As Halfie correctly identified, I was in Hebden Bridge on Saturday. This was as part of an outing loosely organised by the Sheffield and South Yorkshire vegans. The only part of it that was actually organised was the meal in the evening, but most people decided it would be nice to spend a day in Hebden Bridge first.
In truth, there wasn't really enough to fill a whole day. I was a trifle disappointed. Not only because the streets weren't after all thronged with living Liberal Democrat Focus leaflet artwork from the early nineties (when I was a councillor, the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors was based in Hebden Bridge, so that was where we got our artwork from, on paper, ready to be photocopied, cut out, and pasted onto layout sheets with Cow gum. I wonder if young people these days realise that cut and paste was once a literal activity...) Furthermore, I was expecting it to be a lot more visibly 'trendy' and right-on. It's supposed to be the lesbian capital of Britain, for goodness sake, but this wasn't readily apparent. Nor was there a noticeable contingent of people wearing yak wool jumpers who knitted their own yogurt ((c) Alexei Sayle). Maybe Lewes just sets the bar too high.
Nonetheless, it was a pleasant enough little town, but not sufficiently special to deserve its reputation as a tourist destination. There was sufficiently good charity shopping to completely defenestrate my resolution to buy no clothes this year - I came home with a dress (East; my favoured successor to Monsoon), a skirt, a blouse, a jacket, a bracelet and a brooch. I didn't fancy eating here, vegan or not.
In many places the towpath was collapsing into the water, taking the coping stones with it - presumably as a result of all the recent rain.
The evening's meal was taking place not in Hebden Bridge, but its neighbour Sowerby Bridge (I was very pleased when the woman in the Hebden tourist information centre confirmed, by her example, my pronunciation of this as 'Sore-bee'). Dandelion and Burdock is an entirely vegan restaurant, and the meal I had there was very nice. The starter of a garlicky spinach 'cream cheese' dip was very good; the main course South Indian Curry was fairly run of the mill (even though the guy sitting opposite me kept saying, 'I really enjoyed that okra'), and the dessert, ice cream sandwiched between oat, raisin and choc chip cookies was a bit special, and you would never have guessed it was vegan. Sadly, most of the assembled company at my end of the table had only one topic of conversation, which was 'being vegan', leavened with anecdotes about how hard it was to be vegan whilst on their foreign holidays.
Prior to dinner, while it was still light, I went to take a photo of Tuel Lane lock This is the deepest lock in the country, having replaced two former locks for which there was no longer space when the canal was restored in the 1990s.
The lock was all locked up for the night so I circumvented the sign prohibiting climbing over the railings by squeezing between them, to get a not very impressive photo - it was half full so the full depth of 19'8" was not readily apparent from the inside.
I wish that I knew then what I know now.
5 days ago