The friends I met today are old friends - one of them, P, I have known for almost fifty years and it is hard to believe. What is so unusual is that I moved up here with my first husband in 1987 and not long after he and his partner D moved up - albeit to the other side of the country - but not all that far apart so that it is not difficult to meet mid way for lunch - as we often do.
I was thinking as I drove the fifteen or so miles to meet them for lunch today just how lucky I am. Yes, I have now lost two dear husbands, both of them much loved - but we had many happy years together (38 and 23 respectively) and how lucky I now am to live in such a beautiful place, to have my son and his wife nearby (another strange coincidence), and to have a lot of friends to meet, to go out for meals and coffee with, and at the moment to still be able to drive, although for how much longer I don't know.
We met at the Wensleydale Cheese Factory and Restaurant. Wensleydale Cheese - now known throughout the world - has been made in the Dale since at least Medieval times - both on farms and also by the monks in the many monasteries in this area. Then it became centred in the little town of Hawes where Kit Calvert did a lot to establish the early stages of the making. (the restaurant is named after him - The Calvert. Sadly after a number of years it was decided to transfer the business elsewhere and at that stage the local management decided to buy it out - this about twenty five years ago at least, certainly since I have lived up here.
It has since gone from strength to strength and now cheese from the factory is exported all over the world in its many forms. My friends from The Netherlands adore cheese and always want to go to 'the cheese factory' when they come, for there they can walk round the shop counter and sample twenty or so varieties now from Blue Wensleydale to Wensleydale with Cranberries, Wensleydale with Apricots, and many more.
And in addition there is a cafe for snacks, a restaurant for meals, a shop for tourists to buy things to take home as presents and also there is the factory itself where there is a facility for tourists to follow the cheese making process from start to finish. In the days when we had a Dairy Farm (before it was wiped out by Foot and Mouth just after the turn of the century) we sold our milk to the Dairy,as do most of the dairy farms round here.
I had a pleasant couple of hours with my friends, a nice meal, a nice chat and then home again. I have attached some photographs so that you get the feel of the place. Enjoy them and marvel at the hard work and enthusiasm that went into this place rising again almost from the ashes as it were.
The first photograph shows the entrance to the visitor experience where a walk way around the cheese making factory means they can watch how it is made before then seeing a short film.
The second photograph shows the entrance to the shop, the cafe and the restaurant. The third photograph shows the entrance to the offices. Sorry if they are a bit blurred but carrying a handbag, balancing with my stick and taking the photographs with one shaky hand do not make for brilliant shots.
Friday, 17 May 2019
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Lucky indeed to live in such a beautiful place and to have close friends and family nearby. My husband would be in his idea of heaven in your cheese factory. Like his father before him, he would live on bread and cheese alone if I let him (with a few sausages thrown in).
Lucky to live near a cheese factory too! Glad that you seem to have recovered from your ordeal at the hands of the physiotherapist.
I am so sorry I missed going here many years ago.
Love Wallace and Gromit (my hero) who loves Wensleydale cheese.
I love cheese and my only complaint is that it is quite high in calories! I would be very tempted to try all the varieties in your cheese factory. It sounds a wonderful place to visit.
Christmas cake, no icing, but with Wensleydale cheese. Ace. Glad you had a lovely day.
I enjoyed hearing about the Wensleydale cheese and seeing your photos. What a nice outing you had with your friends.
Yummy! Wish I could get it here. I probably can but it would be horrendously expensive, being imported. I am a bit of a cheese addict but usually just resort to Cheddar which is made locally.
Wensleydale cheese dairy - a shrine. I live quite close to the home of Cheddar cheese. Yes, you guessed it - Cheddar. We now (I am told) produce more traditional local cheese than France. I feel strangely proud about that.
Interesting about cheese factories. My state is home to many dairy cows, and I have toured a Swiss cheese factory here in Ohio. But the land was settled by Swiss a couple hundred years ago. I wonder why they left home.
France is very proud of the fact that it produces a different cheese for every day of the year (the UK produces over 600), but most of them are bland and uninteresting. Out of the large choice we regularly buy about 4.
Tonight on BBC2 at 7.00 a new series on the Dales starts and tonight the guy is in Hawes.
We spent Tuesday in Hawes and a good deal of it in the creamery.The weather was glorious. We saw the cheese-making demonstration,watched the factory floor working, made butter ourselves(!) and had the traditional fruit cake and cheese in the cafe.The staff are friendly and knowledgeable and those doing the demonstrations are good raconteurs. Oh.... and tasted most of the products in the shop!
What we loved most though is the fact that it is a local business, with milk supplied by about 45 local farms supporting farming in the Dales, it provides jobs for local people in the cheese-making and tourism aspects, and the end product has a very secure food chain so you know exactly what you are getting and where from.
And yes - watching the film of the Dales overdubbed with Elgar's Nimrod did bring a tear to the eye.
Yorkshire at it's best.
I well remember my visit there some years ago, it was a great day out. My sister and I love Wensleydale cheese and always buy it from a stall on Ripon's Thursday market.
It is so good to read your post, Pat - few people are aware of how lucky they are in their lives, and talk or write about it.
Thanks to Derek for the info about the new BBC series - I shall try and catch it via the internet, if I can; sometimes it is impossible for me when country restrictions are in place.
Love cheese. Still do fondue as well, gruyere/emmenthal. The town of Gruyere is very pretty as well, and that lovely smell of a strong cheese is haunting. Less well known is the cheddar factory in Somerset, very similar to your Wensleydale. Though my eldest grandson, taken there when small, has never touched cheese since, says he is allergic to it. As if!
Debbie - so glad you enjoyed it - and the scenery too I hope.
Thanks everyone for your comments. And yes thank you Derek - I have marked the propgramme as special watching tonight at 7.30pm
We stayed at Hawes in late April and my two favourite places were the Creamery and The Dales Museum. We had morning coffe and scones in the Creamery each day and stuffed as much cheese as we could into our fridge to bring home. My favourite is the ginger one but also tried their Brie for the first time-heavenly! Catriona in Scotland
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