Wednesday 11 June 2014

Cider and cycles but no shooting

A day of country pursuits began with a walk to see "the finest view in Britain" according to James Herriot - from Sutton Bank, from where you can see just one county. "What more do you need? It's Yorkshire," said our James.

Indeed. Green rolling fields, hedges, stone farmhouses, a village, a bottomless lake, woods and, er, a US satellite station, all under a wide blue summer sky. "It'll never last," said a lady we passed, and she was right, eventually.

But first there was a white horse cut into a hill, little mice carved into beautifully-made oak furniture, and villages of stone and brick with lavender, roses and geraniums: so pretty in the sunshine.

Then we visited the James Herriot Centre in Thirsk, in the actual building where he practised and lived and wrote the books on his little typewriter, and where the TV series was later filmed. It's really well done, and it was refreshing to be trusted to wander and touch unsupervised. There were some horrifying veterinary instruments, naturally, complicated affairs of metal and leather - but the cat castration box was starkly simple.

A late lunch of yummy pork pie and cheese and home-made chutney, then rained-off clay pigeon shooting meant an extra couple of pubs before dinner: the Black Bull at Boroughbridge entering into Yorkshire's excitement about next month's Grand Depart of the Tour de France with its Bicycale (there are bikes and yellow jersies everywhere). The Ship Inn at Aldborough, all shiny copper and carved dark wood, is lovely, and still a little thrilled that William and Harry called in three years ago for cider and shepherd's pie.

Dinner was the hot seafood platter at the Tiger Inn, by the village green in Coneythorpe - good food, friendly service and excellent company. And finally a drive home through the late dusk, rain on the horizon against a custard-coloured sky and a three-quarter moon above us, the Man the right way up, the rabbit on its side.

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