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Greetings From Harrogate...
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
The Birdcage
Topic: Night Trips

Last Saturday we had a farewell do for Natasha. The evening started with dinner at the Thai Pavilion in Harrogate. From there we took a train to Leeds, aboard which we bedecked ourselves in black fuzzy halos, and black feather boas. Smile

Our destination was The Birdcage, where we had reservations in the vip area. (Pretty much that meant we had somewhere to sit when we weren't dancing.) The music was good, but the show wasn't what we thought it would be. It was supposed to be a cabaret, and interactive (not sure what that was supposed to mean!), but it turned out to be the occassional lip synch/dance number fronted by a drag queen. Even so, we had fun dancing the night away. My feet suffered greatly for it, but it was worth it!

Posted by hkvlayman at 4:11 PM BST
Friday, 5 October 2007
Carnival Messiah
Topic: Night Trips

Last Saturday, Carissa and I went to see the Carnival Messiah, at the Harewood House. Carissa had wanted to go do something, and found this event while poking around online. The Harewood House is a few miles outside of Harrogate, toward Leeds.

The show itself took place inside an enormous tent. It was a very professional production. There were colorful banners placed along the path to the tent. A few minutes before the show started, costumed dancers and performers warmed up the crowd with music and dance.

We lucked out with our seats. We didn't get tickets until we were at the venue, and only the "restricted view" seats were left. They were less than half what the full price tickets cost! As far as Carissa and I could tell, our view wasn't restricted at all.

Carnival Messiah is a production of the Messiah a la Caribbean/Carnival style, with lots of music and dance and colorful outlandish costumes. Or as Carissa put it, "Church on acid." Smile It really was! It was very entertaining. Have a gander:

Posted by hkvlayman at 3:31 PM BST
Thursday, 1 March 2007
The Original Ghost Walk of York
Topic: Night Trips

The Friday before Larry left (Feb. 16), we went on a ghost walk in York. We dropped Ryan off at Natasha's house, and were on the road at 7pm. York is only about 15 miles away, and the tour didn't start until 8pm. You would think an hour would be plenty of time to travel 15 miles and park. But no. This is North Yorkshire. Somehow it took us over an hour to get to York and park. Then we still had to find the King's Arms Pub, where the tour meets. We walked along the river Ouse (pronounced "ooze") on Dame Judi Dench walk. We realized we were never going to make the tour on time, but Larry was bound and determined to at least find the place.

We had pretty much chalked this trip up to Misbegotten Adventures in England (eternal thanks to Carissa for that title!), when we found the pub, AND saw that the tour was just a short way off and hadn't actually started yet. We showed up just in time to pay. (Darn!) It was a perfect night for a ghost walk: cool and misty, and dark. We'd been on a ghost walk before in Prague, but it was during high summer and it was still light out. Things just aren't as spooky in the light of day.

The tour got started, and was enjoyable. The gentleman telling the stories was an accomplished and entertaining storyteller. The stories were spooky and interesting. We walked around the city, listening to various tales. Before we knew it, the tour was over. Our tour guide had a book he'd written with all the stories and more in it, for only 3.50 pounds! Yes, we got a copy! I'm the one who wanted it, but Larry's the one who took off with it when he left for Maryland. Go figure!

There are at least a couple other ghost walks in York. Larry and I agreed it would be fun to collect them.

On the walk back to the car, we saw something swimming in the river we couldn't identify. It wasn't a duck or a fish. It seemed kind of skinny for an otter. I have no idea what varieties of semi-aquatic wildlife populate the river Ouse. Seeing an odd creature swimming in the river was a fitting end to our ghost walk experience!

Posted by hkvlayman at 4:24 PM GMT
Wednesday, 12 October 2005
Fountains By Floodlight
Topic: Night Trips
On Saturday, October 8, Larry and Ryan and I visited the Fountains Abbey, to see the Fountains By Floodlight. It is said that, "Getting there is half the fun." Getting there was in some doubt for a while. All day and into the evening it rained quite a bit. However, about an hour or so before we needed to leave, the skies cleared. The Abbey is in nearby Ripon. I looked on a map to see how to get there. I said to Larry, "It should only take about ten or fifteen minutes to get there." This was met by much laughter on Larry's part. As the crow flies, Ripon is only about twelve miles from Harrogate (directly north). However... there are really only two-lane back roads that twist and turn and meander in the general direction of the next town or village. It took over half an hour for us to get there, and that was without traffic! Once we were there, it took us a while to figure out where to park and where to go in. Trust me, this wasn't obvious. One of the things about the States is that from stores to national monuments, parking and entrances are always extremely obvious. Not so abroad. One of my favorite examples of this is the Fortress in Wuerzburg. You have to drive through a neighborhood to get there.
Anyhow, we eventually figured out where we needed to go and where we could park. The entrance fee was half-price in the evening, which was nice. Also, the area is very stroller-friendly, which is now something I very much appreciate. Admission was through the gift shop/visitor's center, then it was a little bit of a walk to the actual Abbey.
Our neck of the woods is, as Larry likes to say, "out in the boondocks." It's mostly rural, so there's almost no light pollution whatsoever. Most of the way between Harrogate and Ripon there aren't even street lights. As we walked from the visitor's center, I looked up and was amazed to be able to see the Milky Way, and more stars in the sky than I've seen in a long time. There was so little man-made light that the sky was almost black. All those little dim stars that you don't normally see were visible. Larry commented that it was weird to see the Big Dipper so low in the sky. I agreed.
The way to the Abbey was mostly downhill. We had to go through a couple of closed gates to get there. That was something I wasn't used to. In the States closed gates would normally mean "don't pass," but at the Abbey they were simply to be opened, passed through, then closed again.
We finally got to the Abbey. Gregorian music played, adding to the atmosphere and beauty of the flood-lit ruins. I was surprised at how many other people were there. It was by no means crowded, but we definitely weren't the only ones around. I saw several people with cameras and tripods. Speaking of, we didn't manage to get very many good photos. I would love to blame the camera, but since you can adjust the settings six ways from Sunday, I'm inclined to think it was the operators. Larry and I did our best, but with the unusual conditions, most of the photos turned out blurry. We did get a few decent ones though.
In one section of the Abbey, there was a live choir performing. They were very good. We stayed for a few minutes, enjoying the music. It was chilly out, so we didn't stay long. Ryan tolerates the cold well, but we didn't want the little guy to get too cold. We started our walk back. That's when it really hit me just how downhill the walk there had been!
There is a lot to see at Fountains Abbey. They also have a lot of events throughout the year. Larry and I are probably going to get a membership with the National Trust, which I believe gives members entrance to a number of sites throughout the country. Here is a link to the Fountains Abbey website: Fountains Abbey It's got a lot of interesting information. Click here for more pictures from our evening at the Abbey.Link to Photo Album Fountains By Floodlight

Posted by hkvlayman at 12:35 PM BST
Updated: Wednesday, 12 October 2005 3:52 PM BST

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