Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mind Walk 2 - Wellow Brook

The new header is Wellow Brook, taken several years ago, it runs by a small lane that leads nowhere, but if you were to take the bridge across it, turn left up into the fields and through the gate at the top of the hill you come to Stoney Littleton long barrow with its ammonite entrance stone, and fossil encrusted stones inside the chamber. 
There are so many jewels along this walk from Wellow, crossing the bridge and looking down into the waters the bright turquoise flash of demosielles damselflies streaking through the himalayan balsam or policeman's hat, the weed in the water (is it crowsfoot?) like a damsel's tresses floating in the current.
The long barrow was restored in the 19th century, local labourers had started to pull it apart for the lane down below, but our indefatigable Reverend Skinner and Sir Colt Hoare put an end to that and it was restored to the state it is today. As you walk up to the barrow you will understand why it is called stoney, there is a litter of stone on the approach, and the farmer had left it to weed.

Inside the six chambers are beautifully crafted, a strange word to use, but like wood, stone can also be worked and chosen for its beauty.

This was a place of peace for me, not too far from Bath, sitting outside the barrow contemplating the world, that is not quite true, contemplating the visual natural world with just bird song is more apt. Sometimes in the lane below you could hear the horses from the Wellow stables come clopping along, my friend and I once ventured out on a ride, I ended up on a horse that was more cob than cob, a seemingly great armchair of a horse, but probably given out because he was quiet!
It is the flowers I remember mostly that decked the long barrow, unmarked by herbicides and fertilisers, there was  orchids, thyme, oxeyed daisies and ladies bedstraw to crush between your fingers.

One other thought comes to mind, the ammonite seen on the entrance is perhaps a token mark of the tribe of the area, there are many long barrows, mostly defunct, in this area bordering the Mendips.  Ammonites can be found in the town of Keynsham named after Saint Keyne known for banishing the 'serpents' ie ammonites
from the town, similar of course to Saint Hild in Whitby, where there was also a great number of these fossils which she vanquished in her legends.
But what I notice in this file of photos, is something from a book I copied ages ago, a large ammonite buried five foot deep that someone had found buried in their garden, rather intrigued me was this done in medieval times as part of the legend of wicked 'coiled serpents'?

Another fascinating link on Bovey Belle's blog 'Snakes in Celtic Folklore'

Entrance stone l/h

entrance stone r/h

Buried ammonite

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

This and that

Well the fence got mended by our neighbour yesterday for which we are grateful, and the 'tornado' incident has gone, though apparently keeping on a straight trajectory it took out a silver birch tree at the doctor's surgery further on. Looking at the map, and taking on board that it had hit a straight line between Colchester and Harlow, we were in its path at Springfield; our other neighbour had been travelling back in their enormous motor van by Harlow and had experienced it as well. Enough of weather.
Waking up this morning and making my first cup of tea of the day, listening to Paul Simon's 'You can call me Al' I just love that song, I then more soberly tuned into Radio 4, only to listen to Margaret Hodges not actually saying that the Queen was profligate more that the royal household could do more to contribute to the funds of looking after their 'heritage', the royal palaces in other words.  I like Margaret Hodges, sitting on committees asking the questions that need to be asked of energy czars, bankers and anyone who comes under her sharp tongue she puts life into perspective, whether it makes a difference I cannot say. Anyway, she reckoned Buckingham Palace should be open more often that the 78 days it is a year, same for Sandringham and Windsor perhaps.
Neighbours can be fascinating, though it is best to keep them out of blogs, but yesterday our right sided couple complained of the cock crowing in the morning on their other side, hoping to elicit our sympathy and support.  This creature has only just started crowing, so is either a new arrival, or the hen turning male, there is also a quacking duck, of course we both love the sound of these creatures and it doesn't bother us so we will see what happens.
At one stage in my life I kept quails, never again, the male of that species has a piercing squawk in the morning and totally embarrassing.  My two males got put in rabbit hutches at night in the basement so they just woke us up.  Luckily they kept escaping from their enclosure in the garden and then disappearing, maybe a fox got them, though there was a feral flock up in the Archery Field. If one needs quails eggs in the salad buy them from Waitrose.....

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Weather happenings

The Essex Weather Centre is now looking into the possibility that the weather was in fact a small tornado between Harlow and Colchester.         Read more: 

Yesterday evening we had a probable small tornado through this part of Essex, it visited us as well, tearing down the new post put up to keep the fencing safe after the last storm. It was quite extraordinary the ferocity of the storm which only last about 10 minutes, the wind and rain hammered the windows, thunder and lightening together and then it passed and all was quiet again.  Next door neighbour came round this morning, his greenhouse had been smashed and bonsai trees lost, the gust had blown between our two houses wrenching the fencing out, then the fierce gust had flown across the green and torn off some large branches from the big old trees at the bottom.  Weird weather, but tornados are not uncommon and at least our roof stayed on!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Remember to note carefully.....

Iris reticulata (netted iris) - "While the snow is still on the ground - in January, or earlier its leaves begin to shoot, and while these are only few inches high, the buds open to the pale wintry sun a beauty of violet and gold. This little treasure is indeed the Iris companion of the crocus...."  I have not captured their golden hearts but they are there..

Iris Reticulata; Bulbs planted before Xmas then left in their pots on the gravel, so I bought the two iris pots in, and they immediately both flowered, the heat bringing them on....
So I turn to my favourite book W.Robinson - The Flower Garden and flick through this heavy tome to irises, he writes with such a flourish,  55 named variety, do so many exist today I wonder? Can anyone today scribe those beautiful engravings in the book, I cannot even photograph them properly! One day my new camera will be brought but at the moment I stick with the old one.
Iris  Paradoxa; description by Robinson. A native of West Persia and the Caucaus and fitly called 'paradoxical'.  The fall is reduced to a narrow strap, half an inch or less in width but the standard is large, erect and while the small form is stout and firm, almost leathery, is delicate and flimsy in texture.  The ground colour of the claw is a rich crimson or deep pink, but beneath the claw and for some little distance in front of it the crimson hue is almost entirely hid by numerous short dark purple, almost black, hairs, so thickly set as to imitate velvet....

Iris Susiana (Mourning Iris)

Iris Ibparad and I.Agatha

Iris Gatesi;" The prevailing colour of the specimens so far cultivated is when the flowers are seen from a distance, a soft delicate grey, brought about by very clear thin veins and minute dots or points of purple on a creamy-white ground, the dots being predominant on the fall and the veins on the standard"

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Experimenting with a biography

Woodthorne, it still has its old name on 'The Manor'

Writing stories;  LS and I were discussing writing autobiographies this morning, I said my childhood would best be represented in a News of the World story, and I did not like the thought of reading about, or indeed writing about old loves.....
But I have been mentally jogging around those early years, even found the old Victorian house I lived in when a child.  It is now a care home, uglier than I remember but still called 'Woodthorne'.  Google takes me on a 'street visit' and I note that that the side garden now has a bungalow on it. The house itself fronted on to the street with a large garden behind and in my childhood when everything must have a lot bigger, old pear and apple trees which we used to climb.  In autumn, Louise our Italian lady who looked after the house and us, would climb the trees and harvest the fruit, this would be taken down to the cellar in large baskets and stored on the shelves. The thing that brings a shock of recognition looking at the house is the monkey puzzle tree now somehow at the front, in my day, there was a monkey puzzle tree by the small back yard, and it always intrigued me firstly with its ugliness and then with its name.
Family dramas occurred in that house but that is another tale, but I will go back years before we moved into it.  My grandfather was Jewish and married four times, which is confusing, he also kept everything secret in his life so my coming into the world was kept from me.  He had by his first wife a son called Reg, my father, I came about by one of those illicit affairs, and upon my arrival was adopted by my grandfather's second wife, Catherine, who was Belgium and rather beautiful, according to the photo I saw of her.  Sadly she died when I was about two, cannot remember her but  her name appears on my adoption papers....
But the period before that has another story to tell: My grandfather worked in Belgium but during the second World War, had to leave as the Germans moved across the country.  He told of tying a mattress to the top of the new car and fleeing to the dock side where they got on a boat, all Catherine had with her was her little pekingese dog which she smuggled in her coat.
He was a very clever man, an engineer, and must have found a job fairly quickly at Villiers Engineering Company in Wolverhampton, and when I was about four years old married his third wife, and my half brother Peter came into my life.

There are moments of unhappiness in life that in many ways transform our lives, Peter and I grew up together, till one day at the age of  about 11 years, we were all put into boarding schools, I went with Peter and Barry, our cousin, to their school in Tettenhall, we were all crying at this sudden unexpected turn in life, and I was not to see Peter again till he was about 25 years old and have not seen him since.....
When I was about nine, grandfather took me over to Belgium, the house there had passed on to me because of Catherine's nationality, and I remember sitting in the lawyer's office and then driving out to this rather nice furnished house by a lake.  The house had been in the hands of a Belgian collaborator for years but he had now been brought to trial and the property confiscated.  Sadly I did not inherit the money at a later date, (though was it really mine?) it seems to have gone into funding Reg's new business, but of course this was just another secret that lay in the black box of secrets....
As I write this, I see the twisting and turning of many people's lives, as children we had a nominally happy childhood, though somewhat remote from the adults in our lives, holidays we were always sent away to farms or the seaside to manage on our own which we did through many adventures that children today would not have to experience.....

Monday, January 20, 2014

Cheese Cake

This recipe comes from an American friend, and as I only make it for two tend to halve all the ingredients.
It seems to me there is too much sugar in it, so I adjust as I go through the mixing stage, we like our cheese cake with a definite lemon taste.. she gives no fruit on top, matter of taste  I suppose.  It brings back the memory of the 'cheese cake' the children liked.  Crumb bottom, then the filling was  sweetened condensed milk/lemon/cream mix.  I have a weakness for sweet condensed milk!
12 digestive biscuits, crushed to crumbs,
2 tablesp. sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon
Enough melted butter to bind (about 2 to 3 tablesp)

Mix all together and press into an 8" straight-sided spring form tin.

For the Filling
1 pound full fat cream cheese
3 medium eggs, added one at a time
6oz caster sugar, added slowly.
1 1/2 tablesp. lime juice (or lemon)
1/2 teasp. pure vanilla essence

Mix all the above thoroughly and pour onto the prepared crust.  Bake for 30 minutes at 325 F = 170C.

8 0z Creme fraische
1/4 cup (2oz caster sugar)
1 tablesp. lime juice (or lemon)
1/4 teasp. vanilla

Pour over cooled cheesecake and bake @ 250 C for 5 mins. (Keep an eye on it)
Let stand in fridge overnight before cutting (it is ready really after a couple of hours.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


The water meadows living up to their name

Sunday morning and as wet as ever out in the garden, blackbirds by the handful singing their songs, marking their territories - foolish creatures wait awhile!  Life becomes quiet in winter, we have hardly been out, last week to the Cat's pub for my birthday lunch and then Friday night to the Fox and Raven for seared salmon on a medley of vegetables, which was good they have upped their mark at last!
Yesterday I made a cheesecake for LS, which turned out beautifully and hit just the right hint of sourness and sweetness...... My mind has been trying to sort out the stories that tumble down from the news, old sex scandals which perhaps should have been buried and not gone through the courts.  The French scandal with Hollande and his philandering, I see no one has used that word yet, perhaps it has gone out of fashion.  Marina Hythe in the Guardian yesterday nailed it, it is just the myth story we make up about the French that brings out the details and how we read them, as she says, the swinging sixties could just have been 17 people and Mick Jagger, who knows?
I spy in society a  revolution slowly taking place with women, claiming their right of equality, and freedom from sexual hassle, there was a letter signed  also in the Guardian to Lord Rennard,- no apology, no whip signed by over a hundred women in the Liberal Party.  I don't know anything of his misdeeds but recognise in the women that anger when subject to a misogynistic male who has taken one familar step too far and undermines the authority of women in a man's game of politics.

LS working on the scroll

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mind Walk - Lansdown

This is Prince Rupert, with his poodle Boyes, and I love to imagine him prancing the fields on the Lansdown looking down to Bristol and battle....
Well I changed the header in anticipation of spring, it is an old photo of a favourite walk to Langridge barrows across the battle field where the Lansdown battle was fought, Cromwellians against the Royalist.
This walk took you down an old green lane the banks in summer thick with wild flowers, along the stony path upon which no doubt the Romans would have walked and possibly earlier the Bronze Age people as they moved from one settlement to the other.
Winter hangs heavy on the soul, outside a dull leaden sky, the paths are wet with that silent almost invisible rain, we were going to London to see an exhibition but it has been called off, much to my relief as trips are always so expensive! LS retires to the studio finishing off an old job that was put away years ago.  It is a 'pillow book' a scroll that needs it sheets re-attached as the papers cannot be renewed because of the wrong glue used when it was first made.  A 'pillow book' is of course the 'how to' bridal manual given to naive daughters by their Japanese mothers on what to expect in marriage, a sort of sex manual, not sure I would give one to my grand daughters but still.  There is still some work that belongs to this client/friend from Cyprus that needs finishing and he will be with us in April I think to collect  But back to magical walks.......

 So I brood on the landscape of Somerset, its rich fertile luscious space, the hills that I walked for years.  Moss with his ball in front losing it down the banks of the wood as we wander through, deep into blackberry thickets, the deer standing silently amongst the trees rears his beautiful head.  Then out into the open field, checking the bullocks are on the far side. Over the great stone stile and a scene of folding hills and combes, that you catch your breath with the wonder of it.  Down past the quarried sides, the squawk of pheasants loud and clear on the air and then through the steel gate to the lane.

I had trained Moss to go on the other side of the fence round these fields and the bullocks that are kept their every year.  He never took any notice of them but they noticed him and would follow us, once I had to face off a good 20 of them, it was like playing 'grandma's footsteps' the silent creep of them behind.
But back to the lane you wander along for about half a  mile and then turn through the little wooden latched gate through a ploughed field and then into a 'special place'.  This field is left to pasture, you can feel it is loved, there is an old wooden bench, which has rotted away over the years.  How they got it there always left me wondering.  Here you will find cowslips hidden in the grass in their time and later wild orchids dot the slope.
White campion 

If you sit on the chair the Langridge barrows will be behind, to the right will be an old badger burrow and in front will be the view towards Freezing Hill and the lynchets on top, which may be prehistoric. Below you a small hamlet of houses quietly sits in the hollow of the hill, a very peaceful scene, and if you sat there long enough deer would occasionally appear in the fields below.

Yesterday I booked a holiday cottage at Minions, Cornwall for April, so another adventure begins, this time looking for a house, even found one on the moors tucked into a tiny village but of course it will probably be gone over time.......
Yellow rattle

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Two Carp Leaping Among Waves

To continue the story of the two carps, this painting was once a screen. (It is 135 cm x 126 cm)  A single standing screen on two horizontal legs, placed before the entrance of an official residence or temple, this was to stop any evil spirit from taking a straight path into the temple  It had been brought in for repair with another scroll which was repaired, sadly the client could not afford to pay for both jobs ;) so LS acquired  it. For 10 years it lay rolled up in the studio unrepaired in two sections until one day it came down from the mezzenine and was at last given some notice.. And  indeed it is a very beautiful and peaceful scene as it hangs on the wall, something to contemplate and meditate upon.

The first thing you notice about it is the fine sprinkled gold, and there is an art to this.  Firstly the paper must be 'sized' that is hardened so that inks will not run.  The sizing is done by applying alum and an animal glue to the surface to make the paper resilient - European papers were rollered with stone.  Then a seaweed, very light glue, is applied to the paper.  The gold is sprinkled, sometimes by a bamboo tube with a sieve at the end, several sizes of course and gold leaf can also be cut to shapes as well.  The gold lands on the surface and stands proud of it, here you must wait whilst the seaweed paste loses it gloss and then very carefully place a paper on top and press down the gold.
Of course this operation must always be done first thing in the morning on a still day, the dust has settled from the night before and is yet to be disturbed by the movement of the household.
Its paper detail, attributes it to circa 1790-1830 (mid late Edo period) by Tsukioka Shuei and its Sessai (seal) says that its painter was born in Osaka and was the son and pupil of Tsukioka Settei.  Firstly he received the rank of hokkyo and then of hogen. A competent artist so it says who painted in the style of his father.  Japanese studios are very traditional, and are family based, the work on any scroll can be done by several people.  This screen could for instance have been designed for an educational building because leaping golden carps came to represent 'good wishes for someone's educational success'

Friday, January 10, 2014

Fishy traditions - Goldfish

"Goldfish was introduced into Japan via China in the sixteenth century where they were popular and kept only by the aristocracy and samurai. The Japanese set up breeding programs and eventually developed their unique strains of goldfish. "

Keeping my mind working, well trying to at least!  Why goldfish, well a couple of years ago, I had a  print that needed framing and so we went to the framers in town.  He offered to do it for nothing if LS would restore for him  a modern Japanese scroll of goldfish.  To be honest I did not like it at the time, yet the goldfish swam with great gusto across the paper and I grew to like it.  Occasionally my job is to take photos of what was happening in the studio, a record to send to the client. 
If you look at the number of smaller goldfish you will see that there are nine  all told with the larger fish, a lucky number in China. Giving a present with a depiction of goldfish means that you are wishing the receiver of your gift good luck or prosperity, or even good business.  Also there are eight gold fish and one black, this is to give positive energies and push away negative energies within the houshold
The thing of course about most of Japanese art work is it's symbolic nature, dragons (and the dragon is supposed to have changed from a fish) and carp which are the larger species of goldfish all have their tales to tell.

"The dragon carp symbolizes high ambitions, wealth and success. The Golden Carp is known for its legendary courage to swim against rapid currents and is therefore a symbol of perseverance, achievement and career success. According to some the carp turns into the revered Celestial Dragon when it makes a final leap across the Dragon gate. Keeping this symbol brings literary and scholastic luck to students and excellent career luck to working people."

I love the idea of the Golden Carp leaping across the currents so similar to our own salmon as they come back for breeding, and probably why the Celtic fish would also be revered as they came back to our rivers.  I was forever restocking our pond with goldfish as the local heron would come to feast on these captive creatures.  When we are on our travels I see these great grey birds  in the sky occasionally, their necks hunched as they flap their  wings slowly, they always seem incredibly thin and rather raggedy like old men standing in the water waiting for a hapless fish to swim along.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


A pair of gold pillow ends, decorated with two dragons and worked in relief with chased detail and openwork. Gold, rubies, turquoise and other precious and semi-precious stones, Beijing or Nanjing, Xuande era, 1426-1435. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

This caught my eye this morning two elegant Chinese dragons, we had watched the video of The Hobbit a couple of nights ago, and Smaug the great and terrifying dragon had appeared, one golden amber eye peering from the great golden hoard he had amassed.  It reminded me of Tolkien's poem 'The Hoard',
To his belly's slime gems stuck thick,
silver gold he would snuff and lick:
he knew the place of the least ring
Beneath the shadow of his black wing.

I have loved the tales of the Lord of the Rings, nobility and beautiful New Zealand scenery all rolled into one in these films. I was first introduced to the books in the 60s, and have read them several times since.  Writing about dragons I have done before, the great fighting dragons of Wales, the dragon that graces the font of Avebury church.  We have spied them in medieval wall paintings, naively wrought and not as magnificent as Smaug but still dragons fighting St.George.
When you look at these films, you begin to see how Tolkien's mind worked this great tale of this other world was formed from the background of our English history.  The tree Ents are part of the great forests that covered this land, the churches with their dour warnings of hell and purgatory are echoed in the troll caves and the goblins deep fissured caves below the surface.  Castles stand high above the plains, in good defensive mode, and Elvin land is very mythological and beautiful a true fairy land of wonder, but then we know such things as fairies do not exist! The Shires are of course the old tranquil England of Victorian imagination, where it is always sunny and there is plenty of food on the table.  Not a bit like today, where I learn that The Trussell Trust has fed 500,000 thousand last year, people whose benefits had not come through or did not have enough money to buy food........

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A watery landscape

Some rather vivid photos of what the storms have done to our coastline. Here at Portland  in Devon hundreds of tons of rock from a holed stack rock has  disintegrated in the massive seas, changing the shoreline forever.
On the coast of Pembrokeshire, Newgale beach's great protective wall of large pebbles have washed across the road making it impassable.  Newgale is a large beach that stretches for a good mile, a good gallop for horses, surfers use its great rolling waves and holidaymakers take advantage of its clean sands.
Again at Hastings in Sussex, the cliffs fall quite dramatically into the sea, to the exclamations from the sightseers who watch these storm happenings.
Luckily the storms have come over the Christmas period, when most people are on holiday and can stay indoors except for the 'sensation seekers' who want to record these disasters.
Whatever the damage that has happened over the last few days, the dramatic pictures shows nature in all its glory and magnificence, no one cannot but be thrilled to see great towering waves hitting our promenade without realising how strong nature is, the Somerset Levels have once more for a brief time returned to a watery landscape reminiscent of Guinvere's Avalon, the people of Muchelney marooned on their small village island, perhaps reminding us of the later King Alfred and his burnt cakes on Athelney. But I should not jest for many people whose homes have been flooded in the levels are very angry that the land has not been drained once again, and just look towards to the end of the clip when a pretty lass arrives from THE SUN, bearing gifts of beer and food - what is it with this newspaper that makes me so angry?

Newgale Beach. Credit;Stuart Phillips
A polar vortex, or American photos on the Guardian of the big freeze...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Back to normal

 Theodore Wores (1859-1939) “The Garden of Buddha”

Back to the humdrum aspect of life, Xmas decorations down, stormy weather has abated from last night and the children are traipsing back to school. Exciting times we live in with this climate, and I may add climate change, what will it bring?  Hopefully the summer full of flowers, my pots of spring flowers show inches of green strappy leaves but will they be buried in snow soon?  I have also managed to do something to my neck, which is painful but I think it is on the mend.  Some things come to mind, new resolutions I don't do, but there is all this talk of fasting as the new way to live longer, 2 days, three days, 5 days (which is really pushing it) perhaps not, food is far too delicious to cut out of one's life completely, far more vegetarian meals are on the menu.
Two old prints, I like the frames, need work and new prints, decided on botanic flowers but now need to find the size for them, and a touch or two of gold paint.

I quite like the prints, LS does not but then he is not a fan of Victoriana, first job of January then.

Elephant in the room" is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss. Wikipedia

Above is my little Indian elephant at the cottage, an elephant in the room is an expression that always makes me laugh, and in my more anthromorphic moments will address him on matters of the day.  LS has got used to me giving the birds in the garden voices, or sadly even insects as I walk along I will see their small lives from a human perspective.  Next to the elephant is a piece of ameythst which always reminds me of the bag of stuff containing a large piece of the stone which I threw away by mistake, carting the bag of rubbish home instead!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Reflections on the last three days;  I don't like the motorways, especially not in driving rain and gale force winds.  Travel Lodge will have to go a long way before they ever please me! We also need a new sat.nav. by the time we got to Burnley to find aforesaid place, Jane the sat.nav. had lost it and took us round a left hand circle several times, before we broke out of the rut and turned right instead and then spied the faintly advertised Lodge in the dark.
Seeing the family was of course wonderful, the house is still in the very deep midst of renovation, but they have heating and the kitchen and sitting room are comfortable.  Arriving there for breakfast, opening of presents, and then the female contingency of the family went to Kava Cafe, owned by by my daughter's friends just round the corner.  Svarta is from Bulgaria full of life and energy, the food superb, coffee is a speciality, her partner Dale is a barista ( I had to go and look that word up) it means they know their coffee, so it comes to the table in a cup with a glass of water and small macaroon.  Apparently Dale was a founding member of The Smiths; shocked daughter at my ignorance, her mother is unaware of this famous band's name, 1980s and it spawned Morrissey, whose name I do know.
We spend a pleasant hour catching up on news and then the men join us for coffee;  Lillie consumed two croissants with a small pot of chocolate on the side, very continental. The present with the most 'wow' was a coloured light disco ball, brought for Ben but Lillie could not keep her hands off it.

Hepstonall viewed from afar in the Hebden Valley,
Creative Commons;

And now to my impressions of the Caldervale valley, to understand this deep valley you must first look at its topography, it is narrow and both sides are sharply angled upward, in places it is pretty but the land formation makes some weird shapes.  This valley with the river Calder running through must have been heavily industrialised in the 19th/20th centuries,  terraced houses range all along the road, grimed by the soot of the coal fire years, tall chimney stacks still dot the landscape.  Weaver windows are to be seen on quite a few houses, and there are a lot of ruined industrial places.  Todmorden itself is a pleasant enough town, it has a thriving market, and is only a few miles from the more famous Hebden Bridge town, with it's more sophisticated small shops.
One thing I learned is that Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes widow is buried in a small grave yard at Heptonstall.  Tis a sad tale of infidelity her suicide, and I wondered why she had not been taken back to her home country America but left to lie in a small grave in England, apparently people used to come and deface the name of Ted Hughes from the grave, of course she had two children here perhaps that is the reason.