FOR once, it wasn’t raining but on the basis of the last few weeks, even the weather forecasters wouldn’t have put money on it staying that way.
I’d spotted the road signs earlier in the week as I rattled my way up the cobbles past St Mary’s Church and wondered if I’d discovered an alternative weather warning system.
My car is small and beautifully formed but doesn’t like history under its tyres. I normally avoid that particular route home but decided my motor would like even less being up to its wheel arches in water which is what would perhaps have happened if I tried my usual Plan B via an old bridge over the River Holme.
So the rain had caused the detour which allowed me to spot the polite notice which announced that on Saturday, I wouldn’t be able to drive that route either. Is everyone still with me?
For one day only, it told me, the only realistic way in and out of my home, would be on foot. Not that I have a problem with that.
So that’s what I did, followed the pretty footpath, and my nose, into the village to see just what the road closure signs were all about.
And that wasn’t rain I could hear, it was sizzling.
Now I can smell a bacon sandwich at 50 yards, just like any other person brought up in a house where the only proper breakfast included eggs, streaky bacon and tea – lots of it.
Not for me, you understand. I only do that sort of breakfast rarely, usually mid-morning when I’m on holiday and have had time to give my tummy a wake-up call. Otherwise I’m the one with porridge, fruit and milk in my bag on the way to the office.
But last Saturday, my nose followed the unmistakable aroma all the way down Honley’s Church Street.
The problem was I didn’t get to the end of the footpath, hadn’t reached the door of the parish hall before out came my purse and I succumbed to home-made lemon drizzle cake.
In my defence, I bought in a good cause – for a friend who has a far sweeter tooth than I have and who I knew would reach for a kettle the minute cake was mentioned. It’s a guaranteed route to putting a smile on his face!
I was about to move on when I caught up with another friend and a real debate started.
Was that plain Victoria sponge a good idea or the beginning of the rocky road to ruin, she asked. I thought ho ho, are we talking new diets here?
It was more a matter of economy apparently. Here was a woman with will-power. Buy that cake, she said, and she’d have to buy cream and perhaps even, a pot of strawberry jam. I ask you!
I was impressed by her will-power until she crumbled at the next stall buying two Danish pastries with jam and icing included!
There were plenty of people buzzing round the home-made honey and preserves stall and a few cheery faces clustering round the specialist beers.
I steered through the crowds whizzing past yet more cake stalls as most of Honley turned out to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with a street market. Even the scones were sporting Union Jack flags.
But my step faltered as I neared the card stall and worse still, I failed to resist the hand-made tags and cards from Meltham’s Little Bird Press.
It’s what I like about the village’s street markets. There’s always something beautifully hand crafted whether it’s food, gorgeous bits of print and ribbon that you know will dress up a gift or a local history book that someone in the village has put heart and soul into.
And there was the man in question. Peter Marshall from Honley’s Civic Society was deep in conversation next to a stall trumpeting a very different sort of royal celebration.
Peter, a former store boss with one of our most cherished national retailers and never one to miss a marketing opportunity, had timed it perfectly.
His new book about Honley’s royal visit – not this queen but family none the less in the shape of King George V and Queen Mary – chimed perfectly with the current celebrations. And it was raising plenty of eyebrows among those who apparently didn’t know quite as much about village history as they thought they did.
I silently awarded my jubilee medal for services to community spirit to the owners of the cottage who couldn’t avoid the celebrations if they’d wanted as their front door opened out on to the market.
They’d clearly decided to join in and had thrown open their doors, becoming a tea room for a day and raising money in the process for one village organisation.
Many other groups were represented up and down the street, snug under gazebos which looked far more secure than they had done last time I saw them pre-Christmas when a wicked wind threatened to whip away any chance of shelter from the bitter cold.
On Saturday, there was a leisurely feel that spoke volumes about one event at least which had survived the soggiest summer in memory and put a smile on the face of one local village.
The Queen and Prince Philip waved stiffly from the church balcony, looking down on a Commonwealth of blooms put together by local flower clubs. But my bacon sandwich beckoned. The sun was out by now and well over the yard arm.
Village life? It’s alive and well in Honley, whatever the weather.