Wolds Diary: Autumnal signs in the sky as my travels take me west

Haunted?: The magnificent and imposing remains of Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds.Haunted?: The magnificent and imposing remains of Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds.
Haunted?: The magnificent and imposing remains of Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds.
At church last Sunday our choir held its monthly performance when quite a few singers gather to augment the service. We sang an introit and an anthem both of which I'm very fond.

Then on the Monday I headed off to Leeds. I went via Pool to deliver something. It was a pleasant day and I knew I was approaching Harewood when I spied several red kites flying above. There are so many of them in that area.

I also saw what was for me the first sign of autumn: three huge skeins of geese, of which one involved at least 70 birds. They were flying south one after another, to warmer climes. While I was waiting in a queue of traffic I could hear them honking to each other as they passed overhead.

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Having accomplished my mission in Leeds I headed to Otley where I was due to give a talk in the afternoon. I drove past the magnificent and huge remains of Kirkstall Abbey. I visited it some years ago and was most impressed but actually found it rather creepy as I felt that I wasn’t only being watched but that the place was haunted.

I was concentrating on driving in the traffic and I felt a chill. Looking around I realized I was by the Abbey.

My SatNav took me through some housing estates and then into the countryside along a country lane where I got the most wonderful surprise. A pair of jays flew up in front to the car and into a nearby copse. I have not seen these magnificent birds since I was a teenager. They are so beautiful and to see a pair together is most fortuitous. It really made my day.

I drove on into Otley and visited a number of very good shops. I ended up at a small but splendid cake-making and craft shop where I got the ribbon I was seeking and they had a special offer on jam jars so I bought quite a few.

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The talk was at the Bridge Church to a group I have met before and I was given two large bags of ties. At their request I had taken one of my bedspreads made from ties and a cushion for them to look at. The talk went well and then I met my friend, their pastor, and his lovely spaniel, Badger.

That evening it was off to the usual rehearsal of Pocklington Singers, where we are rehearsing for the Battle Cantata concert on October 16. It is going to be quite a splendid affair with five choirs including one visiting from Norway. To be part of the premier performance is exciting.

I’ve been getting on with making jams and jellies this week. The end result was that my kitchen was quite a mess. Dog walking has been quite a tranquil break from it. Then, on Wednesday evening, there was a parochial church council meeting that was thankfully not too long but at which some important decisions were taken. The church has a beautiful refurbished wooden floor now and looks great.

I took the dogs up to one of my favourite places, Millington Wood, on the Thursday and they had a good walk. I couldn’t resist picking more wild apples and blackberries and elderberries afterwards as I drove up the spectacular valley road by the stream. Needless to say I then indulged in more jelly-making on my return home.

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The next day I went back to the Pocklington Canal and this time both my Labrador, Boo, and Brock the Staffie, swam in the water and got out without incident. I took them in another direction for a while and then stopped as a beautiful heron flew up not far ahead of us and I didn’t want Brock trying to chase it. Herons are such magnificent birds.

Saturday started by going to a Macmillan coffee morning at a neighbour’s house which was a resounding success and then in the evening there was a concert at church, in aid of church funds.

We have rather a lot of talent in Pocklington, and Emma Burke was especially good, while the ukulele band were great fun.

During the night one of my dogs needed to go out and when I looked outside, I found a hedgehog by my back door. I put it in a safe place. These charming creatures are to be encouraged, as they keep the pests down.