Sunday, 12 September 2010

Cream Tea and Posh Tea Houses

Sat 11th

At 6am I move and drive along the road to the Ribblehead viaduct. It’s many deep arches taking trains from one side of the valley to the other. It’s vastness is not lost opn me even in the misty early morning. I notice another motorhome parked in a layby and wonder what kind of sleep they got. It’s the curse of the wildcamper. You pick a spot thinking that this will do and two mile down the road see a perfect spot. Scotland taught me however that I have to stop when I have to stop or exhaustion grabs me by the legs and pulls me down. I click my tongue in irony.

I intended to see the Yorkshire dales, the like of which I remember from watching All Creatures Great and Small. Not a chance. It is miserable and misty, with a hovering cloud cutting off the tops of the hills. The roads are narrow and twisting. There has to be a flood warning in this area at the moment, every river is raging and fit to bursting. At one point it stops raining and I am hopeful, but a few minutes later it starts again. The villages are pretty and just as I remember for the James Herriot series. ‘Nah then Vit’nery’.

I arrive in Harrogate to honour my friend Posh Debs who grew up there and told me about Bettys tearoom. I phone her and use her as a satnav getting me into town and to a road where I can park safely and for free. I walk down Cold Bath Road and into the town. Bettys is as old fashioned as you can get. I am prepared to queue, but am surprised by the length of the queue and my shoulders slump. The suited and booted maitre’d walks down the queue finding out from folks where they intend to sit.He approaches me and asks me. I tell him, the café. He says to follow him and I go from the back of the queue which at that point had turned the corner and was down the hill and into the window seat of the café. I can't help feeling a little smug as I sit in one of four seating areas, some of the others offering a full menu. I had a lovely cream tea, with earl grey tea. It cost just under £9 but was worth it just for the treat value. I had a mooch through the other areas on leaving as I need the ladies, which are situated in the bowels of the building, with an old fashioned fireplace, which I presume would have been lit in winter at one point in time. A piano player is tinkling away I one room with candelabras hanging from the ceiling and waitresses wearing waistcoats and ties with long white aprons serve from trolleys laddened with cakes. Sweet on nostalgia I fall in love with it. Leaving I go into Harrogate shopping centre, which is just like so many of Britiain’s streets, full of homogenous sameness. Granted it is pleasant and has some nice names hanging above the stores but we have become a nation of sameness.

Harrogate itself is lovely. It has very grand Victorian villas in terraces and unlike many cities there’s a difference in a street in that not all the terrace is the same. Slight differences in the windows or architecture stands out. I like that. The main streets have so many trees it does not feel like being in a large city. The trees are sat in wide grass verges and there are large green areas everywhere. I can imagine being a wealthy Victorian living here for the baths and walking spaces. Unfortunately many of the York stone buildings have been blackened by time and they now look austere and dark. I enjoy my time just looking around and move onto York and down to where I have booked a CL. York looks interesting, but dogged by road works I get diverted and miss many things, but I intend to walk the city walls as part of my two day visit, tomorrow and am happily rewarded by a view of it from the inner ring road.

I pull up at the CL and find myself in the back of a pub on a piece of grass. Opposite me is a fenced off area full of geese and goats. Fin is happy to take up his plaec of guard outside the door and we settle in for the night. I had intended to go in the pub, but as I walk Fin I look in the window and see groups of older folks sat eating and in the bar a couple playing pool. I don’t know, I think I have just lost my bottle and cannot just rock up and enter a pub on my own anymore…interesting.

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