Whaley Bridge: Visiting Rick

When I come to the UK I usually drop in and visit Mum’s cousin Angela and her husband, Rick. I’ve never been great at keeping in contact with family and I usually send them an email a couple of months before I arrive to see if they are free.

This time when I checked my email for their address I found an email from Rick telling me that Angela had died two years prior from cancer. It was quite a shock, as I knew she had been recovering from chemo and breast cancer prior to our last visit but had seemed in reasonable health. Angela was always a very energetic person and somehow I just expected her to always be there.

Rick invited me to come visit (although actually I might have invited myself) but Rick is an absolutely delightful person, a retired Church of Scotland minister, and it was lovely to have the chance to go and see him.

I caught the train from Oxenholme to Whaley Bridge, which is in the Peak District. In terms of beauty it is, in my opinion, second only to Cumbria. Rick picked me up from the station (I’d missed my first train and had to take later trains but didn’t have to buy extra tickets thanks to the very nice ticket collectors) an hour later than expected and we went back to his house, which sits on the side of a hill just out of town.

It was built around 1890 so by English standards it’s almost brand new.

After a cup of tea we picked up Teal, Rick’s spaniel, who I’d first met on my last trip, and took a drive to the little church and cemetery where Angela was buried.

I don’t even know that I could say I knew Angela very well, we only spent a few days together every five years or so, but she was very kind and generous and a lovely person to be around.

It did occur to me that outside of my immediate family, despite being on the opposite side of the world, Angela and Rick were the family members I saw most after Mum’s parents died. I have two cousins in NSW and Mum has a sister, Vivian, but I never see much of them and even less of Dad’s side of the family. I’ve always assumed most families were like this but Luke’s family (he had 10 aunts and uncles in total) is the complete opposite – always in contact and there’s so many of them! My first Christmases with his family were quite a shock to the system!

I hope Rick will correct me if I’ve got this wrong, but the tower of the church was built in the 13th century, the rest is a Victorian addition.

We then went back to the house and I offered to take Teal for a little walk. Being on trains all day, I wanted to stretch my legs. Teal wasn’t super keen to leave Rick behind, but I dragged him along a bit and as we got up the laneway behind the house there was a lovely view.

Then a lady came along with three border collies off lead. Teal was very friendly with them and the lady and I stood there talking about dogs for about half an hour.

Then another couple came along with their three dogs!

They had a terrier puppy with a very unusual coat.

After a good sniff around Teal was happy to head back the 200 metres to home.

In the evening Rick and I went to the local pub for dinner, where both of us managed to drop food on the floor, although I like to think I did the most damage with my molten Brie.

It was a lovely old pub which had recently been done up. Mysteriously, they kept the original name.

Very cosy!

We talked a lot about travel. Rick is going on a cruise with family next week to Spain, then he is off to Iceland a couple of months later. The following day we talked about the possibility of Rick come to Australia next year!

I had a lovely evening and came back to sit on the couch and pat Teal. It was nice to have some dog time as I am missing Bonnie but seeing dogs everywhere!

The following morning, after an excellent night’s sleep, we had breakfast then did a bit of gardening before Rick took me back to the station. I don’t think Rick could believe I actually wanted to sweep up leaves and do some out door work, but when I travel I miss doing domestic things and it was like scratching an itch. Also I was going to be sitting on public transport for about eight hours so I was glad to be doing something physical.

Now I’m part way through my journey to Stansted airport, which has entailed a train to Stockport, a change at Sheffield, a bus to London Victoria and then I’ll find a way to get to the airport.

Goodbye until next time, Whaley Bridge!
A fish in Sheffield.
There was some writing on the cream wall…
If you can be bothered zooming in it’s a beautiful poem.

I was going to leave it there for today’s post but I just had a noteworthy experience at the bus stop.

It wasn’t the architecture of the bus stop though, tell me this building isn’t missing a 25 metre pool and the smell of chlorine.

I waited a while for the bus and then wandered out with my big backpack when it looked like people were boarding. One of the bus drivers said he’d put my big bag under the bus and so I pulled out my little backpack and threw my puzzle book and my copy of The Idler on the ground while I did up the straps.

Both the bus men noticed The Idler and commented on it, one was in favour and one was not. Was got into a conversation on the value of occasionally being idle and then one of the drivers started reciting a poem to me about expectations and ambition. The poem would have been hundreds of words long and it was fantastic.

He said it was his own poem and he loved writing poetry. I commented on the giant poem I’d seen on the building nearby and he performed another poem, then we talked about friendship (I was going to ask if he shared his poems with a partner or friends) but he said he didn’t have any friends because they let you down. He then proceeded to perform another poem and then told me he had 102 poems that he had composed but they were all memorised, none of them written down.

The other driver looked quite gobsmacked – this was the first he’d heard about the poetry. I thought it was very entertaining and very unexpected! I said he should perform some over the loudspeaker on the bus but he didn’t look keen.

So, one hour in Sheffield but quite a memorable experience!

Next stop: London Victoria Coach Station

2 thoughts on “Whaley Bridge: Visiting Rick

  1. Wow imagine the inner life of that driver, he must love words and search for just the right one to use. He must have an incredible memory and I’m a little sad that he isn’t going to be leaving a volume of his poetry behind when he passes.
    Families are strange aren’t they, I can trace both sides back to the Battle of Argincourt and know a lot of the ones surviving but Tim’s dad was one of 4 sons, he and his older brother were in the RAAF and came out after WW2 to dismantle some of the airfields when he met Honor’s. although that brother stayed in Australia for 10 or so years he returned to Wales and drowned( suspected suicide). He didn’t however keep in touch with the other two and Tim doesn’t even know his great grandparents names. Honor’s was an only child so their family was just a tight little group that didn’t seem to need or want interaction with anyone else.

    • Families are so interesting! You think your own is normal then you realise they all have their quirks. I couldn’t have been more fortunate with Luke’s family, who are very tight knit but my family sounds like Tim’s!

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