Saturday, 8 May 2010

Bank Holiday

One of the nice things about being retired is that we can have a pre bank Holiday holiday and then go on to visit our relations and have a Bank Holiday too.
On our way up to Cumbria where The Granddaughter lives, we took a slight diversion and spent a few days in Harrogate. I once spent a couple of weeks staying in the Majestic Hotel there which is a grand old Victorian purpose built hotel. We did not stay there but in a small self catering terraced house of which there are many around the centre of Harrogate.

The Pump Room at Harrogate

The hotel was one of the more expensive venues where I provided training and several of my students tasted caviar for the first time in their lives there. I was running a computer servicing course for Thorn staff, creating a new cadre of personnel from people who had been selected for their potential ability to switch from TV repairs to computer repairs. The course was very intensive and ran from eight in the morning to eight at night, so I did not have much opportunity to see much of Harrogate at that time.
We were able to rectify that lack over the few days we were there. Harrogate is a Regency spa town and became the place to be in Victorian times and still is very posh. The shops reflect this with the kind of places not found in your more ordinary places like our home town. It seemed rather like a mixture of the old 50s pre-supermarket shops with Gentlemen’s outfitters and Lady’s dress shops all mixed in with supermarkets and burger bars.
There is a very refined Teashop called Betty’s, which does afternoon teas that are brought to your table on a silver cake stand and cost an arm and a leg. There are shops (not stores), where you can buy Yorkshire tea that is not in tea bags and get your groceries from a man or lady behind a counter with no self service.

Betty's Tea Rooms

The old Pump Room is now a museum and the Regency Meeting Rooms are now a Chinese restaurant but the place tries to be an island of old elegance in a world that increasingly rejects elegant for fast food and convenience stores.
One day we went to Ripley Castle that is a little way north of Harrogate and listened in fascination to the tour guide who explained in the most wonderful way about the history of the place with particular reference to the English Civil War and the strange events that occurred there. They have some fabulous relics and you are able to touch some of them, directly connecting with history from four hundred years ago.
One of the fascinating features of the house is that during a refurbishment in the sixties they found a priest hole that had been forgotten for over three hundred and fifty years.
We explored Harrogate for the rest of the week until we could walk no more and then drove over to the west coast to visit TG and family for the Bank Holiday. The route took us along the southern edge of the Yorkshire Dales which gave us some wonderful views.

But now we come to the tragic bit. Only a few days after we left Harrogate, the Majestic Hotel caught fire and at least one person died in the fire. The blaze was brought under control only after several hours and although there was considerable damage to the upper floor, on the whole, the building was not badly damaged but it is a listed building and will need careful repairs to restore it.

The Majestic Hotel Harrogate

In Cumbria, the weather, realising it was a national Bank Holiday, took a turn for the worse and it became very cold and rained on and off. We stayed indoors for a lot of the time and only went out for brief forays. During our stay in Cumbria it was The Better Half’s birthday and the following day it was TG’s birthday, so a number of presents were exchanged and we had two meals out in quick succession.
We then had to return home in time for a pre arranged visit from a man who was coming to fix the hinges on one of our doors where we had an attempted, but failed, break in.

1 comment:

  1. Wondered where you were, Pete -- now I know! Harrogate sounds like a lovely town, still.

    So sorry to hear about the Majestic. When we were living in Prestwick, one of the young waitresses in our hotel left us and went to work at the Majestic. She kept sending me postcards begging me to come and visit her, but my parents felt, at 16, I was too young to be traveling so far by myself. Of course, it was only a few months later that I solved that problem by traveling a little further -- immigrating to Canada -- by myself!

    So glad you had a lovely time. By the way, what's a priest's hole?