Showing posts with label Northallerton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Northallerton. Show all posts

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Two days in James Herriot country

The advantage of moving around a lot is that you feel at home in most places.

And that was certainly the case when we made a two-day trip to North Yorkshire this week. We lived in James Herriot country for three years and I’ve got very happy memories of our time there.

We renovated a three-bedroom farmhouse with glorious views across the fields and moved in when my daughter was four and my son was two. Even now they are virtually grown up they still talk fondly about our Rye House days. I’m not surprised, because they had the best social life ever. My daughter’s primary school was a short walk down the hill and most of her friends lived a stone’s throw away. She had tea at a different friend's house every day of the week and she still keeps up with loads of them on Facebook.

When we drove into the village at dusk we peered across the school playground, marvelling at the new classrooms and trying to spot whether the wooden bird my daughter made was still on display. Her year 1 teacher (one of her favourite teachers ever) was called Miss Wright and drove a retro white VW Camper van. She worked incredibly hard and 14 years later we half expected to see it still parked outside.

As well as seeing friends and family, we also made our regular trip to Bettys in Northallerton for coffee. When my son was little I often took him there for homemade lemonade and a toasted teacake after school and he once melted the heart of an elderly waitress by saying “Bettys make the best teacakes in the whole, wide world.”

He was absolutely right, of course.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Bettys - the top tea place in the land

When my children were younger we always spent Easter in the Lake District – an idyllic place for fresh air, bracing walks round Derwentwater and Easter egg hunts overlooking the Newlands Valley. The last Easter we spent there, two years ago, was just a few months after the terrible Lake District floods, when towns and villages were cut off from the outside world and the whole area was turned into a mud swamp. But spring seemed to mark the start of a new beginning. The sun came out, the daffodils danced in the breeze and even the sheep looked like they had a spring in their step.
One day we’ll go back, but these days Easter revolves around revision for the dreaded impending exams. My son’s up to his eyes in chemistry papers, while my daughter’s pouring over endless books about the history of American capitalism. Eeek!

But the one thing that hasn’t changed about Easter is Bettys. My in-laws live in north Yorkshire and when my husband whizzed up to see them on Good Friday he popped into Bettys in Northallerton to buy three of their amazing Easter eggs.

If you’ve never been to Bettys Café Tea Rooms you’re missing a treat. There are only six branches– one in Ilkley, one in Northallerton and two each in Harrogate and York – plus a very good mail order service. Despite countless pleas from customers, the company hasn’t opened any outside Yorkshire. Their elegant cafés, staffed by smiley waitresses in starched white pinnies, serve everything from Bettys famous Fat Rascals (a sort of giant scone with cherries and almonds) to lunch and afternoon tea. But their Easter eggs are works of art. Made from the best quality chocolate and hand decorated with delicate spring flowers or chocolate buttons, they are so stunning that I haven’t dared eat any of mine yet. I won’t hold out for much longer though!

PS. I was thrilled to see that Bettys in Northallerton has just been named the best place in Britain to have afternoon tea. The Top Tea Place accolade was given by The Tea Guild, which has been running the awards for nearly 30 years. As Irene Gorman, head of The Tea Guild, said: “The attention to detail, quality of food, lovingly prepared by their team who strive to ensure, where possible, that all food is sourced locally, and whose excellent knowledge and service of teas served, is second to none.”

The award is SO deserved. For three years we lived in a tiny village just four miles outside Northallerton and every Monday afternoon, after I’d collected my children from school, we’d drive to Bettys for tea. My son always had a tea cake, my daughter a pink fondant fancy, and we’d drink lashings of Earl Grey tea. It was perfect in every way. WELL DONE BETTYS!

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