Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Visiting the 'villages' Part 1 : Summer makes me feel better:

Summer makes me feel better.

Summer does make me feel better, it's true. And on top of the usual sense of seasonal discouragement I've had a lot of family misery to deal with in the past 18 months. Not to mention the dreadful goings-on in the wider world.

But getting out in the winter months is often an unattractive prospect, and has to be done for sanity's sake as much as anything, so when I choose a place to visit or shop it needs to have something warm and cheery about it.

I've been going to Haworth quite a lot. A mild winter made the moors bearable most weekends, and I've followed many a trek up to Top Withins with a visit to The Wuthering Heights pub in Stanbury or Cobbles & Clay in Main Street. Two places which always serve something I can eat (I live on a fairly restricted diet) and offer a cosy atmosphere to warm up and dry out.

I've also been poking around Thornton. Last Summer I did a Bronte heritage walk around the village with a local expert so I learnt a more about the Bronte family, St James' Church, the Bronte Bell Chapel, and the Bronte Birthplace on Market Street (now Emily's Italian cafe & deli). It was so interesting that I've been drawn back several times. Recently I called into South Square Centre to see the Cliffe Castle Curiosity Shop exhibition. (By the way, their new cafe, Plenty at the Square, opens soon, so another reason to visit!)

Then last weekend I walked the section of the Great Northern Railway Trail (and part of the National Cycle Network) between Thornton and Queensbury. Parked in Thornton on a lovely Saturday morning, walked the two and a half miles to Queensbury, over Thornton viaduct, up the old station road into Queensbury, After exploring the village and the Mills, I walked back to Thornton.
It turned into a Grand Day Out!

Bronte Bridge near Stanbury

Paperbird Haworth Poster

Thornton Viaduct

Paperbird Bradford villages & districts Tshirt

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Middle-aged misery or pragmatic observer?

We all know that Bradford's an exciting and diverse city, full of challenges with a young population.
For the past 18 years I've loved getting stuck into a lot of what it has to offer.
But I'm no longer young.
I have less energy and admittedly I feel a bit jaded by years of hard work in the city.
Visiting the City centre now requires a massive effort of emotional energy. It's dirty and run down and I don't want a trip out that makes me feel miserable; I want to feel that I've had a 'nice' morning or afternoon out.
Much of current thinking, and therefore the council's emphasis, is about 'offerings' and 'destinations' and to be fair, where possible they've done their best to encourage start-ups and new business.
(I should say here, that in terms of the actual shops, I've never had any trouble finding what I wanted in Bradford, Broadway or no Broadway.)
But the point is that at a time in my life when I have more time and more money, the idea of dragging myself through the vile traffic or waiting for a grubby train (don't even mention buses) fills me with dread.
I no longer like going into town!
It's just where I find myself at this time in my life and most of my peer group feel the same. We feel discouraged (we're no longer young), dispirited (we don't really connect with new bars, or a massive Superdry), tired (we've given our best years in the hope of change) and now we're choosing to spend our money elsewhere.
And on top of this major lack of spend, our children, who are now young adults in their first jobs, don't connect with their hometown as well as the youth of other cities because while they were finding their younger feet, Bradford had so little to offer them that they found other places to go.
So folks, my conclusion is: If you're looking to see young people out enjoying themselves in their home town again and their parents spending their spare dosh in Debenhams, Sunbridgewells etc, be prepared for a long wait ... I'd suggest at least one more generation, and with the looming nightmare of Brexit, maybe two.