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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lunching in James Herriot’s TV Town

The Tea House/Candy shop next door to James Herriot's
TV house in Askrigg is aptly named.  

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the places we stayed in England always fed us well for breakfast.  Often, we would just eat a light snack for lunch and dinner.  But today, we hadn’t really packed anything.  Besides, it seemed like lunching in Askrigg would make our visit there truly special. 

We stopped by one little place, and while the menu looked appetizing, it was stuffy and warm inside.  Nor did they offer much in the way of outside seating: just a little table shoved against the sidewalk.  So we told the staff we’d think about it, and wandered on.

"Sorry, dear.  Only rich mountain goats
can afford prices that steep!"

Our next stop took us to The King’s Arms, the public house used as the exterior for The Drovers Arms in “All Creatures Great and Small.”  Eating there would have been a special treat, but one look at their menu convinced us that we needed to explore Askrigg more.

The White Rose Hotel could use a few more signs.
After all, it pays to advertise, right?

We finally settled on The White Rose Hotel.  The interior looked cozy, but the air still seemed a little warm and humid, so we told the lady behind the bar that we’d grab a table outside.  She warned us that we’d have to wait awhile, as a group of bicyclists had come in just before us.  They clamored for her attention even then, banging money on the bar for their pints and bags of crisps.  We assured her that we were in no hurry, and took our sodas outside.

Seated at a picnic bench, under a red and green umbrella, we could look out at the Yorkshire Dales rising up in the distance, the rolling grasslands populated by houses and barns, as well as sheep and cattle.  This was what we had come to experience!  As the men in their nylon shirts and shorts laughed and joked, we wondered what it must be like to bicycle through such a verdant agricultural landscape, and stop in such picturesque villages for a refreshing pint, a snack or a meal.  Then again, their stomachs made us wonder if they hadn’t done too much stopping, and not enough riding!  They kept draining their glasses, hurrying off inside, and returning with refilled pints of ale and more bags of crisps.  Then, their sandwiches arrived, two heaping platters filled with what must have been several sandwiches for each rider.  (Plus more bags of crisps).  Well, I imagine riding must arouse the appetite.  Still, those tight-fitting bicycling outfits hide no secrets, guys!

My wife's sandwich looks nearly good enough to eat.
Lucky for her, I've got my own.

When our sandwiches arrived, they were grand affairs: BBQ Pork on Ciabatta Rolls, with salads and crisps on the side.  As we ate, we not only enjoyed the countryside, and the bicyclists’ jolly conversation, but we studied the backs of the stone buildings that lined this side of Askrigg’s main street.  For us, this was some of the romance of England: buildings centuries old, yet built to last. 

James Herriot didn’t live in Askrigg, but I can understand why the TV crew filmed “All Creatures Great and Small” here.  Aside from the satellite dishes on the houses, and the new cars parked along the street, I could easily tell myself I was lunching in the Darrowby of the 1930s or ‘40s.  The surrounding landscape certainly looked little changed from how it had appeared on the TV show.

Say, I wonder if one those bicyclists is named Tristan?

Dragon Dave

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