I had a nice visit to Colin’s a couple of weekends ago. He’s not that far from Darlington (Darlo to the locals), but on the Yorkshire side of the border from County Durham. Having done all sorts of jobs in his life he is now throwing himself into being the odd-jobbing delivery man at Paddock Farm Garden Centre owned by a couple of his friends. Mark and Janet have only recently taken the place over and are doing a great job in building up the business. The weekend I was visiting they had a Christmas Fair on, and Colin was car park attendant for the two days! Not just any old car park attendant either as he was dressed up - not as an elf or Santa Claus, oh no - but as a turkey, in a costume Janet had found on a recent trip to the German markets. He was in his element, and if there were no cars to direct, he was up by the road to wave at all the passing cars! He even encouraged a few to stop to find out what was going on!
One of the greenhouses and a polytunnel were filled with craft stalls. Something for everybody! There were some quite unusual craftworkers there, as well as cardmakers and toymakers. I must give Hippy Lizard a plug! She had some beautiful bits and pieces – purses and bags, fancy brooch pins and jewellery, and she herself looked very funky in her beautiful woolly poolly (or should that be pully?) with matching necklace of zipper pulls!
I bought a pretty purple velvet drawstring money-purse from Libbie, and a painted flowerpot, complete with poinsettia plant from another stallholder called Mike who sported a long straggly goatee beard and had a really jolly smile. He and his partner were in a corner of the greenhouse, with the sun shining brightly through the glass behind him so of course everyone looking at his painted plaques and pots brought their hands up to shield their eyes! “There’s no need to salute me!” he quipped “Everyone’s saluting me for some reason! Don’t know why!”
I would love to have bought some of the unique and striking jewellery from Kathryn Guy. Turns out, by the way, she’s related to folk I used to know in my Yorkshire Dales life – twenty-five and more years ago ! I can’t believe I’ve been here in Peebles for 25 years – cos yes, I have! Kathryn doesn’t have a website of her own but exhibits in the Showcase Gallery in Richmond – the Yorkshire one – and is on their website. I adored her necklaces of machine embroidered flowers. You’ll see one on her page! Couldn’t afford it – and besides, when would I ever wear something so pretty and delicate? I’m not a getting-dressed-up-and-going-out-to-parties type of person! But I do covet those necklaces!
There was entertainment on offer as well. I actually missed the choir, as I met a woman in the cafe who thought she knew me. Funnily enough I thought I knew her face too. It turned out she had worked in one of the Swaledale hotels I used to frequent now and again, but I couldn’t think that I’d have remembered her from then. However we spent so much time chatting about the folk up in the dale that I missed the choir I was looking forward to listening to. I managed to hear the last couple of songs from the choir of ten from a local primary school though. They were sweet – as you’d imagine!
Then the big act followed! Elvis – in person – at Paddock Farm! He was very good – and I’m not an Elvis fan – and smouldered and girated his hips to the great approval of his audience. Later I caught him talking and singing with young Garry,who had completely missed the point of him being an Elvis impersonator and wanted him to sing some Cold Play songs. In the end they sang Jingle Bells and We wish you a Merry Christmas together! I thought that was so nice of “Elvis”!
Santa Claus, or Father Christmas if you prefer, put in an appearance too and I had to smile when I found him later at the checkout – with his fingers in the till. Don’t worry! He was staff, taking money from the customers!
Inside the shop a table had been laid out with bits and pieces for children to make Christmas tree decorations with. Great concentration in this photo as one of Santa’s elves looks on, advising and admiring!
Over in the work sheds behind the scenes I found Ian and Mark making Christmas wreaths! I can’t remember how many they had to make. It was certainly in the higher hundreds! Winding wire round the greenery onto ring bases looks pretty hard work, and that was only the beginning! Later they added in the holly, pinecones and ribbons, also wrapped with wire. Still they looked pretty good when they were done. Shame the sun was a bit too bright in this photo, and guess who they’d had hopping around the shed to entertain them – a very tame robin!
While I was in the area I managed to catch up with a couple of my old friends from Swaledale. Yvonne and I had worked together in the CB hotel in Arkengarthdale, and Lynne lived across the road from me in the village. Both have married and moved away from the upper dale but have both ended up in the same village just off the A1 – the Great North Road. Well, Yvonne actually lives right on the old Great North Road – much quieter now as the traffic doesn’t roar past their door any more.
It was a good weekend, marred only by the first snow of the winter, which had me setting off for home earlier than I might have, so I could get over Carter Bar in the Cheviot Hills in daylight. Carter Bar marks the border between England and Scotland right on top of the hill, and in the summer the car parks, one on either side of the road, are thronged with bus- and car-loads of people anxious to have their photos taken beside the SCOTLAND sign. I wonder how many actually have their pictures taken on the side that says ENGLAND? It seems to me it’s the other side that’s the main attraction! Anyway, nothing was happening that day as I drove from one country to the other, and about an hour and a half later I was home again.
…and just because I haven’t put in a photo for a bit, here’s Esme, Colin’s cat, a final picture before I go!
Oh and remember the woman in the cafe, back at Paddock Farm? I saw her doppelganger in the High Street the other day! I hadn’t remembered the Yorkshire lady at all! She just looked like someone I know from up here!
Talk again soon.