Heptonstall is a little village on a steep hill in the Yorkshire Calder Valley overlooking the lively, Bohemian town of Hebden Bridge. The ascent from Hebden valley is not for the faint-hearted; from the comfort of my seat on the bus I watched with admiration as we overtook those who rose to the occasion and ascended on foot. I reflected with a mixture of pity and awe on how the pack horses of yesteryear must have faced that steep climb to the weavers’ cottages before the arrival of the waterwheels which would later power the multitude of mills which sprang up in the region.



The middle of the village still has its original cobbled streets. The old cottages are quirky; artistic flair oozes out of the very mortar. Like Hebden Bridge in the valley below, Heptonstall has reinvented itself, with many residents having moved there to live the rural idyll in an ancient stone cottage . On the periphery of the village are newer, more affordable housing developments. Old village in the new; new village in the old. This is a reinterpreted 21st century English village with a lot of history.


Just off Northgate is the octagonal Methodist chapel, famed as the oldest in the world in continuous use. It is a venue for social occasions and arts events as well as religious worship. A plaque proudly announces that Rev John Wesley, the founder of Wesleyan Methodism, preached there in 1786. Nobody was around when I visited, so I sat for a while enjoying the view of the valley.



The old former grammar school has been turned into a small but interesting museum which houses some fascinating items such as the headmaster’s desk and tables etched with the names of naughty school boys who sat in that classroom 200 years earlier, now probably old bones in the adjacent graveyard.





Heptonstall has two parish churches: the original, dedicated to St. Thomas a Becket, was built in the 13th century. During a ferocious storm in 1847, part of the building was badly damaged, and although repairs were made it was decided that a new church would be built.   The present church of St. Thomas the Apostle stands just metres away at the other side of the graveyard. The shell of the old church is a special place for me; a peaceful spot where I love to sit and listen to the gentle sounds of life and experience a sense of timelessness amongst the pillars and glassless windows. The clock face was removed and reinstalled in the new church; here time stands still.






Ancient tomb stones, crooked and with inscriptions now faded, stretch out between the old church and the new. One marks the grave of ‘King David’ Hartley, the leader of the infamous ‘Coiners’, a gang of counterfeiters who outsmarted the authorities for years. The Coiners supplemented their incomes as weavers through a dodgy scheme which involved scraping tiny amounts of gold from around the edges of genuine coins then milling the edges again and returning the coins to general circulation. When they had enough gold shavings they would produce fake coins in their own moulds and embellish them with usually Portuguese designs which apparently were accepted as legal tender in England at the time. After many failed attempts to capture the gang, a public official bribed a member to give up the leaders. ‘King David’ was hanged. The Cragg Vale Coiners, as they were known, are a big part of local popular culture.


The newer part of the church yard is the reason for so many visitors here; it is the resting place of celebrated American poet, Sylvia Plath, who tragically took her own life in 1963, aged just 30. Sylvia struggled against depression for most of her life and made several suicide attempts, finally succeeding after her husband, former poet laureate Ted Hughes, left her.

Ted and Sylvia in happier times

sp 2

Ted Hughes hailed from down the road in Mytholmroyd and the couple lived in the area for a short time. ‘Heptonstall – Black village of grave stones’ has been immortalised in Hughes’ poem. A similar bleakness is portrayed in Sylvia Plath’s ‘November Graveyard’, where she conjures a morose scene of ‘skinflint trees’ that ‘hoard last year’s leaves’. For sure, dark winter could move the soul to melancholy here, but on this May day the sun is strong, and branches are adorned with lush leaves and pink blossom.

Heptonstall church yard has become something of a pilgrimage site for Sylvia Plath’s global admirers who come to pay their respects to one of the 20th century’s greatest poets. Over the years there have been attempts to chip off the name Hughes by those who blame her husband for Sylvia’s suicide. The grave does not stand out amongst its neighbours or announce its celebrity status. The epitaph reads:

 Even amongst fierce flames the golden lotus can be planted


Chosen by Ted Hughes, these words are open to interpretation. Many think they refer to Sylvia’s struggle to thrive and bloom amongst the destructive force of her mental illness. The words are taken from one of the most celebrated Chinese works of literature, Monkey: Journey to the West and originate in a passage from the Hindu holy scripture, the Bhagavid Gita.

Whether ‘the west’ be India, the destination of the magical characters in the Chinese novel; a little church yard in the west of Yorkshire, or a goal at the end of a more personal journey, it is also where the sun sets at the end of each day, and what a perfect place to see it dip, below the Calder valley.

Hebden Bridge


Hebden Bridge is one of my favourite places and I’m not alone. I have never met any visitor who has not been absolutely charmed by this quirky, cool little market town in west Yorkshire. Hebden Bridge sits in the upper Calder valley, 8 miles to the west of Halifax. It grew up around the pack horse route from Burnley to Halifax where it passed through the valley and over the bridge that crossed Hebden Water. Fast flowing water, lots of Yorkshire rain and a plentiful supply of wool from ample local flocks meant that the region was ideal for weaving, first by hand loom workers in their cottages and later in the many water-powered mills which sprung up.


For centuries, textiles and farming used to put the food on most people’s tables in this region, but times change and both industries have declined, completely in the case of weaving.  The area became very run down in the second part of the 20th century, with parts of it being bulldozed. Row upon row of houses stood derelict, but paradoxically it was this availability of housing in a beautiful part of the world which led to a second lease of life. In the 1960s and 70s, hippies, artists, writers and poets moved to Hebden Bridge in large numbers, giving it the label of the Shangri-la of the north, a paradise for creative types. Alternative lifestyles flourished, and the area was transformed and regenerated.


Whilst the streets of Hebden don’t actually smell of Nag Champa, the aroma of liberality is definitely detected on the breeze, especially on Market Street, where the vendors of the accoutrements of alternative living have their abodes. Artisans are plentiful, and bespoke hand-crafted items of great beauty fill many of the shops.





Organic dishes made from locally-sourced produce and colourful and healthy-sounding snacks and smoothies are served in stone courtyards or cosy corners of chic cafes. Tourism is important to the local economy, and there are a lot of pubs, restaurants and cafes for a town of Hebden’s size, many of them catering for diverse tastes and offering healthy and novel choices.



It can be difficult to find a table at busy times (such as today and most Saturdays) and yet again my plan to feast at the Vegan Kitchen was thwarted by those who got there first. So popular is this newish funky eatery that I have not yet managed to get through the door. That can only be a good sign!


My other regular spots were also full, and I was all but ready to pop into the Co-op for a sandwich when I decided to try the organic bakery which I had walked past dozens of times but never gone inside. I am so glad I did!




As well as the bread I went in for, I came away with a supply of vegan cakes and croissants and a meat-free ‘Hebden Cornish’ pasty, which I devoured in the fresh air whilst listening to folk musicians giving it their all in a pub garden. Very tasty it was too! That’s the pasty, not the singers of sea shanties.

Such entertainments are not commonly available, but this weekend is special. Every year, the second weekend in May plays host to the Hebden Grass and Roots Folk Festival. Folk music takes over many of the town’s venues, and Morris dancers and musicians perform for the public.


I particularly liked this troupe of local ladies in their colourful vintage-style attire.


Those ’60s hippies and artists – now getting on in years if still youthful in spirit – have stayed on in Hebden Bridge and made their mark, but the demographic has evolved once again to include a more recent influx of professionals who can afford some fresh country air. Leeds and Manchester are both very accessible. They are looking for a place to live a different kind of life. It’s a near-perfect compromise for many: a rural location away from the hustle, bustle, grime and crime of urban sprawl, but a new rurality which embraces 21st century-thinking; an intellectual kind of country life:  organic, fair-trade, open-minded. This is the pull for the creative, artistic, ecologically-inclined, forward-thinking souls who have followed in the footsteps of the 60s pioneers and made the old weavers’ cottages their own.


Old meets new – and new age. Tradition and innovation seem to meld into this 21st century concept: the happy blending of old place and new lifestyle. This is a very different country life to that which might be found in the more traditional settings of deepest Cumbria, where the land is still the living, where there is no place for sentiment, and ‘organic’ and ‘free range’ are still new-fangled concepts which meet with some derision.


Hebden Arts Festival is at the end of June – I’ll be back for that! Two years ago, as part of that event the community launched its blue plaque project whereby locals were encouraged to find out who lived in their houses 100 years earlier in 1916. It is so interesting to see some of the ‘plaques’ in the windows of shops and houses, celebrating residents of yesteryear.




I wonder what those folks would make of the town now….


The Bombed Out Church – St Luke’s, Liverpool


Bold Street is my favourite place in Liverpool; a quirky, alternative spot, home to some fabulous places to eat, international and organic food retailers and ethnic and arts shops. Look towards the top of Bold Street with your back to the city centre and you will see what first appears to be an ordinary church; but things are not always what they seem. Any native of Liverpool will be able to tell you why this church, St. Luke’s, is different. For those who are not ‘in the know’, keep on walking and you’ll find out…….


St Luke’s, colloquially known as the ‘bombed out church’, stands as a proud shell of its former self – literally. It was built to serve the Anglican community of city centre Liverpool after Lord Derby granted the land on Leece Street to the Church of England in 1791, apparently on condition that it be always used as a church and that no burials take place there. The building was completed in 1831.


The good people of the city worshipped uninterrupted at St. Luke’s for over a hundred years until a fateful day in the spring of 1941. Britain was at war with Germany and nightly air raids were commonplace, affecting many British towns and cities. Outside of London, Liverpool was the most targeted location in the country, due to it being a major port. In May of that year, the German Luftwaffe attacked Liverpool for seven days in a row. St Luke’s was hit by an incendiary device, thankfully at a time when nobody was within. The church blazed for three days before finally revealing all that was left – a roofless shell. Some photographs of the blitzed city and church are displayed within the modern space.



After the war, Liverpool Council planned to demolish the remains of the church, but there was a public outcry; to the people of the city, the ‘bombed out church’ was a symbol of survival and strength. Happily, the plans were dropped, but over the years the site became neglected.

About fourteen years ago Ambrose Reynolds, founder of local arts organisation Strawberry Urban Lunch, sparked a regeneration of interest in St. Luke’s by using it to host arts events in commemoration of the blitz and its survivors. Within a few years he was granted stewardship of St. Luke’s and through a lot of hard work and receipt of financial support, he and his team were able to open the space to the public once again.




The building has been put to some creative uses during the last decade, including live music and outdoor cinema events, educational projects and art exhibitions. It has even been a wedding venue. Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono have counted amongst its patrons, though despite the high-profile support, St Luke’s has struggled for its survival over the last few years as austerity cuts have hit the north west particularly hard. Ambrose Reynolds and his team have fought this all the way, determined to preserve this amazing space and living museum for the city of Liverpool. Thanks to sheer hard work and determination and whatever financial support they have been able to get their hands on, these brilliant people have been able to secure the future of the bombed-out church, at least for the next thirty years.

The space is currently used for an eclectic range of activities from daily Tai chi and yoga through to performance art. The thing I really love about this special little place in the big city is that it has not, despite its iconic status, developed affected arty airs; it stands in simplicity, displaying its war wounds: charred timbers, glassless windows and warped metalwork, a real symbol that life goes on and human spirit survives conflict.




Bronte Country – Haworth, Yorkshire


The moors seen at a distance, broken into cool, dusky dells, but close by great swells of long grass undulating in waves to the breeze.” Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte.

The first time I read Wuthering Heights I was thirteen years old. It was unlike anything else I had read before, and I was mesmerised. It was not an easy read, containing many scenes of brutality and unlikable characters. Brooding northern skies and foreboding moorland are the backdrop to this celebrated story of intense love which survives death. My thirteen-year-old self was captivated by the character of Heathcliff: wronged, maligned; the victim child turned vengeful man and romantic hero. I read it again a decade later and my take on it changed somewhat: the woman saw Heathcliff’s brutality, raw, and minus the romanticised notions of the teenaged girl. I have read Wuthering Heights maybe five times in my life, and on each occasion I have read a different story: time – and living in the world – changes our responses as readers, and language resonates in new ways. One thing that has remained constant, reading after reading, is my sense of the great beauty and power present in the descriptions of the landscape.

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX 420‘My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath.’

”I shall never be there but once more when I die…..and shall remain there forever.

Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte


‘In summer, Miss Catherine delighted to climb along these trunks, and sit in the branches.’  Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

The Bronte sisters, Emily, Charlotte and Anne, are amongst the best-known authors in English literature. They lived for most of their lives in Haworth, west Yorkshire, where their father was vicar of the parish church. The parsonage was the place where Wuthering Heights was written, and it is clear to see how the surrounding moors and heathland inspired such a dark, gothic and intense story of passion and extremes.

This is not a blog about English literature or even about history; it is, like my others, me sharing with you an experience and my impressions. The Bronte sisters are fascinating characters as writers and as women, and their personal stories hold their own tragedies which are equal to those of some of their characters. The name of Bronte is synonymous with Haworth, but the place has charms of its own to recommend it to visitors.

‘Bronte Country’, as Haworth and its environs is known, has not changed much in appearance since the time of its most well-known residents. It goes without saying that the literary connection attracts visitors from all over the globe; another notable attraction is the restored railway with operational steam trains which pulls in hundreds of 1940s vintage enthusiasts every year (more about them in a future diary entry).

Haworth’s main street (it is actually called Main Street) is home to some lovely shops, amongst them a vendor of occult services, a lovely tea room and various arts and crafts gift shops. The Cookhouse is a friendly attractive café which offers a good range of veggie/vegan/gluten free lunch options. It can be hard to get in anywhere at busy times as Haworth is essentially a one-street village; it can be a bit frustrating, but better that than sacrificing its character on the altar of commerce.


The cobbled length of Main Street rises at a fairly steep gradient towards the Parish Church of St Michael and All Angels. This newer building has replaced the original church where Reverend Bronte presided. I was a tad disappointed when I realised that it was not possible to see the Bronte tomb. A plaque indicates the place where the family lies buried below this newer building, which was raised above the level of the old . Anne Bronte is buried not with her sisters at Haworth Church, but at Scarborough, where she died whilst on holiday, hoping that the sea air would  restore good health. The tragedy of it all………. You couldn’t make it up! (OK, you could.)

BronteHaworth Church


Haworth parsonage is situated close to the church and now serves as the Bronte Museum. Sadly, I can’t show any photographs of the interior or exhibits, as photography is not allowed and this rule is strictly enforced by the vigilant staff there. Some of the family’s original furniture has been purchased by the Museum (at great expense) and has been set up as it was thought to have been when the family lived there. The couch upon which Emily died is in situ in the front parlour, which is where the sisters are said to have shared their ideas and written their novels at the table. Some of the exhibits are fascinating, including several items of the sisters’ clothing which demonstrates how tiny they were. The place is well worth a visit.



A narrow path between the museum and church took me to a public footpath leading out into the fields and from there to open moorland. On a windy day beneath a heavy grey sky it is very easy to make a connection to the inspiration for Wuthering Heights. This is a harsh place where the forces of nature rule.

On the way back, I met a beautiful horse whose name I didn’t quite catch when she introduced her splendid teeth to my arm. It was only a slight graze, so no harm done, and it was entirely my own fault for not offering her a treat of some kind – or so I was advised by a fascinating local woman who witnessed the equine assault. Apparently, the horse is usually very sweet. I am certain this is true and that her out-of-character behaviour was the result of the powerful energies of the landscape. After all, even Heathcliff was sweet once………..


‘On one side of the road rose a high, rough bank, where hazels and stunted oaks, with their roots half exposed, held uncertain tenure.’

‘I wish you were a mile or two up those hills. The air blows so sweetly.’

Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte






Highgate Cemetery: Tales from beyond the grave


Highgate Cemetery, north London, first opened its gates in 1839, one of the earliest municipal cemeteries to be founded in the UK. The two separate burial grounds, East Cemetery and West Cemetery, contain the final resting places of more than 170,000 citizens of London, among them many celebrities and the rich and famous of the past two centuries.

The grounds are vast, especially the older and more characterful West Cemetery, which can now only be visited as part of a guided tour. Highgate West is a sprawling metropolis of the dead. It is easy to lose one’s way amongst the meandering paths and rows of great tombstones, weather-beaten and crumbling, the inscriptions lost to the handiworks of time and the elements. Some have partially sunk into the soft moss-covered earth, whilst others have toppled over, giving up the ghost and calling it a day: not for decades has anybody stopped to stand and think of the inhabitant; nobody now to read the name which lies hidden, face down on the path.


Twigs snap underfoot; rotting bark peels away from ivy-clad trunks and becomes compost, feeding new life beneath the ground. The eternal cycle continues: death into life; life into death. The mortal coil never ends.

This is no place for joy. Even the marble cherubs weep, their tears frozen for all time on their dark faces. Cold copies of loyal animal companions rest for all eternity alongside long dead masters and mistresses.

The atmosphere is eerie; the near silence powerful, punctuated only by birdsong and the movement of the wind through the branches. Occasionally, the sound of distant voices serves as reassurance that not all in this place lie dead in the ground. The treetops converge in places to form dark covers which block out all light. Here, in these dark places, are found the oldest tombs, concealed behind bracken and fern, inaccessible, gone from memory. The air is damp and musty, the smell of the past left to its own devices.


A new scent appears on the breeze as the path twists to the left: wild garlic. Pungent and lively, it announces the presence of new growth amongst decay. The tour guide, an intriguing fellow in an eccentric outfit straight out of a Merchant –Ivory production, calls a halt at various intervals to share with us a story of one of the famous internees. We hang on his every word, lapping it up, entering into the spirit. Tales from beyond the grave, of jealousy, murder, stories of hearts broken by grief, of spies and nobility, masters of industry, artists and poets; tales to breathe new life into bone and dust. Death is the great leveller, but some stories grab the imagination better than others.



Unexpectedly, a magnificent gateway comes into view marking the entrance to an extraordinary neighbourhood of the dead. A gated community like no other, Highgate’s Egyptian Avenue is a winding terrace of mausoleums on a grand scale. Each abode has its own front door, the name of the occupiers chiselled into the grey stone. Typically Victorian and overstated, only the wealthy and the grand reside in this eternal Land of the north London Pharaohs.


Across the metaphorical Styx, the links to the East continues into the Circle of Lebanon, a ring of ornate and beautiful tombs built around an ancient Cedar tree which has stood in the spot long before the Cemetery. Double doors of solid oak are closed to the world outside, the dead and their secrets locked away within. What fear of death and what clinging to life must have inspired such a resting place with four solid walls and a front door.

Our lilac-clad guide invites us to enter the catacombs. Dark and menacing, the open entrance dares us to step over the threshold. Inside, the light is scare and the air is dingy and thick. There is no life in here. Against both walls are stone shelves laden with wooden coffins in different states of preservation. Battered by the years, row upon row are thick with dust and cobwebs. Nails, orange from oxidation, barely hold in place the skewed lids. Beyond this point is out of bounds. Ahead of us in the gloomy distance we can see the sinister sight of white bones escaping through gaps in the rotted containers. I feel like I am intruding here into a private place where the dead are entitled to be left alone.

Across the road we enter the East Cemetery. The contrast between the two is marked. Here is a place of celebrating life as much as mourning its passing away. The Victorians have been left behind in the East and the perspective has changed. Here the light shines through the sparser trees. We have no guide here and are free to roam and seek out the well-known names and the quirky markers of their resting places. There is laughter as more stories are shared of well-loved books whose authors lie beneath the soil and artists whose own epitaphs are no less dazzling than the works they created in life. Cameras click, footsteps fall. Grave stories seem less grave here.





Hampstead: an oasis in the metropolis

I love England’s capital city and whenever I visit I experience a transient sense of envy of its residents. I say transient as I know I wouldn’t want to live there, but as soon as I arrive at Euston Station and am instantly swept up into the throng, I feel excited and can’t wait to start exploring. There is a pace of life, of movement, of everything which is unique to capital cities . This is most evident on transport networks. Tourists and visitors sometimes claim that London people are rude, unfriendly and unhelpful. This impression is often based on experiences of travelling on the London Underground where many passengers traverse the network with single-minded determination. It can be a stressful environment for those not used to the heat, noise and escalators on a giant scale. That being said, it’s still the best way to get around the city.

Away from the tourist trail, I have ventured over the last few years into other parts of the capital in order to savour the flavour of London life.

‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.’ professed Samuel Johnson, famous 18th century writer and critic and compiler in 1755 of the ‘Dictionary of the English Language’.

I concur with Doctor Johnson. I am still exploring and learning.

I am visiting Hampstead, north London, famous for its heath, very expensive properties and grand residents. Some ordinary people live there too. Hampstead Heath is a popular location with Londoners who want to experience a green space which provides a sense of escape from the city. By happy chance rather than by design, today’s adventure incorporates a literary theme. Perfect!


The Spaniards Inn, iconic 16th century watering hole standing at the edge of Hampstead Heath, boasts amongst its past patrons the poet John Ruskin and novelist Charles Dickens, who referred to it in his novel, The Pickwick Papers. It has also been immortalised (aptly) in the pages of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and was frequented by the poets Shelley and Byron. Such a rich narrative has grown up around Spaniards Inn that it’s impossible to separate local folklore from fact. Does that matter? Not a bit! Not to those who sit under its low beams and imbibe the legend along with the beer. Whether the pistols which once hung above the bar truly belonged to Dick Turpin (reputed to have been born there), or whether melancholy Ruskin truly penned ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ on a summer’s evening whilst sitting in the Inn’s garden, we’ll hang on every word of every tale. We love it!

This famous hostelry is a popular tourist destination in an attractive part of north London. It’s safest to book a table in this busy establishment which fills up quickly at lunch time. Spaniards Road must be one of the busiest in the country, partly due to its narrowing to single direction flow between the Inn and the toll booth. It’s easy to imagine how it would have looked in Turpin’s time and why the Inn made such an ideal spot to keep a look out for wealthy travellers passing through en route to their appointment with Turpin and his pistol.

Green canopies shade well-trodden paths through ancient communities of sycamore and oak. Underfoot, a carpet of leaves and mulch releases an earthy smell, damp and sweet. Paths cross over, some leading to spots for secret assignations, others leading to the open grassy space of Hampstead Heath. I could be in the countryside, not north London.

Hampstead high street is tree-lined and salubrious. Patisseries dress their windows with elaborate confections to catch the eye and tease the taste buds . The door opens and the aroma of sugar and cinnamon is released. Prices are not displayed; it’s not that sort of place. Estate agents’ windows showcase the best of Hampstead bricks and mortar. Prices are clearly displayed in seven figures. I can’t quite place the aroma this time, but I think this might be what money smells like………..


Keats House, one-time abode of celebrated poet John Keats, has been turned into a museum which seems to be a hit with American visitors in particular. Tragically dying at the age of just 26, Keats was born in London in 1795 and became one of the nation’s best known Romantic poets. A brief look through the window of a downstairs reception room tells me that I probably won’t appreciate the full guided tour – and anyway, Keats probably penned his greatest works at the Spaniard’s Inn…….the plaque on the bench outside says so. Today, a pretty young artist sits cross-legged in a corner of the Keats garden beside the glossy laurel hedge, engrossed in her sketching and oblivious to the curious glances of tourists. Will this place one day feature in the anecdotes we read in reviews of her award-winning works? I’d like to think so.

I wonder if Keats ever consulted Dr Johnson’s famous dictionary and – if he did – would he have found the word ‘oasis’? Would he have appreciated the exotic sound of those three syllables? Well not every oasis belongs in a desert……….





Hampstead Hilltop Garden is a modern oasis; a sanctuary from the noise and the madness of central London, just five miles away. The morning rain has evaporated and the sun at the zenith is reflected on the shimmering surface of the long rectangular pool, evocative of Moorish AlHambra . Ornamental reeds and floating lily pads add to the oriental illusion. In the shade of a beautiful willow tree, two men practise Tai Chi, gracefully and in slow motion, absorbed into the moment. A bold black crow struts purposefully across the grass on a mission known only to himself.

Beyond the garden can be seen the elevated pergola. Built in 1906 by Lord Lever Hulme who then owned the estate in which the gardens reside, the wooden pergola is now a shadow of its former grand self having fallen into a state of semi-disrepair. Despite the signs of neglect, this tranquil and elegant structure still enchants visitors who admire its timeless appearance: we could be in sultry Athens or Hampstead Hill Garden; it could be 2016 or 500BC. The clinging vines twist around the rotting trellis, new growth embraces the decay. Down the steps and back into the garden I pass a magnificent and very old sweet chestnut tree. The surface of its ancient bark is a landscape in itself with peaks and ravines hewn over time to form a unique topography. The stories this sentinel could tell…………….





Tree hugging over, I make my way back through ‘Alhambra’, taking in the scents of the garden and enjoying the calm. As I leave I notice the crow appear from around a corner, back from his rendezvous, a companion crow by his side. They disappear beneath a green metal bench, shaded from the sun’s rays……….