Wednesday, December 21, 2005


The kids carried on playing football while evening fell around them, buckets for goalposts on the village green, dark smudges in the gloaming, until they were called in for their tea. I drew the curtains, opened them again because it was a shame to shut out such a lovely night, unpacked my stuff, then headed down to the bar with Girlfriend.
Leanne was puzzling over the crossword while Canoeing Instructor puzzled over how anybody could actually do the crossword. We did our bit to help. The log stove crackled. Both of the world’s fattest cats came over for a nuzzle. We ran up a considerable bar tab over the weekend, played card games and “Call ‘em All!” and chatted about stuff. It was wonderfully relaxing, except for the bit where the cats meowed all bloody night in the corridor. I think in the end someone must have chucked them out of the window.

On Saturday we walked to Malham Cove, a limestone cliff 80m high and 300m wide, which older readers will remember was an active waterfall as recently as the 19th century. Waterfall boffins say the flow would once have been the same as that of Niagara Falls today.
We passed a fallen tree with coins growing out of it and not wanting to miss out on any coin / log related fun, I hammered in a ten pence piece - with my bare hands! And a small rock! I don’t know if you’re supposed to make a wish at this point, but I did anyway and, you know, so far so good.
Other trees can be hired as prime rural advertising space.

We walked up to the Tarn and then onto Gordale Scar, or The Waterfall Of Death as some call it. Unable to descend The Waterfall Of Death, on account of it being full of water and quite frightening, we walked down the lane instead. I took some pictures of road sign art - good shooting, Chav! - and future barn conversions. And a tree. And telegraph poles glistening in the afternoon sunshine.

After breakfast on Sunday we opened our Christmas presents, then were taken on an educational walkabout called “Girlfriend - The Early Years.”
This is my favourite view in the world. It’s like an illustration from a children’s story book - the rooftops and the market square, the town hall and the playing fields and the railway line, the cafes and the pubs, the school and fire station and the creamery. The fields and hills stretching out into infinity.
On the quiet of a summer evening, you can hear people chatting as they play bowls far down below, a dog barking miles away, someone dropping their car keys, Girlfriend calling her children home fifteen years ago. It’s perfection.
There was a quiz afterwards in The Naked Man.

It was bloody freezing when we eventually got back to Canoeing Instructor’s flat. We drank tea and read stories about brawls outside nightclubs in the Craven Herald. Leanne has asked me to point out that it’s Girlfriend’s scarf and she’s not a Leeds fan.

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