It was going to be a very long wait. The waiting room at the hospital was full to bursting and the long faces said it all. I tried to brighten the mood by commenting I had found a magazine for November … this year … wow! An old lady opposite beamed at me and seeing the front cover picture was of the Dales asked me what had happened to Hannah Hauxwell as she had seen nothing of her in the news. I replied I did not know. She then told me she was brought up in Barnoldswick (known as Bar’lick to anyone who lives there). Her dad was the milk man and she was the youngest of three sisters. Every morning at 4 am they were up and the first stop was at Hartley’s farm. Every morning her dad had to shout to wake ‘Billy’ up. It was his job to fill their milk churn and place it on the wooden barrow her dad pushed. Once back in the town her dad pushed the barrow up and down the cobbled streets. At this point she stopped and asked herself why she was telling me all this but the whole room was fascinated and a few encouraging smiles persuaded her to carry on. At each house he knocked on the door and went right on in to fill the jug left out on the table. He remembered each house’s measure – a gill, a quart or a pint. In the summer they left a bucket out on the step to keep the milk cool. At four o’ clock in the afternoon they did another round. She said that eventually her dad bought a horse called Bess to pull but sadly her dad died early and her mother was left with the three young girls. She trained up as a weaver at Bannisters mill. thank you Mrs Shackleton – I loved listening to your story.
I am nearly ready with black button boots, long wool coat trimmed with velvet and matching hat … As a hobby I make the clothes for ventriloquist puppets. In today’s outing the Sultan of Khaidalu, Mr Jinx and a vicar will accompany me to the Steampunk Festival in Haworth. They are all suitably dressed. The Sultan of Khaidalu has swopped his massive turban for a stovepipe hat, decorated with Victorian ribbon and 2 feathers – one bright red, donated by my parrot, Lils, and the other, copper black from one of my hens. I always loved dressing up and have wardrobes full of harp costumes – Elizabethan, Georgian, medieval etc and when I am out playing my harp people come up to me and ask if I would like a box of ribbons or buttons which they were just about to throw out. I treasure each button and keep them in old tins on the kitchen shelf. My kitchen is very different as it is the hub of all my creativity. Harps get made on the table, there is usually a sewing project on the go and in and amongst the cooking gets done!
The largest dormitory at school had 36 beds in it. There were 6 beds on each side of three large rooms each separated by a large archway. Each bed had a small chest of drawers in between and on the corridor outside of the ‘dorms’ were the ‘wardrobes’. These consisted of homemade contraptions by the nuns with arched roofs and curtains along the sides. At the end of term concert we dragged these down the stairs and placed a chair underneath and the senior nuns had to sit underneath them in sort of daft understated splendour. When the nights began to get dark and we couldn’t play outside in the huge gardens and woods we got bored. We weren’t allowed TV, record players or radios but we were allowed pets – rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters. We decided to bring all the rabbits up to the dorm to keep warm and hid them at the bottom of our beds when the nuns came round to check and turn lights out. We waited a safe 10 minutes for the nuns to go to their last service of the day (Complin) and then got the rabbits out to play. When we got tired we put the rabbits back into our beds and went to sleep. In the morning we were all surprised and almost hysterical when we discovered all the bunnies had gone. We found them outside the dorm huddled in one of the bathrooms. We sneaked them outside to the pet shelter before assembly. A few weeks later there was a flurry or baby bunnies – the nuns were puzzled and called the ‘odd-job-man’ to check all the cages…
Tonight as I locked up I could hear the roar of the waterfall going down the Goit just across the field. Dennis, the goat is living in the wood there at the moment eating the remains of the wild Iris and blackberries. He has a little wooden house that I drag around for him. The Goit is a deep mysterious place. The village kids dare eachother to try and walk up it. It is possible but you battle brambles and such slippy shale that you invariably slip straight back into the stream if you try. I have lost my footing and slipped the full 15 foot or so down the steep side straight into the stream. It is normally quite shallow and rocky. Old builder’s bags and feed bags, buckets and bottles find their way in there and I clear them out, but after a heavy rainfall it changes into a torrent of brown water taking any loose rocks or debris. The waterfall drops about 10 foot and from the other side is a vantage point at the side of the track. So many people have stopped a while to lean on the wall and look that the wall has worn smooth. Well tonight I am finishing another paper mache head. It will be made into a puppet eventually but there is hours of work ahead. The harps Chorus and Copernicus have started to ‘sing’. At the moment they sound beautiful but only a glimpse of their full potential. I reckon by next Summer they will sound so rich.
Having got dressed up for a Samhain gig it seemed apt to go out into the woods and take some photos. I sat on the stump of the great Scots Pine which had to be felled last year. Just behind was a stunning group of red and white spotty toadstools – absolutely massive and perfect, just like an illustration out of my favourite books as a child, Allison Utley Little Grey Rabbit series. The gusts of wind affected the video sound and sprayed the harp with tiny leaves and twigs so we moved inside! There are some new photos and videos on Facebook – Fiona Katie Roberts.