I thought I’d better post my latest blog before the current storm blows my roof off and leaves me homeless. I already have some loose slates (no personal quips, please, I’m talking about my house) so a few more hefty gusts and the whole lot could go. The recent bombardment of stormy winds, sleet, snow and oodles of rain has not put me off living in the Dales though. The Three Peaks are continually changing their tops. Some days, I’ve not been able to see those tops except for tantalising glimpses as low cloud brushes by, other times they’ve been covered in frost, snow and even sunshine.
Too much of our lives is spent on Twitter, Facebook or whatever virtual way of life floats your boat. I’ve been trying to cut back on digital time recently. The Dales have always provided me with a better means of escape; they remind me that Nature drives forward and doesn’t look back. Wildlife – plants, and animals other than humans – tackle the next challenge regardless of opinions. We’re supposed to be more advanced and superior, but plants and other animals have been around much longer than us, have learned to survive better than us, and I reckon they’ll be around long after we’ve tried our damnedest to wreck the lives of other humans – and our planet.
Here in Ribblesdale, I’ve enjoyed seeing the steam train specials back on the Settle-Carlisle line. They create great theatre and are a welcome addition to the attraction of the Dales. While waiting on a freezing late afternoon at Ribblehead for a Dalesman steam special the other day, I thought about how the few inhabitants of this isolated part of Upper Ribblesdale might have felt when their land was being sliced through by Victorian entrepreneurs eager to build the line and make some money.
Today, we have HS2 constructors churning up ancient woodland, wrecking wildlife habitats, ruining people’s personal spaces and blighting properties for the sake of knocking a few minutes off journeys to and from London. It’s an extremely expensive vanity project through a country in which some inhabitants are having to use food-banks to feed their children. The money could be spent on social housing and creating a better local transport network – for example, making better use of structures already in existence such as the Settle-Carlisle line.
I don’t suppose I’ll be around when (if) the HS2 route reaches Leeds. If I am, no doubt it’ll still take me longer to get from Langcliffe to Leeds or Manchester than the rest of the journey to London, so I’ll stick to shuffling up and down Ribblesdale in a storm-powered wheelchair.
I read recently that many Londoners, fed up with paying a fortune for a tea in the capital have ‘discovered’ that it’s cheaper to live up t’ North. Well, who’d-a thowt it? A little warning to anyone thinking of moving to my spot in Ribblesdale: you can’t always get a mobile signal here and you’ll need a big coat.
Some might find this a strange thing to say, but I have no problem with businesses and factories setting up in the Dales. They bring employment and revenue into our small towns and villages; they help fill our properties and bring families into the area. But what I don’t like is when those businesses don’t respect the surroundings or neighbours, or have complete disregard for landscape and wildlife …
PS: When I die, I want the Huddersfield Town FC team to lower me into my grave so they can let me down one last time.
There are now 136 names in my Yorkshire Surnames file – see if your name appears here