Monday, 16 September 2013


So here I am in the cheapest hotel in Leeds having had a marvellous day! The train journey was, unsurprisingly  awful. I don't know what it is with me and trains but lots of fat people got on with me at Kings Cross, and then one of them sat next to me, and properly hemmed me in. He sweated. I sweated. It was like being in a sauna. He got prayer beads out and started muttering. I didn't know where to look. The train came to a halt outside Peterborough and only dislodged itself 40 minutes later. Every announcement started "once again we apologise for the delay..." I heard every excuse from "heavy traffic on the rail diversion" to "planned engineering work lasting longer than expected..." (surely thereby making the planned engineering works unplanned engineering works?)

Anyway, we got there soon enough, I met Jeremy Walker, head of the National Youth Music Theatre, and we went to look at the Leeds Varieties Music Hall which has to be one of the most beautiful theatres I've ever seen. I instantly fell in love.

I checked into my hotel - just opposite the train station - which happens to have the most beautiful deep bath in it, thereby not just making it the cheapest hotel in Leeds but very much the answer to my prayers! Until the Internet, which cost £8 for 24 hours refused to work! 

A lovely lady called Carole picked me up from the train station at about 4pm and we drove out to the fields around Crossgates, which once housed an enormous munitions factory called Barnbow, where the infamous Barnbow Lassies hung out.  The weather threw everything at us; torrential rain, heavy wind, brooding purple and brown clouds and then beautiful sunshine as we got out of the car.

The Barnbow factory site was demolished in the 1920s and has slowly returned to nature. It's really very pretty. Rolling farmland for miles. A photographer from the Yorkshire Evening Post met us to take our photograph. The hope is that the good folk of Leeds will get behind my search for information about the Leeds Pals and the Barnbow Lassies. 

As we drove away from the site, I saw my first ever hare lolloping along the side of the road. It had unexpectedly large ears and didn't seem to be at all frightened of the car! 

We went back to Carole's house. She cooked me a wonderful omelette and a mushroom soup and I raided her mind for every piece of information I thought I might need. She also had maps and all sorts of things about the site itself. I liked her enormously.

I came back to my hotel, had a hot bath and am now exhausted. Time for bed.

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