Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Road to Harrogate

The title of this post, for anyone who knows Yorkshire, sounds like a metaphor. "I was born in Leeds but I'm on the road to Harrogate". For Harrogate is a Cut Above. Frightfully refined. It boasts the famous Betty's Cafe for a start.

My cousin's daughter Olivia used to work there. She is dainty and elegant, just like I'm not. I have never set foot in Betty's for various reasons. Firstly, it's jolly expensive and secondly, places like that intimidate me. Anything I didn't drop I'd knock over. Blue-rinsed ladies wearing strings of real pearls would look at me disparagingly as china teacups crashed to the floor and scones bounced amongst the elegant footwear.

However, also in Harrogate is the splendid White Hart Hotel, which is often used for training courses for doctors, nurses and simulated patients. This is much more my kind of thing. Lovely place, fascinating work: and so it was today, though I can't tell you what as it's strictly confidential.

But first I had to get there: and that's why I was on the road to Harrogate at eight o'clock this morning.

It's only thirteen miles, door to door. I had to be there at nine, so I left the house at eight. An hour for thirteen miles!

The trouble is, the road was made before cars were invented. So it's both winding and narrow in places. The speed limit keeps changing. There are roundabouts, and side roads, and agricultural vehicles. However, drivers assume that because it's the main road to Harrogate from Leeds it must therefore be a motorway.

This morning it could indeed be said to resemble a motorway: yes, the M25 around London. There are cars on that road that have been there since the day it opened, unable to escape. It is a kind of circular car park.

This morning the road to Harrogate was dark, and it was raining, and there was lots of spray, and there was nose-to-tail traffic. Occasionally we would reach a foggy bit and it was then that some big flash car would hurtle up behind me at lightning speed and hover there in a kind of "I know the sign says 40mph but LET ME PAST NOW!" way.

I wish that my car had a sign for "Is your wife in the passenger seat in the final stage of labour? Well if not - - GET BACK!"

There were plenty of cars going in both directions. People with delusions of grandeur who choose to live in Harrogate but who are forced to support their extravagant lifestyle by working in "where there's muck there's brass" Leeds. And people who live in Leeds but work in Harrogate and aspire to move there one day and never clap eyes on Leeds again.

It took all my attention, I can tell you. I had to use all three gears. I slipped into the White Hart at one minute to nine and was grateful that quite a few people arrived after me, having met with similar delays.

On days like this I always remember, with pleasure, that I work in different places and don't have the same commute every day. And I count myself very fortunate.


Blogger Silverback said...

And I count myself very fortunate that I'm retired and so don't have to go to Harrogate for ANY reason !

But as for Betty's....noooooo it's as common as muck in there. Jeans, flip flops, t-shirts, bulging waistlines, loud obnoxious voices.

But go there AFTER the female New York tourists have left.........;-)

(oops little bit controversial there)

12:00 am  
Blogger Katherine said...

The commuting rat-race... Ah yes.
Someone like me toddling along that road at 11.30 in the morning would say 'oh how picturesque this is, so lovely and narrow and winding!'

We are lucky here in Tauranga that there are many different ways of getting out and around problem areas. And in any case, with only 120,000 people, there's not a serious congestion problem at any time.
But I wouldn't like to have to work in Auckland each day...

12:04 am  
Blogger Helsie said...

The commute sounds awful but even here in Oz we've heard of Betty's.
We went to one in York (I think ). went downstairs but couldn't afford the afternoon tea thing. If I remember rightly there was a queue out the door at one stage waiting for a table for lunch ( tourists probably ??).Nice but very expensive. De Gray's in Ludlow was a delightful spot for a cream tea and much more reasonable with a lovely atmosphere.

12:25 am  
Blogger Daphne2 said...

Dreadful journey to Harrogate. I live in SW Leeds and a few years ago turned down a job in Harrogate because of the commute - it's only 18 miles but my "research" showed that I would need to allow an hour and a half or more for the morning commute. A friend and neighbour in the retail trade occasionally used to manage a shop in Harrogate and had to leave at 7.30 to be sure of opening on time, at 9.30! I've never been to Betty's either - too much hype.

7:46 am  

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