4 November 2008


...After Fountains Abbey, we drove west to Brimham Rocks and then down into scenic Pateley Bridge before heading back to Ripon. By now the Manchester United v Hull City commentary was underway on Radio Five... and Ronaldo scored after three minutes. Oh no!

We strolled around sturdy Ripon Cathedral, descending into the Saxon Crypt which drew thousands of pilgrims to the city in the middle ages. Shirley bought some sheepskin slippers from The Edinburgh Wool Shop and we had coffees in Cafe Nero overlooking the ancient marketplace. Grrroaaan! She wanted to do some more shopping but I just wanted to get back to the car to listen to the last fifteen minutes of the radio commentary. I was expecting The Tigers to be losing badly but we were only 4-2 down against the European Champions!

As I listened, they described Ferdinand's foul on Mendy. Penalty! And up stepped Geovanni to drive it home. The last few minutes saw the great Man United in a panic as we pushed for an unlikely equaliser. Un-bloody-believable!

That night we paid handsomely for modern English cuisine in Lockwoods' Family Restaurant. For the starter, I had pink pigeon breasts on a bed of caramelised chicory with warm rocket salad, followed by braised local rabbit on a mound of parsley mash with two neatly laid layers of bobby beans. For dessert it was butterscotch parfait with hazelnut praline. Really posh nosh! To tell you the truth, I enjoyed Friday night's cheapo curry rather more.

After Lockwoods we saw the Ripon hornblower emerge from the town hall just before nine. He went to the four corners of the marketplace obelisk where he blew his ram's horn - one long deep and continuous note at each corner. This is an ancient ritual - performed every night for nigh on a thousand years. It is to do with setting the watch - warning townsfolk that it's time to retire for the night as the wakeman does his rounds.

On Sunday morning, we ended up at a stately home near Leeds called Harewood House. It is very grand and was lavishly furnished as the eighteenth century gave way to the nineteenth - mostly on profits the Lascelles family made from the slave trade. We decided to visit the kitchen garden first of all - about half a mile from the main house. There was an old couple with leather bush hats walking ahead of us - nobody else was around at that early hour. We caught up with them in the huge kitchen garden itself. Shirley chatted briefly to them while I retrieved a last lonesome apple from the otherwise bare fruit trees. It was only afterwards that we realised we had been chatting to none other than the seventh Earl of Harewood himself - with his wife The Countess of Harewood. That apple belonged to them! Off with my head!

Harewood House


  1. These last two posts of yours are lovely. Anything in the United States two or three hundred years old is ancient and no one speaks in terms of a thousand years about anything. It boggles the American mind to realize, not how old your country is, but how young ours is. Because we think we know everything, of course.

  2. I love your personal rambles. I can just see you nipping back to the car for the score...
    Fancy nicking the last apple, 'though. Tch tch. (That's Andy Cappish for Tut tut.)

  3. Tut, tut! You know what they say - "Can't take him anywhere - once there and once back, to apologise!"

  4. do you believe in aliens????? i noticed that you have an interest in the lock ness monster...i was up that way... have spent eight years altogether in france, etain, verdun, swityzwerland, sweden, denmark, scotland ireland

  5. oh, manchester are where all my people are from...salford specifically...forgot the two years i was in birmingham enland

  6. Thank you for reminding me of the many things that Yorkshire has to offer.

  7. Fancy meeting the Earl and the Countess...good punchline!


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