Hope Floats



So if you are in England and watch the news you will probably have noticed that things got a little wet. Over much of the North, Scotland – homes & businesses destroyed, bridges washed away, roads collapsing.

The Calder Valley has been hit hard. Again. Somewhere I wrote (I think on my old blog) about the events of 2012 – when we were hit twice in the space of a month, once from rising river levels, and then from a freak flash storm onto the already saturated moors turning roads into waterfalls and overwhelming the rivers and drains again. People went through hell, but they also banded together and worked hard and most got back on their feet. There were a few casualties among the businesses of the valley which never opened up again, or which didn’t last long – the difficulty of getting insurance or cost of claiming – along with a less than stellar economic climate, makes it really hard. But even in the past six months new enterprises have sprung up from the ashes of old (Moyles hotel /bar/restaurant had stood empty until the new Moyles B&B was opened in one third of it)

But then it happened again. Boxing Day – I was in Leeds myself and watched the horrible events online as the waters rose and my firends were once again innundated. I live in Hebden Bridge, so most of what I see is related to there – but the damage is widespread, Mytholmroyd, Eastwood, Todmorden, Elland, Brighouse, Copley – more. The waters rose higher this time, over 6ft in some places (above floor level, which in itself is much higher than the usual river level). People had in many cases tried to put their belongings / stock high up to save them, high enough that they would have escaped in 2012, but not this time.

As the waters dropped and people surveyed the devastation – mud and sludge and silt covering everything, the valley began to do what it does best.

If you’ve never been here, Calderdale is beautiful. Absolutely stunning.


Stoodley Pike looks down over the bost alluring mix of gentle rolling hills and rugged craggs, man made echoes of industry somehow complementing the wild moors and steep wooded sides. It is beautiful. And a wonderful place to live. I was almost going to say despite the floods. But I also want to say because of the floods. Because the floods show you what is most beautiful, which is not always easy to see. And that is the people. The wonderful people – many of whom do great things in drier times too, as we are a creative, generous place – but so many more who when the need arises, ask no questions except – How can I help?Β  Thousands of people who flock to volunteer to muck out, to clean, to feed, to clothe, who donate cleaning equipment, clothes, toys, furniture, electrical goods, their time, money, services. Everyone thinking desperately “what can I do?”. People trying to turn their skills so that they can support the effort to put the valley right again.

It is going to be hard. So many people have no insurance, or cannot claim – ridiculous excesses / expense imposed on people who have nothing by companies which make obscene profit every year. Businesses which would often find these coming, post christmas months difficult at the best of times. People who were on zero hours contracts, whose workplaces are out of action for who knows how long. And still the rains fall.

But – with the help of the people of the valley – and the even more amazing people who are travelling from all over the country to help, to bring free food, to restore our faith in humanity and show the meaning of compassion and love (more on which another day) – there will be recovery.

A number of appeals have been put together to raise money – a main one which will help individual residents and be matched by the government – and then lots of crowdfunders for the many businesses which are affected. Celebrities and authors have donated items for auction to support some particular causes, and there are some great ideas like a raffle to win a wedding package with all the different things you might need.

If you are able, please do contribute – if you want to offer more practical support or buy something to support the clean up / refurbishment effort then please check the posts on Calder Valley Flood Support facebook pages to make sure you get what is currently needed, as the situation changes day by day.

Calder Valley Flood Support on Facebook:

Amazon wishlist of items needed – buy from here and it will be delivered direct to the hubs

Calderdale Flood Relief Appeal:

Calderdale’s Big Fat Wedding Raffle: (can you donate a prize? Or watch this space for details of how to buy tickets)

Support for individual businesses / organisations / schools etc.

Ebay auctions to support Sowerby Bridge Cricket Club:

Ebay auctions to support the Book Case, Hebden Bridge

Contributions of Vinyl wanted for record fair to support Muse Music / Love Cafe: Donations to The Trades Club, Hebden Bridge, email: lizktradesclub@gmail.com

Contributions of Art to be auctioned for the flood appeal – or a venue for this auction, contact Caroline Reed on Facebook

Crowdfunding to save 2Tone Comics:

Crowdfunding to save Ribbon Circus Habberdashery:

Crowdfunding for Dark Angel Clothing:

Crowdfunding to replace toys for Riverside Fun Club:

Crowdfunding to save Hiu Man Chinese Takeaway and help them contribute to providing food for volunteers:

Crowdfunding to rebuild Monster Computers:

Crowdfunding for Mytholmroyd Community Centre:

Crowdfunding for Molly and Ginger (clothes shop)

Finally – it obviously wasn’t just my home town affected, here are some other appeals for other affected areas – I know there’s only so much money to go around but as they say – every little helps.




(Please let me know if you know of any more and I will add them / share widely)




Walking home, Pecket to Old Town, Twilight

sunset from pecket well
She dropped the Blood orange moon
and stained the evening sky,
a gluttonous autumn feast, raspberrie and plums
smeared from her sticky thumbs.
Mouth wiped clean on dusty clouds
and grey beard contrails that divide
the heavens – new realms of
mackrel scale, tabby fur, owl feather, speckled hen.
Waiting for the fire to go out.
I lost my breath, and then
a bat swoops low above
rose tinted thistledown.
The farmhouse’ sightless eyes
reflect the gaudy show –
delights for turks or shepherds or
weary walkers on their way to home and sleep –
a cut across the tops – a quiet treat.
Calves butt and play in twilight fields.
Heptonstall silhouette against the lurid sky.
Turning my back, not left to the black chapel
where we said our scarlet vows,
but down in the dark past
cricket pitch-black and silent
in the shadow of the mill,
Windchimes twinkle and blend with echoes
-clogs on cobbles, chattering and clattering,
Someone has left a coin in the washing machine.
Before me the moon in full display again,
Washed clean, damned spots got out.
Glory against an ink blue sky –
liquorice mountains in the early night.


Spider web dripping with dew

Nature’s jewellers have been out early,
stringing bright necklaces of morning tears
in the soft, quiet, mist.
New ploughed fields picked over by the glossy pheasant
and his hens, a bridal party of tiny twites in tow.

Cows watch proceedings and chew, ponderously
deliberating on deeper things
that never enter into the minds that race,
the scuttling creatures, who are too busy and blind
to see beauty in the rise and fall.

Chill in the air, smoke on the breeze.
Long shadows lay carpet for the frost
to skip across the hillside, dance beneath the trees.
So delicate a touch, yet deadly –
Not long and those diamond webs will freeze,
and shatter, scatter with the ashes of our broken hearts and dreams.

The weavers never weep. Simply pull the thread again,
start a new stitch and breathe deep.

Simple Vegetable Soup

1 Onion, diced
1 Red Pepper, diced
1 Green Pepper, diced
1 stick celery, sliced
1 Courgette, diced
1 cup green lentils
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp fresh marjoram or oregano, chopped
1 stock cube (veg or chicken)
1 tbsp tomato puree,
1 tin chopped tomatoes,
1 pint water,
1 tbsp oil,
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Lightly fry the onion, peppers, celery together in the oil until softened. Add the tomatoes, stock, water, garlic, courgette, lentils and herbs, and bring to the boil, simmer until the lentils are tender, adding more water if necessary. Taste when all vegetables are cooked, season as required, adding tomato puree to taste also. If too thick add a little more water, if too runny simmer a while longer until the required consistency. Use a stick blender to blitz half of the soup (or more, dependin on how chunky you like it.)

Changing voices

Is it just me that finds it strange, when I go back to read something I wrote years ago – that the voice sounds like someone different. We change – we all change of course through life, but reading words I wrote only a few years ago, just feel like reading someone else’s thoughts.Β  Old essays – amaze me as I actually sound like I know what I’m talking about. (All this prompted because someone had looked at my “Who am I?” page – which sent me to remind myself who I’d said I was.

I was obviously in a bit of a tiz about what I can / can’t say online as a civil servant. Still something that infuriates me – but I am so exasperated with politics and the world in general these days that I try not to think about it. It’s not good for my mental health to rage against things. I will leave that to my husband.Β  And lets face it, I don’t actually blog that much any more. A few poems here and there. I have a new blog specifically for library related things, as I am doing my chartership. If you are interested you can find it at http://omniscienciabliss.wordpress.com/ – though I’m finding it hard to write even there. So bloody busy this year.

So anyway. I think my “who am I?” needs an update. And a better editor.

Last chance.

The Calder cauldron boils again
Hardcastle hags conjouring the change
The slip from green to golden glow
The burnished throne.

As though the bubbling mists were steam
The heat rises
Summer grasping on with her last gasps
To the leaves
Before they crispen, and fall
Crumble to rust
Wash the river red and sleep
Under their snowy bed.

Stoodley peaks above the foam
Through mellow mists
O’er rose kissed meadows
Where contemplative cows
Chew cud and watch the swallows fly.

Beneath the peace
Shaded from the sun
The grey dawn daily race is begun.
Enduring faces waiting for release
Play out their roles
Earn their tickets to the feast.

Soon she will peel back
The steamy skin
For one last glimpse of her
Radiant and high,
Before the fall,
When she is distant, cold,
or barely seen at all.

Children play and cats roll,
Bathe in that leaving light
Twilight is coming,
Get ready to be tucked in
For the long cold night.

The Queen’s Meat

Today i want to tear myself open
so you can see the mess inside.
Today I feel like somebody has.
I am the swan
floating elegant and desolately by
– you cannot see beneath the oil slick surface,
the turmoil beneath that keeps me moving,
keeps me breathing.

The swan is hollowed out –
gutted by a hunter.
Taxidermised and filled with clockwork
to imitate life.
Its eyes are black and shiny all the same.
Remote control,
living life according to another’s rules.

But isn’t she elegant.
Isn’t she pretty.

(At this point I laugh.
Maybe I am not the swan after all)

But then, I could happily be
the ugly duckling.
As long as my insides were still there.
As long as everything was in order.
As long as i could happily be.
You could take your pristine white feathers then.
For all the difference they would make.