I thought I would take the time to write a little bit about life in my corner of the world.
The valley I live in is called Wensleydale, and it is situated in the middle of the North of England, within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and as such the countryside, landscape and wildlife are all highly protected, there are many regulations, strict planning controls, very few new buildings and a massive resistance to modernisation ‚?? great to look at, but sometimes hard to live with!
Wensleydale is very beautiful, with rolling hills, dry stone walls, field barns, waterfalls, and unspoilt scenery. It is a popular tourist area, the tourism industry provides a large proportion of local employment ‚?? second only to farming.
The area has been made famous by the books and TV series about James Herriot ‚?? a fictional vet based locally. (All Creatures Great and Small, was filmed here and featured many local characters.) Also a fighting scene from Robin Hood Prince of Thieves was filmed in a famous well known beauty spot ‚?? Aysgarth Falls. (By the way; Kevin Costner used a stuntman for most of the scene ‚?? I saw it with my own eyes!)
We have also recently found international fame for our local Wensleydale cheese, as it featured in the Wallace and Grommit films by Nick Parks. This cheese was traditionally made from sheep‚??s milk, but now more commonly with cows milk, it is a mild and crumbly cheese, which is often eaten with fruit cake, a local saying is ‚?? A piece of cake without some cheese, is like a kiss without a squeeze!‚?Ě
The pace of life here is slow, the village I live in has a population of around 300, the nearest town (Leyburn) has 2 food shops, a post office, library, bank and chemist, transport there is possible by bus if you don‚??t mind the 2 hour wait to come back again! Shopping for clothes and other luxuries (!) involves a 45 minute drive to the nearest big town, Mcdonalds is about 15 miles away and I have never seen a starbucks (apart from when I went to NYC to visit my Dad!)
The local schools are excellent, as they have a high staff/pupil ratio ‚?? my children‚??s school has about 40 kids aged 4 ‚?? 11 taught in 2 classes, their test results far exceed the national average, as each child gets so much attention, and I think they benefit hugely from being taught in mixed age classes. Sports are played on the (sloping) village green in wellies, often with an audience of villagers watching from their gardens. A pretty idyllic childhood!
The village where I live, West Witton, is fairly unique, every year at the end of August, we celebrate West Witton Feast, a weekend of village events and crafts, the centrepoint of which is the ritual ‚??burning of Owd Bartle‚??. It is an ancient event, the origins of which are not certain, but it is thought that it commemorates the story of a notorious sheep stealer, to whom the villagers applied their own form of justice! An effigy of Bartle is carried through the village, stopping at various points on the way to say this chant:
‚??On Penhill Craggs he tore his rags!
At Hunters Thorn he blew his Horn!
At Capplebank Stee he brake his knee!
At Grassgill beck he brake his neck!
At waddhams End he couldn‚??t fend!
At Grassgill End We‚??ll make his end!
Shout lads! Shout!‚?Ě
The effigy is then burned, there is much singing and revelry well into the night, and the village pub does a roaring trade!
This link has more on the event and has photos ‚?? including many of my husbands family who have carried bartle for many generations.
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