Junying: After living in beautiful Yorkshire for the best part of 1990s, which some of you would have read about in my semi-autobiographical fiction The Same Moon, John and I went back for a short break last week. Our first stop was to pay a flying visit to Leeds, where our dear long-time friend Nancy treated us with a lovely home-made lunch, and reminiscences of my care-free days as a student there once upon a time.
It was hard to believe that time had flown by so quickly, yet my memories of Yorkshire remained vivid and vibrant, full of images of the rugged countryside, rocky landscape which inspired such classics of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. As a huge Brontes fan, I paid my homage to Haworth, where the sisters used to live and write, on a number of occasions, both by myself and with friends. Many of my weekends were spent exploring the wonderfully unpredictable Dales, tracing the footsteps of my literary idols of over a century before.
This time, we stayed on the edge of Yorkshire Dales, in one of the most perfect English towns about 17 miles north of Leeds, taking in sights and sounds which were fabulously familiar, enchanting and delightful. Our short trip ended on a high note: an evening at Harrogate Theatre, listening to a joyful, wonderfully sung and acted operetta The Merry Widow.
Please follow John, a proud, self-proclaimed Yorkshire man, and enjoy some of the pictures we have taken during this nostalgic visit.
Harrogate – the home of the Range Rover
John: Harrogate is the spiritual home of the Range Rover car. Sipping one’s infusion in the famous Betty’s Tea Rooms in the town centre you don’t have to wait long before seeing one waft past, usually with a dyed blonde fifty plus woman at the wheel. En route from Waitrose shopping or lunch, to the gym and then home to prepare something healthy for her businessman husband when he arrives home late from his office in Leeds.
Harrogate (population 150,000) is a lovely spa town, with perfectly manicured floral parks and litter-free avenues. It gained prominence when the Victorians began to take the waters, copying their German peers in quaffing the sulphurous water issuing from limestone surrounding the town. Before the advent of pharmaceuticals the waters were reckoned to be the cure for just about everything from lumbago to cancer.
Today the major attraction is antiquity in the form of beautiful Victorian architecture chiselled from the native sandstone, sweeping around corners and up the many hills. The English just love the Victorian era; a time when we ruled the World and everyone knew it. Harrogate still provides an echo of that bygone era with its gritstone grandeur.
The town forms one of the gateways to North Yorkshire and its moorlands and dales. Malham Cove and Gordale are two of the most dramatic features of the Southern ramparts of the uplands. Not large when compared with the splendour of Yosemite Valley or the Verdon Gorge, they are nonetheless impressive at their own scale. A wonderfully varied walk can be had from Malham to its Cove and on over the hill to Gordale. A soaking cold rain shower, a cup of tea and beef butty from a mobile café add to the experience. We feel tested and happy to return to a hot bath, with no sulphur, back in Harrogate. Our modern “taking of the waters” curing nothing but aching muscles. Most satisfactory.