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Some photographs from some future blog posts.

In 1987 I qualified as a teacher and found myself unsure of whether I wanted to spend the next thirty years teaching. Instead of applying for jobs, taking my only suit to the dry cleaners and attending interviews I played concerts with a group of dancers wrote a musical score for a Yorkshire production of Don  Quixote and set off on a journey to visit everywhere I had ever lived. This journey would have been something of a world tour of the north of England had it not been for an exodus of Barrow engineers up the north of Scotland around about 1960 to build the Dounreay Nuclear Power plant. This relocation of family life meant a few years living happily in Thurso and starting school under the rules of a Scottish education. It also added a thousand miles to my trip.

I was living in Exeter at the time I made the journey. It was the first of my long distance bike rides and like all the others was done at a time in my life when I needed to make some pretty big decisions about my future. I’ve just unearthed some packets of photographs that I took along the way and, while I can just about remember where each photograph is, I want to write up a little blog account of the journey. Any notes that I made appear to be lost so it will be some snaps and a twenty seven year old memory. If you are a follower of my travels I hope you enjoy this jaunt; if not, there’s always going to be lots of pictures of food on Saturdays.

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This is the farm above the town of Ulverston (about a thousand feet above) where I think I was happier than at any other time in my childhood. If I ever became unexpectedly rich I think I’d like to move back there.

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Or even here. This is the cottage in “The Vale of the Deadly Nightshade” where I was born on a winter night in the late 1950s. Also in the photograph is a German bicycle that took me round this adventure before being stolen from outside a Huddersfield police station. I can’t remember too much about actually living here but my parents kept the cottage until the late 70s and I spent a number of happy summers here. It is only a few hundred yards from Furness Abbey and is almost as old. In 1665 it was the centre of a plague story that rivals the more famous one in Eyam. Cloth was delivered to this house and brought along with it the fleas that wiped out half the population of Dalton in Furness.

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These photos have been scanned with a hand (wand) scanner which I’m just getting used to. Bought essentially to save me making copious notes in libraries it seems to do quite a decent job with older photographs. This shows a much younger me a quarter century in advance of the fashion for well grown beards (I didn’t take a razor on the trip), standing in front of a waterfall in Glencoe. My attitude to special cycling clothing hasn’t changed much in the intervening years. The person who took the picture was a fellow traveller. We shared tea and cake and an hour of each others stories before he continued his way up the glen and I headed for the sea. We never met again. I have no idea what he was called. For one hour of our lives we were firm friends. This is one of the joys of travelling.

Once I’ve completed my Scottish journey (I don’t envisage anything like the 110 posts it took to tell the story of the more recent trip) I want to bring my travel writing up to date with a thorough exploration of the towns and villages of the East Midlands. I intend 26 portraits of an A to Z of towns. Research is already well under way even though I haven’t (by any means) finalised the list of towns I’m going to visit. Below are a selection of photographs of towns I’ve made little reconnaissance visits to over the last couple of weeks.

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Quite a nice collection. To give some idea of how difficult the choice of towns and locations will be is that all of these photographs are from places beginning with A,B and C and I’m not altogether sure I’ve even visited the places I want to do for A and C. This is Baslow church. I’m not over keen on Baslow from a human point of view but building wise it is magnificent for so small a place.

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Is it a toll gate? I’m not sure. It’s in Baslow so I wouldn’t put it past the locals to charge you for crossing their bridge. (Locals in Baslow means they’ve lived there for over four years).

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Baslow again and once again top marks for the way properties have been renovated.

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Chesterfield’s most famous landmark.

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The town hall at Chesterfield has been likened to the Stormont buildings in Ulster. I know there is some connection between the two but don’t as yet know what it is.

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Two shots of Chesterfield town centre. Somewhere in my assorted (certainly not sorted) paperwork I’ve got a picture of Buddy Holly in the market place. If I stick with Chesterfield I will have to find it.

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Barlborough church.

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The war memorial at Barlborough.

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Ashby de la Zouch castle and below church. If I choose Ashby do I do it under A or does it fill the awkward Z slot?

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Planning permission has been sought to turn this water tower into a home. I’ll leave that one to the Ashby planners.

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Frank Matcham’s peerless opera house in Buxton. It’s even nicer inside.

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My favourite park in England. The Pavilion Gardens in Buxton.

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Ecton Hill copper paid for the Crescent at Buxton. I’ve never seen it without some major renovation scheme going ahead.

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Picture perfect English village. This one is Alstonefield.

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And three shots of Bakewell to finish off. The church. One of the original pudding shops and a collection of coffins, Derbyshire style. I like the way the person who laid the recent flagstones preferred cutting around them rather than lifting them.

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