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.