Bleachmill house with St George’s and Yorkshire flags flying

Bleachmill house

A perfect day to meander down to Bleachmill House, our favourite short walk from our village, Menston in the Wharfe Valley, one of Yorkshire’s beautiful dales. ‘Icing on the cake’ is a mug of tea with extraordinary friends Sue and Simon in their ‘farmhouse kitchen’ and the crazy “very free-range” chickens, picking up some “very free-range eggs” before we left.

Having baked Yorkshire teacakes earlier Sue was just about to make a lemon drizzle cake. So too early – dammit; it’s one of my favourites! No cake but the usual laughs which will last me at least a week.

No need for more words. I hope the pictures, all taken on iPad except for Petronela’s pic of me delighting in a robin singing his heart out high in a tree, say enough.

Advertisements

Daniel’s cafe/bistro Ilkley is not run by Daniel but by his daughter Miruna and her husband. The name is a tribute to Miruna’s father who runs a hotel in our other favourite place, the Romanian Bucovina, specifically in the spa town (a bit like Harrogate) of Vatra Dornei.

We decided to visit this small but cosy coffee shop by day, a ‘bistro’ in the evening, yesterday afternoon. The cakes are ‘interesting’, yesterday’s were with butternut squash or pumpkin, but neither is ‘my cup of tea’ as we say so I opted for the Romanian sponge with apple and plums, the only truly Romanian cake on offer. With the first taste it took me back to my ‘honorary grandmother’s’ house near Câmpulung Moldovenesc, about 30km from the spa town, where we twice stayed for a while during our summer break. She makes an identical ‘cake’ (in fact it’s more like a pudding).

If a new visitor to Ilkley don’t stop at the Cow & Calf rocks and a walk on Ilkley moor but continue on the moorland road for some wonderful views. Here’s as we decend into our village

Romanian chocolate cakes

Unfortunately, not liking anything with fruit Petronela settled for just one of the excellent coffees. It’s a pity there are not more Romanian cakes, particularly chocolate cakes of which there are many: chec negru (black cake), amandine, mascota and others. All excellent and any one of them would have suited Petronela. There had been brownies, sold out, but for me the Romanian version is better: boema, chocolate cake soaked in a caramel syrup and topped with a ganache and ‘frișcă’ – sweetened whipped cream. It’s certainly more indulgent for any chocoholic.

But the main reason for a visit to Daniel’s if you are in Ilkley is the Romanian (more exactly Bucovinian) welcome. You will not find a more hospitable, friendly people anywhere and it hasn’t been diminished at all by being transplanted in Yorkshire.

Something I particularly like is Miruna’s tribute to her father, posted on a window. That also is very typically Romanian. Having been lucky enough to meet him on a previous visit, we can confirm he’s a great guy.

Daniel’s cafe/bistro has a website:

https://www.danielscafebistro.co.uk/

Don’t miss it (not open every day – see website) if you visit this lovely small Yorkshire town. If you’re lucky Miruna will have taken my hint and have more Romanian chocolate cakes!

Looking across the room past the ‘pumpkin’ shape applied to the window towards the former site of my former school and the technical college behind

Did that horrible pumpkin gobble up my old high school? In a much more interesting building, it used to be in front of the grey and blue thing, the technical college

Half-term holiday is over so it’s back on the school run this morning, frosty (-4degC) but  a delightful run over the moor under a clear blue sky. Also, as the clocks went back an hour at midnight Saturday the sun was up. Still no sign of the ‘Arctic conditions’.

It was quite a bit colder when I took the header photo (on film) in one of the wilder parts of Yorkshire – so a favourite for me – several years ago.

That means I’m beginning to write this post back in ‘my corner’ in Wetherspoon in Keighley, with the log fire burning close by. An ugly pumpkin face, a ‘ghost’ and two skulls are glaring at me. I’ll be glad when it’s Wednesday and the horrible ‘halloween’ will be over for another year. I really dislike what has been done to it by big commercial interests.

Even cheaper coffee

One of many ghosts, made of a mask and a thin white textile, hanging around the place The coffee system has been changed. It’s now extremely dangerous. The price has gone down – yes down! – by 10p to £1.20 and for that you can have as many refills as you like. So I could sit here all day and kill myself with 100 double espressos for £1.20. I’m not suicidal so I’ll limit myself to two.

Yorkshire dialect

I’ve stayed here a bit later than before and it’s clear that this pub becomes a sort of social club after 9.30-10am. More than half of the clients are men over retirement age, the majority drinking beer which is also cheaper than other places; alcoholic drinks are not served before 9am but few arrive before ten. Listening to them talking I would guess many live in the countryside around the town and take advantage of their free bus passes, which can be used after 9.30am (after rush hour). It’s fascinating listening to the broad Yorkshire accents and even a sprinkling of local dialect.

Gambling

A favourite activity seems to be picking potential winners of today’s horse races. There’s a couple sitting next to me, I’m sure well over 80 years of age. With a coffee and a large brandy in front of him, and a more modest small beer in front of her, he is going through a racing paper and telling her the horses and betting odds for each race. I’m pretty sure her eyesight is not good enough to read the paper. They then discuss the race and he makes copious notes on one of a small pile of notelets then transfers something to a bigger plan on a large sheet of paper. I guess that this is the betting plan for today. That seemingly finished he’s got himself another coffee and her a glass of white wine. He was despatched, presumably to a nearby bookie, with £40 from her, so I guess she is the gambler.

On another table three men had a lively discussion about one race after which one, clearly the most mobile of the three, was despatched to the bookie with an instruction “Put £10 on ?? to win”. I didn’t catch the name of the horse. One of them just got his third pint of Guiness from the bar; how they can drink that in the morning is beyond me.

… and Ayala champagne

Gambling is not one of my vices. I’ve placed a bet on a horse only once in my life, with quite spectacular results. I posted the story on this blog some time ago; if you are interested search for ‘Ayala’. The first post to come up is password protected but the second, ‘Gambling and champagne’, tells the story.

Now, 11.30am, approaching lunch time, the pub is beginning to fill up with, generally, a much younger clientelle. Breakfast menus are being taken off the tables, to be replaced with the lunch menu. Having had my second espresso it’s time to retire to the library next door, where I can recharge the iPad and battle with the HTML to change the text font. The default is not good for anyone with a sight problem.

The sun was so bright it chopped a slice of my head off; I think this is the first ever ‘selfie’ of the two of us, in the deserted pub.

Today is Petronela’s and my 17th wedding anniversary. Why the 17th is ‘special’ I won’t bore you with except to say that in Romania we lived at number 17, we bought our present home before we knew it would be number 17 (it didn’t exist when we reserved it) and there are a few other occurences of the number too.

On our anniversaries we usually do something ‘special’ – eg, go somewhere more exotic to eat or to stay. This being a more than usually ‘special’ day we decided to do nothing ‘special’, and so it became special.

The more so because the pub we chose to visit, just for a drink, on the other side of the valley, usually crowded on a Sunday lunchtime, was deserted. We were the only people in it (other than the barman). That was pretty special.

Then, having been warned of “Arctic conditions” by the weather forecasters it turned out to be a beautiful day, one of the best of the year. We reckon mother nature turned on her magic just for us.

 

High above Malham Cove on the way home – definitely ‘God’s own country’!

A beautiful day for the final day of the half-term holiday, with “Arctic” weather threatened for the weekend by forecasters. Where to go? We decided on Malham, about 25 miles from home, with an energetic walk from the village to the cove. The days when I would climb it have long gone. Back in Malham village a sandwich and tea (coffee for Petronela), in the delighful ‘Stream side cafe‘, with an equally delightful young Hungarian receptionist/waitress, went down a treat. Seemed a pity to go directly home so we climbed the long twisting single track road then descended into Settle before turning east to go home.

A lovely day.

As you see, I took a camera but all the pictures other than Petronela’s of me are on the iPad.

Halloween borsch? With witches’ noses

I abandoned Keighley library yesterday, visiting my friend Lou who lives with her family in a lovely old farmhouse overlooking the moors close to the Brontë village of Haworth. Her home is not in what you’d call a village, a hamlet would be more correct; there are no street names, the houses just have a number then hamlet name, like many small villages in Romania. I haven’t seen Lou for quite a while for one reason or another so three hours drinking ‘a brew’ (Yorkshire for a pot of tea!) and chatting in her farmhouse kitchen passed very quickly. Husband Stephen, a busy man – farmer, builder and heaven knows what else – popped in for a minute.

Lou runs her graphic design and small printing business from home. I love the fact that at the time her 10 year old daughter Kate is picked up from school business stops for the day. I saw Kate’s first watercolour yesterday, following a school trip to the English Lake District; she’s clearly taking after her mother. Unfortunately I couldn’t wait to say hello to her after school as I had to pick up Petronela.

Keighley railway station

 

On the way to Lou’s I stopped at Keighley railway station, one terminus of the Worth Valley steam railway, and took a couple of pictures to fulfil a promise. No steam engines there at the time so I stopped briefly in Haworth when I saw two engines in steam.

Borș, beetroot-coloured but without beetroot

I had a brief discussion about borș (Romanian spelling) a couple of days ago on the blog of one of my favourite food bloggers, Gabi in Gură Humorului, România. She’s a superb food photographer too. Part of the discussion was about how borș, the sour liquid added to a ‘soup’ to make it ‘borș’, should be made.

Seeing for the first time ‘purple’ carrots in a supermarket (Sainsbury’s – being sold as ‘witch’s noses’ as it’s close to Halloween – aaagh!), I decided to make a borș using the carrots.

 

I don’t make the borș (the sour liquid – confusing isn’t it?), I buy it (as Gabi said she does) but mine from Marinela’s Romanian shop in Leeds. As I said, it’s made by fermenting wheat bran.

My ‘borsch’ looks more like a witches’ brew than any borș I’ve seen gracing a Romanian table, but tastes pretty good. Apart from the purple carrots, which have a slightly peppery taste when raw, it has a chicken stock base with proper borș added ‘to taste’ (I like it fairly sour) but what in Moldova at least is considered an essential ingredient – leuștan, ‘lovage’ – potato, some left-over pork sliced into thin strips and, finally, added at the table, sour cream.

Purple is, of course, an original colour of wild carrots, the ‘eastern’ variety originating in Afghanistan. Those I bought yesterday were grown in Scotland, by James Rearie in Fife. I’d never seen one before. There’s a lot more information about them on the web page of the Carrot Museum; yes, there is such a thing.

Returning to Keighley

It looks as though I’ll be returning to Keighley the week after next, after school half-term break, as it seems Petronela will probably will continue teaching there. I’ll likely continue my Keighley sagas now and then.

 

 

I’ve said in recent posts that I don’t believe in coincidence and that I’m easily distracted. Venturing upstairs to the reference and study section of Keighley library after my morning double espresso in Wetherspoons next door (see previous posts), I had to confront both.

Philip Snowden and women’s suffrage

First, ‘talking’ about how I began my blog to another blogger earlier this morning (she’ll know who she is) I mentioned one motivation being my desire to air my ire about discrimination, particularly discrimination against women. What first confronted me when I walked along the upstairs floor of the library? The ‘Snowden Library’, that of  Philip Snowden, a tireless campaigner for women’s suffrage. You’ll find more about him in one the pictures.

Proper parkin – again – and other recipes

Then, resisting the temptation to sit down all day with some of his books, I wandered to another section to see what they had about the beautiful Wharfe valley in which I live. A book about Yorkshire dishes almost jumped off the shelf at me. I opened it at a random page and what recipe did I see? Parkin! A proper recipe, almost the same as that I posted a few days ago.  And plot toffee.

I spent much of the rest of my time today with that book and recorded 27 recipes on the iPad. I’m putting some of them here as pictures. I had to include a fish recipe; in Yorkshire you’re never far from the sea and the superb Yorkshire coast. Then there’s a really weird one, ‘Long life’, using whole eggs, shell and all. I just had to include that.

Chicken stew and dumpings? I was taken back to childhood by the recipe for rabbit stew and dumplings. That was a frequent winter meal (rabbit was cheap, the cheapest meat; then chicken was a luxury, for Christmas). Now chicken is cheap and rabbit a luxury, hence chicken stew: chicken legs, onion, garlic, carrot, red lentils, barley, tarragon, parsley, thyme and sage.

Perfect for the cold, miserable, wet weather today, for which I abandoned a planned trip to one or more Worth Valley Railway stations.

Brontës

Finally, I spent a short time in the Brontë section. I knew if I got immersed in that I’d probably lose all sense of time and get a frantic phone call from Petronela asking where I was when she finished school. I just hope she’ll be returning there after the half-term break; she’s enjoying it having knocked the students into shape in the first two days.

I could spend six months in each of those sections.