Thursday, 16 November 2017

Thanksgiving at Dent

As Bill's three children (all fully-growed now) acquire partners and make babies, finding suitable sleeping quarters in my house is an increasing challenge. 

The last time we had all three kids and families, Bill pulled the motor home up outside the house and ran an extension cord up over the sidewalk. 

Sarah and Gareth said they enjoyed that experience, though the party people on their way to and from the pub were a bit loud and scary. I never notice them anymore, but I remember when I did.

So, just for fun, last year I rented a holiday house in Dent, which we judged was fairly central to the three coming from the NE (Edinburgh) and  SW (Chester). 

As it turned out Sarah and Gareth didn't make it but I knew enough in advance that I only got a three bed house. 

It was an end-terrace house square in the middle of Dent, along a narrow cobbled road. The terrace ended at the pedestrian entry into the church yard, which was the view from all the north facing windows. 

Oddly, the grass of the cemetery came up to the level of the window sills, providing a rather unique perspective. In the front, just across the narrow road was the George and Dragon pub. I had the feeling that folks leaning out of the windows there could just about touch anyone leaning out of ours. 

That was one of the downsides, the noise from the pub.  I'm all for people enjoying themselves, but pub closing time is past my bedtime. Also, there was no parking place outside the house, not that this bothered the tradesmen doing improvements next door or unloading goods for the pub. They parked so close to the front door it was hard not to take it personally. Then again, that was because (I think) they assumed the place was vacant. One of our entertainments was watching drivers edge past each other or inch around the corner (we were at the top of a t-junction), particularly the lorries doing deliveries. Online shopping was clearly the main resource for the villagers.

The ground floor of this house was just a large kitchen and a sitting room with a wood-burning stove. 
One of the oddest roof lines I've seen, or is it a roof within a wall?

The first floor (what would be the 2nd in the US) had our en suite bedroom, another double bedroom (for Simon) and a full sized bathroom squeezed into an odd place under the eaves. 

I've lived with double glazing so long that single panes in sash windows
(as in houses where I grew up) are unusual now.

The 2nd/3rd floor was probably an attic at some point. It had a large room with a telly and a child's bed which opened into a very large bedroom (for Helen, Martin & Charlotte). The views over the hills were lovely from up there.  

I loved the funny little niches in the wall, with stone 'sills'.

In addition to having a cemetery straight out the window, there was a cat flap that opened onto a stone shelf next to the sink. Thinking of food hygiene and resident dog, Daisy, I made sure it was locked. The kitchen was reasonably well appointed with an American-sized fridge, but I just managed to squeeze the turkey into the oven, located strangely at floor level.

I learned about the hazards of south-facing windows, which was a good thing to know. I sometimes envy the neighbours who face north/south but the glare from the sun isn't always a welcome thing. Never mind taking photos, I sometimes couldn't actually see what I was doing. 

There isn't a lot to see or do in Dent if you're not into walking (and when they say 'walking' in Britain they mean as in with boots, in all weathers, more like what you might call 'hiking' in the States). We did enjoy a visit to the museum and tearoom. That said, I had to get back to supervise the turkey so didn't see much of the museum on this trip. Helen surprised me at Christmas with a video about the 'terrible knitters of Dent'.  

Dent is a place Bill goes regularly and I've been a couple of times. The village needed funds to pay for a teacher and so they organised a race, the Dentdale, a 14 miler up and down hills. It's a tough one that Bill did regularly with running buddies he's known 40 years. I've even done it a couple of times. I remember the first year he introduced me to Wensleydale cheese, definitely one of life's greatest pleasures. Bill's the only one of his gang still running, but they meet up every year around that weekend. 

But I've digressed. When you read 'terrible' knitters you should be thinking 'awesome'. The people - men as well as women - knitted as a livelihood and they turned out quality products quickly. It wasn't unusual for people to knit as they walked to the next village, go to a friend's house and knit with them, to knit well into the night. It can't have been an easy way to make a living. 

As with up here in the North East, knitting sheaths (called pricks in Yorkshire) were common. This device tucked into the knitter's belt and held a needle so that the hands were free to manipulate the other three or four (socks being knitted 'in the round'). A wooden sheath was often made by a man as a betrothal gift and they could be quite ornate. The one I remember had a notch, sort of a hook, to keep it from sliding down into the belt. Clever stuff, being able to carve and knit with such skill.

If you Google 'terrible knitters of Dent' you'll find all sorts of stories/videos.

We also visited the historical church and found it attractive. I love the 'box stalls' - I'm sure that's not what they are called - made of wood. I gather there would have been a thermal advantage to gathering all your family into this enclosure, a desirable thing sitting in an unheated stone building.

The food turned out alright and there was plenty of it. As I figured, it was easier to cook in a strange kitchen than to cook at home and clean house from top to bottom in preparation for guests. We stayed up past Charlotte's bedtime playing various games. It was a good weekend as I recall, well worth the rent I paid. 

Sadly, I couldn't get a firm commitment from everyone in time to rent a house this year, so Thanksgiving will be here. The cleaning schedule is on the fridge, next to the shopping and cooking lists. {sigh} Perhaps I should have just grabbed a 4 bedroom house earlier on?

Have you ever gone away for a change of scenery (and to avoid housework?)

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