British summer montage.
BBQ weather! The greatest of the British summertime traditions: the spontaneous dusting off of a disposable barbecue, the frantic purchase of all the raw meat in the shops, beading sweat dripping over the hot coals as the meat is turned during the hottest part of the day, on the hottest day of the year - and the serious task of eating everything at breakneck speed, just in case the sun goes back in.
I took advantage of the cooler weather to give my bike a bit of exercise - I did 35 hilly miles through Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire to end up in Burton-Upon-Trent. By the time I got up the final hill to the train station I was too tired to explore the town, but I saw some nice bits of countryside on the way, and stopped off in Ashby-De-La-Zouche for lunch.
More shots of Ilkley Moor - including the highlight of the outing, the pub where we took respite from the wind. Hilariously this was the only sign of civilisation for miles around - how British.
From Leeds we took a day trip to Ilkley, a pretty little town nestled in a valley. Nearby Ilkley Moor has a famous rocky outcrop known as Cow and Calf Rocks. Dressed as we were in our most appropriate outdoor gear (…) we decided to walk the couple of steep miles out of town and onto the moor. We were frankly disappointed to see neither a Cow nor a Calf - just lots of sheep and a rocky, windswept hilltop covered in heather and bracken. It was a bit of a scramble up onto the top of the largest rock (presumably the Cow) but the view from the top was breathtaking - as was the wind, in a more literal sense. I daren’t stand up in case an errant gust caught me off balance, but I managed to take some photos of the misty landscape stretching down to the grey roofs of the town in the valley. The most interesting thing was the graffiti - hand-carved names in the soft rock, including this one - the oldest I spotted - dated 1885.
A visit to Yorkshire to see a good friend in Leeds led to us taking a delightful afternoon tea at Betty’s cafe. The tearoom was largely unchanged from when it opened in the 1920s - waitresses in white aprons poured out hot tea into monogrammed cups and saucers from solid silver teapots, as we spread home-made cream and jam on our scones with polished cutlery. It was fascinating to see original photographs on the walls and reflect on how much had changed in the rest of the world, yet in this room in Yorkshire, life had yet to catch up.
Even though I’ve been to Birmingham numerous times, its always an interesting place to visit. This time my friend took me to Digbeth, a pretty run-down bit of the city which is currently undergoing a very bohemian makeover. The street art was incredible on a beautiful sunny afternoon.