Monday, 9 June 2008

Oop North

As they say in Yorkshire, lass. Pass me a flat cap and look after me whippet for a moment, because this weekend Lotta and I visited La Señorita Gloria in Harrogate. Neither of us are what you'd call experts in the north of England, being poncy southerners, but we braved it on the basis that Harrogate is terribly posh and much like an enclave of the south up in the scariness. This attitude of mine generally provokes hilarity from northerners, to whom I point out that, for me growing up, London was a two hour drive north, and anything beyond the Watford Gap was unimaginable. They still laugh.

Of course our main aim was to see Gloria, but then what to three lovely ladies do to pleasantly pass the time in each other's company? We headed into the centre of Harrogate, ostensibly to shop, but mainly to visit the famous "Bettys Café Tea Rooms", or Bettys for short, which does not seem to have an apostrophe. Bettys is quite the destination for an afternoon cream tea - in fact during the one and only time I've been to Harrogate before, the queue was so long we gave up. This time we were not to be deterred. Even queueing was easy enough on the eye, with the windows replete with breads and cakes:

And the inside crammed with jars of tea and coffee:

What could we do but indulge ourselves, once we were seated? It was all terribly genteel. Even the pots of tea and water, when they arrived, were perfectly aligned by the waitress as she placed them on our table.

We were indeed very satisfied ladies as we sipped our tea, and then demolished our scones with very unladylike gusto and discussions over whether jam or cream goes on first (I say cream). I must say though, as a true southerner, the clotted cream wasn't as good as the stuff we have, because we invented it down in the West Country, but bless them for trying.  I'll grant that they have considerable heritage on the tea itself.

What else about Harrogate, apart from the tea and cakes? (You mean, there's more to life than tea and cakes?) I liked the statues of people atop the Victoria shopping centre, although a couple looked rather suicidal. Do you think anybody would notice if a real person got up there to jump?

I also liked how all the benches had snakes for legs. I'm sure there's a good historical reason for this, but I don't know it, so I'd be grateful for enlightenment.

For a touch of modernity, we also found a great little Japanese shop, selling the kind of brightly-coloured, eccentric foodstuffs that we all love. I bought the chocolate-strawberry apollos (little moon landers), and the chocolate-filled koalas (kyuuto!).

Gloria also treated me to a belated Christmas present of a Good Fortune lucky owl, a fukurou. He's very cute and will bring me lots of luck. He was also beautifully gift wrapped in orange paper with a dragonfly attached.

Full, shopped out and hoarse from late-night sessions on Rock Band and SingStar, we sadly left Gloria to head back to London. Come and visit us soon sweetie, we love you!

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