Okay, can someone tell me where October went? It had just started when POOF! November arrived. I seem to remember something about pumpkins, Trick or Treat, and someone’s automatic vacuum cleaner getting tangled in the webs of about a million spiders.
One thing that stood out from last month was a little trip I took up north to hang out with one of my best writing buddies.
Setting out quite early from home, I jumped on a train from London’s Kings Cross Station (walking past platform 9 & 3/4 first) and headed toward colder climes and desolate landscapes. Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little, but compared to the ten or so million people living around the capital, where I was going the entire county only have around five million, and it was a little colder.
Yorkshire is one of the most beautiful counties in the whole of England. With its sweeping moors, steep hillsides, stone walls, and quaint towns, it’s a place well worth a visit. It is also the most haunted county in the UK, if you’re into that kind of thing.
The train journey passed quickly, I got a few words down of the Paranormal Romance I was working on, and also read a few chapters of a book on my Kindle. After two hours and twenty minutes, I reached my stop, gathered my belongings and jumped off.
My lovely friend, the talented author J. D. Groom, met me at the station in Leeds, and the first thing we did was go for a coffee. Because that’s what authors run on; a driving need to create stories and ridiculous amounts of coffee.
Next, we hopped on the train to Saltaire, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with beautiful architecture, an old textile mill, and some great places to eat and drink.
Over the next couple of days, Jodie and I went out and about. We checked out the railway station used in the film, The Railway Children, drove across the moors (of course, it started raining as soon as we were at the top, because it’s Yorkshire) and then went to Haworth, also known as Brontë Village.
The Brontë sisters wrote most of their books while living at the parsonage as their father was the parson of the church of St. Michael and All Angels. Charlotte even taught at the local school.
Standing at the top of the moors, you can see from where Anne got her inspiration for Wuthering Heights.
These fabled and much talked about natural wonders. They roll across the open landscape like deep swells on a windswept ocean. There’s a raw and exciting beauty in the weather-beaten face of the steep hills with their mantle of tall grass and low growing shrubs. It’s easy to see how they’ve been the inspiration for many a story. It didn't only fire the imagination of the Brontës, but also that of Frances Hodgson Burnett as she wrote The Secret Garden.
“On and on they drove through the darkness, and though the rain stopped, the wind rushed by and whistled and made strange sounds. The road went up and down, and several times the carriage passed over a little bridge beneath which water rushed very fast with a great deal of noise.” ~ Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden.
Dotheboys Hall, the infamous boarding school in Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby is also set on the moors. The bleakness and desolation described there adds much weight and darkness to the misery of the young boys at the school.
After exploring the cobblestoned village, we meandered through the graveyard where James Sutcliffe, the last Highwayman to be hanged, was buried in 1796 after receiving his punishment at Tyburn Gallows in York.
By now, we had worked up an appetite and sought out a French Bistro for a lunch of charcuterie, cheese and fresh crusty bread. We finished it off with an affogato each.
By the time we returned back to base, aka Jodie’s lovely home, it was time for school pickup and spending some time with the smart, funny, and beautiful Amberley — Jodie’s daughter.
We made some time for writing as well before we left Amberley at home with Dave, her dad, and ventured out for some cocktails, followed by a delicious dinner, which we washed down with a bottle of French Merlot.
By the time I went home after three days in the Dales, my mind and heart was full of vivid scenery, fresh air, writing inspiration, good food and drink, and a warm and wonderful friendship.
I hope to be back soon for more!