Whitby, part 2

 Posted by at 16:03 on 4 November 2013
Nov 042013
 

Carrying on from the first installment, we’ll finish our wander through Whitby in this exciting second half! 😉

After admiring the coast for awhile, we decided to wander through the town a bit and see what there was to see.

Wandering through the town …
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Some of the roads are very narrow. This was just wide enough for a car – and there were doors along that wall. Watch that first step! Thankfully, the super-narrow stretch didn’t last too long, and we had a bit of sidewalk then.

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Any ideas what this thing on the left is? It was in an antique shop full of breakables, and we were laden with backpacks, so I dared not go in to ask. It’s wood, with purple velvet, a half-cylinder compartment about 6″ or so long, and then a smaller compartment next to it. With the ink staining that smaller compartment, Chris wondered if it was for writing – I can see storing ink in the small space and the pen next to it, but what’s up with the velvet surface? Anyone happen to know?

The Whitby Gothic Weekend happens twice a year – apparently Whitby was chosen because of its Dracula connections. I forgot to mention we passed The Dracula Experience earlier, down by the waterfront. Whitby is where Bram Stoker’s Dracula landed in England, after the ship ran aground there after a bad storm, and Whitby has, to an extent, capitalized on it – so it was a Goth-friendly place readymade for the Gothic Weekend. Chris was surprised this was the only Goth shop we saw, however – apparently the coverage in Fortean Times makes it sounds like the place is just crawling with Goth shops, etc. In fairness, we only explored part of the town, so perhaps there’s more we didn’t see.

I was so struck that this Poundland – an everything’s £1 shop – had these historic photographs/paintings on its window shutters. They’re all by Frank Meadow Sutcliffe (1853-1941), and these are from the Sutcliffe Gallery. Now that I look at it on the map, I realize we may have even passed that gallery later, when we were headed back to the bus. Huh. Might go inside to explore next time!

Also, we found an American-style diner! I glanced at the menu: it’s only cosmetically American, but hey, it was a bit novel nonetheless. 🙂

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Halloween isn’t done as much here as it is in the US, so this window display was something to pause and look at – and then when I saw the sign above it, “Suppliers to Hotel & Catering”, I just cracked up. I had to get Chris to take a picture (all my batteries had died by this point) – you can see his ghostly self if you look carefully. 😉 Also, though no one local here seems to understand what gourds are when I use the word, the gourds in the right-hand window were actually labelled as such! Word choices are so very localized – even down to individual households, really.

The last photo is of the rose garden at St Hilda’s Catholic Church. It was lovely – you’ll need to click on it for the larger image to see it properly.

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St John’s church is a Church of England church (Anglican) directly across the street from St Hilda’s. What struck us about this building, really, was the diminished soot covering the walls. It’s not clean enough to have actually been cleaned*, yet it’s not covered in pollution like the buildings I’m more used to seeing. Chris told me they didn’t do as much industry – mills, etc – up here in Whitby as they did down in our part. Not hard to believe – the air hanging thick with smog from the 40+ mills in my town was infamous. The Industrial Revolution, born in our county of Derbyshire, did have quite a lot of downsides – massive pollution was one of them.

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* Either by sandblasting or the really cool-sounding method they used inside John Rylands Library. As I recall (I can’t find mention of it online anywhere), the tour guides told us they sprayed a special foam that clung to the stone, then peeled it off. The pollution came off, I expect with a bit of the stone. They pointed out the corners where they’d not been able to clean it properly, as contrast. The corners were black; the sandstone is a dazzling array of light colors. When they did it, they got an entirely different building when they finished.

We were vastly amused at the Black Hole Ahead sign – glad they warned us! We didn’t find it, alas.

Exploring the park …

We found ourselves at the entrance to Pannett Park, so we wandered inside to see what there was to see. The first thing we found was the Lily Pond, which was quite tranquil – at least, until other people showed up!

We wandered along, and spotted the hugest monkey puzzle tree I’ve ever seen!

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It was at the entrance to the Jurassic Garden, which is, as the sign told us:

A pathway through the past

The path you’re on takes you through the Jurassic period. Each band represents a rock layer from the Yorkshire coast – the colors of the rocks and the length of each band is in proportion to the depth of the rock. The first rock, where you are standing, is the Redcar Formation and is the oldest, laid down about 195 million years ago. As you walk along the path you will travel through 60 million years of Jurassic time!

In each band of rock you will find casts of fossils, including ammonites, corals, and dinosaur footprints. These impressions are taken from actual fossiles in the Whitby Museum collection. … Alongside the path there are plants from the Jurassic period, including tree ferns, gingkos, and a monkey puzzle tree.

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I liked the crocodile best, myself.

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The garden at the top of the park – surrounding Whitby Museum and Art Gallery – was guarded by two gardeners – one here, and one on the other side of the garden. Thankfully, they let us pass – in and out again! We reckoned the sundial might work a tad better if it weren’t in the shade.

I was a bit confused about these rectangles patches for planting flowers, just in the middle of the grass. You can see one planted in the middle background behind the sundial, and one unplanted one in the far background.

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Our second rainbow of the day! Ironically for living in such a damp land, I see rainbows very rarely. I usually feel the presence of Papa, my grandfather, when I see one. I do hope he enjoyed touring around Whitby with us that day. 🙂 We took time to smell the roses in this garden, while enjoying the rainbow.

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The Play Area was neat! I never had anything that nice when I was a kid!

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Just past the play area, another view of Whitby. I’ll bet loads of local residents want to shoot whoever allowed Whitby Hospital to take such a hideous shape (it’s that black and white monstrosity in the centre of the frame). In terms of styles, the 1970s have a lot to answer for! Hopefully the contents are better than the package.

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Our last stop was the South Seas Garden, which is filled with Maori art (the Maori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand). The sign next to the figure is informative, if you’re curious.

This chunk of the park is right up against the perimeter, so from bird’s eye view, you’d see an eye-shaped path, with the sidewalk around the outside of the park forming one part, and the sidewalk through this chunk forming the other part. While we were there, this man and little boy passed by – the man stayed on the outside sidewalk, but the very focused and determined little boy (about 4 years old, I’d guess – he was walking quite well without assistance) picked up a heap of fallen leaves just outside the garden, then carried them through the garden, then met back up with the man (father? uncle? friend of the family? never know) at the other end of the little garden, having tossed his leaves into the air just as soon as he got out of the garden and back onto the main sidewalk. Kids. *shrug*

Wandering back to the bus …

Once we’d seen all of Pannett Park, we decided we should wander back towards the bus.

A few things caught my eye, like this intricate painting on the side of a bookshop, juxtaposed with the street name sign next to it. Also, I know the pub is named after one of Captain Cook’s ships, but it still strikes me as a treasure trove of puns to name the pub The Resolution.

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The Sherlocks shopfront looked interesting – I should’ve gone in and had a look around, really. I did wonder if someone made a typo originally on the Angel Hotel (Angler) and they’ve just rolled with it since.

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This busker‘s set up was delightful – and the music wasn’t bad, either, so I stayed and enjoyed a song.

This stone is Whitby’s war memorial. I’m used to cenotaphs (which I now see come in all different shapes), so this was a bit of a surprise. The cenotaphs I’m used to seeing have the names of the locals who were killed in war engraved onto plaques attached to them. The sign informs us that there used to be a War Memorial Hospital in Whitby, but it’s gone, and besides, they’d realized not all the names that should have been listed were. So they decided to create this memorial instead: a double plinth of locally quarried sandstone at the bottom, and a piece of Masi Quartizite from the far north of Norway, where the Green Howards (the Yorkshire Regiment) saw action in 1940, and lost many men. They don’t plan to engrave names this time; they’re leaving a simple “Lest we Forget” engraved in the sandstone.

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The sky was very moody. Also, the gates outside the public toilets were oddly arty.

It was nearly 5pm, so we prepared for the long ride home by hitting the loo and grabbing a coke for me. Then the bus turned up, so off we went.

A few shots on the way home …

On the road from Whitby to Pickering, we passed Royal Air Force base Fylingdales, a listening station – a relic of the cold war, the driver told us.

We also saw this very strange cloud.

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Then Papa said goodbye with a full double rainbow – we weren’t far enough away for it to show up all at once on camera, but at least coaches have great big huge picture windows, so we saw it all perfectly (helped that it was on our side).

I was absolutely shattered – too little sleep the night before, followed by a long day – so I promptly fell asleep then, for about an hour. Then Chris and I chattered away the miles until we got home, a bit after 9pm. A very late dinner was immediately followed by bedtime!

Whitby, part 1

 Posted by at 00:04 on 24 October 2013
Oct 242013
 

This past Sunday, we went on a day trip to Whitby, North Yorkshire (it’s a seaside town about 115 miles northeast of here). We went by coach (coaches are charter buses, but in addition to private charters, they run periodic trips that anyone can join without having to fill the coach). We weren’t impressed with the company we went with, but we had a good time in Whitby nonetheless. This post got rather long and full of photos, so I’m breaking it into two parts. Hopefully the load time for you will be measured in something less than glacial movements!

We both love fall (autumn), and love to see the show the trees put on for us. This trip was advertised as “Autumn Tints”, and was supposed to take us past trees in color. It didn’t, but ho hum. Just another kick to get the finances in order to buy yet another car so we can go on our own trips!

Off we go – a few shots from the coach along the way.

As always, click on any photo to see the larger version. It was a gray, rainy, yucky day when we left. It was lovely in Whitby, though, so I’m glad we didn’t let that put us off – you just never can tell. We were on the motorway (interstate) for part of the way. When I lament that there are too many streetlights here, I mean it: I’m leaving this photo with the streetlight in the way because I had too many like this. They put them every 25 feet or so on both sides of most of the road – and then they wonder why we can’t see the stars at night.

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When we finally arrived in the Yorkshire Dales & Moors – which I’ve heard so much about – I remarked to Chris that it looks a lot like the Peak District. It is actually really similar geography; the Peak District is just more popular than Yorkshire because of its easy access for the city folk (from Manchester, London, etc). I related this to my friend Wendy who – I can’t remember now – either her husband or herself comes from Yorkshire. She replied, “Long may it continue!” Heh.

When we passed this feature, I heard a girl and her mother near us. The mother said this is called Dinosaur Bowl; the girl asked if it’s because a dinosaur sat there and that’s the shape of it’s bum. Made Chris and I giggle. 🙂

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We’re here! We wandered through the commercial part of town first …

We got on the coach at 8am, and we arrived in Whitby at 12:30. It’s not actually that far – we were doing pickups for one and a half hours after we left Glossop, and then there was a half-hour stop at a really depressing motorway service station (these are like the ones you get on toll road interstates: exits with a few places to eat, restrooms open to the public, gas, usually some picnic tables, plus these have hotels in them). I was irritated, since I’d been told we’d arrive in Whitby around 11am – 150% of the estimated travel time is quite an error!

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Anyway, so we were there. We took a few pictures as we made our way towards a restaurant Chris had scoped out reviews for the night before. We usually take a packed lunch whereever we go – less variable in quality, quicker, and easier than hunting for restaurants – but I really wanted some seafood since we’d be in a fishing village.

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It was low tide when we arrived. The difference in height of the sea is something I first ever noticed in Blackpool (another British seaside town); I really don’t remember this from when I lived in Hawaii – and I seem to recall going to the beach quite frequently there. I don’t remember it in Virginia, but beachgoing was rare there. The tide height difference is so much in Whitby that these boats were just sitting on the mud! Wonder if you could get a quick paint job on your boat during low tide…

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Chris forgot his sunglasses – so we have him to thank for the sunshine. We finally found a restaurant we wanted to eat in – The Marine – which was very small and crowded, but it was nice, and the food was good. Chris had fish and chips – he doesn’t usually eat cod, but this was sufficiently good that he ate it (the menu hadn’t specified whether it was cod or haddock). I had the smoked haddock and mustard mashed potatoes, which was also tasty.

The hallway back to the restrooms, however, is covered in a black and white wallpaper that, in that confined space, made my eyes just about cross. In a room it would’ve looked nice, I think. The toilet stall I used had this picture hanging on the back wall. In case you don’t look at the larger version, I’ll just tell you: that gold fish looks distinctly like it is frowning. It made me “…” so much that I snapped this picture to tell Chris about it. Might make some think twice about ordering fish, I guess…

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Now feeling much better, we continued walking down the wharf to see what all there was. Above, you see the view of whence we’ve come. Below is the famous restaurant in Whitby for fish & chips – The Magpie – complete with the line (queue) going out to the street. Chris’d taken one look at those reviews and immediately decided to avoid them – apparently the portions are far too small and entirely too pricey. I had a look at the menu as we passed to see what qualified as too expensive – £12 for a single plate of fish & chips is rather a lot, really, when you can get a takeaway fish & chips in many places for £4. Obviously there’s some overhead for it being a sit-down restaurant, but not that much. As for the portion size, what’s listed on the menu doesn’t look small to me – all I can guess is that they’re not actually sending out what the menu says. What struck me most about this was that they don’t skin the haddock before breading it and deep-frying it. EW! Nosiree, count me out!

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The tide’s been coming in – ever so slowly – while we’ve been eating.

Below, some of the entertainments – this part looks just like the commercialized, gaudy part of Blackpool, meant to part you from your money. We whipped through here pretty quickly – interestingly, the fish market is dead center in this mess – stopping only to try to buy a map, but the machine ate my pound. Stupid thing. There was a map on display on the board, though, so we looked at that a bit, and found a few interesting-sounding things. Then we kept wandering.

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We found the lifeboat museum, but it was clogged with people, so we wandered on. We also saw this pirate ship 😉 running tours. There were many boats running tours and sea trips of varying lengths, which I was interested to go on, but was worried about the time, since we only had the 4.5 hours there. Something for our next trip!

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The last thing we noticed on The Strip, as I’ll call it, were these completely random figures flanking the doors to this restaurant. Um, okay. Whatever blows your skirt!

We wandered along the beach awhile …

We found the way down to the beach, and walked along it for a bit.

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Chris was so disappointed that there were no critters in these pools.

We also found this guy balancing rocks on their points. We didn’t stop to talk to him, so we havne’t a clue why he was doing it. It being such an impermanent thing, I vaguely wonder if he’s Buddhist, actually. Either way, they were cool to look at!

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These are beach huts. I’m told they’re Very British – so much so that the winner of a WI photo competition on the theme of “British Summer” was a photo of some beach huts (nicer than these, mind). I never noticed any in Blackpool, the only other British seaside town I’d been to before Sunday, so I was very confused when I was first told about them. Apparently, they’re to give you someplace to change into your swimsuit.

Chris was more confused to see them there on Sunday – he wondered why people these days don’t just wear their swimsuits under their clothes, like he did when he was a boy and his family would visit Blackpool for a week. Once I saw that they have a place to put a padlock, though, I realized they could also be useful as lockers. When Chris was a boy, his mum would watch their stuff when they went swimming (she doesn’t like swimming); if it was just him and I who went, we’d both want to swim, though, so we’d need somewhere to keep our street clothes, towels, keys, etc. Plus I suppose you could wait out rain in them. Besides, they might have a kettle, etc, in them as well, for all we know.

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The beach huts were along the path back up to the street level, so we went up there. We thought the large building just there might be the science museum we’d seen on the map, but it was yet more arcade, etc, “family entertainment” instead. Past that, we found a theatre (for plays), and just in front of that were a couple of food vendors, including this Tibetan one! I’m interested in Tibet, so would’ve liked to try some Tibetan food – if only we hadn’t just eaten! Hopefully they’ll be there on our next trip.

We also got a better view of the maze we’d passed when we’d walked on the beach – which was in use! 🙂

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This sign vaguely amused us, so we snapped a photo of it. We were also very confused by this arrangement of bricks and fence. It’s as though there was an opening that’s now been bricked up, but that fence is only waist high or thereabouts, so it’d be a very short opening! Really wonder what happened there.

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We found some monuments …
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We were wandering back the way we’d come (except much higher), and on the corner (as it were), where harbor meets ocean, they’ve put a few monuments and a lot of benches. While snapping photos of them, I saw the rainbow! You can just see it in the left picture above and in the right picture below (you might need to look at the large version).

The statue is of Captain Cook, who gets credit for discovering Australia. He apprenticed in Whitby, was based in Whitby, and used Whitby-built ships for his three “voyages of discovery,” as the sign put it. I thought the coat of arms (?) on the front was really nifty.

I’m not sure what the other monument here is – it looks like a ship’s mast with a ship atop it. There wasn’t a sign, so your guess is as good as mine.

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The sky was very moody.

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The whale bone arch is impressive-looking, though a bit morbid: these are the jaw bones of a blue whale. The whaling industry was big in Whitby for many decades – I’m heartened that the sign tells us they used all the parts of the whale, at least. These bones came from Alaska – a twinning thing, I think (the sign is hard to read); Anchorage and North Slope Borough are credited. Apparently the original ones, erected in 1963, are preserved in Whitby Archives Heritage Centre.

From this corner we also had lovely views of the rest of Whitby – here’s the other side of the harbor.

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We wandered away from the monuments …

…and the first thing we were struck by was this building that looks so very out of place. The word – Streonshalh – is the Viking word for Whitby, the internet tells us. It’s flats now, but I’d be shocked if it was built as flats. And look at it – it’s assymetrical. The bit on the left could’ve been an extension, but regardless, the rest of it is still assymetrical. Very strange. We can’t find anything else online about it, annoyingly.

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We saw this steam-powered bus go by! Delightful – and the friendly driver waved at us while we were snapping photos. It’s the Vintage Spirit. Then we found a bench to sit on and chill out, from where we saw the Board Inn. Chris didn’t realize it was spelled that way, and thought it was Bored Inn, and went on about it for quite awhile before I decided to correct him. Still, who does name their place that? Their website is entirely lacking in explanation, meh.

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We also had chance to admire St Mary’s Church and the ruins of Whiby Abbey, together with its 199 steps, and the many people going up and down them. Sadly, we were on the wrong side of the harbour and just didn’t have time to make that climb. Oh, shucks.

My friend Chris (a different one) tells me that next time, we have to climb up those steps and count them all, and when we get to the top, we’ll have the Whitby Wibbly Wobblies – since our legs will be ready to give out! Something else to look forward to … 😉

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Panning to the right, we see more of Whitby. After our rest on this bench, we’ll head off in that direction – you’ll see those pictures in the exciting conclusion, “Whitby, part 2”!

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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. 😉

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. []