A cobbler, a duke and a bear ….

I’ve been back down in deepest, driest Yorkshire again, yup, those reservoirs aren’t looking any fuller. Oh, there’s more rain now but not nearly enough to make a difference, just enough to get soggy while dog walking.

Fun fact I discovered – Halifax once had a zoo! What?! Yes, a zoo that even had a visit from the King and Queen! That was King George V and Queen Mary back in 1912. It had hundreds of animals including lions, monkeys, an elephant, llamas, a pelican and two bears, one russian and one grizzly. It’s because of the grizzly that I became aware of the zoo’s existence, that and the desire to go explore the drinking establishments of Halifax, from the ancient to the barely out of the wrapper.

Halifax has a fine variety of pubs and bars for all tastes, old pubs like Lewins, the Plummet Line, the George, very very old pubs like the Union Cross and charming newbies like The Victorian (okay to me it still feels new but I’ve just realised its been there about seven years!) There was one pub I didn’t get the name of, they just refer to it as the Ikea Pub and I could see why; hmmm, probably more bar than pub. Actually more like Habitat was, than Ikea is now, but I’m sure you get the idea.

From there we trotted through the market (Halifax Borough Market to give it it’s full name) to Dukes in Market Arcade, very very new this one and I liked it very much. I love the style and decor of the place, it has a lovely friendly, quirkly feeling to it, the setting within an old Victorian arcade helps, that and the interesting selection of beers. Next time I’m down and in the market….

After Dukes we headed straight over to the Meandering Bear, I know this because i)the photo of the pump clip was taken after four o’clock, that’s when the Bear opens, ii)I remembered (i) when Dukes pointed out that the final pic on my Instagram post wasn’t one of theirs. So the story behind the name? The aforementioned bears escaped from the zoo and while the russian bear was quickly caught, the grizzly went on a long walk around the district before it was finally recaptured. Drinking in pubs can be educational!

Enough about pubs in Yorkshire – Logan’s Close are finally getting round to doing a gig in Edinburgh, yay, yay, and triple yay! In Sneaky Pete’s on 12th December, crikey it’s been a while since I last saw them in there. Very excited about that but there’s even more!! On the 10th of this month the lads announced that their first single Heart-shaped Jacuzzi from the new album will be digitally released on the 21st, wowzah ❤ And as if that wasn’t enough to get the fans excited, four days later they gave us a wee taster of the video, oh my heartses!! It looks sooo good, how to ratchet up the anticipation 👄

So that’s Logan’s Close, new single Heart-shaped Jacuzzi out on 21st October on a music streaming platform near you, do yourself a favour and check it out. Methinks the Scat Rats will be on fine form at Stramash on Friday, yes, it’s their usual seven o’clock time. I had wondered if they would be playing as there’s still nothing for Friday night on the website, but Stramash have now put the week’s band list up on Facebook – huh, the Rats are playing late tonight as well, what!? Much as the heart is willing, my body needs to sleep, I’ll be seeing them on Friday. Sweet! 《Update. I did go see the first set, excellent as per usual, maybe a wee clip will find it’s way on to Instagram. Oh, and the video will come out a bit later after the single》

Toodle pip!

I’ve been away, did I miss much?

Hello! I know it’s been a wee while, I’ve been down in the old country doing family things – what a time to be out of Edinburgh, eh! In case you somehow missed it, our queen Queen Elizabeth II died on the 8th September at Balmoral, three days later the Queen’s coffin was brought down to Edinburgh by hearse to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, from where it was taken the following day by procession up the Royal Mile to St Giles Cathedral. Her Majesty’s coffin stayed in St Giles for 24 hours, so that folk could pay their respects, before being flown to London. Many thousands came to Edinburgh to bid farewell to a much respected and admired lady, the queue reached right back to the Meadows apparently.

Queen Elizabeth II will be a tough act for King Charles III to follow, I wish him well in what may well be turbulent times. She was a strong figurehead for the United Kingdom, without her the status quo has been shifted, there may well be a few aftershocks before a new equilibrium settles in. Will some take this opportunity to make the changes that they’ve said would happen after the Queen’s reign came to an end?

So, I was down in Yorkshire for a while, a place name I usually precede with “deepest, dampest”, well it’s not so damp at present and water levels are far from deep, see how low one of the local reservoirs is…..

Yup, seriously low.

When the water level was low was in the mid seventies, the area below the road bridge was littered with looted safes, shot guns and the like! Now if we trot back up to the bridge and look upstream from the dam wall, you can see the much, much older bridge I was standing on to take the above photo.

The old packhorse bridge is usually well under the surface. It’s like a local barometer, can it be seen just under the surface? Oo, the top of the arch is visible; this view of it is extremely rare, possibly the first time there’s only been the smallest of streams trickling below it. It’ll take an awful lot of rain to refill the reservoir, anyone know any good raindances?

I came back up to Edinburgh on Friday after a longer stay than I’d intended, the Scat Rats were playing Stramash so it was definitely time to head north. What a gorgeous day for travelling (unlike the journey down) and at the end of it a lovely pint of Stewart’s and great sounds, yay! As I was leaving Stramash afterwards I asked the lads if they could confirm a date down in the Edinburgh Gig Guide of a midnight set in Whistlebinkies on the 27th – err, not in their diary! Then I mentioned it was the same night that Fur are playing the Mash House, oo, that perked them up, indeed yeah they’ll be playing that night! Goodo.

The Rats were out to play again on Saturday afternoon in Binkies; a new ale for me to try, mmm, so good I treated myself to a pint. And yay, Mr Marah is out again tonight with The Buccaneers, midnight at Stramash; before them it’s Nicole and the Back-up Crew, so thats four sets for some folk tonight. Maybe one time there could be a big mash-up of the two bands right through, I’d love to see that! To take me up to ten o’clock I’m shortly off to see See How They Run at the flicks, the trailer looks wonderful.

Best be off now, toodle pip!

It’s good to be back

……said Messrs Marah and Rough at least a dozen times each last night. Yes, those Scat Rats were back on the seven o’clock slot at Stramash on Friday evening, yay! It’s been a whole five weeks since the last time – some of us were having withdrawal symptoms. “Good” doesn’t really cover how great it was to see them again!

It was the usual mix of covers and their own stuff, one cover they do divinely is Tonight The Streets Are Ours by Richard Hawley (I had to look that up). It’s a shivers down the back, bittersweet, honey of a song; I really should check out more of Hawley’s stuff, I think. They don’t often play it, so it’s a treat when they do as their harmonies really shine on it. Another rarely performed treat was Bob Dylan’s The Man In Me, was I the only one who immediately thought of The Big Lebowski? Probably not. Carl’s guitar work was beaut here, the Scat Rats really were glad to be back and it showed.

As usual now Babe Station was in there, Hot Blondes In Your Area Tonight and Gouching On The 33 from the upcoming Logan’s Close album also got a look-in. And if you want to check out the acoustic versions of these three gems you can! When LC went back to Germany earlier this month they performed them live during a radio interview, Logan’s Close Interview & Liveset on Chocolate Soup radio station, available to watch on Facebook. I’ve gotta mention the neat little segue in the Rats final song last night; You Can’t Judge A Book as usual had a crowd up on the floor when a large bunch started doing an odd dancey walk thing round in a circle, our boys responded by breaking in a quick bit of Walk Like An Egyptian, nice one!

The evening was still young so I had another pint and hung around for the next band, The Moanin Bones. I’ve not seen them before even though they play Stramash and Whistlebinkies fairly regularly, the singer/guitarist Chris Buckley often does the sound for bands at Binkies, not really sure why I’ve never checked them out. They’re rather good, yup, I’ll go see them again; and I could be wrong but the bass player also plays with the Kennedy’s Project, he was very spruced up in a rather cool shirt last night but I think it was the same guy.

the Moanin Bones

In case you’re wondering why it’s taken me so long to post, I had to save the day down in Deepest Darkest Yorkshire, I was very busy. I may have taken the odd one or two pics whilst out pooch walking, I’ll leave you with a wee selection. Toodle pip!

I have no idea what the flowers are, sorry.

plenty of wild garlic flowering on the riverbank
Yorkshire, nuf said.

Here, there and by the sea

Another trip back home’s over. That was a good one! Plenty catching up, walking, playing games, going out. A trip to Hebden Bridge and a pop into Halifax. I love an old fashioned indoor market and the one in Halifax still delights me! It’s not what it was years ago, but it’s still bustling with life and variety. It would be a very sad day if it were ever to close, I find myself looking up at the architecture and appreciating it now. They’d never build anything like that anymore!

And being in Halifax, I decided to see how the Piece Hall is looking these days …… hmmm, I’m divided. I can understand why modern marketing types would do what they’ve done in the most recent redevelopment (modern is all) but I much prefer the 1970’s version. I noticed all the stairways have glass doors now to keep the weather out, so no longer draughty and cold but aesthetically? Nah.

Closer to my Scottish home now, and I read the news today that Ollie Turbitt, bass player extraordinaire, is leaving Scotland and Logan’s Close for new adventures in Italy. I do hope the lads will manage to set a farewell gig for him, that would an awesome evening! Thanks to the interwebby I caught Carl Marah (LC’s lead guitar and singer) playing a set with a wonderful singer/songwriter Kirsten Adamson. She has great voice, full of warmth, like an audial hug! One to catch when live shows come back into fashion.

On live shows and fringes, not only is the Fringe back on in Edinburgh, there’s also gonna be Fringe By The Sea in North Berwick, running 6 -15th August. Fringes everywhere! I’ve had a quick scan of the prog and see that Scottish pocket legend Lulu Is playing the Belhaven Big Top on the first Saturday evening, nice, but the cigar may go to Dr Salad at the Glenkinchie Lowland Stage .Why? Turns out one of these purveyors of heavy romance is one Scott Rough (LC’s other guitarist and singer); he’s scratching an itch the LC sound doesn’t reach. I’ve checked their sound out and it is not displeasing to me!

Must go and walk up Arthur’s Seat while it’s not raining, I need to get back into the climb up and down if I intend Mr Ferns up there next month. I shall leave you with snaps from the old country.

Check this one checking us out! That’s one odd cowish looking sheep if you ask me!

One of the arcade entrances into Halifax Borough Market.

A Tale of Cards and Coiners

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They seek him here, they seek him there – apparently he’s on the wasteland! If only those Frenchies had had a set of Pepys’ Wild Flower Sevens they’d have known where to look! Oh, how we chortled, gathered around the dining table finally able to do battle once more. I say battle, playing card games with family could be mistaken for warfare at times.

Yes, I’ve been down in the old country as restrictions have been loosened off. They’ve clearly had a rather damp time of it, all the local reservoirs are full to overflowing (in July, wow), luckily it wasn’t too bad for my trip. The warm weather meant I was roped into mowing the meadow that my mother’s lawn had become. I left a few patches of flowers, the selfheal did look very pretty and the bees love it. I was also given the dubious task of pruning the hedge; it’s done, not particularly well, but it’s done. I’ll be sure to time my next visit down for after it’s next trim.

I joined in the long evening walks over the local hilltops, well, I followed on behind, not a clue where we were, just the odd distant memory popping up. Wandering on the tops did occasionally put us in the clouds, like here looking across to the M62…..

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…….but invariably the sun would reappear as we wound our way lower and home again.

 

 

 

I even learnt some local history when one evening a far hillside was pointed out as Coiner’s Country (I’d tried a knowledgeable grunt, but then had to admit to my ignorance). Coiners were folk who clipped bits off gold and silver coins to make more counterfeit coins (that’s the simplified version).

Turns out the Cragg Vale Coiners were notorious as the most organised gang in the 1700’s, so much so their leader was known as “King David” Hartley. He’d learnt his skills while working in Birmingham, then took them back home where the local weavers were in dire straits and welcomed any way to make some money. Enter William Deighton, an excise officer, sent to investigate, exit Deighton murdered in the Dusty Miller pub. Well, he had arrested “King David” in the Old Cock Inn in Halifax, which led the “Duke of York” aka Isaac, David’s brother to put a price on his head. The Crown got serious and despatched one Marquis of Rockingham to deal with the problem however he saw fit.

“King David” lies in Heptonstall graveyard. He was convicted for coining and hanged in York in 1770. There’s a book The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers that tells the tale, fictionalised but faithfully drawn from historical accounts and documents; I’ll definitely have to get me a copy. There’s also The Cragg Vale Coiners Walk by Christopher Goddard, a must-buy before I head down again.

The Dusty Miller (in Mytholmroyd) and The Old Cock are still going to this day, according to a quick check on Facebook. Interestingly, The Old Cock was later frequented by one Branwell Brontë. He also drank in the Union Cross in Halifax, definitely still open as I had a pint in there just last week. Sadly the George (a pub I misspent plenty of time in in my younger days) hasn’t reopened yet, no doubt another haunt of Branwell’s.

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I shall leave you with another card, played by my brother announcing he had Scabious on the Moorland, well, I had to say it – “You can get an ointment for that”.

 

 

Toodle pip!