Holmfirth is famous, if that is the right word, for featuring in the BBC sitcom “Last of the Summer Wine”. It is a small Yorkshire town that has been settled in a steep sided valley on the edge of the Peak District. I had expected it to busy, crowded even and had said as much to Mrs BW on the way. “We’ll never be able to park for a start” and “We should have left hours ago”. This all fell on stony ground, and anyway with Stephen Fry on the cassette player I had no chance of a look in in the conversation stakes.
We arrived and amazingly for a Bank Holiday found a parking place straight away and met up with our friends. The sky was a dull leaden grey colour. It promised rain. Never mind we were here to enjoy ourselves and enjoy ourselves we would. The young ones gathered conspiratorially in a corner of the car park. While Mrs BW and Co went off to find toilets I waited by the car. The YO’s realising that I was isolated and alone seized their chance. “Give us some money for sweets…..please dad” This last bit a definite after thought. So I did! They went off and left me in charge of both cars and both of our friends dogs.
We had planned to do a couple of short walks, the first leaving the town and exploring the immediate countryside and the second a more leisurely stroll around the town. In the end we did the first and sat outside in the gardens of a cafe drinking tea while the young people explored Holmfirth and declared it boring after fifteen minutes, and had to be bribed to stay away for a bit longer with more spending money.
We were lucky with the weather. The sun even came out, so that we were able to have a picnic. It was a good picnic. We shared out the food and as it had not been coordinated it was interesting and different. Mrs BW’s quinoa and beetroot salad went down a storm, and the chocolate cake that J brought hit all the spots. We found a picnic spot next to a disused quarry with views over looking Holmfirth and sat in the warm(ish) spring sunshine and talked and laughed. It was quiet and peaceful. I glanced behind me and noticed that the quarry was intersected with various tracks. They looked as if they were made by something mechanical.
We had been sitting down for about ten minutes when a man leading two cart horses strolled past. They were wonderful animals, calm and strong. He chatted briefly before carrying on. Soon after a woman came by with two large greyhounds. The greyhounds were attracted by our picnic and by our friends smaller but very friendly cocker spaniels, in that order. Then a man on a tractor towing a trailer came past. He did not stop but he waved enthusiastically as he drove past. Next a four by four slowly negotiated the pitted and pot holed track. We all smiled and nodded at each other. I began to get suspicious. We had seen hardly anyone up until now! Perhaps word had gone around that there were incomers up in the hills and the locals had decided to come and have a look. When a young couple roared past on a quad bike, stopping and then considering riding on the tracks in the quarry before roaring off back the way they had come we decided that it was time to go. I guess that that solved the mystery if ever it was one of the mechanical tracks.
We strolled back rather more slowly after lunch than before. Through a gap in a wall we saw a copse filled with bluebells. By now the sun was out and it was warm and even the wind seemed benign and welcome.
Back in Holmfirth we drank tea and wiled away the rest of the afternoon. Just as we decided it was time to go it started to rain.
I was allowed to drive back, a rare honour. Mrs BW does not enjoy my driving. She says that I leave things until the last minute, like braking for the corners, and have an annoying habit of only having one hand on the wheel. But today she was suffering from a heavy cold so she relented. As we set off she pressed the play button on the cassette recorder. Stephen Fry picked up from where he had left off. I gripped the wheel tightly and listened to the rain. “Harry Potter……”.