We didn’t have tapas

One of my favourite people on Twitter is The Man in Seat 61. We’ve been following him for years. He loves public transport even more than me. Which, in and of itself, is extraordinary. He created an amazing website full of train routes throughout Europe.

Anyway, yesterday he tweeted about a race. It was a race from London to Glasgow by two chaps. Friends Norman and Paul. The race was the idea of the Campaign for Better Transport and pitted a plane against a train.

Norman and Paul started off from Piccadilly Circus. They both arrived in George Square, Glasgow with only two minutes between them. The train trip takes 4 hours 30 minutes. The plane takes an hour. The plane trip was crowded and uncomfortable, the train was smooth and easy.

The guy on the plane turned up first but, it’s obvious who the winner was.

There were no planes or trains for us today. And, for our final day in North Yorkshire, there was no racing around. In fact, it was a very easy day.

Our only touristy thing was a return to Fountains Abbey for the light and sound show. Other than that, we spent a lovely couple of hours having lunch with Bev and Jon.

We’d arranged to meet up halfway between us (they live an hour away from where we’re staying) and, after a few false starts, decided on The Aldwark Arms, a lovely little pub in an equally lovely little village.

Bev, Jon & Mirinda

The chat was fun and free flowing and the food was delicious. While we all had mains, I knew I had to have the crème brûlée with Drambuie as well. (See my review in the brûlée page.)

Possibly one of our most interesting chats referred to Peter the Hermit. I’d forgotten his name so he was referred to as Roger the Hermit throughout the conversations but, it was the same hermit nevertheless.

Peter was the hermit who gathered together thousands of peasants to take them to their slaughter in the Citizen’s Crusade following the pope’s decision to retake the Holy Land in 1095. I thought it was a bit odd how they interpreted the word ‘hermit’ back then. This prompted Jon to tell us about his time scanning and surveying a hermit’s cave. This hermit was the pet of some rich landowners who kept him on their land in order for him to pray for their souls because they were too rich to do it themselves.

There was quite a lot of conversations very much like the above and we had a loud and rousing time before heading back to our respective homes.

After a rest to get over lunch, we headed out for the sound and light show at Fountains Abbey. And what fun it was. Mind you, the singers in the cellarium could do with a better sound person. As we walked into the space, it was just a cacophony of sound, a mix of singing, piano, parents and kids.

The sound smoothed out a bit after entering but the piano dominated the sound system to the point that there was some awful feedback on the lower registers. As we walked closer to the front and found a seat, we were treated to solos from Mary Bennett, whose real name I didn’t catch, Monica and Anna. The poor things were suffering under the sound engineer.

It was obvious that the choir would have sounded far better without the piano. That’s not to say that the pianist wasn’t very good. He was, but his instrument just dominated everything, drowning out the singing. Which was a shame. In particular the last piece they sang would have been quite extraordinary if sung a cappella, especially given the venue.

Still, having sat through the last half hour or so of the singing, we wandered around the ruins, enjoying the lights and shadows of a long ago world.

I could have done without all the personal torches which only served to ruin the ambience but, otherwise, it was hauntingly beautiful. Jon had told us at lunch that he used to run a sort of school for training people on why they needed surveyors, using Fountains Abbey as the subject. I wonder if they’d ever seen the light and sound show. It’s definitely a must see site in North Yorkshire.

Well done, National Trust.

Afterwards, we headed into Ripon to have tapas. The tapas place we wanted to try was full, the chef sadly shaking his head at me, as I looked pleadingly from the open doorway. We had a less than thrilling Italian meal instead. We vowed to return to this part of North Yorkshire in order to go to the Manchego restaurant. But we’ll make sure we book next time.

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