Snowman in the bedroom! Courtesy of Petronela – with mărțișor

Today, according to Romanian tradition, is the first day of Spring, though looking out of the window here it’s not spring-like. A thick blanket of snow (for here 10cm or more is ‘thick’ though in other parts of Yorkshire there is far more and roads are closed) covers everything, hundreds of schools are closed (including the primary and the high school in our village). Nevertheless we will celebrate the arrival of Spring in the Romanian way (see last year’s post,  when it was a bright sunny day).


My post of a few days ago was about wandering a little further up the Wharfe Valley than where we live. The final picture in the gallery in that post showed Otley Chevin, at the foot of which nestles our village – Menston. Sunday turned out to be a surprisingly lovely day, fairly cold and a brisk breeze but good for a walk though rather muddy.

Just below the summit, but on the other (east) side is our local airport, the highest in England, in fact I believe the highest in the UK (though there are certainly higher airfields) – Leeds Bradford International Airport. So a walk on the Chevin means you are often ‘buzzed’ by aircraft, more usually landing. You are now often ‘buzzed’ too by that magnificent bird, the Red Kite, though yesterday he didn’t come close enough for a good picture (first pic in gallery). We often see a pair, circling over the village, from our kitchen or sitting room windows.

We often climb up half way on ‘our side’ to the Chevin Inn but yesterday we chose to take the car to the top (5 minutes or so) and walk from there. Not a very long walk, but we were out for about two hours. The final picture is on the road descending to our village, always a welcome sight when I was working in York as I was just a few minutes from home.

Paul Hudson, for those not in the BBC ‘Look North’ tv area, is the much maligned weather forecaster. The stone probably is more reliable!

Yesterday (Tuesday) was one of those wonderful Yorkshire days which hauled itself out of the gloom of the majority of days here this winter to show a part of Yorkshire at its beautiful best. I’m lucky enough to live in the Wharfe Valley but beautiful as it is where we live a day like that cries out for a wander further afield, heading towards Upper Wharfedale.

We didn’t go far, lingering a while in the village of Appletreewick, passing Bolton Abbey, crossing the River Wharfe by the side of the Barden Tower to arrive in this wonderful traditional Yorkshire village. It has two pubs, one of which is not open so often but the other, the Craven Arms, a historic inn, has always been open when we visited and no exception today.

Excellent beer and, new to me, Appletreewick cider, brewed in the village I understand. Cider is Petronela’s usual drink so if she says it’s good it’s good. I had a taste and can back that up but I couldn’t resist one of my favourite Yorkshire beers – Theakston’s ‘Old Peculier’, a really tasty dark beer but very strong so only 1 pint if you’re driving. The food is good too and we’d usually have a soup but as the soup of the day was something with goats’ cheese, Petronela will not eat anything with goat or lamb, we passed on that this time. We had brought food with us – schnitel (chicken breast) and pork pie so no problem.

I’ve tried to put the gallery in order of time from leaving home till arriving back, taking a circular tour around part of the River Wharfe, through Ilkley to Barden, crossing the river to the north side there and traversing Appletreewick to reach Burnsall then crossing back across the river at that pretty village to return on the south side to Barden again then up over Barden moor, descending towards Skipton in Airedale before turning again to pick up the Wharfe again at Bolton Abbey till home in our village of Menston.

I have my own little tradition for 8 MarchInternational Women’s Day (but first encountered as simply ‘women’s day’ in Romania). I try to do a post about women, remarkable (aren’t they all?), undervalued or oppressed, on this day.


I have several in this first category close to home in our local writers’ club (see below), all with outstanding talent, and at least one in Romania who I’ll mention though there are far too many to mention individually – just look at the bloggers I follow, some of them as young as in their teens!

I’ll try to mention some remarkable women below. As a start I’ll just mention two most influential for me: my grandmother, an unmarried mother in the early years of the 20th century who managed to regain ‘respect’ and was the most influential adult in my early years; my mother who, as a war widow raised three young boys, I being the eldest, with very little money, despite being seriously ill much of the time.

Of course I have to mention my wife if only because she’s stuck with me for almost 17 years. However, one notable achievement was, arriving in the UK with her English limited to “Hello, I’m Petronela. I don’t speak English”, she obtained the GCSE C grade English, necessary to have her Romanian degree and teaching diploma recognised and gain ‘Qualified Teacher Status’, within a year and has been teaching in UK high schools ever since. Highly valued by her pupils and their parents, getting results from children labelled as under-achievers as well as those in ‘more able’ streams, she’s still undervalued by her current so-called ‘senior management team’. Despite this, while many colleagues have long and frequent absences for ‘stress’, many leaving the profession altogether, she has days absent – for genuine physical maladies – counted on no more than two hands in a decade or more.

I mentioned my grandmother above but I’ll add my ‘honorary grandmother’ (there’s only a year between our ages) who kept some traditions of the Romanian Bucovina alive when oppressed by the ‘Securitate’, secret police, in communist times. She still makes some of the best traditional food I’ve tasted. I’ve blogged about her more than once. Her name – Lucreția Hariuc.


I’ll mention just one group this time – nurses (of course I know there are male nurses), not undervalued I think by most patients but certainly by successive Governments in the UK.


I’ve had a go at two dreadful sources of female oppression in the past: female circumcision and forced marriage, both still rife even in Britain either directly or indirectly, especially in my locality.

I’d add every female in the USA, whether they know it or not, now that Trump is in the White House.

For this year I’ll add another group, just giving you the link here:

Some of my local female heroes

I say ‘female heroes’ because giving them a different title already discriminates in my view. Just to list all the amazing females only in my village would make my post impossibly long so I’m going to mention only the female members  of our local writers’ club, founded and run by, of course, a woman. I cannot do them justice here nor would I wish to choose among them so here they are in alphabetical order (there are a few others in the members’ list but they rarely come to meetings so I don’t know them well enough to comment). Where the members listed have an example of their writing on my village website the name is a link to this.

Becky Bond

Becky, writing with unique humour, even on tragedy, recently threw in her job at the BBC because she was told she could not write anywhere else and went freelance. At the moment she’s my ‘muse’, being instrumental in extending my story-writing from a maximum few hundred words to, currently, over 10,000!

Have a look at her (non WordPress) blog. Often hilarious, always unique.

Ruxandra Busoiu

Certainly a remarkable young (mid 20s) Romanian woman who not only founded and runs our local writers’ club (Writing on the Wharfe) but over the past year has pushed us into involvement in the Ilkley Literature Festival (Fringe) and performing in a local (Ilkley) library. She’s served on a local youth offending team for a while now and is currently seeking to become a magistrate; will the white haired male wrinklies dominating our magistrates’ courts allow it?

Marjorie Hanbidge

Marjorie, before retirement, founded and ran a nursery school in the Wharfe valley. She’s another who usually makes us smile or laugh when she reads her poetry at club meetings. I call her our own Pam Ayres. Despite being very seriously ill just before Christmas and still not fully recovered, she was at the first meeting after Christmas to entertain us.

Kelly McCarthy-Wright

Kelly is a wonderful illustrator. I’ve said that in the unlikely event that I have a book published which requires illustrations, I’ll insist on her being the illustrator. She’s no mean writer either and is another who has the ability to make me laugh with her writing.

Emma Nabarro-Steel

Emma is our singer songwriter. A talented musician on both guitar and piano, she once regarded herself as a jazz singer. Now she says she doesn’t know what she is; all I know is that her songs – music and lyrics – delivered in a wonderfully soothing, soft voice, frequently have my hairs rising and sometimes bring a tear. You can explore, or buy, an album released late last year. She also delivers some super-crafted short stories and poetry, being eg instrumental in my attempt at writing a sonnet.

Catherine Turnbull

Catherine, when she joined the club, was editor of a local newspaper but, victim of the now familiar reorganisations in news media, she crossed the fence and now works in ‘PR’ for a large national organisation. She’s been widely published in the mainstream media and is instrumental in keeping us in touch with writing and learning about writing opportunities, some of which I’ve taken advantage of myself.

Anticipation of an exciting (scary?) event has motivated me to blog something after another long absence. The local writers’ club of which I am a member is doing a show at the Ilkley Literature Festival ‘Fringe’. Writings of the members shown below, and one other, will be featured in a one hour show at the Ilkley Playhouse on Monday 3 October. It’s free, as are all the fringe events. Unfortunately, at least for me, it’s late,  9-10pm.

After sorting out the programme, Writing on the Wharfe members at the usual meeting place, the Menstone club in Menston. L to R: Becky, David, Emma, Bob, Ruxandra, me, Marjorie and Kelly

After sorting out our fringe programme, Writing on the Wharfe members at the usual meeting place, the Menstone club in Menston. L to R: Becky, David, Emma, Bob, Ruxandra, me, Marjorie and Kelly.

I hope to get back to blogging more regularly despite the health problems which led to the long gaps over the past couple of years. I’ve had to withdraw from most of the village activities in which I was involved because meetings are inevitably in the evening, which I can no longer do. Fortunately the writers’ club meets on Saturday lunchtimes. I hope also to get back to writing more haiku and even short stories but for this year’s Ilkley Fringe performance I’ll be sticking to some written some time ago, and published a while ago on this blog.

A wish to start walking again, an activity limited for at least a year by health problems, a beautiful sunny day, and discovery of an ‘ap’ for my iPad, tempted me out for a four mile walk on Wednesday.

The map can be scaled to fit the walk to the screen, as here. The blue line is the 4 mile walk, drawn as I walked.

The map can be scaled to fit the walk to the screen on the iPad (Mini3 in my case), as here. The blue line is the 4 mile walk, drawn as I walked. It’s very precise; all those tiny diversions at the beginning of the walk are where I was walking up to the doors of houses to put something in the letterboxes.

The ‘ap’ was myTracks, which not only tracks the iPad and so the person carrying it, but draws the route on a map, continuously records the distance you have done and can be saved for reference later. Points of interest, in my case stiles or other notable points, can be bookmarked. This is the free version. A paid for version has many more facilities but I haven’t yet tried this. My walk was a little longer than shown as the start is about 1/2mile from home; the end, at a coffee shop (!), is a couple of hundred yards.

One of the enhancements in the paid version seems to be ability to take and insert pictures along the track, but without this you can still switch to the iPad camera ap while myTracks continues to record and this is what I did for all the pix below. I’ll probably go for the enhanced version in the future, £2.99 I believe.



I’m looking for suggestions for a cake to submit in the ‘annual show’ for the village in which I live – Menston – in Wharfedale, Yorkshire. The class is ‘My favourite cake’ and, very quaint, there is one class for women and one class for men!

Cakes for village show

Cakes for a village show

There are over 80 classes in all. If you are interested in how one English village show competition is organised you can go to a new blog I’ve recently created for the village, in which I’ve listed all the classes under ‘Events’: (more…)