Well, dearest devotees, today I am going to tell you about a hidden gem of a town in England called BARNSLEY. Why BARNSLEY? you cry. Why not? I cry back. (If you really want to know, I’d never been to Barnsley and there was a special offer on at Travelodge!)
So, youngest sibling and I head northwards (after he’d come southwards the night before) and after a tour of Barnsley suburbs – unexpected, thanks to youngest sibling reading his Google map upside down – we arrive at the hotel but are unable to go to our rooms because we are early. To pass the time, the receptionist entertains us with a story about a regular customer who, even when he no longer needed to come to the hotel, would call in and visit just to see the staff because they were so friendly (quite true!).
Having enjoyed this little tale, of which I understood only half because it was delivered in a strong Barnsley accent, we set off to have a look at a local tourist attraction, a working flour mill – highly recommended by the receptionist (at least, I think she recommended it, but I may have been wrong). There were some raht trouble at t’mill, however – there were no parking spaces left!
We set off in search of another attraction and found Wentworth Castle, where we were accosted by people dressed in 1920s costumes because they were doing a Murder Mystery afternoon. Great fun and not only that, they had jam sandwiches on the menu in the café – never seen that before!
Upon our return to the hotel, we ask the receptionist about the possibility of getting a taxi into Barnsley town centre to find some refreshment:
“Taxi? TAXI? Eeh, there’s a bus stop just oop t’road, if tha desn’t mind paying £1.20.”
Off we go to the bus stop, although it cost us a whole £1.50 to the bus station – the receptionist has obviously not used the bus for a little while. And Barnsley was absolutely MANIC! People everywhere, music everywhere, fish and chip shops everywhere! Everyone seemed to speak in loud voices, which is not surprising, given the loud music, but I soon picked up the local language and learned to ask for ‘Twarves’ rather than ‘Two halves.’ People shouted at each other from one pub to another (there are lots of pubs very close to each other) in a form of local greeting:
“Aye! Oreet! You?”
After a few Twarves, we headed off to a Chinese restaurant recommended by a friendly bouncer and found ourselves in a rather wonderful parallel universe where we were served by a lovely couple of young Barnsley women. The conversation during the meal went something like this:
Waitress 1: Would you like any drinks?
Sibling: A bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, please.
W 1: Is that the white one? I haven’t worked here long and I can never remember.
S: Yes, it’s the white one.
Me: And could we have chopsticks and bowls rather than plates and knives and forks, please?
W 1: Ooh, how wonderful! I LOVE it when people use chopsticks – I LOVE watching people use chopsticks to eat! I’ll watch you eat all your food!
Luckily, she was busy serving other customers when we were eating, so she missed the bit where I spilt hoi sin sauce all down my front!
Waitress 2 didn’t, though…
Waitress 2: Vanish!
At first, I thought this was an order to get out because I’d made a mess, but she was just recommending what to use to get rid of the stain!
In the meantime, all the other customers, who were complete strangers to each other when they entered the restaurant, were by now on first name terms and swapping addresses, having become best friends over the course of the meal. We were also best friends with the waitresses by the end of the evening, especially when one found out I live in Derby, because that’s where
her boyfriend goes to uni – I almost expected her to ask if she could come and live with me!
And there you have BARNSLEY, beloved followers! Don’t ever let anyone tell you Yorkshire people aren’t friendly – they LOVE people… and they LOVE talking! I HEART BARNSLEY!