Horny Alpacas, Todmorden Unitarian Church, and a possible dressmaker?

Another day exploring possibilities yesterday. I intended to take a look at Todmorden Unitarian Church, The Todmorden Vintner (formerly Old Hall), The Fielden Centre, and Scaitliffe Hall Hotel.

It was a nice day – we started out early and walked the 4 miles along the canal, most pleasant and really entertaining when we found a couple of alpacas and a donkey in a field. They were very friendly and came to say hello. Then Mr Ginger Alpaca decided to get friendly with the donkey, to much amusement.  The donkey was less pleased, and kept trying to bite the alpaca, and wandering off with the silly creature half mounted and making funny noises behind it. Then the other Alpaca seemed to feel left out, and tried mounting the other Alpaca while that one was still mounting the donkey, who was cheerfully trotting away across the field. Reminded me of some childrens story or other with a tower of beasts trying to see in a window somewhere. But ruder.

All nothing to do with weddings but I nearly weed myself it was so funny so I took it as a good sign for the day.

Arriving in Tod, slightly damp from the fine misty rain that was defying the sun’s attempts to burn through, we headed straight through to the bridge near the Golden Lion pub and left the canal there, as it was nearest to Todmorden Unitarian Church. Now – big thanks go to Justin Pringle(?) of the Three Wise Monkeys bar in Tod, formerly of the Hole in’t Wall, Hebden Bridge – who said to us the other week when we were there and talking about venues “If you want to cut to the chase and go to the best venue in the valley, go look at Todmorden Unitarian Church, it’s Ace.”

And boy was he right. What an amazing place.  On Honey Hole Road (lovely name!) you go through the gates, past a gatehouse, and the drive sweeps up round the hill, atop which is a fabulous perpendicular church, big pointy tower, very imposing. (I did take a picture but it didn’t really come out well)  Inside, the church is spectacular, very gothic in style, ornate carvings all over, and amazing stained glass – including a beautiful rose window.

We were fortunate the church was open for the Incredible Edible Harvest Festival – which also reveals that the ethos of the place is very “us” – an amazing community resource. And reading up on Unitarianism, I really like what I read, and don’t think I would have any problem saying my vows here.  Although if you didn’t want a unitarian wedding, you could still go do the legal elsewhere, and have a celebratory ceremony here however you liked.

It’s licensed, and there are no restrictions on things like candles or decorations. The last wedding they had, the groom came in on a zip wire….

All in all pretty fabby and shooting in at number one on the top ten possible venues chart.  You could have the reception there too if you wanted, but I’m not sure about that. I think it might be great to combine with hiring the hall at Hebden Town Hall for that side of things. But we’ll see….

We wandered over to the beautiful Todmorden Vintner – however it wasn’t open – despite their facebook page saying they were open for lunch. So we’ll go another time (any excuse for eating out…) as apparently they have a room upstairs which can be used for weddings so it would be nice to have a look at least. It’s an amazing old building.

Then came time for a rest for our poor feet, so we had coffee and cake at Costermongers – and OH agreed that it’s certainly the best church we’ve seen.  I called the hotel, to see if it was convenient to go and take a look round, but they informed me that they’re infact up for sale and will be changing hands in a couple of months – so they’re not taking bookings anyway. So no point going there until it’s settled who’s running it and what they’re offering.  No great loss really as while it looks nice on the outside on the website, the inside didn’t do much for me.

One last thing to do – a look at the Fielden Centre. This would be a reception venue only – it’s quite a nice building, on the edge of the lovely Centre Vale Park.  This park is one of my favourite places in the valley – a real example of how if you provide the community with a decent resource that is well thought out and designed, they will use it. From bowling greens for the older folk, to a kick ass playground with baby zip wires and climbing walls for the kids, it is lovely to see so many people having fun. Plus this sounded like a good plan for people with kids who might want to take them outside for a break if they were getting bored or fractious.

However, the hall itself was fairly lacklustre, and possibly not big enough. And OH was not impressed either, not least with thebig six pointed star design in the window. He is not the biggest fan of Israel’s behaviour at the moment so didn’t want a reminder of that fact looming over the festivities. Sigh.

So, a no on the Fielden Centre.

At which point it all starts to narrow down and look alarmingly real.  Where else is left to look? And do I want to? We’ll see.  There’s the hotel near Halifax, but I’m not sure if that’s what I want at all.

On another positive note (some less positive to be posted later but it’s written on my laptop so will have to wait a while) – I’ve found a really good looking dressmakerhttp://no9bridalcouture.com/default.aspx in Keighley, which is not far from me so in keeping with my desire to keep it all pretty local… Dress thoughts at the moment – Red, somewhere between Mina Harker and Satine? Maybe. But a couple of weeks ago I wanted floaty light sister of the woodland so who knows where I’ll end up.

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