Harrogate, Half Term and Other Stories
It’s hard to believe that Little Misses first half term has been and gone already. It only seems like a few weeks ago that I was getting her ready for her first day.
The week before half term was a bit hellish, to be honest. It should have been an ordinary week, but Wednesday brought a kitchen disaster when the pipes under my sink dramatically burst, and water gushed all over my kitchen floor. I did go into minor panic, but thankfully the plumber was out in less than an hour, replacing the offending pipe and getting the plumbing in working order again. Thinking everything was in order on Thursday, I set off for a gruelling day at the office in London, not returning home to Yorkshire until late that evening. Completely exhausted and enjoying a deep sleep, I was woken in the early hours by Little Miss being sick everywhere. She’d caught the sickness bug that’s been going around her school. By the time the weekend arrived, I was ready for it.
As Saturday approached, Miss D was slowly on the mend and all seemed well for our planned trip to Harrogate the following day. We set off mid-afternoon, collecting the chap en-route and arriving in Harrogate late afternoon in time to meet our friends, Miss D’s God-parents for a Sunday meal at the Travellers rest, a country pub just on the outskirts of Harrogate.
We can’t have been in the pub much more than half an hour before it was evident that Miss D’s dreaded tummy bug (which I’m pretty sure now was Norovirus) had spread. We rushed off pretty swiftly back to our comfortable apartment we’d rented for a few days, and tried to relax. Unfortunately though, Grandma was particularly poorly throughout the night.
Monday morning, me, the chap, Miss D and Thelma decided to get ready and leave Grandma to rest. We set off for a walk, stopping off first at The Dog’s Bakery which was a fabulous dog friendly cafe, very close to our apartment. There were lots of dogs inside, and alongside coffees and cakes, you could treat your four legged friends to a freshly baked doggy biscuit too.
I’ve noticed lots of cat cafe’s pop up in recent years, I can only hope that the doggy cafe is something that will take off too. As well as giving us somewhere we could relax over a coffee with the doggy, Thelma also got to make some new friends.
After coffee, we set off towards the Stray. When I first moved to Yorkshire, ten years ago, I lived in Harrogate for a time and was always enthralled by the Stray and that a town could have such a vast amount of protected green space. Basically, it’s 200 acres of parkland surrounding much of the town. It gives a real country feel to what is a very bustling town. I was keen that Miss D and the chap both got to see it.
During Autumn, it’s particularly beautiful with the colours of golden leaves, and chestnuts on the ground everywhere.
We walked back towards town, stopping off at a large antique emporium, where, alas, I didn’t find anything nice to buy. Walking along the main road into town, we admired the grand architecture and open spaces along the way. During Victorian times, due to the proliferation of sulphuric and magnesium filled wells which are generously scattered all over the Stray and through the Valley Gardens of Harrogate, the town grew as a very luxurious spa town, not unlike Scarborough. It’s where the well heeled of the day would visit to ‘take the waters’ although, unlike Scarborough, it seems to have maintained both its grandeur and its wealth and is, most definitely, an impressive town to visit.
Later that day, it seemed as if grandma was making a minor recovery, and so we decided to pay a trip to Betty’s for a snack and a cup of tea. The first Betty’s tea room opened in 1919, and is something of a Yorkshire institution with the parent company, Taylors of Harrogate, producing the county’s favourite, Yorkshire Tea. As such, it retains a very traditional feel of an Edwardian tea room, with the waiters and waitresses dressed in black and white, tea served in beautiful little silver tea pots and perfectly served finger sandwiches and patisseries.
It’s the type of place that your Mum would have taken you on a special occassion and you would have to be on your best behaviour. Of course, Miss D’s best behaviour generally seems to include striking up conversation with as many people as possible, thankfully, most people tend to be quite welcoming of her chatter though.
It’s an experience, and certainly one that most tourists queue up to have. Even though we’ve been many times before to the Betty’s tea rooms in Harrogate, York and Harlow Carr, we still decided to do it again, and I’m glad we did because it was probably the best bit of the whole trip.
Thinking the worst was behind us, and that we’d be heading out the following day to enjoy more of Harrogate, by Tuesday things were no better. We decided to pay a trip to the rather amazing Valley Gardens for a walk, and to admire the beautiful Autumnal scenes, before calling it quits and heading home.
Valley Gardens, as always, didn’t disappoint and it was nice to enjoy a peaceful cup of coffee in the gardens before the long drive home, but I hope we get to visit again to really enjoy Harrogate in all its glory.
By the time Wednesday arrived, I too had caught the dreaded bug and felt entirely awful! It took me days to feel better, and I was just grateful that it hadn’t hit me on the day that I needed to drive us all home. Just like that, half-term is over and it’s almost time for Miss D to go back to school. Not the best of holidays, but I am learning that, with her being at school now, it can be quite difficult to plan these trips as there’s a lot of childhood illnesses, that you just can’t account for. Next time, it might be more prudent to plan things closer to home.