Up betimes, in order to be at Harrogate Hospital by 7.30 a.m. Yesterday was a day of white-coat-syndrome-induced high blood pressure, insensibility whilst under the knife, and not a little discomfort for Malcolm. He’s been waiting for months for some minor surgery, and now he’s had it, his life should get a lot more comfortable.
I, meanwhile, had to spend the day in Harrogate waiting for the call to go and collect him. I had quite a few errands to run in any case, and after that it wouldn’t have been worth traipsing back and forth from North Stainley.
So I did my jobs, and then had plenty of chance to loaf about. I’m not the world’s keenest shopper, but I do have a favourite charity shop in Cold Bath Road. Our friend Jonet volunteers there, sifting through and sorting donated books. I love the serendipity of looking along the shelves crowded with fiction old, new, English and foreign, next to an eclectic collection of non-fiction. As usual I left the shop with a satisfyingly large pile of reading, and this time, a new-to-me summer dress.
Then I headed for green space. What makes Harrogate a special town is its area of open parkland in the centre of the town – the Stray. It was created from common pastureland in 1778 to link most of Harrogate’s springs (it’s a spa town after all) and an Act of Parliament preserved its size at 200 acres. Even now, if part of its area is lost due to, for example, road widening, it must be replaced elsewhere. It’s pretty unique to be able to step directly from busy shopping streets straight onto a vast green area unbounded by railings or fences. Paths and roads will lead you through this green space to other parts of town. Like me, you could walk across the Stray to get to the hospital, or to reach the community round Cold Bath Road with its neighbourhood shops and Victorian housing. And yesterday, you could enjoy, as I did, the crocuses which have burst forth in their hundreds and thousands in glorious lakes of colour – purple, mauve, sunshine yellow and white. They’ll be followed in a week or so by an equal multitude of daffodils, and then avenues of cherries will blossom in all their pink finery. Here’s a few shots of Harrogate Stray on the warmest day of the year so far.