Monday, 25 May 2020

Lockdown: Day 63 - 25/05/20

When Spring Bank Holiday Monday comes around, I've no desire to head out for another 3 hour trip in the locality as the day looks like it's going to be a proper hot one, and every one of this last week's excursions have left me feeling completely zonked, as if I've gotten out of practice with the walking routine after two months off it during some of the best weeks of the season, so perhaps it's just as well that I've no plans to bust the season open any time soon, as I've got a good few weeks of local trails to pace as lockdown eases. Thus, I'll take the relaxed option that won't leave me feeling gassed once the time to return to work comes around, picking out the Trainspotting variant of the Social Distancing Circuit, and timing so that I might be in a good location to capture all four of the Nova services as they pass on the Trans-Pennine route, now that we've had a timetable change and it looks like full services have been restored between Leeds and Manchester, and that provides an amiable stretch for 75 minutes, pacing among the greenery and blossom that has come, and gone, over the preceding nine weeks. I hope that will be my last time out on the local SDC, as the optimistic half of my brain hopes that and easing of lockdown might allow for some longer local trips and a bit of weekend public transport usage as we slip towards summer, though the pessimistic other half of me worries that this is where July and August could easily end up again if a second spike in Corona Virus infection occurs, as it well might. Anyway, a week off has been a grand time to focus on getting my numbers back in order, having worked through the paper record of my walking which I started in the 2017 off-season, and have abandoned and re-started twice over since then, re-doing all the calculations to ensure that the stats that I present are correct, and after much hard work, the revision session is complete, and the numbers presented here from now on will be as correct as they'll ever be. My Up Country total proved to have the fewest issues, having been short by 4 miles since its initial calculation in 2014, while my Overall total turned out to have been short by 4 miles since 2013 (meaning that my 1,000 mile gain points and the sum of 1402.2 miles for my first three years were both wrong), before somehow losing another 15.1 miles in 2018, while my Solo total became my cursed number, having no fewer than six addition errors along its course, ending up at 19.5 miles ahead of reality.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Morley South Circuit 23/05/20

7.6 miles, from Morley Hole, via Bruntcliffe, Howden Clough, Birkby Brow Wood, Cliff Wood, 
 Howley Park, Howley Hall, Soothill Tunnel, Woodkirk, Tingley Common, Capitol Park, 
  Topcliffe, Gillroyd, and Brunswick.

After the hot spike that landed on us from Tuesday through to Friday, conditions have taken something of a turn for the chilly as we look to make the most of the three day weekend at the far end of our 10 day stretch of being NIW, and the promise of early morning sunshine has mostly dissipated even before we've gotten to the day's starting line, and it looks like a stiff breeze is going to keep the day changeable as we look to our third tour around the town, looking to the south to retrace a number of routes from early season career that I haven't seen in a while. So to Morley Hole we head, for a 9.20am start, with the cloud cover already starting to accumulate as we set the day's trajectory southwesterly along the side of the A643 Bruntcliffe Lane, rising past Hillycroft fisheries and on uphill, along a familiar pavement, though the stretch between Corporation Street and the Wynyard Drive estate end, opposite the Highcliffe industrial estate seems to have avoided an officially measured visit until now. Rise up, past the cemetery, Bruntcliffe Academy and the Junction 27 industrial estate to land at the A650 crossroads, by the Travelodge and Toby Carvery, noting that the Morley in Bloom garden has been adorned with decorative archways featuring an aphorism by Dr Seuss, which bears recounting as it well suits my contemporary walking mood;

'You're off to Great Places, Today is Your Day, Your Mountain is Waiting, So Get on Your Way'

and thus we do, over the Bradford road and past the WMC and the Shoulder of Mutton inn, and over the crest of the road at Bruntcliffe, heading downhill along the pavement, over the M62 and snaring the views across to the high and distant southern boundary of Kirklees district before we slip past the last terrace in town. We head on into the greenery and leafiness that surrounds the descent into Howden Clough, where the signage indicates your departure from Morley, and Leeds District, long before the bottom of the valley where greater Batley and Kirklees start, and getting a grand look towards Howden Clough mills, which still remains in industrial employ despite is obvious value as an out-of-town and upscale residential development opportunity, before we take a turn to track southeasterly, entering the forestry of Birkby Brow woods, via the roadside entrance that wasn't used by the Leeds Country Way or the Kirklees Way on either of my prior traversals.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Morley Central Circuit 21/05/20

7.6 miles, from Morley Hole, via Daisy Hill, Broad Oaks, White Rose, Low Moor farm, 
 Bantam Grove, Burn Knolls, Morley Top, Dartmouth Park, Bruntcliffe, Gildersome Spur, 
  Dean Wood, Gildersome Tunnel, and the Ingles estate.

Wednesday brings the temperature spike that the week was due, but the heat doesn't attract me out, as housework and a general burst of aeration is necessary around my flat, and we wait until things have cooled a little before we strike out again on Thursday, not as early as I'd hoped to be out thanks to under-sleeping through the night and then oversleeping in the morning, which means that I depart feeling ever so slightly addled on my way to the start line at Morley Hole, getting on track at 9.45am and feeling hopeful that my paths won't be crowded as this weather improvement is sure to attract the populace to more engaging climes than this one. So east we strike again, on the literal middle one of the three loops that I've plotted arpund Morley, heading down Brunswick Street in the shadow of the Victoria Mills complex before we join Bank Street to rise up its other half, below the high walls above which Bank House, surely the oldest house in the town, stands, and above the back of the Cheapside parade at Morley Bottoms, pressing on as the road diminishes to a path by the low-rise flat blocks before it ejects us out onto Chapel Hill. Cross the lane to join New Bank Street by the off-license that has never been open in all my years here, heading on among the elevated terraces above the valley cleft through the heart of the town, passing the still vacant Baptist chapel site and declining with the lane to meet my Lockdown Circuit route and the empire of suburbia that has grown to the east of the town, before rising to the Daisy Hill prominence, where the old mill houses still stand along with its gateposts, from which a view back to town can be noted before we strike into the grassy cleft that lies beyond. It's still May Blossom season out here, giving us some floweriness among the foliage as we drop out into the fields once more, and rise up towards the track to Broad Oaks farm once again, as if every local trail feels the need to come this way, it's really to ensure that we get a decent photographic second look at the Social Distancing Circuit route while the greenery of Spring covers it, having been still a mess of bare earth when the lockdown walking session started, and despite the warmth of the day, the view from here to the city is clear and not burdened by haze, giving another good reason to come up here before we strike for the railway bridge.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Morley North Circuit 19/05/20

5.2 miles, from Morley Hole via Valley Mills, Broad Oaks, Millshaw, Churwell New Village, 
 Rooms, Churwell Urban Woods, and the Ingles estate. 

At last we land on my next week off, and it's been a proper long haul to get here, and quite the roller-coaster of emotions to due to the health crisis and the national lockdown which we have been compelled to traverse, landing on 10 days of being NIW with so much relief, as a regular seven week spell of work can be hard to get through, a stretch like this has proved to be interminable, with time ceasing to have much meaning despite my working weeks having about as much shape as normal, and now I can look to a stretch of getting my head turned back towards normal after experiencing all the stresses that came my way over the preceding days. Interestingly, speaking to one of the departmental supervisors last week, she told me that she was cancelling all here leave for a long as the lockdown lasted as she couldn't face being stuck at home and completely out of circulation during her time off, and that's completely the opposite for me, glad to get away from it and have time completely to myself before having to face what comes with an eased lockdown and the working throngs starting to return to the city. As exercise rules have now been relaxed, going out for more than an hour at a time is now possible, and I could travel further afield if I had an independent transport option, but I don't and public transport use is still discouraged, not that I'd be taking just yet anyway as I'm convinced this lockdown easing has come at least a month too early, and thus I'll be looking towards some circular routes about my resident town, as Morley's lanes and fields haven't seen too much action over the last few years. So the plotting head goes on to find routes that offer a bit more than the sub-3 mile circuits that have been my route for most of the last couple of months and might keep me occupied locally until I feel emboldened, or am permitted, to ride away further from home and back towards where I wanted to be in my 2020 season and I've gotten a good local selection to keep me going, even if few of the passages will prove to be particularly novel. But before we get going with that, I'd just like to share a little more of the new lockdown hobby that I've fired over the last couple of weeks, namely going for a train-spot or three thanks to discovering the live train tracker at rail-record.co.uk, which has informed me of the movement of TPE Class 68s across the Pennines to the Siemens depot at York, which I can thus catch as they run light through Morley, taking their pictures and sharing them here as I have no shame at all about resuming a passion that I had as a child, an action that I'm sure would have delighted My Dad, no end.

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Lockdown: Day 55 - 17/05/20

Well, this has been a strange week, through which we've pressed hard to get to the 10 (TEN) days of annual leave at the other end of, the week where Britain supposedly gets back to work, while lockdown because of the Corona Virus still continues, and for this week at least, there's little indication of there being any difference on the railways, as there's just as few people on the Morley - Leeds trains as there ever were, and no obvious differences on the Leeds - Cross Gates services either. Which is just as well because this is the week that I chose to start shooting video from the windows of my morning and evening commuter rides, as that's certainly something that you can't do on the trains under normal circumstance, unless you are a travel blogger with a semi-professional YouTube channel (and that's not a future I envisage for myself after discovering the brutal upload times which that site has) and it's amazing that you can find along the way of two line, once you factored in the orientation of the train and the direction of travel to give you as many a 16 variations. I can honestly say that I'm not looking forward to public transport getting busy again, as I can't envisage how you're supposed to effectively socially distance on a train when it's at more than 25% capacity, and thus it's relief to see no change through this week, as I doubt many businesses even had a plan to get people back on site in the city when the announcement was dropped last weekend, and the only indication that I can take of there being any real change in circumstances is the locally observed lower number of cars in the yard of my flat block, and the increase in apparent activity at the industrial units and workshops at the lower end of Station Road in Morley. My Friday evening swing around the town, to grab the weekly essential goods shopping at Bond Street Tesco, will thus be my probable last to see the deserted streets in the city centre before the retail sector starts to revive, and the only crowd to add to the regular few people traversing the street is the bunch who empty out of the Albion Street branch of Barclays Bank, ahead of my working week coming to end. The long weeks of being NIW to come should prove a good time to decompress after ploughing a relentless path of work through seven weeks of national lockdown, and the frustrations of the moment are combined by the thought that I ought to be on holiday to walk the Rossendale Way, and the fact that while restrictions of time allowed for exercise have been relaxed, the use of non-essential public transport use is still discouraged, which renders me relatively stranded in Morley for the time being, only fancying a regular short circuit out on Sunday morning, ahead of potentially putting down quite a few more local miles during my week off.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Lockdown: Day 48 - 10/05/20

Blessed is the four day week that leads into a three day weekend, and I may have expressed my frustration at getting my May Day break bumped back by four days, but when the alternative is feeling like you are baling from a working week a day early, I'm not going to fuss, and it's not been all that long since our last ones at Easter, which goes that bit of distance to making our work through lockdown that shred more tolerable, and we've landed on a couple of really nice days to use for a stretch and a relax too, so all's feeling pretty decent as the best weather month of the year settles in. Not that I'll be using my VE Day bank holiday for draping my house in flags and banners, or doing anything neo-patriotic as I find all that business rather distasteful, if you wish to commemorate those who served and died in conflict, we have Armistice Day for that, and if you're the sort who still feels the need to mark the anniversary of a conflict that 'we won' 75 years ago, which increasingly few have an active memory of, then I'm going to suggest there's something seriously off in your mindset. I'll be indulging the part of myself that's definitely the one that's My Father's Son, having recently discover the Live Rail Record website so that I might accurately synchronize my walking route with the passing trains on the run into and out of Leeds, and also adapting my route to give myself more photographing opportunities, by not walking the figure eight path and instead keeping to the railside path all the way from Valley Mill to beyond the White Rose Centre and the Elliot Hudson college to land by the cattle creep, or footpath passage, below the lines to join lost fields below the Millshaw business park. It's actually a shorter route than the regular circuit, but feels longer, allowing the full cycle of trains to be spotted over an hour plus in the vicinity of Morley, and the barren stretch can be burned off as I travel at the hurry-up over the rises at Broad Oaks and Daisy Hill, so that all the opportunities to snare the TPE Nova 1 & 3 units (Novae units?) with my camera can be made as they run a proper inter-city express service between Yorkshire and Lancashire for the first time in decades, and we'll turn that 2.5 mile trip around twice on the sunny mornings of Friday and Saturday. Otherwise, it's been frustrating to not see much of the bluebell season over the last few weekends, as our walk route wants for dank woodlands with shady ground, and most of the blooms hide in the railway cutting to be only really visible from the passing trains, but as if to compensate, the path is now gripped by a riot of May Blossom as the Hawthorn bushes do their bit to brighten up the passage of Spring, our third distinct wave of flowering since Lockdown began.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Lockdown: Day 41 - 03/05/20

Frustratingly, it's not May Day weekend yet, as those who would govern us have decided to move the International Day for Solidarity among Workers to the end of the coming week, so that it might coincide with the 75th anniversary of VE Day, for which the neo-patriotic public events have had to be rather unfortunately cancelled, due to current world events, meaning that our short week of work arrives before the long weekend that we always look forward to at the start of my favourite month. Not that I'm going to fuss too much, as this has been a pretty chilled out week thanks to being granted a complete change of scenery for my working week, as I'm sent off to do some support work at Seacroft Hospital, which might be ridiculously remote from Morley and a much longer commute at the starts and ends of my days, but riding the rails to Cross Gates station is probably better for social distancing than riding the infrequent buses along the York Road, and the 20 minutes of walking through the estates gives me some good time to exercise and mentally decompress, while the only local people out and about are the dog walkers, meaning that I'm inconveniencing nobody. Travelling the extra miles by train is also good for giving a bit of an expansion to my rather confined lockdown world, allowing us fresh sights to see as we go, and taking a great interest to see what rolling stock is laid up at Neville Hill depot and yard, concluding that the answer id not all that much as even the EMR HSTs that are stabled there appear to be turning over with some regularity, confirming that it's only been the Pacer stock that has been removed thanks to the reduced timetable, as none of that has been spotted since the reduced timetable came into force. I honestly could get used to riding trains on my own, and always sitting with 2 metres of space around me at all times, and with no other passenger in my sightlines, and it's not like Cross Gates station crawls with activity at either end of the day, with no more than 8 other passengers counted daily as I admire its big red wall, and use the brick facade for photography, not even feeling any frustration as the end of April refuses to be warm and even dumps a bunch of rain on us. When a bus does have to be ridden, on Friday evening because we need to do another turn around at Tesco and jam £30 worth of goods into a single bag, it allows us to take a look at Leeds city centre in full lockdown effect, taking a path via, Eastgate, Vicar Lane, Kirkgate and Commercial Street, showing it up as just as devoid as life in a way not seen since Bank Holidays used to shut everything down, which I recall last happening in the mid 1990s, and looking at the many stores along the way you'll see that most of them are empty, with their stock having all been dispensed into storage, illustrating just what a task it has been, and will be, to suspend and then later restart the retail industry.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Lockdown: Day 34 - 26/04/20

I'm not gonna lie, this past week has easily been the toughest of the Corona Virus Lockdown so far, as the stresses and strains of the weeks of shifted routines and changed priorities have finally started to take their toll on me, bending but not breaking as I said last time around, but it's all proving much harder to take when situational stress lands on me with the only option being to absorb it, and then having to carry on without having the option of release that used to come with my weekly walks out, to clear the mind and stretch the limbs. It's really hard to explain just how much I'm now missing the routine of walking, as we press on into Spring, having had a sequence of lovely weekends that ought to have had me out on the trail and finding paths over the hills, moors and valleys between the Colne and the Calder, but actually had me limited to putting down only 14 miles across the whole of April, and thus it's hard to not spend time dwelling on where I'd like to be in my 2019 walking season, when I'm again being limited to a hour and a sub 3 mile trek as for my weekend's entertainment. Not that I'm not grateful to have the fields in the space between Morley, Churwell and the White Rose centre to pace around, mind you, because, as a passing dog-walker comments while out on circuit this morning, this area has been on Leeds City Council's residential development slate for a while, and all the greenery around Broad Oaks farm could be lost to suburbanisation in future years, matching the encroachment onto the hillside of the Low Moor farm site, above the railway off to the south. The lack of opportunity to expand my horizon also frustrates, with my experience field being limited to sole to trips between Morley and Leeds, and just over this last few weekends, I've missed the opportunities to visit my good friends in Calderdale for Easter drinks, and to stay with My Sister and her family for a long weekend, while intent to visit Mum has shifted from May to July to a hopeful aim at September, with my pre-booked annual leave looking it will be spent solely on time out from work and not for anything as outlandish as an actual holiday. So my novel travel experience for the Spring has been reduced to photography from the train windows as I do my morning and evening commutes, as there are so few other passengers on board to look at you weird, which gives me a rare opportunity to capture  a rarely seen perspective on the railway heritage that still endures at the lineside, mostly unacknowledged, from the 'flying' Farnley Junction, the long-closed Farnley & Wortley station, and the lost yards of the L&NWR on the run into the city.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Lockdown: Day 27 - 19/04/20

There's be no extra walking when Easter Monday comes around, as temperatures take a turn for the chilly, and then as the time comes around to return to work, we start to settle into that phase of Spring where we enjoy mornings that are cold enough to have you needing to wear three layers of clothing before we shift right around to evenings where its too warm to really require more than one, but the brightness keeps the spirits up as we plough into the fourth week of Lockdown. The floweriness and renewed colour of the season will also give a much needed lift as we push on, with the blooms of blossom and dandelions coming out in full effect, with the still air giving the feeling of a higher than usual pollen count, as if the lack of traffic pollution is making it feel that bit more pungent (though I'm assured by those who know about such things that my projection runs completely counter to reality) inducing a rare need for antihistamines, to combat the hay-feverishness. The brightness of the mornings and evening also invites the need to carry a camera to engage in some photography around the semi-deserted city, as it's still got a novelty that needs to be captured, though you need to remind yourself along the way that having Key Worker status is in no way a license to wander the commercial streets of the city centre at will, and it's not as if everyone else is staying home, aside from the NHS workers. The real business going on at present about the place is, of course, roadworks, with almost all the main arteries through the town being fenced off or dug up in some capacity as part of the major reworking program that was in place before the lockdown started, and I can only assume that the workmen are thrilled to get an opportunity to get on with their work without getting in the way of the commuter traffic, making it look like the projected completion date of Spring 2021 could easliy be beaten. My only real need to stary far from work whilst I'm out is to do some food shopping as I make best use of my out of the house time, and this is done by venturing to the Tesco Metro on the Bond Street - Upper Basinghall Street corner, as it's the best appointed supermarket on my path, and it's set up well for social distancing, despite most of it's passing constituency of shop workers being elsewhere at present, and thus it's super quiet and well enough stocked for my irregular needs, only really lacking in fresh bread and a wide vegetable selection, so that will be my future port of calls while I do my best to avoid the suburban melee at Morley Morrisons.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Lockdown: Day 20 - 12/04/20

Organizing my annual leave to give me a run of three four-day weeks for my return to work turns out to have been an excellent idea, as it has allowed me to not get too deep into the routine of work before being able to take some time out again, which is just fine as the lone Easter weekend lands between the second and third of these, as bright weather lands on both the Saturday and Sunday, allowing me to get out for a stretch on the mornings of both. It's a grand feeling to get out with the Spring season filling the environment, with blossoms blooming on the trees, especially on the run by Station Road rec, and the air being thick with the sound of birdsong, feeling so much louder with the background hum of traffic being almost completely absent, and getting a reverse trip out on the Morley Circuit route allows me a fresh perspective on the fields to the east of town, while also landing me above the station when a trio of Freightliner 66s run light into Morley tunnel, my first such spot in all the years that I've lived out here. Elsewhere, keeping in regular contact with Mum has kept us engaged while she endures the enforced isolation of lockdown while being in a notional high-risk group, as we have gotten into a routine of speaking on the phone three times per week, to talk around the business of self-isolation and the big picture of the pandemic, and also to turn over just about any other topic of conversation that we can find as it drops into our heads. Indeed, I think she's adapting to the situation rather well, by keeping her shopping needs limited, finding plenty of exercise opportunities with the business of gardening and yard work, and taking up a seated gym routine that already seems to be working out for her, and she's even mastered the arts of modern communication, with a significant number of members of her church's congregation having formed a group on Zoom, the video app of the hour. A remarkable enough achievement when you consider just how many of them are over 80, and probably more technologically engaged than I am at present, and this has allowed them to continue the fellowship that lockdown has denied them over the last few weeks, with the 40 minute free sessions having provided enough time for around 20 of them to have a social coffee and conflab at a safe remove, and to have services in the run into Easter, which is cheering news for all involved, as these church folks are people that i have known for much of my life and I'm glad that enforced isolation hasn't kept them too far removed from each other.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Lockdown: Day 13 - 05/04/20

The first week of Lockdown ended pretty much as it started, with myself not in work and getting out of the house only to take in an hour's trip around my exercise circuit to the east of Morley, enduring much lower temperatures and gloomier skies than we'd seen over the previous excursions out, once again sharing the paths only with dog-walkers and the few others who cannot abide being confined to their residences while being kept out of work or compelled to be at home with their kids. Working from home or enforced self isolation aren't for me though, as I've got a job at the hospital to return to, rising with the lark on Tuesday morning to see just how thoroughly the world has changed in the week that I've been at home, choosing to travel to Leeds by train as it's still the quickest option for getting down the hill, heading down to the station and noting that the long string of cars that usually stretches up much of the length of Station Road has not come out, and that the businesses at the bottom of the lane that had still been open during the preceding week have all shut up shop now. Landing at Morley station is an even more surreal experience, as the local train services have been reduced further from the level put on during the first week of Lockdown, and only six people are out to catch the 0729 service, a huge reduction in numbers from usual, like down from the 70+ who would usually turn out, and it's even quieter than a Christmas Eve might be, with the train actually forming the Manchester - Hull service, and stopping all stations rather than running as a express, and even then running at maybe 10% seated capacity as so few people need to be travelling into the city. So there's no real need to be anxious about keeping your mandated 2m distance from your fellow travelers, as there are so few people out to begin with (and it's worth noting that TPE were running 6 carriage trains on the local services in the initial week of the restricted timetable, but there's only a need put on a 3 car unit this time around), and social distancing when passing through Leeds station is just as easy as I've never seen the place so empty, with there being almost as many station personnel as travelers in the place, along with a small phalanx of police officers checking up on whether we really need to be in the city at such a time of day. I do, as I work at the hospital and the terrain of Leeds between the station and the LGI seems devoid of all life, aside from the guys out tending the extensive roadworks, with most of the establishments and offices around Infirmary Street, East Parade and Park Square having shut up for the duration, with the traffic levels reduced to a minimum, not quite looking like a ghost town but still eerily quite for 8am on a weekday.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Lockdown: Day 6 - 29/03/20

So it came to pass that on Tuesday 24th March, the nation officially went into Lockdown because of the Corona Virus outbreak, shutting down the retail sector and effectively sending a huge swathe of the population into enforced self-isolation, largely due to too many people not seeming to appreciate the urgency of the situation, and only taking matters seriously when actually told to do so, I'd guess because too many people think rules do not apply to themselves, only to the sort of people whom they'd believe need social control. That leaves those in the so-called Key Worker sectors to remain in business, those operating the food supply, the distribution and power operators, and naturally the NHS, to massively reduce the amount of social contact in the population in a hope of restricting and arresting the infection rate of COVID-19 as it grows into the largest global health emergency in over a century. Not that any of that has made an immediate difference to myself, as the subsequent week to the announcement has had me Not in Work and already doing my bit for self-isolation and social distancing by staying at home to pay attention to my non-walking related interests and needs, but exercise has to be considered a pressing necessity, just to prevent my brain going numb and my limbs going lazy, and thus a stretching route had to be found locally, keeping as far away from other people as possible while providing enough of a challenge to make it worthwhile for proper exercise. It's thus mildly amazing that an adequate route into the countryside was assembled on my very first effort, picking a path of almost 3 miles in to the east of Morley, starting out at the railway station, and setting off along Valley Road, above the tunnel portal and below the cliffs where the colliery once stood, to pass the site of the borough gasworks and around the Valley Mill site, to land by the footbridge that wasn't in situ in 2013, to take us over the railway and onto the alleged country lane that leads up the hill to the turn to Broad Oaks farm. The farm driveway leads to the fine view over the city of Leeds and then down through the fields to the old footbridge over the railway, which we cross again to meet the woodland trail behind the White Rose Centre, which shifts us southbound onto the right of way that traces the cutting and embankment of the line as it leads us back to the 'new' footbridge, which we cross again to turn the path into a figure-eight route. We then split from the tarmacked path to follow the rough path west up onto Daisy Hill, where suburbia has grown at Morley's eastern fringe around the old mill site and equestrian farm, keeping a suitable distance from the bungalows and semis before we reach the terraces on New Bank Street and slip down the path by the side of the Station Road recreation ground before sealing the loop by returning to the station as the descending road passes Dartmouth Mill.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Rumination: COVID-19

It should come as a surprise to no one that we are now officially on hiatus, as my ninth season of walking is suspended until further notice as measures to restrict the spread of the Corona Virus are being put into place to attempt to reduce the risk of increasing the COVID-19 infection rate, a move that I hoped wouldn't be coming, but the speed of the evolution of events over the last week has ultimately rendered inevitable. It's a huge shame on the personal level, especially as I had just arrived at the start of a 10 day break from work, which I was due to spend Down Country, helping Mum with a heavy dose of Spring cleaning of stuff that got somehow lost in the whirl of events of last year, during which we were scheduled to travel to London to see the Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery and now it looks like doing anything like that will not be possible for a while. We had both acknowledged that a jaunt down to London looked unwise a week ago, but absolute confirmation came with the announcement of the gallery's closure on the 18th, along with advice against all non-essential travel being issued on the 16th, meaning that I won't be travelling anywhere as far away as Leicester for the foreseeable future, and advice for the over 70s to self-isolate being given on the 15th means that Mum is going to be home alone for a while too. As public transport was still running to a regular timetable this weekend, my hope was still to get out on one last walk so that I wouldn't feel like all of Spring was to be lost, slipping out un-noticed on an under-used train to an under-populated corner of the county, burning off a 5 hour circuit before returning to formal social distancing and self isolation back in Morley, but the preceding evening was filled with disturbed and stressed-out sleep, as if my sub-conscious was telling me that the time to stop had already arrived. Thus that is where we are, with me having been told to not think that I know better, staying in while the wider world starts to shit down around us, with the schools having closed down on Friday, the leisure and service sector having had their last night in business on Saturday, and the sporting calendar having shut down more than a week ago, with a restricted public transport schedule to start on Monday 23rd, the next act has to be lockdown, effectively closing down everything except essential services, and then we shall all be into completely unknown territory.

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Ravensthorpe to Slaithwaite 14/03/20

13.4 miles, via Northorpe, Little London City, Kitson Hill, Lower Row, Cooper Bridge, Bradley,
 Bradley Bar, Fixby, Round Hill Bottom, Badger Hill, Fixby Ridge, Ainley Top, Lindley Moor, 
  Mount, Hirst Wood, Scapegoat Hill, Clough Head, and Crimble Clough.

It's been in the background since my walking season opened out, but this week the Wuhan Covid-19 Outbreak has officially spread enough to be classified as a global pandemic, and that means that enforced social distancing and self-isolation are a near certainty in the coming weeks, and the probable restriction of travel means that a severe crimp on my walking plans as usage of public transport for leisure, and potentially exposing myself and others to the risks of the Coronavirus, will be an absolute no-no for a while. There's no formal restrictions in place yet, and working in the NHS means that I'm not likely to be able to be kept out of work unless I'm felled by illness, and on the edge of the walking year really getting going, there's a significant chance that all of Spring will be lost as the country does what it can to restrict movement and contain the spread of this virus, so we'd better put down some miles on the trail before the opportunity gets taken away, pulling up a left over trip from last year to take us over the hills between Calder and Colne. So away from Ravensthorpe at 10.15am, leaving the station for the fourth time, having yet to end a walk there, but pressing north for the first time, and finding it frustrating that it's hard to get a good look at the L&YR vintage goods shed, as it's hidden away just a bit too deeply in its industrial estate, so we head on over the Calder via the Truss bridge, noting that the river looks placid below, and that there is access to the north bank path that I failed to see in 2012, before press up towards the A644 between the mass of riverside industry and long runs of terraces. Cross over the Huddersfield Road and get tied up with the paths of the roads around the traffic islands that I believe simplify access to the retail park across the way, on the site of the old gasworks just along from St Saviour's church and the old Co-operative store, where we take a right turn onto North Road, which goes further to reveal the extent of Ravensthorpe as we pass its terraced face and the Diamond Wood school, noting that both churches and pubs along the way have been re-purposed to suit the needs of the local population. Pass into Northorpe, if it really is a place, as the lane divides, with both portions meeting the site of the station on the former L&YR Mirfield - Low Moor lines, of which some embankment and retaining walls endure, making this corner of the village feel over-served in the pre-suburban past, as it sits just a short way south of the equally lost station on the L&NWR Heaton Lodge - Wortley lines, which we touch base with again, along with The Plough inn as we start to graze the upper edge of Mirfield proper, as Shillbank Lane passes above the suburban splurge over the railway alignment to meet Flash Lane, where proud terraces face the view down to St Mary's church.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Mirfield to New Pudsey 07/03/20

13.5 miles, via Knowl, Old Bank, Sunny Bank, Roberttown, Liversedge (Knowler Hill & 
 Littletown), Royds Park, Spen Lower, Cleckheaton Spen, Gomersal tunnel, Hunsworth, East 
  Bierley, Tong Street, Holme Wood estate, Tyersal, and Pudsey (Delph End & Owl Cotes Hill).

After the most productive of Walking Februaries, the March of this year is probably not going to be quite as serious as most that have preceded it, not least because we've effectively had one of its weekends lopped off, and having done my press towards Calderdale two weeks back, that teaser of the coming year will still not be picked up on as early season going has us keeping closer to home once again to fill in another trajectory between the railway lines to the Calder Valley and the big city of Bradford, especially as the month's weather is looking aggressively mediocre still. So we ride the rails out to Mirfield again, finally putting this station to good to use after so many years away, alighting at a measure after 9.40am, as the effects of Northern Fail's business ripple onward, setting off to the north again, past the Lidl and Bull Bridge to take a right onto the Huddersfield road this time, noting that this corner of the town is called Eastthorpe, which convinces me that this place is a lot of smaller settlements that coalesced into a larger one, even gaining itself a town hall on the Knowl Road corner in the 19th century, which the Salvation Army occupy much of these days. This will be our path up from the low portion of town, elevating us away among a run of proud run of Victorian terraces with the old Liberal Club among them, with the path of the lost L&NWR Leeds New Lines only visible to those who might know what to see in their absence, before we have Knowl Park arriving to the east, offering no sightlines toward the Parish Church, but revealing considerable altitude gained away from the Calder Valley, before we rise on to the urban village of Knowl, with its own smart shopping parade and nursery in the old Wesleyan chapel. Onwards as the lane twists its merry way past the Zion Chapel in its old Sunday school, and the village Community Centre in the old school on Water Royd Lane, getting beyond the reach of the formerly rural and 19th century stretch of Mirfield as we pass the Savile Arms on the Lee Green corner, with Old Bank Road displaying the last run of town houses and terraces on its way up to the Co-op, where our arrival coincides with the morning's fresh bread delivery. Take a left onto Sunny Bank Road, which gets us back onto a directly northwards run, revealing that Mirfield does indeed have a lot of suburbia at it's northern edge, all of it poorly placed for the railway station, but once past the shops around Chelle's Deli-Cafe, we find ourselves close to the A62 as it bypasses Roberttown, and ahead of the Fountain Inn junction we can look east to contextualize our location, high on the west side of the Spen Valley, looking across the fields to the high points of greater Dewsbury.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Ravensthorpe to Bramley 29/02/20

14.5 miles, via Thornhill Lees, Dewsbury Mills, Crow Nest Park, Dewsbury Moor,  
 Heckmondwike, Westfield, Popely Fields, Gomersal, Swincliffe, Birkenshaw, Tong Street, 
  Pit Hill, Holme, Black Carr wood, The Bank, Tyersal embankment, Greenside tunnel, 
   Pudsey (Windmill Hill, Chapeltown & Lowtown), and Swinnow Moor.

After a few weekends away, we get back on Saturday walking and just as well, as it's the fifth one in February as our Leap Year day makes itself available for the first time during my walking career, and I ought to have an ambitious trip planned for such an auspicious occasion, but the weather projections have proved so wildly inconsistent, I not feeling brave at all, indeed, I'm only getting out because this opportunity won't be repeated until 2048, when I'll be 73 and will probably have run short of walking ambition and available paths. So to Ravensthorpe we ride, departing the station at 10.15am, using the line of the Calder for another jump off, setting off down Ravensthorpe Road again, among the parades of semis and industrial plants, spotting a rare appearance of a 144 Pacer unit in the wild as it passes on the Wakefield line before we touch the corner of Thornhill Lees and find our fresh course northwards for the day, joining Forge Lane by the Filltex factory and spot a bridge to nowhere as we pass over it, which once allowed rail access to the Thornhill Ironworks which once filled the derelict sit to the east. Cross the channel of the C&HN and move to pass under the railway where a mass of metalwork carries the lines overhead, at a remarkable width as we land between the former Thornhill station and junction, moving on towards Dewsbury in the direction of Ratcliffe Mills and Holy Innocents church, before we take a sharp left to cross the Calder with the B6117 via Cleggford Bridge, with the river looking about as high as its capacity allows, and head along Thornhill Road past the imposing bulk of Dewbury Mills. There's rather a lot of suburban growth on this low patch in the loop of the Calder, ahead of the river's runoff channel, which we first met in 2012 and definitely looks like it had floodwaters flowing though it in the last month, which used to be a canal in its original incarnation, and we'll spy its house before passing though the industrial band beyond where we rise to pass under the mainline railway, where TPE's 802 Nova units provide new spotting opportunities, and Fall Lane rises further beyond to land us on the A644 Huddersfield Road by Ravens Lodge house. Cross to ascend Temple Road, between St Paulinus RC school and the Boothroyd Primary academy, arriving on Cemetery Road above the graveyard and mortuary chapels, and just across from Crow Nest Park, Dewsbury's best green space, with trees boldly surrounding its perimeter and the imposing, and eponymous, house dominating its centre, and after a glum looking opening to the trip, as we arrive above the Spen Valley, I allow myself to speculate that we might actually have a nice day on our hands as we continue to press north.

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Mirfield to Sowerby Bridge 23/02/20

11.6 miles. via Battyeford, Cooper Bridge, Nun Bank Wood, Clifton Wood, Brighouse, 
 Brookfoot, Freeman's Wood, Cromwell Bottom, Binns, Elland Park Wood, Elland Bridge, 
  Elland Wood, Salterhebble, Copley. Long Wood, and Bolton Brow. 

Another weekend in February brings another Atlantic Storm, and thus walking plans get shuffled to the Sunday, which presents a better sort of day weather-wise, which is fortunate as I need to make an early morning trip to the opticians to collect my new specs, and the day also has My Sister and Nieces making the trip over the Pennines for a visit, as their day had been cleared for a mountain biking event that they really didn't fancy in the windy conditions, so we are instead able to burn the day off with a trip around the town and dinner at Trinity Kitchen while having more of the catch up that we didn't complete at Christmas. A day off is also useful for starting to get used to the vari-focal lens in my new glasses, and the art of learning to focus at three different distances, not that I'll be taking them out for a walking trip the following day, as I need the familiarity of my old specs as we seek to trace a route to the edge of Upper Calderdale, in keeping with the proposed theme for the year, and matching a trajectory from 2012 to test the theory that a difference of a mere half mile from a previous path can reveal the world in a completely new way. So to Mirfield we ride, starting late to allow most of the day's rain pass early on, and giving us a short window before the heat loss of winter starts, so we are wrapped up in thermal and windcheater as we alight at 11.20am, setting our course under the railway and along Station Road up to Bull Bridge, to make our base-tough with the Calder & Hebble Navigation before rising to meet the main road up Calderdale, turning onto the A644 Huddersfield Road at the town's heart and setting off west, past the library, the Co-op and St Paul's church. Past the wholly intact buildings of Fold Head mills, and war memorial in Ings Grove park, we are soon slipping out of this most urbane of villages, with a band of industry filling up the strip of land between the road and the River Calder, in the middle of which we find the remains of the L&NWR's Battyeford viaducts on the Leeds New Lines, with a runs of blue brick arches running up to the roadside, and a string of stone arches sitting by the riverbank, easily the most interesting thing to my eyes at this edge of the town, so naturally this is where the last rain cloud of the day passes over to spoil my photography opportunities. The damp gloom doesn't last though, as the sunshine breaks out as we pass on through Battyeford among its roadside cottages below the rising bank to the north, coming upon the side of the Calder beyond the Pear Tree inn, and it's high and thundering after the overnight rains, looking ominous below Wood Lane bridge and keeping its volume up as we pass the band of playing fields on the low bank, with the river showing the most of its agitation as it runs over the weir by the former West Riding flour mills site.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Halifax to Batley 14/02/20

12.3 miles, via North Bridge, Claremount, Stump Cross, Hipperholme, Lightcliffe, 
 Bailiff Bridge, Hartshead Moor (Top & Side), West End, Cleckheaton, Spen Lower, 
  Spen Upper, Gomersal (Hill Top), Birstall Smithies, Wilton Park, Bankfoot, and The Mill.

Boots #7b are ready to enter service.
The small benefit of a long trip home from the trail is a chance to score some more cheap walking togs, in the most recent case being finding a new pair of intermediate boots for pavement walking, #7b if we're keeping score, a pair of Regatta Samaris located at TK Maxx in Leeds for £40, hopefully a good replacement for pair #6b from Cotton Traders, which really absorbed the abusage over the last two years, and they'll be put to immediate use today, as we head out for a third consecutive day on the trail, starting out early on the rides to Halifax in hope of staying ahead of the next wave of bad weather. So to our start line, for a 9.50am start, emerging from the station and wondering just how long the early sunshine is going to last, setting a course to the east, which isn't the easiest of route once you consider the bowl in which the town centre is located, tracing a route that seems awfully familiar, up the single street with four names past the Woolshops Shopping centre, the Royal Mail depot and the Bus Station, to meet Northgate by the Halifax Vue, which leads us to North Bridge, which spans the gap below, in which Hebble Brook roars away, by the car parks on the old GNR good yard and station sites. Away from the Dean Clough valley, we will follow the flyovers of Burdock way as we press uphill out of town, rising with New Bank road to the side of the A58, above the apartment blocks on Charlestown Road to the footbridge to the north side of the turnpike, below St Thomas's church and school in Claremount, where a fine view panoramic over the town to the south can be gained, even with the gloom gathering so early in the day. The main road to Leeds will be our route for the initial going, rising with Godley Road to pass out of the Hebble valley, under the ornately styled Godley Bridge at the crest and passing into the deep rock cutting beyond, proving that heavily engineered roads did not come with the motorways, not feeling like a road that particularly apt to being walked, despite the footway as it drops away into the lower reaches of Shibden Dale with Halifax's town soon behind us, hardly surprisingly as surely 90% of its reach and suburbia lies to the west of its ancient centre.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Huddersfield to Halifax 13/02/20

8 miles, via Highfields, Edgerton, Prince Royd, Birchencliffe, Ainley Top, Storth, Elland, 
 Elland Wood, Salterhebble, Skircoat, and the Piece Hall.

Thanks to the weather it looks like my schedule isn't going to have much space for recovery time between trips, so it's just a well that I'd only planned a short excursion for today, the sort of distance that's too short to dedicate a whole day to, not that Northern Fail are doing anything to help me along, with their services delaying my arrival into Huddersfield by a quarter hour, showing that they've really given up on their business ahead of being stripped of their franchise at the end of the month. So we alight at 10.25am, with the day's sunshine already retreating from view as we get off to an inauspicious start, finding the favoured route from St George's Square blocked by roadworks, and thus a detour take us along Railway Street and West Gate to pass over the station throat and then set a course along New North Parade, the southernmost stub of the turnpike that has been severed by the Castlegate ring road, and this doesn't present a direct way forward until we've gone under the Trinity Street underpass and emerged by the old town infirmary. Once we've passed St Patrick's RC church, New North Road finally gets us going, with the A629 finally taking us towards Halifax, leading us on among the most attractive sort of early 19th century suburbia, showing up the sort of vintage suburban front that doesn't immediately having you thinking of what Huddersfield looks like, finding the castellated Highfields Centre in its midst across the way from Holy Trinity church, and adjacent to the overstated Congregational chapel and Sunday school, as we press on through Victorian townhouse to the Blacker Road corner. Beyond, things get a whole lot leafier as Edgerton Road settles into a landscape of villas with extensive grounds and gardens along the valley edge on which it runs, taking us past the sole surviving tram stand in the town as the houses retreat away from the roadside and behind their banks of trees, which give the whole of the Halifax road a feeling of being ahistorical as none of what you might expect to see along a major town road appears in suburban Edgerton as we pass our next previous contact point at Daisy Lea Lane. It seems that nearby Lindley must provide the facilities for this part of town, and we don't meet a pub until we encounter the Cavalry Arms at the East Street corner, just across from the Mormon temple, meeting some actual vintage cottages and terraces once we hit the urban hamlet of Prince Royd, where a brewery and a brickworks once brought some industry to this lane, beyond which Huddersfield's outer suburban band can be found as we pass into Birchencliffe.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Bradford to Dewsbury 12/02/20

11.4 miles, via Adolphus Street, East Bowling, Bowling Hall & Park, West Bowling, 
 Staygate, Odsal, Low Moor, Oakenshaw, Chain Bar, Cleckheaton, Royds Park, 
  Liversedge, Heckmondwike, Staincliffe and Batley Carr.

The first few weeks of 2020 proved to be pretty dry by recent standards, so once I chose to take a break from work, the weather found it to be an excellent time to come on strong, with Atlantic Storm Ciara bringing on all the rain, causing flooding issues again over Sunday, causing major headaches for my friends in Calderdale, with rains following to blight all of Monday and Tuesday, where the only outdoors time I'll be spending involves going to the optician to see about new specs for my failing eyes. It's not until Wednesday that things look better and the early season roaming can resume, to pick up the trail that returns us in the direction of the River Calder, emerging at 10.15am under sunny skies again, setting a course south along Bridge Street and past the Leisure Exchange complex to the tangle of the A647 and A650, as beyond these lies the site of Bradford's original station on the GNR lines, Adolphus Street, which only served as a passenger terminal between 1854-67, but endured as a goods complex until 1972, and while its main buildings have long gone, where Wakefield Road now runs, a large section of its plinth endures. We follow this along Dryden Street, passing the bricked up entrance, the platform level access ramp and the retaining walls to the coal drops where small industrial units now dwell, accessing the high level by a flight of steps and passing on through the Essex Street Industrial Estate, where the St James's Wholesale Market resides on the station site, following the access lane out to the A650, which we cross via the subways to emerge by the Gurdwara on the Usher Street corner, where we progress on past the Bowling Park primary school, and elevate among the industrial units on Barnard Road to pass under the Bowling - Laisterdyke line, under one of the many bridges on the alignment Bradford avoiding that's been closed since 1964. We then ascend through what could be the confusing rabbit warren of terraces and semis of East Bowling, but we've prepped a route to lead us up and along Paley, Brassey and Flockton Roads to land us at the top on Brompton Avenue, which leads us to Bolling Hall, one of the definitively oldest houses in Bradford, of medieval, 17th and 18th century vintages having endured on site since the 11th century,  famously featuring as a Royalist base during the English Civil War and the siege of Bradford in 1643, and now in City ownership as a museum and library. A fine place for a bit of historic transportation away from the contemporary surroundings as you pace around the gardens, and then continue the trip into the greenery of the past as our route leads us into Bowling Park, Bradford's green lung, high to its south, where we pace through the wild gardens and playing fields on the way over to Parkside Road on the eastern edge of West Bowling.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Huddersfield to Bradford 08/02/20

10.9 miles, via Hillhouse, Fartown, Fell Greave Woods, Bradley Bar, Toothill, Brighouse, 
 Bonegate, Bailiff Bridge, Lower Wyke, Wyke, Moorside, Hilltop, Odsal, Bankfoot, 
  and West Bowling.

My traditional February break from work lands, and for the first time in five years I'll be spending it all at home, as previous years have had me away to visit My Parents, but with Dad having passed away last year and with Mum having some Winter sun in Malta this, I've got all of it to use for my own entertainment, getting my ninth season of walking going by firmly welding it to the terrain of 2019's wandering as we build an early season framework in the eastern edge of the territory that I intend to explore over the coming nine months. Thus we hit the first Saturday of the year, where sunshine still pours through ahead of Storm Ciara bringing on all the Winter weather that we haven't experienced over the last six weeks, landing ourselves at Huddersfield station at a little after 9.50am, thanks to some strange train alignments, marching ourselves boldly across St George's square with a trajectory to the north in mind, leading us past the very closed George Hotel and onto John William street, where we pace along to the old Empire cinema, and meet Viaduct Street, which leads us along the elevated railway that leads into the station from the north. It really is the hidden engineering marvel of the city, far too easy to not acknowledge properly as you travel, which we follow out behind Tesco to the inner ring road, which we cross at the Castlegate - Southgate junction to join the side of the A641 Northgate, as we strike away from the town centre, past the car dealerships and under the noticeably widened railway bridge above, where our path becomes the Bradford Road, which already announces our destination for the day as we start our rise, among the terrace parades on the way up through the urban district of Hillhouse. More stone terraces and low-rise flats fill the roadside beyond the Halifax Old Road corner, leading us on towards Fartown where the Railway Inn announces the proximity of the old MR Newtown Goods line, the contemporary Birkby - Bradley greenway in its Heckmondwike-esque cutting, all located a short way below the Fartown Green corner where we bust through my circular route around the town from last year, and hit the real rise of the road as it pushes out through Huddersfield's suburbia. Less than two miles out and the banks of woodlands that apron the hills to the north start to make themselves apparent, filling in the roadside around Ash Brow Mills and the Asda superstore on all the sections of land that have proved too steep for suburban development, where we take our last looks back into the Colne Valley, before we rise on, to meet the ancient Fell Greave woods, where the Kirklees brought us back in 2014, beyond which the suburban and literal top of Huddersfield can be found at Bradley Bar.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Out of the Dark Season and Onwards!

New Walking Duds
for the 2020 Season!
A month on in 2020, and we're all still here, which is a relief, and with another Dark Season retreating into memory and the usable weeks of the year looming large, it's time to get back into the idea of walking for fun (and profit?) in 2020, as the first year of my Five Year Plan to get all of West Yorkshire's remaining corners and trails properly explored before I turn 50 comes into focus. Still, we've got on off-season to look back on before we set off full tilt into Season #9 of this ongoing odyssey, and it hasn't proved to be as inactive a break as I might have anticipated, as my supposed sit-down role at work has proved to be much more active than was suggested, as the need to provide cover for the Medical Records distribution, and the amount of bulk materials still being delivered on site mean that I'm not sat so much that my job immediately poses too much risk of me getting under-exercised and overweight. Thus we are alighting on the new season feeling like I'm physically ready to get going, not feeling too bloated at a measurement weight of 74.8k, a good three kilos lighter than I was at the same jump off point a year ago, and feeling mentally prepared for the fresh challenges, after only three stretches of an hour plus during the past twelve weeks of relative hibernation. They all came in around the festive season, one being the annual(ish) excursion out to Birstall retail park from Morley, which came ahead of Christmas, which we did about as low key as possible, with me hosting Mum at mine over the holiday day, before tripping over to Bolton to visit My Sister and family over the following weekend, where a circuit of Entwistle Reservoir filled out the useful exercise quota, before my traditional trip to Calderdale for New Year landed, opening 2020 with a trip out to the reservoirs around the head of the Ryburn, right at the heart of the terrain that this year's wandering should be headed. It wasn't a bad season for new additions to the walking gear pile either, landing another new wicking vest to replace the medium-sized ones that I rather boldly fill out these days, scoring many more pairs of socks to replace the ones that have either worn beyond use or proved not entirely suitable, and having finally gotten a new pair of Craghoppers to replace the two pairs that have been retired to a cupboard in Leicester, which are hoped to prove as durable as my most enduring trousers, which will be bravely entering their 16th(!) year of service as we hit the trails next week.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

The Conclusions of 2019

Wrapping the 2019 walking season
at Berry Brow station.
My eighth walking year concludes, and we thus settle into another Dark Season to contemplate the passage of another year into history, and this time around, at the end of 2019, I have to change my familiar declaration, as this time around, we didn't all make it and we aren't all here to see the start of the third decade of the 21st century. So again we ponder what we have learned in the last twelve months, and the main truth has been that 2019 has been a rough year that I do not care to see a repeat of, as it has brought me personal upheaval the like of which I haven't experienced in decades, maybe a whole lifetime, if we're being honest with ourselves. I've pretty much said I that needs to be publicly stated on the subject of bereavement, as after eleven months, the passing of My Dad still stings, as 77 doesn't seem to be an old age to be dying in the modern age, especially after having endured three years of aggressive degeneration of the brain beforehand, and I still lament the loss of the father that I had in the years before his mental and physical capacities drained away. His demise having come when it did in late January at least gave me the opportunity to use the whole year to work out my grief and come around to the reality of losing one of the few constant presences in my life, and the amount of practically used alone time, and the number of socially offered shoulders sent my way have both been invaluable through the year, but honestly, I'd still going to miss Dad immensely as his absence is still being acutely felt in my family life. Upheaval also came in my working life, after 20+ years of service in the Medical Records Library at Leeds General Infirmary, the storage facility was run down through the opening half of the year, reducing the core business down to a distribution hub, and my role being switched over to the library at St James's Hospital in June, where the labour was familiar but fitting into the routine of the much larger staff proved to be quite a challenge. It's not in my nature to complain about work in a public forum, for obvious reasons, but the change or work rate and culture, with me frequently being on my feet for all seven worked hours of the day proved hard to adapt to, so when the opportunity came to take up a new role on the LGI site came along in October, I grasped it firmly, to the ultimate benefit of my mental and physical well being.