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By Andy Ross

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Visiting Halifax

This January a roadtrip northwards to Forres in Scotland has been an eye-opener.

A long car journey with frequent stops for coffee and cake is a real voyage of discovery. Listening to music while outside the world streams by, cocooned in your own thoughts, the scenery from London to Halifax gradually changes. The flatter lands around London are replaced by hills and trees until it feels like you are swooping from one amazing view to another. And then comes Halifax. The overnight stop in the town has been a real highlight. Although it is off-season tourist-wise for the town, the Piece Hall is open. I did not know about this fantastic building (which you can find out about here) nor its history. Equally, Halifax with its collonades and beautiful buildings was a joy to walk around. The church has a long history, intimately bound up with wool production - a 16th Century gravemarker in the porch has a pair of sheep shearing clippers carved into it - and then there are the mill buildings and houses and chimneys...

And speaking of chimneys, a visit to Schofields, the company which finishes the cloths for GlobalYell, The Shetland Tweed Company, Jamiesons, and many, many other companies across the UK and Europe is really worth it. So much cloth in one place and machines and people washing, scouring, pressing, edging, fulling, brushing. The chimney referred to is the last remnant of the old factory which stood on this site; a real landmark in Galashiels. 

Edinburgh with its beautiful buildings and quietly understated grandeur is always a great place to stay. A visit to the National Museum with its natural history galleries, art, craft, and fashion and textiles rooms is a must. More on that later.

A roadtrip has been the perfect start to the year. Learning about the new places and seeing new things, and learning more about oneself. What could be better?