Trip report, Huddersfield, Haines

Old Jul 24th, 2003, 04:18 AM
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Trip report, Huddersfield, Haines

You might like a mini trip report on Huddersfield.

A week ago I thought I might like a small break from London, which was still baking. I took my bike to Kings Cross station (terminal for the Hogwarts Express), bought an old person s cheap return ticket, placed my bike (free) in the guard s van, and settled in first class, since a ten pound supplement entitles anyone to move up at weekends. The car was pretty new, with table lamps, wide and comfortable seats, and all the trimmings. They gave away the Saturday copy of the Independent (which alas I had just bought on the street at 1 pound 10 pence) and non-stop tea or coffee. Each car had its own steward, there was a long list of snacks and light meals for sale, and the whole feel was that of a Pullman car about 1960. I snoozed, and woke at Doncaster for tea and a delicious piece of fruit cake, a cake that was thinking of becoming a Christmas pudding. I stepped out at Leeds to find the whole grubby station totally rebuilt in shining steel three years earlier. A Transpennine train took me in 25 minutes to Huddersfield, through a landscape with much in common with Slovakia (where I was two weeks ago). In both regions the railway routes are peppered with huge closed factories (here cloth mills, there chemical works), some turned to warehouses or gyms, many derelict. I reached Huddersfield, remarked the lift beside the statioin that rook whole rail waggons of coal and lifted them up to give gravity flow to the wollen mill, walked over the station square, saluted the statue of Harold Wilson (a bit of a disaster, really) and the Kashmiri taxi drivers, and checked in at the George Hotel. This is three star, 65 pounds a night with breakfast, and just the sort of place I use in Slovakia and thereabouts at 25 pounds a night. They serve dinner and drinks at half price from six to seven, so I had an excellent wild boar sausage with appled mashed potatoes and a big glass of decent red at nine pounds.

Five minutes by bike took me to the town hall. This is Victorian baroque: in Slovakuia or Vienna there would be guided tours. The balustrades, capitals of Corintian pillars, and piping angels that top the grand organ are gold, the walls duck-egg blue with white stucco, the ceiling is coffered in fawn and brown. The Black Dyke Band are nearly as glorious, as you may know from their appearance in the film ?Brassed Off?: black bum-freezers faced in red and with gold frogging. Unisex: men and women wear the same. We had a tubby and cheerful compere and conductor, who led us into the overture to the Marriage of Figaro, some Rossini, Malcolm Arnold?s Four Scottish Dances with a burden that set the hall abuzz, good jazz, big band music, and the theme from The Yellow Submarine, which they helped in its first recording. I missed hearing the tinny voices on the intercom. The audience were old, like me, and moistly local, though people had come over from Leeds, and there were six Scots present. The lead euphonium was the Professor of Music in the University of Huddersfield, and a lead trumpet was the double of Lionel Jeffries, star of ?Two Way Stretch? and in ?Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?.

I slipped out during the last piece, the 1812, and greeted three boys of south Asian origin who had stopped to hear the great music pour from the windows before pedalling off to my desert just before the restaurant closed at the hotel ? full price by now.

Breakfast was good. I packed and deposited my bags, paid my bill, and sallied forth to the bus station for an hour in Holmfirth, which has a farmers market on Sundays. In the bus an ill-kempt woman complained of the noise of a passing ambulance, so I glanced at her pointedly. I made amends by asking her husband and her to lead me from bus stop to market, and they were pleased (as others were) to have a Londoner on a visit simply t enjoy the district. I finished the marketeers pork pie on Tuesday (delicious), and have their cheese in the fridge. Holmfirth is famous as site of a TV series called Last of the Summer Wine, and many shops and cafes are open on Sunday mornings in summer. Back to Huddersfield, and to the hotel for lunch at thirteen pounds. A good liver pate, I think made in the kitchen, excellent roast pork (better than I can cook, and my chops with heated raw Bramley are not bad), and an apple pancake (crepe normande) which was good but needed a dressing of calvados. The bar had none, so I dressed it in rum, and left a note for the chef, who is clearly interested in his or her work.

Collected my bag, by train back crowded to Leeds, and again a first class seat (but not quite do snazzy) to Kings Cross and home.

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Old Jul 24th, 2003, 04:26 AM
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Ben, great report. You have a very entertaining way with words. Did I miss your Slovakia report or is that still in the works?
 
Old Jul 24th, 2003, 04:38 AM
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Ben, when I saw your title I thought it was a joke.... You have made the place sound very interesting. I may venture to Yorkshire one day from Kent after reading that
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Old Jul 24th, 2003, 06:03 AM
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Ben, I really enjoyed reading this. Just enough detail to draw a nice picture in my head.
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Old Jul 24th, 2003, 06:25 AM
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Thoroughly delightful report! Thank you ever so much for sharing your experience, Mr. Haines.

BC
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Old Jul 24th, 2003, 08:01 AM
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Very entertaining report, I felt as though I drifted out of my office and off to the English countryside, much more enjoyable, thank you Mr. Haines!
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Old Jul 24th, 2003, 08:19 AM
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Ben,

Thank you for the report! I love all of your reports and would love to meet you someday in person! I look forward to more reports from you.
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Old Jul 25th, 2003, 02:15 AM
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English One - You took the words right out of my mouth!

Ben - I really think you could be Huddersfield's answer to Peter Mayle !!

Are they paying you ... ?

Steve
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Old Jul 25th, 2003, 03:09 AM
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I believe the George Hotel, Huddersfield was where,about a century ago, a meeting was held to "create" the rugby league.(a professional off shoot of rugby)The game is very popular here in sydney.

A fellow called Moorhouse wrote a story about it in a collection of stories on rugby league.

Did you note any photos or memorabilia marking the event?

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Old Jul 25th, 2003, 03:43 AM
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Mr. Haines, thanks for this little gem of a trip report.

Now if you'd enlighten those of us on the other side of the pond: what's a bum freezer??

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Old Jul 25th, 2003, 11:28 AM
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Ben, I've been wondering where Last of the Summer Wine was filmed. Thanks for sharing.
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Old Jul 25th, 2003, 12:34 PM
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Lovely report, thank you Mr Haines.
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Old Jul 25th, 2003, 02:16 PM
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For johhj_au. Sorry: I failed to notice.

For Mr James: No

For everybody: Many thanks.

Ben Haines

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Old Jul 25th, 2003, 03:55 PM
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Ben,

Thanks so much for the report. For a few minutes I was deliciously transported "across the pond."

adrienne
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Old Jul 26th, 2003, 06:15 AM
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Me too. J.
 
Old Jul 27th, 2003, 10:14 PM
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Not having heard of Huddersfield before, I checked it out in my 2003 Red Michelin Guide. It is 191km from London and 15 km form Leeds.

Michelin rates the George Hotel a 2* (but I'm not quibbling). It has 59 rooms at 85/130 pounds per night...so sounds like you got a good deal. It is a Victorian Hotel...site of the foundation of the Rugby league. It appears to be near the train station. Michelin says it has a nicely decorated restaurant and character in the public rooms. It has coordinated wood furnished bedrooms...sounds nice.

There is a small map in the Red book that shows the location of the train station, the hotel and the open market.

I just wanted to know a little more about it.
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Old Jul 27th, 2003, 11:24 PM
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Dear Mr Haines, many thanks for such a delightful note. The camparisions are quite interesting.

Could you tell us some more unknown/rarely visited British towns?
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Old Jul 28th, 2003, 03:23 AM
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There are many. For example Faversham, in Kent, west of Canterbury, has monastic storehouses, an Elizabethan Grammar school and town house, a strange medieval plus Georgian church (this time, the Georgian is inside and the medieval outside), a proper market place with seventeenth century town hall on pillars, a bijou cinema from 1925, a good tea shop with cakes, an eighteenth century pub with garden and a choice of English and Thai cuisine for meals (he married a Thai lady), the remains of a mill for making gunpowder, the brewery for southern England?s best beer, a prosperous eighteenth century street untouched, and a pub beside the railway station that has fair-priced rooms for b and b, and trains in twenty to fifty minutes to Canterbury, Dover, and Rochester.

If I stay in Kent, Broadstairs is more modern, chiefly nineteenth century, seaside, with a Dickens Museum and every summer Saturday a two-hour tour of an inland suburb where you meet, in costume, the schoolmaster, the Gardens proprietor, the workhouse master, and other figures, and end with tea.

Going north, I think of Banbury, and of Leamington, a nineteenth century spa with two miles away Warwick, not just Mme Tussaud?s over-done castle but Lord Leycester?s fifteenth century hospital, two medieval churches, and a neat market square.

Going east, Bury St Edmunds, a planned town of the thirteenth century, laid out in rectangles like United States cities of the Enlightenment, with fine cathedral and eighteenth century buildings.

Welcome to lesser-known England

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Old Jul 28th, 2003, 04:50 AM
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Just to add to this for anyone tempted to visit the best part of England (I may be slightly biased here!!). You won't be too far away from Haworth - home of the Brontes. A visit here will really make Wuthering Heights come to life.
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Old Jul 30th, 2003, 09:11 AM
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To:Mr Haines, Many thanks again for the reply, how nice to know there are still so many places to visit.

Judy, in Villars
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