Fat rascals in the garden

In 2001, the Northern Horticultural Society (NHS) merged with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). The merger meant, among other things, that the RHS acquired Harlow Carr. Harlow Carr is a wonderful garden on the outskirts of Harrogate.

Originally, Harlow Carr was the location of sulphur springs. The land was purchased by Henry Wright who decided to build a spa. In 1844, he charged people two shillings and sixpence to come and stay at his hotel and sit in the sulphurous water. They were convinced it would do something for them. Mr Wright made a lot of dosh off the stupid people who wound up smelling of farts.

He made enough to set out the gardens around his hotel and spa.

Wright’s hotel eventually became the Harrogate Arms and the garden became Harlow Carr when the NHS leased the place in 1950. The Harrogate Arms closed in 2013, and we visited the garden in 2021.

It’s an amazing garden. Not huge like RHS Wisley, so you can get your head around it on one visit. There’s a lot of trees, some bountiful borders and water running through it.

There was also a lot of people visiting today. This maybe because the weather was so brilliant. It might also be because there are two Betty’s there. The queues for both the inside and outside places were long, but worth it.

Mirinda took her place at the end of the queue, inside the garden, while I guarded a table. I told her we had to have a fat rascal each. She wasn’t sure. Then she ate hers. She is now sure that I was right.

Anthea introduced me to the delights of these wonderful confections only a few weeks ago, but I think I may be addicted.

Full of fat rascal, we then started our wander around the grounds.

I rather liked the troll at the bridge but was disappointed that the mother pushing the stroller with her children in it didn’t tell them the story of the Billy Goats Gruff. The older child (5-6) pointed at the troll, and the mother knew that’s what it was but, sadly, she didn’t then explain the significance.

I don’t why people have stopped telling little kids stories, but it’s very sad.

For us, though, it was enough that we recognised it. I guess we were both told the story.

There were no goats.

There were, however, the giant heads that we saw at Wisley last year. This must be another stop on their extensive tour.

After a wonderful stroll through the entire garden, we paid Harrogate a short visit. I stayed overnight in Harrogate years ago, returning from Middlesborough having watched Aldershot lose in an FA Cup match. Nicktor, James and I spent the night in a lovely hotel before returning home the next day. I liked it enough to suggest Mirinda should visit. It only took eight years but, finally we did just that.

We parked Max in the multi-storey and went in search of a pub. We ended up at a bar.

Banyan is one of a number of bars along John Street in Harrogate. We can’t vouch for the food, but they make an excellent mojito and serve an interesting Belgian style wheat beer called Blue Moon. The atmosphere is nice, the furniture cool and the staff smiling. I usually prefer a pub but when you consider that the only pubs we found advertised sports TV, Banyan was, by far, the better option.

The story of Blue Moon is interesting. It’s an American craft Belgian style wheat beer but, because Americans need more sugary drinks, the brewer added orange peel to the brewing process. It gives the beer a strong citrus flavour that sweetens it slightly. It’s very easy to drink and, I’m sure, refreshing on a hot day.

While walking around the town, I came across the library. It received an endowment of £7,500 from Andrew Carnegie in 1903. Originally, the building was meant to be massive (it was described as a ‘palace’) but, in the end, just the library was completed. And, following major restoration work in 2010, it still operates as a library.

Having wended our way slowly back to the multi-storey, we headed back to our accommodation in order to rest up for dinner.

We’d decided to try the King’s Arms, just down the road, so Mirinda could have another bucket of red wine. Seriously, they serve the biggest measures of Merlot I think I’ve ever seen. They also have Copper Dragon on tap, which pleases me.

And dinner was a joy. We both had scallops followed by pork belly (me) and a steak (Mirinda). We also had dessert. Mirinda’s Mars bar cheesecake was, she said, excellent. My cherry Eton mess was so enormous, I couldn’t finish it.

Okay, the photo isn’t very good but the plate is a full sized glass dinner plate and the spoon to the right is a normal dessert spoon. This was a lot of dessert. It could easily have been shared by a family of ten. I managed most of it and just know I’m going to suffer a night of sleeplessness because of it.

Mind you, it WAS delicious.

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