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Showing posts from August, 2019

Hub Of The High Hills....

The Tan Hill Inn is the highest pub in the country. At 1,732ft above sea level it stands in splendid, windswept, isolation beside the Pennine Way, miles from anywhere. The nearest village is Keld in Swaledale, around 5 miles to the south, whilst a similar distance but a world away to the north the busy A66 ferries vehicles between Yorkshire and Cumbria,. Leaving the A66, the Tan Hill is approached via a narrow road which winds its way through open moorland, switching one way and then the other until you pass a derelict farm building at the bottom of a dip, and then reaching the brow of the hill, a building appears on the horizon. A Yorkshire flag flaps in the incessant wind. Beside the building is an encampment of camper vans and cars, whilst beyond on the other side, down a slope below the pub is a camp site. And along with those who have arrived on foot, via the Pennine Way, the place is busy, a hub, a destination, a welcoming respite from the wind and whatever else the

Festivals and Celebrations at the Keys and Calan's....

It was the Great British Beer Festival at Olympia last week, and by all accounts, visitor numbers were down quite significantly on last year's figures. But when you think about it, holding a festival in central London in the middle of summer is not the best idea, with the cost - and time - required to get there, accommodation, and meals, and that's before you even sip your first beer, enough to put a lot of people off. And when you have a great beer festival on your doorstep at around about the same time, why would you bother traipsing all the way down to London? The festival I am talking about was this year's Cross Keys Beer Festival, at Siddal, near Halifax, which was held last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and where scores of happy people drank some great beers and ciders, ate, chatted, laughed, and listened to some excellent music during a memorable weekend at the friendly and popular pub. Some people had though travelled a good few miles to be there; one of

Pinning the Tale on the Donkeystones....

A meeting in a village pub, followed by a visit to a brewery tap.... The White Hart is situated in the lovely hilltop Saddleworth village of Lydgate, an imposing 18th century building opposite the church. It is a very popular pub and restaurant, with rooms and function suite, and with sweeping views over the neighbouring hills and beyond towards Manchester, a very desirable location for weddings, prom nights, and other events.  It was raining when I pulled into the car park, navigating around a number of imaginatively-parked sprawling 4x4's. As I approached the entrance, I noticed that the appendage 'at Lydgate' was tagged on to the name. This has always seemed to me to be a pointless affectation, pretentious to say the least. You don't get the pubs of Manchester or Wakefield or Derby getting up to that trick! So as I entered, my route to the busy bar blocked by a human corridor of old guys, I had low expectations. But, you should never pre-judge. The guys rea

From The Gravel Road to The Cobbled Streets....

A couple of timeless classics converge deep in the Pennines.... Twenty Years Ago, Lucinda Williams released the album,  Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. Blending country and rock in a style we now call Americana , it was not only the breakthrough release for the singer-songwriter from Lake Charles, Louisiana, but a hugely-significant album that has had a major influence on so many artists. With a stellar line-up of backing musicians including the likes of Steve Earle, Buddy Miller, Ray Kennedy, and Roy Bittan, it is an absolute classic, a favourite of many, an album that even now rewards with something new on every listen. Last Thursday I was one of the privileged few hundred souls who descended on the Picturedrome in Holmfirth to catch Lucinda Williams reprising the album at one of the few dates on a short tour of the UK which only comprised additional gigs in Brighton, Bristol, and Birmingham. So it was a massive coup for the former cinema in the picturesque town a few miles sout