Saturday, July 25, 2009

Coming Home to Whitby

Fifteen years away and ten of those in the South West of the real Ireland. Trish & myself are often asked why we left our quiet haven on the Mizen Peninsular, perhaps it was just too quiet?. Perhaps we got the seven year itch? Who knows? But where to move to next? So many places and choices, we discussed places in the UK and abroad.

Some weeks later we were sitting in a Yorkshire Dales pub talking to a couple opposite savouring my pint of real beer (an impossibility in Ireland!).

“Where are you from?”, I asked the man.

“I’m from here.”, he explained, “This is my home – it’s where I belong. It’s all mine”, as his arm swept around in an expansive arc to include all of the dales scenery too.

On the long drive back to Eire I felt envious of the dalesman who may not have travelled the world, may not have been to some of the most remote places on the planet, nor climbed alpine peaks or travelled unknown rivers hundreds of miles from anywhere. We wanted to live somewhere where we would feel we belonged too.

Driving back we thought about and later discounted Australia, Canada, Spain, Sweden, Croatia and various parts of the UK in succession. It later turned out we were too old to get into Canada and we decided we certainly would be by the time we learned to speak to the locals in Croatia or Sweden.

Some months later, en-route to visit mum in Whitby, our choice now narrowed down to Yorkshire, we decided to reconnoitre a Dales market town the right size and ideally placed. Plenty of climbing, walking, canoeing and birdwatching to keep me going and enough shops, all within an hours drive. It was the RAF flight trainers I heard first as we stepped out in front of the lovely Victorian terraced house we’d come to view overlooking the river that did it for us. The lady I asked, explained they droned on and on from 9am to 5pm, Monday through to Friday. We got back in the car and drove to another town, clutching another house brochure. A cold spring chill blew through the market place. Two pubs were for sale and a shop sign hung by a frayed bit of wire, creaking in the wind, the shop clearly unopened for many months. A string of racehorses walked up to the stables at one end of the square. No one else was in sight. Despite the evidence of our own eyes, this was a one-horse town. And so our quest for the perfect place continued on.

Later, driving over the moors, the abbey came into view like it always does and we drove down to mother’s. She told us the local news and goings on. Out shopping we bumped into old friends and told one of our house hunting efforts and travels. “Well Dave you’re home now”. He was right. This was where we belonged!.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Irish Drystone Walls

Just before I left Ireland I was asked to write a bit on Irish Stone Walls. Published by the North Wales Branch of the Drystone Walling Association of GB this is now available on-line by reading my article which starts at page 7 of 'Stonechat'. There's lots of other interesting stuff in the rest of Sean Adcock's publication too.

Just to give you a taste of the amazing treasures here's one I took not far from where I lived in Co.Cork.

Oh, yes, I build them too!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Black Poplar & Red Kite

Out and about between Goathland and Grosmont at the weekend and I saw a Red Kite flying towards Grosmont. Absolutely unmistakable forked tail. My first sighting of this bird on the North Yorkshire Moors.

Later whilst walking down the footpath next to Whitby hospital I noticed the Black Poplar which had been pollarded a few years ago had finally died. I've managed to get some cuttings but there's little hope of collecting any viable material from this tree, the only one in this area and there are none within the boundary of the national park. Contacting Phil Yardley the Scarborough Borough Tree officer has resulted in the promise that someone else will try and obtain some viable cuttings. But rare trees don't seem to have the same value as rare animals or birds.