23 February 2007

A Grand Day Out

As you well know, I did not have high hopes for the day. Before I went to bed last night there was no sign of having anything to look forward to but boredom and wallowing in self-pity.

Ha! The universe has its way with me again.

Today we went to Harrogate – a beautiful little village to the southeast of the Yorkshire Dales – for my birthday day out. It was fantastic, and not just because I got two new pairs of leather-lined boots!

Instead of the promised rain, the weather was mild and brisk and very pleasant indeed. In fact, the only rain we saw was from the inside of the Old Bell Tavern as we drank pints of Timothy Taylor and glasses of Lamb’s Navy rum and Coke (with lots of ice), refreshing ourselves after a hard day of shopping and eating.

We had a gorgeous* lunch at the Loch Fyne Restaurant in Harrogate and then a walk around the village. We ventured into a men’s shop that sold men’s clothing tailored in a traditionally English way and the husband bought an exquisite pair of handmade boots. He is as much of a shoe who-ore as I am.

We headed back to the town centre** and bought currant scones for tomorrow morning and lemon tarts (to serve as my birthday cake) from Betty’s Tea Room. Oh, the lemon tarts… They were exceptional – the perfect balance of sweet to tart, the kind that gives you that momentary flush from the tart, but none of the cloying taste of the "too sweet." Mmm, mmm, delish. It's a shame that we only bought the two because we both devoured them in record time (after a proper dinner, of course). I’ll be missing mine about an hour from now.

We wandered up a winding side street to burn a few calories and check out some of the shops off the beaten path, where we happened upon a killer shop called Velvet Rose - a smallish shop packed to the gills with the girliest of girly wares. The racks were sagging from the weight of organza, rumpled linen, velvet, rose-shaped brooches that wouldn’t be amiss on a woman from a Dickens novel and skirts fit for a Gibson girl - bustle and all! It’s exactly the sort of clothing I love and exactly the sort of clothing that makes me look like an ottoman with legs (which is why I never wear that kind of clothing). They also had a fa-hab-u-lous pair of brown leather boots with a four-inch heel and electric blue trim around the seams. These do not make me look like a walking ottoman, which is why they are now mine to stroke and yours to covet. Of course, with each step I hear Molly McGee's voice telling me, "lean way back on your heels." Hopefully I don't look like a clydesdale or an ottoman.

The husband and I went into another shop so that I could point out the ridiculous price tag on a Chloe handbag. I was so smug. I ended up with a second pair of boots. They are spectacular. Fortunately, they were of a price that we mere mortals could pay and the husband bought them for me as an extra birthday present. Awww…

With the shops and teahouses closing, we headed off to the Old Bell Tavern for a quick drink to relax for a bit and wait out the Friday night traffic. It was a proper pub with old, french-polished wood and real ales (9 to 12 percent alcohol content; none of this namby-pamby 4 or 5 percent) and locals throwing back a pint before heading home or off to a restaurant for their evening meal. I made a friend of the woman next to us as she admired our shopping prowess and I got to pet a sweet, if overly excitable, cocker spaniel who was hanging out with his (human) mates before walkies.

After a quiet drive home, we arrived to find a second bouquet of flowers (the first was from hubby this morning before we left) and cards and a sweet little package from my in-laws and nieces. I ate my butter chicken with vegetable naan from the Indian take-away and opened my e-mail to find a haul of e-cards from friends.

Like I said, "Awww..."

Even though I’m far away, I felt (for a moment) like I was home.

So, before I can miss my lemon tart, I’ll head for bed – with a smile on my face, humming “Happy Birthday To Me” – and know that it was a good day.

Thanks to everyone who made it happen.


* The British are fond of describing food with words like beautiful and gorgeous. They don't use arcane vernacular like delicious or tasty. Interestingly, scrummy is a perfectly viable adjective.

** They spell words that end in "er" like the French ("re"), for which you can be legally† drawn and quartered if you point it out to them.

† I'm not sure if it's legal, but they will‡ draw and quarter you if you point it out.

‡ Okay, they won't, but they will think about it.

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