‘She’s leaving home…’

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Archaeoman away for some weeks and the muse’s voice inaudible.

The frenzy wasn’t quite as bad as usual in the run-up to his departure, more of a prolonged shower than an interminable tropical downpour.

Yet still, as usual, it swept most things before it.

The many uses of household tables preparatory to expedition

Baggage of the Archaeoman kind

Which is perhaps why I booked the cottage I did in such a hurry.

A fellow blogger had written about a peaceful, sea-view of a place, with Welsh literary connections – and I was tempted. So tempted I caved in. Joined the Airbnb ‘community’.

But something diverted me from Wales. Some mischievous sprite whispered ‘Yorkshire’ in my ear. And I succumbed.

The week I’d chosen was punctuated by a monthly freelancers’ day I enjoy.  And so, after a jolly Wednesday spent in the company of other lone workers, one bringing luscious cake, I set forth upon a Thursday for four nights away.


In rural Yorkshire.

Now, setting forth, for me, is no simple matter.

First, there are the books. For a stay alone it’s essential I take the books I might need – or want. Two carrier bags packed, I still worried. Then found the obvious solution: technology.

After much searching I found the lead to recharge my Kindle and, after more searching, my Kindle.

Secondly, clothes. Sun today, but what tomorrow? Walking: boots or … ?

I had the luxury of solo travel in a car, so decided to take whatever I felt like taking.

It took a while to pack 😉

Thirdly, food.

A fruitless search for our cool-bag ended when I remembered it had gone to Africa. So the new-bought goodies went in the freezer.

In a way it was liberating. The blurb said a brew-pub was a decent walk away. Perhaps there’d be good food too.

And so came the time to set forth. Which is where the most serious issue arose.

To illustrate the scale of this challenge, I’ll journey back in time. To a previous home.

When I was working in the south west of England we lived, for five years, in a picturesque weaver’s cottage of four storeys. One medium and one tiny room made up each floor, except the top, which had just one.

On that floor we kept our ironing board.

One year, Archaeoman was away for three months. And every working day, when I left home, I had to unlock the front door I had just locked and climb the stairs to the top floor. Some days twice in a row.


To check whether I had switched off the iron I may or may not have used that morning.

On one occasion I was in London overnight and had to call my neighbour to check I hadn’t left a pan on the hob.

You can see where this is going. I’m neurotic about leaving things switched on.

But again, technology to the rescue.

I made a list. Checked off each item. And then  photographed the evidence with my phone’s camera.

#Sad. As Donald Trump might say.

#Effective. As I say.

Gas rings off, cooker off, balcony door locked? Tick. Click 😉

Utility Room: iron off? Garage light off? Door into garage locked? Tick. Click 😉

And so I hit the road.

The next question. Visit Salt’s Mill on my way or not? Not for the Hockneys, I’ll confess, but for lunch – and a new Moomin mug to replace a Christmas present I broke.

I did, to be fair, plan to visit the new Hockney gallery in Bradford during my stay. And the Hepworth at Wakefield.

And, and, and …

David Hockney’s own painting of Salt’s Mill, in Saltaire village, near Bradford, both built by Sir Titus Salt, in the entrance to the mill and galleries

What a heroic chimney – and not even the most elaborate. Rather clean nowadays. I was going to do a blog about chimneys over the next few days…

Another nearby chimney , less grand, less clean…

And an inconspicuous modern ‘chimney’ behind the stone building. How long will this survive, I wonder?


I reached the mill and went straight to the shop. Which needs a health warning. Full, as it is, of fabulous Scandinavian design.

Glass cases of ‘collectables’ that have me thinking, ‘oh no, I got rid of one of those when I cleared my parents’ house,’ at irritating intervals.

As you might guess, the Moomin mug had company in the large paper bag when I left.

A candleholder for our hand-dipped candles. The ones that have been sitting in the cupboard since our last expedition, before Christmas.

Another tea light holder. And a tiny gift for… well, she’ll find out in September 😉

I could not resist the Hattifatteners sitting down to tea on my tea mug 😉 and ferns – such beautiful things

I had Yorkshire tea and tea-bread in lieu of lunch. Then sped towards my goal with a happy heart.

I love the lights in the upstairs diner – and check out those columns from the factory’s manufacturing days


The omens were bad.

A mistaken trip down a long cobbled path.

Several phone calls to the owner – no response.

Several turns-around in tiny roads, checking details online on a dodgy connection.

Two trips through a bottle-neck hamlet in a valley below a quarry…

When I finally arrived, the one downstairs living room, straight off the road, was dark and gloomy. The one window looked over the road.

Spurts of traffic that had made it through the bottleneck changed gear as they struggled up the steep hill.

Behind the sofa, a door led onto a tiny porch – and that into a beautiful sunny garden. Of which there was no view from indoors.

The tiny kitchen was dark.

I stood.


Couldn’t stay.

I went upstairs. ‘My’ pleasant sunny bedroom overlooked the road which ran directly beside the cottage.

I rang and finally got through to the owner.

She came.

We parted amicably, despite her plain incomprehension and the few tired tears that escaped, despite my best efforts.

But before long I was driving on top of the world. One of my favourite places on earth rising in the distance.

Pendle in the distance, driving back into Lancashire

I toyed with the idea of finding a b&b for the night. Then got back in the car and drove.

Nearly two hours later I was home.

The light poured into our upside-down-house’s airy, Scandinavian-style upstairs living rooms and kitchen.

And I learned two expensive lessons.

  1. There’s no place like my home.
  2. The muse is not for finding – it’s my job to listen. And to wait.

In fact, I think she may be around, somewhere.

Apologies to the Beatles, but …

… she’s staying home, bye bye. Bye bye.

Our garden’s a second home to this battle scarred Red Admiral. I’m honoured to keep it company 😉




This entry was posted in Art, jaunts & going out, Britain now & then, Thinking, or ranting, or both, Travelling, Yorkshire and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to ‘She’s leaving home…’

  1. Judy Barnes says:

    Awww, Mary. So glad to know you’re home again to the luxury of the best place on earth! Not the best experience on your own, but plenty gained on the way.
    Great idea to photograph the ironing board (love the cover btw) and the locks etc. Thanks for that tip!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, I thought I was the only one who got neurotic about such thing, plainly not! As for the ironing board cover, well, it’s a bit like my ‘Hetty’ vacuum cleaner, if you have to do dismal things why not do it in cheerful style! Lovely to talk to you, thanks for the call. ‘Summer’ is on its way 😉


  2. Sorry to read that your trip did not go according to plan. Was thinking at the start – four days away and yet here you are blogging after two – now know why. At least you came back with goodies!
    My wife thinks I am bad if I go back in to check switches off, glad I am not the only one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ron, yes, a rather short and expensive adventure. I didn’t picture the candleholder which is by far the favourite and – cough- not the cheapest item I bought, its look give its pedigree status away! Now that’s two people who share my worry about switching off, rather reassuring. And now I have a way of dealing with it – such a relief! I did enjoy that Jelly though, see you at the next one. Maybe I will bring cake… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cake sounds good, maybe we should rename the meetings “Jelly with cake”!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ha, brilliant. But I’m not sure our hosts would be too keen on free cake with our Jelly 😉 I wonder if Peter is going to get the last Thursday event off the ground? I think it would be good, to have 2 options. By the way, I probably won’t see you at the next Wednesday one as I think that’s the day Larry arrives home and I suspect I will be at Manchester airport – again. Don’t think I can condemn him to the train with 5 pieces of luggage.


  3. Thel says:

    😊 I found myself zooming in on all of your stuff, and felt ashamed. But I enjoyed finding that Frida Kahlo still lives with you. After googling Moomins and Hattifatteners I realized that you were searching for Moominvalley and found it back at home. It was a great ending to your blog. See ya soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well if you can’t come see it in person you’re very welcome to zoom! Frida lives and is loved and always has been – I need more to give away 😉 Perhaps my gift giving store will be replenished as well as depleted in September 😉
      Ahhh Moominvalley. I forget that our childhoods were less closely linked than they would be now. I loved Finn Family Moomintroll and especially the Hobgoblin’s magical hat. You have discovered one of my formative worlds 😉


  4. A Moomintroll mug!
    Sorry, but that caught my attention…and envy. Next time in the U.K. – whenever that will be – those mugs will be on my buying list. I don`t suppose they have a Dweller Under the Sink?

    Best to cut your losses and go home to be reassured that you had, in fact, turned everything off.

    I have never been allowed to forget leaving a stew in the slow cooker, only to find our return delayed for hours thanks to a violent snow storm…..


    • Another Moomin fan! No, no Dweller to the best of my knowledge. Not even a hobgoblin’s hat or a black panther and King’s Ruby. But there was a Thingummy and Bob (very tempting) Moominmamma and -pappa, Moomin, Snork Maiden and perhaps the one I would get next time if I had en excuse – Moominvalley in summer time. Ahh.
      I can’t tell you how well the new switch-off, lock up and snap system worked. I had no worries at all on the way. A shame I hadn’t been so careful about the choice of cottage. I did an experiment with my pictures of the grim place (which I decided not to share) – if I ‘enhanced’ them on my desktop they looked lovely. I am usually more probing in my approach to rental places and should have looked at the actual location – but I didn’t have the full address till I had signed in and paid and then I didn’t think about it for some reason. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think it’s brilliant, photographing those checklist items. Hundreds of times I have returned to check locked doors, off switches etc. We have a checklist on kitchen cupboard blackboard, a remainder of our city – country commuting days. But I’m so out of practice when we had to set off early on Friday for a -hopefully- quick check up on Dad trip, I completely forgot to look. However, each time I leave, even for a day the process is like it could be for a week or month. Fridge assessed. Bins emptied. House tidy. Etc. And when we returned, like you blessedly late the same night, it was so good to be home. Almost as if the cleaning fairies had been. Our own tea, food, bed. Bliss.
    BTW I love your table, we have similar style made of old floorboards & fence posts.
    Good on you for not just sucking up the so-so accommodation. It would have ruined your lovely day out. Wonderful travelogue… I felt like I’d tagged along except for the real pleasure of tea break and shopping.
    Woke up thinking about you this morning. Wondering how your ataycation was going. Now I know ♡


    • Ah the table. When we first got it (ours was made in rural Cumbria, the county north of us) I thought we had chosen legs that were too fat but I soon got used to it and love it now.It has been mellowing nicely over the last 13 years. And gaining battle scars! Me falling off a bench when reaching down a candlestick off the top of the bookshelf which scratched it nicely… Memorable that one.
      I am so glad I discovered the check and click method – it worked! And interesting so many people seem to share the neurosis!
      The cottage just wouldn’t let me stay. It was so dark and confined I felt a panic instantly. I had paid for 4 nights and got nothing back as it was just ‘dislike’ but I just have to suck that up as you say! I would not have been able to sleep there or write there. And it is so nice to be home. Funny you thought of me – because I thought of you – when I was shopping I thought – Dale would be saying – I don’t need that! And when I got home I thought – Dale would know already exactly what lesson I learned as she has learned it long ago. So the vibes crossed the oceans and flew across the equator and in-between lands and and reached all the way here! Great to have you to share with again 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. jilldennison says:

    Awwww …. I am so so sorry that your trip did not turn out as planned … especially after you spent what must have been hours packing and preparing. But, as you say, there is no place like home. And there is a bright side … you found your Kindle!!! 🙂
    I am much like you in that I sometimes just do not feel right in a place. Once when I was a small child, perhaps 6 or 7, my parents and I traveled to someplace in Mexico, and the hotel they chose was an old castle, converted to a hotel. As soon as I walked into it I knew I could not stay there. Of course my parents were thinking their only child had gone off her rocker, but I actually became physically ill, so we eventually moved to a different hotel and all was well. Well, except that I was not very much liked for a day or two. 🙂
    You sent me, as you sometimes do, to Google to see what in the heck a ‘hob’ was! So, now I know that your hob is my stove! 🙂 I have learned so many new words in the last year or so from you, David, Roger and Jack! Love it!
    Take care and be happy, dear Mary! Many hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jill. I think you know how the trip not working out as planned feels!
      The Kindle is not my favourite device as you can deduce from the fact I didn’t know where it was! But admittedly it is cheaper. I just don’t like reading on it much. Best for travelling.
      Ha, I forgot about hob. I have a split ‘stove’ – my oven and grill are in a unit at sort of elbow-to-eye height and is electric, the rings are gas and in a counter in the middle of the kitchen. If it were all in one I too might call it stove but more probably oven – oh, this common language of ours!
      Hope your revised trip is coming up soon and that yo have a great time and no repeat of that journey… Many hugs back at you 🙂


      • jilldennison says:

        Yes, I can relate to the ol’ “trip not working quite as planned” … and on that note, mine was to be this weekend, but now is postponed for yet another month … we had a bit of a tiff and decided some space was needed. 😦 But that’s okay, for this way I still have something to look forward to!
        I can understand about the Kindle … but I use mine nightly. First, as you said, it is cheaper, and second, with my failing vision, it is a life-saver, as I can enlarge the text, plus the backlighting helps. Otherwise, I would only be able to read during daylight hours. But I still read regular books and all other things being equal, prefer them. Something about the smell and feel of a book, y’know?
        And, speaking of our common language … reminds me of a conversation I had a month or so ago with my neighbor … you’re going to love this one. My neighbor and friend, Maha, is a refugee from Syria who has been in this country about 3 years now. She has been taking ESL classes and has come a long way, though sometimes we still have to communicate with signs and body language. Anyway, she was telling me one day that when they came here, they were first taken to the UK for a day or two, and she says that THEY know how to speak English, as she had NO trouble understanding people in London, but when she came to the U.S., nobody speaks English the right way! 😀 😀 😀 Given the variety of dialects, accents and slang in this country, I would have to agree with her!
        Hugs, dear Mary!!!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ha! She presumably never experienced our massive range of dialects and slang too! Larry is always – even after all these years – amazed at how rapidly the accent and dialect changes here in little Britain. Where we live now, for example, a bread roll is a ‘barm’ or a ‘barm cake’ (not remotely like a cake cake) but just a few miles away it could be a teacake, a bap or even … a bread roll! 😉
          Sorry to hear your rescheduled weekend is off, you are so patient. I suppose of necessity. Don’t overdo the time in the dark dank hole… Hugs!

          Liked by 1 person

          • jilldennison says:

            Barms and baps … how do you ever keep up??? 🙂 I love that I learn so many new words from my UK and EU friends! One of my favourites has been wazzock, which I learned from Jack, and I use it almost daily!!! 🙂 And roger has me calling a cookie, a biscuit. Before long, I shall be speaking with a British or Welsh accent before long! 🙂
            And actually, I am not all that much a patient person, which is partly what started the tiff, but … I’ve learned not to make myself miserable over things, for they usually work out in the long run. 🙂 I’m rather a pragmatist, and there’s too much to do to waste time being unhappy. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            • I think wazzock is underrated here! I don’t actually use it – I have others at my disposal though… I did find biscuits very confusing when it the south of the USA and I had them with gravy.
              Has anyone introduced you to mardy yet? Not food but mood and often used when I was little in the context of ‘don’t be such a mardy baby’.

              Liked by 1 person

              • jilldennison says:

                I can imagine your astonishment when you thought gravy would be served over sweet, chocolate-chip biscuits! Although, never under-rate those confederates … it would not surprise me for them to put pork gravy on cookies! Heck, they put it on everything else, even veggies!!!

                No, you are the first to teach me of mardy! I like it!!! I shall use it on Roger when he returns from his vacation! I am a mardy lady these days!!! You guys have such great words! Even better than “bigly” …. 😀 😀 😀 (Forgive me, it is nearly 5:00 a.m. and I am suffering from exhaustion coupled with trumpitis!!!) Thus, I am a mardy ol’ soul tonight … er … this morning!

                Thank you, my friend … you keep me balanced. 🙂


  7. I am just as neurotic as you. I spoil holidays wondering whether I’ve left something switched on. It all derives from my grammar school past. I wrote a story about it – Thank you, Miss Prendergast (not her real name), which appeared in some anthology way back.

    And there really is no place like home, especially when you have it to yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Rosemary – nice to have people corroborating my neuroses! And yes, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home… Dorothy had it right in the end! And I heartily recommend the technological approach to the switching off and locking thing – it really worked. Shame the rest of the plan didn’t (the financial loss is what really annoys me) but never mind. Onwards!

      Liked by 1 person

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