Strictly this is not My Best Day In because lockdown/lockup/lockin has been eased. In fact, as from yesterday, I can travel to Scotland but unnecessary travel is still discouraged. However, how better to celebrate this hard won new freedom than by having an enjoyable read of my favourite monthly icon of Yorkshire – The Dalesman. Straight away I have the pleasure of another icon – the red pillar box. It is a pillar box because it is free standing as opposed to a post box. There are 115,500 in the UK. It is no surprise then that during my walks around The Dales I have encountered many post boxes and despite them usually being red they never seem to look out of place. Almost invariably I check to see which Monarch’s insignia is depicted on the front of the box. There are plenty of VR and numerous EIIR – but how many EVIIR boxes are there? There are 271 but I don’t think that I have seen one but I should have because there is a famous example in Tobermory and I have been there but I was not looking for post boxes or Uncle Bulgaria for that matter! So where did I find this information? Well, from Wikepedia and that is part of the problem with reading The Dalesman – it makes me want to know more and such research takes time.

I don’t know where Stephen Garnett found ‘Blooming First Class’ but it is reminiscent of so many Yorkshire villages. However, I do know where he has been for ‘Lights,camera,action’ – Grassington and The Devonshire which are used in the new All Creatures Great and Small series.

It is a long time since I visited Knaresborough but just to see Sam Porter’s mural must be reason enough for a fresh visit. Our first swallow arrived about three weeks ago when it was really quite cold. In the past swallows have taken up residence in our garage and last year we had two families. Our swallow arrives on the telephone wire each morning and preens himself and is clearly checking to see whether the ‘wife’ has made it. The same thing happened last year and it was a good four weeks before a suitable partner arrived.

Tony the pony with Clemmy

As always the Owen family is a delight and this month’s offering ‘tantalising’. It was delightful to read of the bull needing his pedicure – like many Daleman readers after lockdown. The description of Little Joe’s ‘passing’ was just right. I well remember the numerous euphemisms used to me to describe death which were quite confusing .To my mind Amanda got it just right. Our school headmaster always referred to ‘pushing up daisies.’

My wife has been busy deciding when to plant out her summer plants. Vegetable seeds have been sown in the greenhouse and the rest is just preparing for the planting of the summer bedding plants. It was as well that there has been a slight delay because the weather has been really cold. Various adages concerning the weather were brought to mind – ‘Clear moon, frost soon.’ Currently we await some rain as do all our surrounding farmers – ‘Ring around the moon? Rain real soon.’ It was good to read Katie Rushworth’s Gardening Club and The Dalesman plant offers look really good value – allows me to remind myself of forgotten plant names.

Atlantic rower Jasmine Harrison

Sowerby near Thirsk must be about as far from the sea as anywhere in Yorkshire. For Jasmine Harrison to have rowed 3,000 nautical miles (3,500 miles) across the Atlantic is no mean feat. The description of her adventure filled me with admiration for her courage and her ability to face up to the task (no pun) and the loneliness of the cruel sea. I think that I read that she survived by eating chocolate – 40kg of chocolate – I hope that the chocolate came from Yorkshire! Forty foot waves puts to shame a gentle swell on the Coronia at Scarborough. I am anxious to know of her next adventure – editor we should be told.

Yorkshire-made gyozas

A gyoza – a Japanese style dumpling – was a first to me and clearly something that I must look for when visiting forthcoming food and drink festivals in the future. Somehow I don’t think that it will take over from the Yorkshire pudding but Ian McMillan would not permit that! I have to admit to always making a beeline for a good wholesome Yorkshire pork pie but a gyoza certainly sounds interesting.

It is always informative to read of the ‘goings on’ at Roberta Mothersdale’s farm. Probably because of the lockdown we have had more than our usual exposure to nature. We have ducks but I think that they are more interested in next door’s pond. We have pigeons that are an absolute nuisance and coo from morning to night and in a nearby field there is a congregation of swans – as to whether they constitute a congregation in these days of no more than 15 is a source of conjecture because there must be more than 100. Honking geese provide us with a regular flypast each morning and each evening.

An item on haircuts seems very topical in the current environment. For the past year my wife has been cutting my hair and the money saved has been noticeable. In fact I see no reason to return to my previous hairdresser apart from it provided a good source of village gossip. It also allowed me to spread any information that I needed to get into the community!

We did venture up Wesleydale two days ago to pay our condolences to a lady we knew in Hawes who had died. The amount of ‘road kill’ was quite astonishing – badgers, foxes, pheasants, hedgehogs and rabbits. Has the absence of traffic resulted in animals forgetting the dangers of the road? The jackdaws will not go hungry – all rather sad. The A684 has some very smart new parking places.

Bacon and egg pie brings back fond memories of my mother preparing such a delicacy for our evening meal. This was back in the days when my mother would spend long periods preparing delicious meals each day – frozen peas were the only thing that might come out of the freezing compartment of the fridge – it was much more fun podding fresh peas and popping the odd one in ones mouth that just seemed too delicious to miss.

Oh dear I must be showing my age but it took me a long time to get the joke in the first tale in Laughter Lines. I am glad that you printed a picture of Knorr soup or I would still be thinking.

International Dawn Chorus Day was on Sunday 2nd May 2021. Perhaps that is why the Dawn Chorus Ian McMillan described is nothing like the dawn chorus I witness of birds singing their little throats sore from the early hours of the morning. I remember 1st May as May Day in Edinburgh when people climbed Arthur’s Seat at 4am to wash their faces in the morning dew – I seem to remember that it was supposed to provide health, happiness and beauty for the coming year. It was said that if you looked round into the morning mist you would see the image of the person to whom you were soon to be betrothed!

The Wainhouse Tower in Halifax

It was interesting to read that The Tower of Spite in Halifax was possibly a folly. This set me off to think about other follies in Yorkshire and I could only come up with two – The Druids Temple at Masham which I know very well and also the Temple of The Four Winds at Castle Howard. I feel sure there are many more but I cannot bring anymore to mind. ‘Forbidden Corner’ may well be considered as a Folly?

The Magic of May says it all – the glorious promise of spring and all that it holds.

Unsung aquatic hero brought back wonderful memories of a boy scout hike that I undertook with two of my friends in Wharfedale in about 1956. We camped near Pateley Bridge, it was a pleasant evening and it was in the days when it was possible to get a campfire alight with two matches. We had bought eggs and milk from the local farmer – such barmy days when the farmer asked – ‘Do you like fish?’ Really not knowing what he was intending we replied that yes we did thinking rather of fish and chips from the local chippie. He presented us with two brown trout which he said that we should cook in butter on our camp fire. Delicious is the the word for them. Nowadays they would probably have been put back but life was different in the mid 1950s.

My Best Day Out visits Bempton Cliffs too so that is another excursion for the not too distant future.

Ben Taylor and Barbara

Poet Ben Taylor’s – ‘Man’s Best bud’ I have kept to last as the dialect needs savouring to gain the full effect. Are we the only ones without a dog? It seems to me that there has been an absolute explosion of doggie walkers. My wife had a sausage dog called Mizzy and could it bark – quite put me off dachshunds!

Ian M M Bagshaw, Hurworth, Darlington

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