October saw bunny and myself off on our travels again, this time accompanied by a dear friend, Avis, on a coach tour of Yorkshire, in the north of England. We set off after an hour’s delay thanks to our coach driver reversing into a fence and damaging the rear lights, which meant we had to wait for a replacement coach. Not a good start, but it gave us the opportunity to talk to our fellow passengers. By the time we were under way, we felt we knew most of them well. Our hotel just outside Bradford was warm and comfortable with excellent, exceptionally clean rooms, the food acceptable if a little unimaginative but plenty of it, and the evening entertainment good, especially the male singer/performer one evening – Saul Taylor. Brilliant! So good, I bought four of his CDs.
One of the many tableaux in the Yorvik Museum
We spent a day in the city of York, a delightful place but the few hours we had were not enough to see all that was on offer in this historic town, so Avis and I headed for the Yorvik museum, where we were not disappointed. Apart from the many static displays and cases that told the Viking history of York, there was a monorail track that took you through a fascinating journey, with commentary, to various tableaux that lit up as you approached. I found the automatons of the people rather spooky as they not only moved and spoke to you as your car stopped in front of them, their eyes moved too, looking straight at you. The whole experience was well presented and one not to be missed. Plus we were lucky that day. There were no queues to get in and we could take our time looking at things.
Typical ancient building and architecture of York
Walking around the town, my attention was drawn to many of the street names, some very odd, but many familiar from having recently read two novels, both timeslips, set in York by Pamela Hartshorne, Memory of Midnight and Time’s Echo, and I can well understand where she obtained her inspiration for these stories. And, of course, there was the almost obligatory walk down The Shambles, although I was disappointed in that it was like most other ancient, cobbled streets that abound in this country.
Must be the oddest street name in Britain, let alone York!
Our first “visit” once we reached the Dales, was a guided tour of the mining town of Holmfirth, famous for being the location of Last of the Summer Wine, the world’s longest running Sitcom. Our guide was a character actor who not only appeared many times in the series, but also in various others and currently filming the latest series of Happy Valley. He was very knowledgeable, took on the guise with props and wigs of each character and regaled us with many anecdotes. Whilst driving around the town, he pointed out the farmstead used in one of my favourite TV series, Last Tango in Halifax. On television, the farm looks as if it is set miles from anywhere deep in the barren moors, with a long winding drive from the main road. It is anything but – a six hundred yard track from road to door! The wonders of modern camerawork.
Another day included a visit to the town of Esholt, to “The Woolpack” – the pub used in the TV series Emmerdale, where we were taken inside for much needed refreshments. The inside of the pub was never used in filming the series, that being done in a studio, as is the case in most of these TV location productions.
The other main highlight of the trip was a visit to Haworth, the home of the Bronte sisters. It was also raining that day, with a low mist across the moors, which only heightened the atmosphere. The Bronte home was engaging and more than interesting. I learnt so much about them, things such as there were also two other sisters; the Bronte’s father, the vicar of the church next door, had a hard and sad life, outliving not only his wife, but all of his six children. Nor did I know that Charlotte Bronte was pregnant when she died. The house itself had a warm, cosy atmosphere, and I could well imagine sitting in one of the rooms writing on stormy, windswept days. Again, the clock was against us and there wasn’t enough time to explore the church or the village, but certainly a place I would want to go back to.
I’d always thought that Yorkshire was a bleak place but the scenery was stunning, especially now, during Autumn. The rain finally stopped for our last two days, with the sun out, so we were able to enjoy it all the more as we travelled through many leafy, winding and narrow roads without having to staring through steamy, rain-streaked windows on our way to Shipton, Thirsk, Harrogate, and Rippon, where we spent several hours exploring the cathedral and learning a little of the long history of this ancient city.
As with all these trips, the days flew by and all too soon we were heading back down the motorway home, tired from all the walking, shopped out and totally relaxed, and looking forward to hopefully taking another coach trip somewhere next year.