Saturday, 31 May 2014

The villages of the Dales.

Yesterday, friend W and I went over to Kirby Lonsdale to meet our friend P for lunch.   Regular readers of my blog will know that this is a journey we make often and that it is usually to meet two friends.   The reason there is only one friend this time is that the other one, D, has just begun a walk from Land's End to John O'Groats!  He is walking with another friend, S, and so far they have covered Cornwall and Devon and are now well up into Somerset.   I feel that once Somerset is passed there will be a boost as they will at last actually be going North.   But it is a very long way and is destined to take them 11 weeks (averaging 15 miles a day and one day off each week).  We wish them the best of luck.  D is a great supporter of Oxfam, doing a lot of voluntary work for the organisation - and he is being sponsored for that.

So - to that lunch.   As usual we met at Avanti, which is a good Italian bistro in the town, where the food is delicious.   We always book a table (thank you P) because it is so popular.   I photographed the table for you to see - W and P both had chicken dishes, I had spinach and ricotta ravioli and a side dish of tiny Spanish  chorizo which had been roasted (delicious).

On the way to KL we had to drive through a lot of Dales villages with their village greens, their local-stone houses, their pretty gardens - images of the beautiful area.

When I first moved up here with my previous husband twenty seven years ago many of these villages had local populations, there were very few 'off-cumd uns'.  I remember well that there was really only one restaurant which opened in the evening for food - local folk were not really into the habit of 'eating out'.

A friend, long since passed away, moved into one of these villages but after a year sold up and moved elsewhere because in the village where she lived all the people were local.   In fact there were only four or five families and they were all inter related, so that she felt there was little or no chance of ever breaking into village life.

How different then from how it is now.   There are of course drawbacks to this influx of people from afar.   In the first place, many of the cottages have been bought as holiday homes and are only inhabited in the Summer, being closed up for much of the Winter.   In the second place, house prices have risen so much as the properties are bought, modernised, prettified and then put on the market again, that local folk are often priced out of the market - particularly young local folk.   This means that in many villages there is a large percentage of retired and elderly, and young folk have to move away as everything is too expensive to fit in with local wages.

But, interestingly, the village from which my friend moved all those years ago, is the village where friend W and I went to hear a Poet read from his work last week.   It seems to me that there is now a tremendous community spirit in the village because, first of all they held Computer classes in the Village Hall, open to all.   Now they have a computer in the Village Hall, which anyone can use, and anyone in the village can order their shopping from the same supermarket - all to be delivered on the same day (thus saving on the delivery charge) - anyone without computer skills can find someone to put their grocery order on line for them.

So it would seem to me that there is good and there is bad in this take over of the Dales village.    Have any of you out there anything to add to the debate on the fors and againsts?

Our journey meant seeing many more horse-drawn caravans on their way to the Horse Fair and many 'parked up' for the night on our return, when the occupants of the caravans had gathered together in lay-bys, lit a fire and were cooking their evening meals.   It all looked so 'romantic' - I just hope they left everywhere tidy when they moved on.   It prompted my friend to quote the verse that we learned as children:

I wish I lived in a caravan
with a horse to drive, like a pedlar-man.
Where he comes from nobody knows
Nor where he goes to - but on he goes.

Enjoy your week-end.


Pondside said...

It's good to read that some small communities are finding a way to bring people together again - I remember that not so many years ago there were many posts about the empty villages. Out here we have the problem of people buying rural properties - charmed at the rural nature of the area - only to move in and launch suits against farmers with roosters, cattle - you name it!

Canadian Chickadee said...

I think it's true that progress is a mixed blessing. I'm pleased to hear that your friend's village has managed to stay vital and cope with the incomngs and outgoings of the populace. A lovely post. Your photo of your meal made me hungry! xoxo

angryparsnip said...

Lovely post today.
What a beautiful header photo.

cheers, parsnip

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

Lovely picture of the lane. So English!!
I'm with Pondside re people wanting to live in the country, but not liking country smells, noises and mess- like knocking down housemartin's nests because they make a mess of the drive, objecting to cattle mooing etc.
I well remember that poem from my chidhood too

Maureen @ Josephina Ballerina said...

Lovely new header. I can just see myself walking down that lane. Sigh.

Frances said...

I continue to learn so much from reading your posts. Having visited your part of the UK, I do know why folks would want to live there.

From my New York City vantage point, at my particular age, I continue to think about relocating to another part of the world. To relocate to another part of my own country might be easier, the UK tempts me. With a realistic eye.

May I also tell you how much I like your newest header photograph. Of course, I also loved its predecessor.

Best wishes. xo

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

I love to hear the stories of little villages - in Western Washington, USA, we have less and less of them. But people do like to move to the country and then drive like maniacs back and forth to town - ruining the quiet peaceful rides of those who are not in a rush.

Wonderful new header - it draws me down the path.

Cro Magnon said...

Love your new header photo. Love the look of that restaurant. Not so keen on pretty villages being taken over by townies.

thelma said...

Fors and against; Can the young find work within the nearby locality would be my first question. There is definitely a feeling of 'unfairness' that the young cannot afford some of these overpriced houses, and it is unfair. The answer is of course to 'allow' small scale development of properly priced housing within the villages and upset the nimbies ;). Houses and jobs go together of course, but those ties of living close to one's family probably went with the great shift of population to the towns in Victorian times, we cannot go back to a romantic version, though of course done up 'prettified' cottages are not aping the 'real time' conditions of the past..

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

I really enjoy looking at your new header. Lovely! And I hope the villages manage to keep their lives and culture...

Anonymous said...

The question of locals versus incomers applies to towns as well as villages, in my experience.

I'll just say that I think a healthy, thriving community welcomes incomers.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

That is quite the ambitious walk your friend is on. Such wonderful stories they will have when it's done. And by the way... that lunch photograph has made me seriously hungry. xo

Heather said...

Your new header photo is beautiful. I should try to spend the second half of May in Yorkshire each year, then I could enjoy cowparsley and other delights twice each Spring! Your Italian lunch sounds and looks delicious. Village problems seem to be the same in many parts of the country, especially with regard to house prices.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for adding your comments - seems that we are all more or less agreed.