Friday, 31 December 2010

Desktop Meme

Having been tagged by JuliaM I must cheat; I'm travelling in search of England - always - and am camped out on a kitchen table. It looks minimalist and organized, which is a lie. I have therefore included my handbag, which is the back-office. Over the years the bag has got bigger, like my waist. Hmm.

While the rest of the world is wondering about Julian Assange's sex-life and his chances of surviving the fury of half the political world, I just want to know: how does he live out of a suitcase? What is in his wash bag, or does he rely on stocking up on mini-shampoos and disposable razors when someone pays his hotel bill? How many socks and underpants does he carry, what does he use in the way of notebooks and pens and novels - and don't tell me paper is redundant, it obviously isn't, you've only got to look at the meme pictures.

I have stared at the pages of the Rohan catalogue until the images fade. I still can't see how putting packing packs inside suitcases helps, although I have used cheap laundry nets to separate underwear etc, just to stop things tieing themselves in knots when I'm not looking. My favourite part of LOTR is where Galadriel gives the Fellowship of the Ring miraculous travelling cloaks which weigh nothing, wash-up a treat, are warm and waterproof but have superior wicking ability, have protective colouring and roll up to the size of a hanky. I've got a space blanket - the silvered plastic membrane - but it's not the same thing. Looking like a giant oven-ready chicken fillet is going to attract orcs.

I'm not a hiking traveller; I'm the sort of traveller who wears Cuban-heeled shoes and a jaunty hat. My natural habitat is at a tea-table, next to a log fire, looking through the window at the marvellous landscape full of booted fools. I do not approve of stamping all over the landscape, rubbing holes in it. That's my version of conservation and I'm sticking to it.

The leaflet is from Daleside Bungalow, Masham, North Yorkshire. I haven't stayed there - I just scooped up the information. Masham is a town blessed with magical water which is converted in to mysterious beer at the Black Sheep Brewery. There is also the Theakston bewery and some disagreement which we need not go in to. Bygones.

On the corner of Masham market square, huddled next to the church, is the Suncatcher Cafe. In contrast to the frilly tea rooms and restaurants, the Suncatcher is a memory of hippie holidays. The open log fire is hung about with beads, silk bags, masks and modern paintings you may wish to own rather than run screaming from. The coffee and food is good, the music is cool.

Masham distills a working vision of England. It has hardly any national retailers and still has locally run butchers, bakers, greengrocers and general grocery/deli stores. A bigger range of locally-produced goods is available than is normally the case - and it is local rather than just badged products, which are the cuckoos in retailing. They look like local produce but many of them come from the same factory in Leek, Staffordshire. The market square is used for parking when the market is not on; it is paid for by an honesty-box.

It's important not to get carried away with a romantic idea of honest yeomen dancing round a Maypole, tra-la, because mains water, electricity, and emergency services don't happen by magic. They happen because we have put vast energy in to massive engineering projects, then do our best to make that technology invisible. It is far too easy to become confused between the theatre-set and reality. Let the safe treated water stop and we soon see how keen folks really are to go back to the days of a strip-wash in a bowl of tepid pond water and no heat until you've made up the fire.

Having said that, if the world is going to become a difficult place in 2011, there are few places better than Masham to ride it out. Maybe Leyburn or Thirsk, if you want more shops.

I tag The All-Seeing Eye. Happy New Year.


The Filthy Engineer said...

Happy new year. WOAR

The Wasp said...

Happy New Year. :)

Scrobs... said...

Great location Mrs R. Especially Black Sheep Ale...

We were near there a couple of years ago and Barnard Castle is a lovely place with similar shops - and rooooom...

Walks are great, especially near water!

Lucky you!

JuliaM said...

Happy New Year! :)

Anonymous said...

I see that you also have a guide for Helmsley Parish Church.

It's been a while since I've been over that way so I'm trying to remember whether the pews have a squirrel carved on them or a mouse (as is the trade mark of Robert "The Mouse Man" Thompson?)

Happy New Year!

Woman on a Raft said...

It's the mouseman, Lakelander.

Helmsley is exceptionally manicured these days, downright Italianate. The principle industry is tourism. It sits snuggly half-way to the coast and is the place to stop off for food.

The square has several biker rallies a year where the police stroll round, having placed in the paper the intention to check bikes for safety. Of course, it isn't those kind of bikers who come all the way to Helmsely; the police then spend a happy afternoon in the sun pretending to do important checking work but really all they are doing is swapping bike notes.

The beauty of the town is that it is like a very comfy superior armchair; something by Wesley Barrell, perhaps. If you can shuffle round and afford a coffee (about £2) it can be yours for a whole afternoon.

I was there on Boxing day and despite the snow and balmy -8 temperature, the place was thrumming with people dashing from their car to the pubs and teahouses as if they hadn't eaten for a week. I managed to neck down a hot chocolate the size of a bath and a scone. Well, you've to keep your strength up in the cold.

However, if the tourism dries up it might be more exposed to recession than some other towns. The town is banking on there being a switch away from spending on foreign holidays to the home market. They may be right; Yorkshire Airlines has always maintained that they take off from Leeds Airport and land at Leeds Airport, because if it is outside Yorkshire it isn't worth going anyway.

Woman on a Raft said...

Happy New Year, Wasp.

That's a good blog which I will visit more often. Have added you to the blogroll.

Woman on a Raft said...

Lovely post, Scroblene.

You are right about the dangers of one-in-sixers; the problems of property being dominated by tourists and second home owners to the detriment of civic life.

Masham seems to avoid this by having a range of local businesses which offer varied employment even if some of it is seasonal. It manufactures some of its own food and sells on the surplus and isn't so dependent on the global economy.

I realize it helps Kenyan growers, packaging companies, the supermarkets, aviation companies, storage and distribution businesses, to have my green beans flown half-way round the world before my Sunday lunch, but it still seems insane to do it.

All Seeing Eye said...

Tagged? Aaargh!

Happy New Year to one and all.

Albert said...

Happy New Year WOAR and Commentry.

I prefer the markets about Cheshire and North Wales,Beeston not too far from the castle,market at the auctioneers a dump,but Cheshire and Chedder cheese mmm,the travelling butchers,steak that melts in the mouth,8 great pieces £10 mmm,1 euro shop about 2 miles away at Hoofield great tat shop and cafe,Widnes (ok Merseyside)parking free,great market and shopping area,Mold an old market town with parking 20p for the day,butchers,cheese,butter and shopping,too many charity shops,Caernarvon it has a castle,yes plenty of shops selling "local/homemade in Yorkshire" jam,chutney etc in the posy nurseries come department stores,no Rhubarb and Chilli though,I think England is a beautiful country but politician's and the EUSSR and big business are trying to concrete the country and need more and more people to buy the tat they sell they forget like water things always find the level which can't be passed .

wv: mytioses no rabbits here.

Woman on a Raft said...

Happy New Year, Albert.

I'm familiar with the Cheshire/Staffordshire border, along which Nantwhich stands out as a properly developed market town.

It can be a little 'Footballers' Wives' or at least, the ones who can't afford Wilmslow, but I like it. However, it is not as good value as the ones further in to the county.

Dick the Prick said...

Happy New Year WoaR.

I went to college in 'ull and we often spent weekends camping around Massam, Bev'ley (2 cathedrals in 10 mins walk and some of the oldest boozers in the world perhaps) and York and it was lovely. Whitby remains my favourite seaside town although the EU have nicely fucked it over. Bridlington was the butt of numerous jokes about suicide being a career move but all in all a jolly nice place. Skipton's a bit odd but over t'valley Ilkley's nice for walking as it's all limestone so chances of wrecking owt are limited. Then there's Malham & Ripon too. I guess i'm a bit biased coming from the West Riding but it certainly isn't to the detriment of anywhere else - pretty sure my retirement ambitions for the west coast of Jockland remain intact.

All the very best for this year - I dunno, i'm not so sure that a change of economic culture based on the never never may not necessarily be a bad thing - the people who are getting screwed were/are always gonna get screwed so hopefully people will forego consumerism and get back to checking their families & stuff.

Chin chin.

Woman on a Raft said...

Happy New Year Dick.

Whitby is pretty healthy at the moment although Scarborough - who are in charge of it - are doing their best to be obstructive. I'm seriously in love with it and have experimented with various pipe-dreams to live there. Who knows, but it may happen.

There's no dodging, though, that it is cold when that North wind blows.