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OK, this is a day late, but what the hell – I was busy!

Yesterday Dawn had to pop over to nearby Ossett, a town I’d never visited before so I tagged along to keep her company and enjoy the chance to explore. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

Nestling on the side of the valley above the old Healy Mills railway marshalling yard, Ossett’s a small market town of 21,000 people. The town’s wealth was built on wool and coal although the former industry is long gone whilst the latter survives in vastly shrunken form. Nowadays the towns prosperity comes from its proximity to Leeds. Also long-gone is the town’s railway which closed in 1964. That’s why I’ve never had a reason to visit, until today!

Whilst Dawn went to her appointment I had a mooch around town. The main square’s been pedestrianised, as has the nearby portion of Station Rd. This has created an attractive area in the shadow of the Town Hall which is where the market’s held on Tuesdays and Fridays. I really enjoyed the market. Unlike many which survive by selling all sorts of plastic tat and cheap clothing, Ossett has some very good stall. There were a couple of fruit and veg stalls with a mix of local and imported produce at extremely good prices. Two vans were on site, one selling cuts of meat and the other fresh fish, whilst there were a number of other stalls selling bakery goods, including humongous bread rolls, fruit teacakes, pies and desserts. Oh, and an excellent cheese stall! I ended up spending quite a bit of money stocking up on various bits from several stalls – and stocked up my Xmas cheeseboard at the same time.

Stalls in the market Square which is surrounded by some lovely old buildings which don’t overpower. The one to the left is a former bank which now houses a pottery and arts cafe on the ground floor.
Quality local produce.
“This much Sir”? Measuring out a cut of cheese at the excellent cheese stall.
A close-up of some of the delicious cheese on offer.

Sadly, the town hall (which would have looked lovely bathed in the winter sunshine that blessed our visit) was swathed in scaffolding as it’s currently being refurbished. I did pop in to have a look as it contains several bric a brac stalls on market day but there was nothing that struck my fancy.

Inside the town hall.

However, behind the Town Hall, in what looks like a 1960s shopping complex I found something that did appeal. The Bier Huis. Their small shop front hides an Aladdin’s cave of UK and foreign bottled beers as well as a counter-bar selling draught real ales plus a couple of tables where you can sit whilst you enjoy them. I couldn’t resist buying some bottles of German and Belgian beers that I’d never tried before, plus an old favourite (Zot, from Brugge). added to the cheese I’d purchased earlier they made a great Xmas present to myself!

Choices, choices…

Like the Beer Huis, Ossett has many local and independent shops which make it stand out from the crowd. One gets fed up of identikit town centres dominated by the same chains and charity shops. Ossett made a refreshing change and, whilst there are some empty shops, there’s not anywhere as many as you find in the likes of Huddersfield, where we drove back to afterwards as Dee had to return to work. I had journey onward to Halifax which wasn’t easy due to the rail strike. Instead of the usual train I headed over to the bus station to wait for what should be a frequent (every 15 mins) service between the two towns. The place was busy – but not with buses. I had to wait 45 mins before a double-decker arrived. My only consolation was that I had a bag full of cheese and beer and wasn’t waiting at some God-forsaken stop in the middle of nowhere! Despite this, I really enjoyed getting out and about again. The day was rounded off by Dawn catching up with me again in our local pub where we net up with friends whilst enjoying a few beers and testing our knowledge using the quiz from the local pub paper. Not a bad day at all…

I’m looking forward to a return to Ossett market in the near future. Only this time I’ll be bringing more cash and a bigger shopping bag as there’s some real bargains to be had on that market.

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