A Jaunt to Halifax

Just when I thought work was going into a lull, it picked up again. 2016 was all about travel, but 2017 needs to be a bit more work focused. So I’m glad there isn’t too much around here to distract me, just enough to give me a change of scenery if I need it. I haven’t been able to take a full day off, but a half day to run into Halifax was doable. I got up super early compared to what my schedule has been and was able to do three hours of work by 10:30 so that even with a stop at Barclay’s, I was on the 10:47 bus. I was pleased that a day rider is just £4 considering that a single into Halifax is £3.

Halifax was a centre of woollen manufacture from the 15th century onward. There’s really not much there from a touristy point of view, which was confirmed when I stopped in at the visitor centre behind the bus station (it’s in the library). I was irked to learn that the one thing I had planned to do was closed today, which I had not noticed on their website. Augh.

Like everywhere else I’ve seen in the area, Halifax is a modern town fitted into Victorian buildings. Even new construction has to fit into this aesthetic. I’m a fan of the programme “Grand Designs,” so I know how much work it takes to get planning permission to build in a more modern style pretty much anywhere into the UK.

Halifax’s shopping core is compact and has the expected assortment of shops.

I found the Borough Market, dating back to the Victorian era. It had a surprisingly Mexican feel to it.

Here’s a bit of the exterior of the market.

I love pub names…

Just a regular old bank. I am pleased that this architectural style isn’t something I’m used to yet.

Here’s another side of the market.

Halifax town hall.

I decided to go to my closed destination as I suspected there would be enough to do outdoors to make the one-mile trek there worthwhile. First, I stopped for lunch at a decent and very reasonably priced Chinese buffet restaurant. I tried some new things, like Mongolian style beef and duck. I was really impressed by the variety and quality of the food, especially the abundance of veggies and fruits. Then, off I went across the North Bridge.

On the other side, I saw my friend Vicki’s dream car. Can you spot it?

How about now?

Double decker buses aren’t exclusive to London.

I started to climb high above Halifax along a busy motorway. The walk was pedestrian friendly, but not obvious. I would sometimes take what I thought was a footpath and then have to double back to try a different approach as the roadway split many times and I’d find myself on the wrong side with no place to cross.

It had been sunny when I arrived, but the promised rain was rolling in and it was getting colder.

I spotted a church on a hill.

I love this billboard’s message.

The city quickly gave way to a rural landscape filled with sheep.

See the sheep looking straight at me? It was a little unnerving.

And voilà, Shibden Hall!

The earliest parts of this home date all the way back to the 1420s and it was heavily renovated by Anne Lister in the early 1800s to be more like what a proper Tudor home should be. Anne Lister is considered the “first modern lesbian.” I didn’t think I’d heard of her, but now I’m pretty sure I saw a Sue Perkins thing where she talks about her. Yup, I sure did.

I arrived at the West Terraces. From a plaque: “The West Terraces were constructed, along with the South Terrace, by John Harper as part of the improvements he designed for Anne Lister in 1836. Surrounded by mature trees, the Terraces are cut into the natural slope of the landscape and have stone retaining walls.” They held an orchard with all sorts of fruits with different growing seasons so there could be fruit throughout much of the year.

Anne had this Gothic tower added to the house and it became her library.

The gate at the back of the house was open, so I thought surely it would be okay to have a poke around…

I love the giant stone toadstools.

Well, just as I was heading back to wards the gate, a guy came out of the house to tell me they are closed. I apologised and said I was just trying to see as much of the exterior as I could since I hadn’t realised they were closed on Fridays. He sighed and said that he was waiting for a school group to come back, so why didn’t I come in and have a peek at the interior? Just a peek, though! What a nice guy!!!!

He led me into a hallway with dark wood panelled walls and a low ceiling. I was able to see a fairly standard Victorian kitchen. He then told me I could go look at the most interesting room in the house, to him anyway, a formal sitting room off the main hall. It had much higher ceilings. He explained that the original 1420 stuff is all there, but basically buried by Anne’s renovations. He showed me how the old beams were covered with planks to make them seem bigger and how one of the reasons for the lower ceilings was to make the rooms easier to heat. This is where he told me all that stuff about Anne Lister that I recounted above and that the house is only a museum now and there are no residents.

Obviously, he was doing me a huge favour and I didn’t want to take advantage, so I thanked him and headed out. It sucks that I didn’t get to see the whole property, but at least I didn’t go all the way out there for nothing. Some people are so kind!

It was almost two when I got back into Halifax and I was surprisingly rather footsore and tired. I blame all the hills and stairs in this area. It’s really not hard to get a good amount of exercise even when walking a short distance. I thought of maybe getting a coffee, but went down to the bus station to see when my next bus home would be. Well, there was one right there about to pull out, so I decided to get on.

The ride home was a bit faster than the ride in had been since there wasn’t as much traffic, but it was still almost 40 minutes. I didn’t see anything on either ride that I felt I need to go back out and explore.

I can’t believe I have less than a week left here! This time next week, I’ll be back in Manchester and on my way to my next assignment!

In Which I Visit the Original Halifax and Try Nando’s

Last night, I headed to Halifax, about nine miles away, to see the Sherlock finale at the cinema. Getting there was super easy. I walked about 15 minutes to the bus stop on the other side of town and the bus was right on schedule at 6:47. The cost for one-way was £3. The driver asked me if I was returning to Hebden because if I was, a day pass would be better value. So that’s good to know. But I was definitely not taking the bus back since I got offered a lift home at the 11th hour! Literally, as the person contacted me at eleven yesterday morning.

It was about a half-hour drive into Halifax. It was so dark out I couldn’t see much, of course. The bus station is right across from the cinema, so that was very convenient. I arrived around 7:20 and the show started at 8:45, but I was meeting my ride around 8:30. Since the buses only run every hour on Sundays, I hadn’t wanted to take a chance on the 7:47 bus in case I missed it, so that’s why I arrived so early. I’d done some research and knew I had several options around the cinema for dinner to kill some time.

I’d read a lot about the Nando’s chain of chicken-centred restaurants and its cult following. So that was my first choice when I saw one open. It’s sort of half fast-food, half family-type restaurant. You get greeted by a server who will seat you and give you a menu, but you have to go to the counter to order and pay, then grab your cutlery. The server then brings you your order when it’s ready. The menu was more extensive than I expected and they had beer! It was insanely expensive (almost £4), but a meal with two sides was reasonably priced (about £8) and I was getting a free lift home, so I decided to get one. I picked this 2M, which is manufactured in Mozambique especially for Nando’s.

It was fantastic. Very crisp and flavourful with no hint of bitterness. If I am going to pay almost four quid for a beer, this is the quality I expect.

For dinner, I picked a quarter chicken with breast, medium spicy; garlic bread; and their “supergrain,” which had stuff like quinoa, other ancient grains, beans, and mint in it. The sauce was avocado and yoghurt based.

The chicken was a huge disappointment, very dry, and the flavour of the marinade didn’t permeate the flesh. It wasn’t spicy at all. A feature of Nando’s is that there are several sauces you can try, so I went with their medium spicy hot sauce and their lemon herb. They really perked up the chicken, but when I go to a place that specialises in chicken, I think the meat should stand on its own.

I found it hard to pick my sides. Since I had quinoa in the supergrain mix, I didn’t want rice and their fries are of the frozen variety. I debated going for corn on the cob or mashed potatoes, but I haven’t had garlic bread in ages and it sounded good. I was very happy with the choice as the bun was lovely.

Now, the supergrain mix, which I picked as it seemed healthy. That would get me back to a Nando’s in a heartbeat! I cannot believe how delicious it was. I felt like I had dropped into another class of restaurant, it was so flavourful and fresh. You can do the supergrain as a salad with chicken on top and that is what I would do if I ended up needing to eat at a Nando’s again.

The portions were really generous (the supergrain alone was almost a meal!) and I felt like I got my money’s worth for what I paid. But I really wasn’t wowed by Nando’s and I don’t get what the fuss is all about. I’m so glad I had a chance to try it out, though, and assuage my curiosity!

Dinner done, it was about eight. I went into the cinema to collect my ticket and wait for my ride to show up so we could make introductions. That done, it was time to go in. I was surprised by how empty the theatre was, but thrilled that I’d decided to see the episode on the big screen as it had a really cinematic feel to it, plus there was a bonus thing before the episode featuring my current favourite character on the show.

The show ended a bit earlier than I expected so I probably could have made the bus back if I hoofed it, but it was nice to not have that stress hanging over my head while I was immersed in watching the episode. The couple driving me home were going through Hebden and said they would drop me within the village limits, but would not go out of their way. What wound up working for both of us was them dropping me off at the bus stop! So that turned out super well and since it was a very mild night, I enjoyed the walk uphill to home.

So that was a fun night out! And, yes, I do plan to go back to Halifax for a day trip. 🙂