2 November 2008


And so to Ripon in North Yorkshire on a Friday evening - the night of Halloween. There's heavy traffic on the M1/A1 link road near Leeds so it takes us two hours to get there. The Crescent Lodge Guest House is easy to find. Room Number 1 on the first landing is clean and cared for with an en suite shower room. We drop off our suitcase and wander two hundred yards into the ancient market place.

Beyond this is Kirkgate. I have done my research and there it is - The Bangladeshi Balti House. You can bring your own drinks so I have to go back outside in search of an off-licence ("liquor store" to transatlantic readers). Sainsburys is closed. After a bit of a wander, I'm back with four cans of Kronenborg.

The curry is quite delightful and clearly the place is popular with Riponians. Our table is rather small though - a marble-topped Victorian pub table and there's not enough room for our nan bread, rice, beer and hot plate for keeping the balti dishes warm - but we manage. Later, we're in "The Black Swan" on Skellgate supping John Smiths Cask bitter as fancy-dressed Halloween partygoers parade past us - witches, amber pumpkins, whiter shade of pale zombies.

Next morning, after a wholesome "full English" in the breakfast room, we're out in the November sunshine and on our way to the ruins of Fountains Abbey - Yorkshire's only "World Heritage" site. I was eight or nine when I last came here on a school trip. Begun by a small band of Cistercian monks from York in 1132, this abbey became both powerful and wealthy on the back of the wool trade. It had a hospital and a mill, several chapels and bridges and was home to hundreds of monks in its heyday. As you walk around it, you appreciate the peaceful beauty of the abbey's location by the little River Skell and you wonder about past times - the skill and ambition of the stone masons, the certainty of that lost society's religious belief, how the monks spent their days, the four hundred years in which Fountains Abbey exerted such influence over its immediate region... I took some photographs:-

Famous view of the west tower.

The cellarium beneath the refectory.

Stone soaring to the heavens.

Detail of tiles on the high altar.

Bear with me - I will continue this weekend account in my next post...


  1. I have arrived at your blog via the dotterel's blog. I'll be back for more when you write you next post. I haven't been to Fountains Abbey for ages and I am always pleased to read about Yorkshire. Who said that Hull was England's crappiest town?

  2. Fountains Abbey is one of those places that I've been meaning to visit for years, but haven't quite round to. Your photos look great perhaps I should finally go there.

  3. Lovely pics, YP.

    So, Hull is crappy, is it?

    At least we have garden sheds to live in. And orange juice.

  4. Fountains is on such a huge scale, too. Imagine if there'd been no dissolution...

  5. Oooh, thank you, thank you from across the pond! I went to St. John's College in York for a semester abroad back in fall '88 and I loved wandering around the Abbey (and many other places). I'm looking forward to the next installment!
    Wish us luck tomorrow... I was voting via absentee back in '88 watching the election returns in the Student Union.

  6. Funnily enough "Fountains Abbey" came up on a recent quiz my grandfather was doing. I did wonder about it and here it is. Pristine, sharp photos. Wonderful.

  7. I only came across your blog while looking for info on the Rotuma Morrisses and I think we have met. Are you David? I don't remember your other name but judging from the photo taken by Richard you must be David. We taught together at Malhaha for a year or so with Aisea Aitu, Fara and of course Richard. I think at one stage you stayed with the NZ priest, Fr O' Neil at Upu. Am glad I came across your blog as have often thought about. Am so glad you have such happy memories of the island. Hanisiof.


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