I opened the front door to Diamond House, our accommodation in Harrogate, knowing there would be stairs but hoping our room would not be on the top floor. Wishful thinking I’m afraid. Once the door was open fully I could see the narrow staircase in front of me…”bugger” I whispered to myself as Ty mumbled something I didn’t want to hear. Now it was just how many stairs did we have to climb this week.
We checked downstairs, there was a lounge and an eat in kitchen with a little back garden. No bathroom or loo down here!! Ok, there was no other choice now but to head up the stairs. The first landing uncovered a double bedroom and a large bathroom, more stairs and another landing uncovered more stairs and the last landing!!! We were now at the top of the house…where we found another smaller bedroom and a double bedroom with ensuite. Darelle asked Maryanne if she wanted the bedroom on the first landing and Maryanne said “No, you can have that room if you like”. Maryanne took the smaller room and we had the double with ensuite. It was sensible to have 2 people sharing each bathroom, if Darelle or Maryanne had the ensuite room one of them would have to walk through the others bedroom. I did offer that option just in case…..
Once the rooms were organised it was time to bring the luggage in. There were 37 steps and three landings…..2 long ones and a smaller one as the staircase had a couple of twists and turns to it. It would be a good idea to spend as much time away from the house as possible to ensure we don’t get o.s.s (overuse of stairs syndrome).
We had also found a better way of transporting our luggage up all these marvellous stairs. Ty didn’t need to be alpha male carrying everyone’s bags up stairs, huffing and puffing by the time he got to the 3rd bag. 2 people would carry each bag which, on some parts of the stairway was difficult, but worked much better. It also helped ease my guilt on booking these lovely character houses. Although, Ty has made noises about sticking to hotels from now on. Is he losing his sense of adventure???
The house is situated in a quiet cul d sac, a 10 minute walk from the High Street and with a small group of shops less than a 5 minutes walk. Very conveniently situated.
Harrogate is an old spa town in North Yorkshire and is ideally situated to travel west to Liverpool or east to York or Whitby….hmm, I could have those mixed as I have trouble with directions!! It’s a beautiful town with majority of buildings being made of stone. The High Street is much the same as many UK towns with stores such as H&M, M&S, Primark, HMV and others. Of course we aided the economy of the town by purchasing items of clothing, a new camera battery and various other items. We also helped British Mail by posting boxes of goodies home…..yes, I’m sure some of you may remember me saying “I won’t be purchasing much this trip as this is my 5th or 6th visit to UK”. Unfortunately they have summer sales on and aren’t we heading into summer???? I also purchased Xmas decorations for our tree..I buy decorations from different places which makes our tree decorating more interesting as each decoration recalls a memory. Ty says thank goodness we only put the tree up once a year for a short time, I’m sure friends and relatives say the same thing to each other!!! Ty has also been making rumblings about the number of UK decorations I’ve purchased this trip, he thinks our tree will have too many UK baubles and not enough “other country baubles”. That’s rich given we have at least 4 Vegas baubles so that’s cause in itself to ignore him.
Back to Harrogate….the name is said to come from ancient words for lots of stones or something similar. As well as magnificent stone buildings this town is full of parks, small parks with lovely gardens and larger parks (commons) that take up entire blocks. One such common is called The Stray and is 200 acres of lush green lawns. We saw people walking their dogs, football teams playing, joggers and people just sitting around relaxing, Many smaller ones are in and around the town centre.
Harrogate spas were first discovered in the late1500s and once the medicinal properties of the waters were published the town started to develop around the 1630s. Harrogate did not rest on its laurels as just a spa town, it also hosted a Eurovision song contest and, as you’ll see driving into town and wandering round town, they won a ‘flowers in bloom’ contest. Believe me the flower baskets and the flower beds are magnificent I wish I could grow them so successfully although the weather probably has a lot to do with the success. Living in a semi permanent dismal state, too many dull skies and lots of rain does not appeal to me at all.
If you’re thinking of moving to Harrogate house prices are very expensive and you would have to love lots of stairs!!!! There weren’t many single level dwellings, lots of fine grand houses though. Harrogate has prospered quite well given many spa towns become less important or lose their appeal as the years pass. It’s well worth a visit if you’re in the Yorkshire area, even make a detour it’s very well placed for a day trip from many places. you won’t be disappointed.
There are many tearooms in Harrogate, I could go so far as to say there are more tea rooms than pubs, but I won’t because I’d probably be wrong. One famous tearoom is Betty’s….we would have to sample their scones and cakes!!!!
We wandered to the High Street looking for a place to have morning tea and found a couple of clothing shops along the way. We came across an interesting looking arcade, very of old fashioned facade and wrought iron work. I had to go in to see what, if any, interesting shops it held. A couple of dress shops on the ground floor and a large billboard pointing us to a tea room on the 1st floor. “Shall we?” I asked the trio. “Why not” came the reply. Up the stairs we went, ahead of us we could see a hairdressers, on one side was a shop selling accessories and on the other side the tea rooms. They were had a couple of tables with people seated, some eating, others waiting for their orders to appear. It was a cute little place so we sat down and perused the menu.
Service was a little on the slow side but we weren’t in an hurry so we kept ourselves occupied by looking in the Accessories shop…..we thought it a bit odd there was no sales assistant on hand. However Harrogate also had signs everywhere that mentioned how they were a crime free town. A range of very pretty handbags sat on shelves or hung on racks around the walls of the little shop. All colours and types of scarves, some were draped over store dummies wearing costume jewellery to get the best effect, but we were trying to pace ourselves – we still had The Bullring in Birmingham, London and Singapore for shopping yet…don’t want to suffer burn out too early. Costume jewellery sat on glass shelves in the window shimmering and sparkling under the bright downlighting. Costume jewellery isn’t my “thing” so I ignored those.
The tea room waiter came to take our order…..scone with jam and cream and a weak latte for me, Ty ordered a sandwich and a cup of tea, Darelle ordered a scone with jam only and a cup of tea and Maryanne ordered a coffee. It took a couple of goes for him to write the order down correctly. Another couple arrived and sat on the lounge in front of us. I wondered how long they would have to wait to be served.
As we were sitting there I looked across at the accessory shop and still no sales assistant had appeared. Written on the window beside the entry to the store the following was listed:
Make up artist
An interesting mix of businesses so perhaps the person was out the back spray tanning someone. Whoever owned the shop was certainly embracing the multiskilling regime to secure their income and fair play to them it’s tough out there. Spray tanning and tanning beds are big business in UK given they don’t normally get enough sun to manage a gradual tan naturally.
Our waiter suddenly scurried past us, it had been 20 minutes since we’d placed our order – he had that rather rushed air about him – had he thrown a wobbly and left the building or was he off to borrow some milk from the hairdressers?? We watched in amusement as he came scurrying back with one of the hairdressers following close on his heels. The young man from the hairdressing salon helped make the coffees and served them, we never saw the kitchen hand but assumed there was someone out there organising the food. Eventually our harried waiter served our food and, obviously had noticed us wandering back and forth to the Accessories shop, told us that if we needed anything to let him know as they also own that shop!!!! Ah, it all fell into place, they obviously own the hairdressers as well! Hmm so who does the waxing and tanning and, if he does, does he do it between taking orders for tea??? Not an image I wanted to dwell on I can tell you. You could end up with wax on your cake instead of icing or icing on the parts needing waxing………don’t even mention the podiatry…..eewwhhh.
Whilst delivering our food the waiter was telling us about the business, suddenly a raised voice was heard from the kitchen….he immediately stopped chatting and headed straight back to the counter area. We assumed his wife did not condone idle chatter with customers. He did manage to impart, among other things, that his wife was also a trained podiatrist…….hmm note to self if we go back don’t order anything with slivered almonds……well you never know!!
After morning tea we headed off in search of other shops, namely clothing or shoes. It wasn’t long before we found both. We also took the time to sit in one of the parks and watch the people around us. Young people buying their pints of lager from the pub then finding a spot on the grass in the welcome sunshine to drink the amber liquid, older ladies in their pleated skirts and blazers siting on a park bench chatting. Visitors, like us, choosing strategic places in the park to take a photo. We also spied parking police wandering the street below us booking motorists who dared to go over the 2 hour parking limit. As you can imagine parking in this ancient town is at a premium and very costly. luckily we had a parking sticker supplied with the rental house.
Things were very relaxed and it was so warm in the sun 3 of us decided to have our own little picnic in the park as well. After lunch Ty laid down on the lawn and promptly fell asleep so Darelle and I moved away to a better vantage point. He was happily snoring away people would wander near him, stop, look at bit closer, then give him a wide berth.
Darelle and Maryanne decided to have dinner in…..they were fine dining….a microwave meal from Sainsbury’s Local, we opted for the Fat Badger…..not as our meal but as the place to eat. It was a pub about 5 minutes walk from us. The food was very good, more upmarket than the usual pub.fare. Talking about badgers, the only ones we’d seen were lying on the edge of the road with their little legs in the air. A sad sight but not as many badgers lying around as there are kangaroos at home on our country roads.
Later in the evening we decided we would visit Blackpool, given it’s only a 2 hour drive we will leave Harrogate after an early lunch as we intended to stay in Blackpool for the illuminations – so it’s good night from me.