well. I don’t know about the ones here, but the ones we were in, all across the breadth of the US, were very rarely staffed with workers anywhere nearly as knowledgable as the traders on my high street. They were still supermarket employees who’d never received any training specific to the counter they were manning, mostly. So no, I doubt I’d ever bond with them as I’ve bonded with the people here, simply because how I broke the ice in the beginning was by having to ask about nearly everything.

I still have to ask about Praze deli‘s bewildering array of cheese!

Glossop is incredibly blessed in its richness of traders, particularly independent ones – I’ve only mentioned the tip of the iceberg here, and not even all the ones I visit. There’s the cobbler, whom I only see sometimes, and the other cobbler whom I don’t use; there are at least two other butchers; there are two pound shops; there are a dazzling array of charity shops (thrift stores); there’s a sweet shop; there’s a craft shop I use quite often; the list just keeps going on and on. Unfortunately, too many towns in England are suffering from closures of high street shops.

Even where national chain shops are the only choice, that’s still far better than shuttered high streets. The whole social thing that is the human experience still happens as long as the shops are staffed by people. The WI resolved this summer to work to save the high streets. Hopefully our work towards that goal will accomplish good things for all.

  1. Britain’s answer to Super Walmart []
  2. 409 is an all-purpose spray cleaner; yes, I know there are plenty of them to choose from here, but that still requires reading the “how to use” stuff on the back to figure out which ones they are, instead of just knowing which cleaner does what. []
  3. Bounty paper towels, not Bounty candy bars. I’ve realized now that Bounty paper towels are re-branded Plenty now. []
  4. Turns out washing up liquid is dish soap; they say: “I have to do the washing up” instead of: “I have to wash the dishes.” []
  5. They call ordinary cake sponge cake here, to differentiate from fruit cake (which, strangely, they call a celebration cake, instead of a door stop). []
  6. From the supermarket, the market, or the pound store, but you’ll pay the most at the supermarket. []
  7. Not many places, it turns out, and again, the supermarket’s the worst on price. []


 Posted by at 00:18 on 31 August 2013
Aug 312013

I met my first fellow American-Glossopian today!

Granted, we’re both far too new to Glossop to call ourselves Glossopians: one man I know is quick to point out that he’s still a newcomer, having been here a mere 40 years.

Anyway, I had this conversation today:

Her: Where are you from?

Me: The US.

Her: Same as me, then – I’m from Philadelphia.

Me: Wait, you’re American?

D’oh. Not only is she American, but she’s still pretty new, only having lived in the UK for 6 months, so I’m sure her accent hasn’t changed much yet. And I didn’t pick it up at all. I didn’t actually even notice it after she’d identified herself. I knew I’d gotten horrible with accents, but yeesh, I didn’t think I was this bad.

What’s happened?

Upon further reflection, I figure: I gave up. I simply gave up trying to identify accents.

Once upon a time, I was an American who’d only ever lived in America, and I could easily pick out accents from different parts of the country. It didn’t require effort, usually: it just happened. I derived great enjoyment when people tried to figure out where I was from based on my accent: thanks to my upbringing, mine is the most pan-American accent I’ve ever found. It encompasses west, north, east, south, and even the Great Plains likely filtered through at least some – Dad grew up in Kansas. So yes, it was always vastly amusing to watch people try to peg my accent to one place.

Then I moved here to England. Before I did, I’d always thought there was just one English accent. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I’ve moved to a town with such a conglomeration of accents I can’t even count them all. Why so many here? From what I’ve read, moving about the country has only become fairly widespread in the past generation or two. So, people pretty much stayed in the towns they were born in for their whole lives since … Roman or possibly Celtic times (depending on the town, I suppose; Glossop only dates back to the Romans). They didn’t move about as much; very small geographic areas developed their own accents, far different from their neighbors’. (Also word choices, but that’s a whole nother post). Remember rule #1: Everything is smaller here. So yes, there are quite a lot of accents; they just each cover a smaller area. I think, actually, that there are more accents in England (which is geographically only the size of Louisiana) as there are in the whole of the US. Thing is, now people move about, and lots of different people are drawn to my town, for various reasons, so we now have quite a variety of accents. I’m sure many of theirs are blended accents, too.

I never dreamt I’d live in England. I didn’t study it before I came. I knew next to nothing about it when I got off that plane behind that line of Piggly Wiggly t-shirts. I’ve been a miserable student of it since I’ve come; I still haven’t learned where all the counties are. I have, however, learned that when I don’t know the places people talk about, they become meaningless words that simply wash through my consciousness. I probably asked where various accents were from, at first, but the places didn’t register, so I couldn’t place these accents that swirled around me. After awhile, I simply quit hearing them altogether. I focused on word choices, on understanding and being understood. These days, only extremely pronounced accents and accents so strong that I can’t actually understand the speaker register at all.

I never thought I’d overlook an American accent, though. And a Yankee one at that!