Trompe-l’œil in Knaresborough

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire

Knaresborough is a characterful town just along the road from us. And one of its characterful features is that around any corner, you may find a house with a deceptive window or doorway. These are not real windows and doors, though they’re painted to look authentic enough. They’re trompe-l’œils. One day, I’ll produce a town trail of all of them. For now, here’s a taster from our visit on Saturday.

Anybody famous here?

For Ludwig’s Monday Window….

And Marsha’s Photographing Public Art Challenge

Our well-travelled tourists … and guests


We do like to be beside the seaside..... at Whitby.

We do like to be beside the seaside….. at Whitby.

According to my daughter and son-in-law, there’s an old Chinese proverb that says that guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.

According to our friend Kalba, it’s Benjamin Franklin who coined exactly the same phrase.

Either way, received wisdom is that nobody can put up with house guests for more than a very few days without losing their patience, their good humour, and the friendship.

Our Ariegeois friends have just proved all that wrong.  They stayed ten days, and it was wonderful.  Though pretty exhausting, it was nothing but pleasure to spend an extended period with friends whom we value, but see far too little, and a fantastic chance to showcase Yorkshire – or a tiny portion of it anyway.

In my last post, I did a whistle-stop tour of our first few days together.  Here’s how the rest of the holiday went….

Knaresborough, with its wonderful 19th century railway viaduct spanning the River Nidd…

Knaresborough Viaduct.

Knaresborough Viaduct.

An obligatory coffee-stop at Betty’s, Yorkshire’s most famous tea room…..

Christine and a plate of Bett's scones.

Christine and a plate of Betty’s scones.

A meander round the Valley Gardens in Harrogate…..

The Valley Gardens

The Valley Gardens

A trip to the fantastic geological outcrops of Brimham Rocks

Brimham Rocks.

Brimham Rocks.

A day when our friends more than paid for their board by taking charge and getting our wood delivery for the winter shifted and sorted……

Max making a fine job of stacking the wood.

Max making a fine job of stacking the wood.

An evening with Ripon’s Wakeman, who since AD 886, has ‘set the watch’ to guard the citizens, sounding his horn at 9.00 p.m. every evening – every single day, whatever the weather, whatever the circumstances…..

The Wakeman and his horn.

The Wakeman and his horn.

A trip to York…..

The Shambles, once the street where all the butchers were, now a tourist Mecca. Wikimedia Commons.

The Shambles, once the street where all the butchers were, now a tourist Mecca. Wikimedia Commons.

A day in Whitby, fishing port, tourist destination, jet-mining town, and home of Dracula’s author, Bram Stoker…… Oh, and we ate fish and chips.  Of course.

The harbour at Whitby.

The harbour at Whitby……

..... and a line of cormorants.

….. and a line of cormorants.

And that’s only the headlines.

Harrogate: le Tour de France se prépare

Festivals, Harrogate, Yorkshire

Knaresborough Market Place.

Knaresborough Market Place.

Off to Harrogate today, via Knaresborough, which has just been voted Best Dressed Town ahead of the Tour de France.  It’s done a fine job.  The whole town is festooned with bunting: not the signature knitted-yellow-jersey bunting favoured all over the rest of the district, but hundreds upon hundreds of white T-shirts, decorated by the schoolchildren of the town.  It all looks very festive, and combined with a yellow bike trail to send you bike-spotting down every street and in every shop window, it’s made for a fine community effort.  I still have a soft spot for red-spotted Hawes however, which we visited last week.  But Knaresborough’s Mayor has tricked out his house in red spots too.

Knaresborough's spotted house on a busy corner.

Knaresborough’s spotted house on a busy corner.

Harrogate though.  What a shock.  We were diverted away from West Park Stray, and once we’d  parked up, we discovered why.  This usually car-filled thoroughfare was a pedestrian-only zone.  No, that’s not true.  There were no cars, but instead, huge articulated lorries, buses, media vehicles from all over Europe, Tour de France  vehicles so large that no ordinary parking place could accommodate them.  There was even an immense lorry whose purpose was to offer, at just the right moment, 3 rows of tiered seats for about 3 dozen spectators.  All this circus came from the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Germany…. but above all, from France.

All around us, busy teams of workmen and women, technicians, electricians, craftspeople, media types rushed busily around, talking in the main in French.  We spotted registration plates from Val-de-Marne; le Nord; Pas-de-Calais; even the Haute Garonne, the next door département to the Ariège.  And suddenly, I was assailed by homesickness.  It was just like being back in France.  There was even a marquee filled with one particular team of workers sitting down together and sharing a midday meal.  That really whisked us back.  We wandered about, listening in, and engineering conversations with any French type taking a breather.  England’s nice, we’re given to understand, but our motorways are a nightmare.  We know.

But this immense team is only one of several.  There are others in Leeds, in York, in Sheffield, Cambridge and London, the other five towns where the three English stages begin or end.  I’d never previously understood quite what an industry the Tour de France really is.

Local teams from Harrogate itself had already uprooted many of the town’s pride and joy, its colourful flower-beds, in favour of providing viewing platforms for spectators who want to see the Race finish there on Day One.  I expect it was the right decision.  No self-respecting flowers could survive the expected onslaught, and the beds that remain look particularly magnificent.

When we’d looked around for a while, we nipped into a supermarket for some odds and ends we’d forgotten.  This is what the fresh produce department looked like……….

One more shopping day before le Tour.....

One more shopping day before le Tour…..

Normal life has been suspended, for one weekend only.

Back in the shopping quarter, Duttons for Buttons celebrates le Tour ... entirely in buttons.

Back in the shopping quarter, Duttons for Buttons celebrates le Tour … entirely in buttons.