The Original Spa Town of Harrogate in Yorkshire.

This posting is not in time sync with my travels. I traded this with Lincoln, which will now be posted on August 24th, 2013.

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Harrogate

I sip a cappuccino in a little cafe in the Valley Gardens in Harrogate as I key this in. I didn’t need a coffee, nor did I need a sitting break. I just wanted to sit here and take in this beautiful setting before continuing on. I take a photo directly using the iPad and post it on Facebook. It was drizzling as I drove here from York only an hour ago and it threatens to restart at any time.

I found the perfect parking spot, pay & display, in front of the City Council on central Crescent Road. I had researched and programmed this into the Sat Nav, the luck bit was having spaces available. A quick visit to the very friendly tourist information office across and the helpful staff have set me with a plan to enjoy Harrogate within a few moments. Also picked-up some funny postcards there that makes fun of Yorkshire sheep herders. In one sheep crowd a small pub as the bartender asks, “Does tha have to drop in for a pint on the way home Ted?”

I’d best continue on my wander before the rain does start again.

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I found great central parking in front of this City Council Office. I’m right behind the cream Mini.
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The people staffing this handsome information centre were helpful and friendly and set me up to best enjoy my visit to Harrogate.
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Agatha Christie, the mystery writer, disappeared for 10 days in 1926. She was found here, where she had apparently fled her failing marriage. Her husband came for her but it was not too long before she left for good and eventually got a divorce.
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An entry to the glorious Valley Gardens.
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I chatted briefly with the lady in red, ahead, about the interesting plant we were looking at and she kind-of ran away! I guess I scared her. I didn’t mean to.
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This rhubarb-looking plant was taller than me!

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These award-winning gardens are incredibly lush.

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I didn’t need a coffee and I didn’t need a break, but I could not walk past this little cafe without stopping to enjoy the moment with a pause.

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The view from my table as I wrote the beginning of this Harrogate posting.

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Garden photos would not be complete without including an interior shot of the public toilets. Just kidding. Except that I thought these were really neat contraptions, in the public toilets. Inset in the wall and taking the space of those built-in towel dispensers common in airports, this little inset unit had two buttons. Press one for soap and it dispenses. Twice, because the first time you don’t know where to catch it. Then press the other button and it provides water (for the duration that is probably most hygienic, which seemed a bit long) and in the very same place a hot air blower starts itself for the drying process.

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A closer view of the labels. Very clean washroom for a park!

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The optimistic, “Sun Pavilion”. Would not a rain pavilion get much more use? “What is that brightness above me? NO!!! The sun, the sun, it burns! Hurry, get us to the Sun Pavilion to seek shelter!” Just kidding. Except that it does seem to rain at some point most every day so not really.

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There is a really long corridor where one can walk from the entrance to the Sun Pavilion under the cover of vines.

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Just outside the gardens I take in the history of Harrogate with a visit to The Royal Pump Room Museum. Here I learned that people not only bathed in the waters, they also drank it. Harrogate enjoyed it’s greatest prosperity as a spa town between 1897 and WWII. During WWII many civil servants were relocated from London to Harrogate where many hotels were taken-over for their housing. The town never fully recovered it’s spa business after the second war, but it’s homeopathic treatments continued to attract medical tourism and later Harrogate redeveloped as a city that hosts many conferences which it continues to do today.

During it’s hey day apart from people coming here for various forms of hydro therapies, mostly it seemed to be a leisure ground for the ultra wealthy who enjoyed the past time of taking the waters. It was mentioned that ladies would be seen riding about it their carriages going “nowhere in particular”.

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Now the Royal Pump Room Museum where I am about to go inside.

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This amazing shower contraption from over a century ago has recently been replicated using modern technology and is available in bath stores. I noticed them when I was doing bathroom renos. I wasn’t tempted, I prefer bathing myself.

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I would say that a quick visit to this museum is a must to learn some of the history when visiting Harrogate. The staff were really helpful when I returned to the desk several times with questions.
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I make my way to the original Betty’s Cafe Tea Room. I had enjoyed one in York and today I get to visit the original. Established in 1919 by a Swiss Confectioner who happened here by accident. He got on to the wrong train. Fortunately, he liked what he found at his unexpected destination and now the third generation of his family continues to run the Tea Room business he created.

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The Original Betty’s Tea Cafe in Harrogate. The one I previously visited in York was nicer, but this one is nice too. I believe there is a nicer location in Harrogate, but by this time I have less than an hour left on my un-lengthenable parking.

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I continue writing about Harrogate while having their famous fruit scone, the fat rascal. Something about this place reminds me of my Aunt in Moncton, New Brunswick – she comes to mind every time I visit one. Could be the name. I sent Aunt Betty a postcard from Betty’s in York, perhaps I’ll send another from here.

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Such a happy time. The dessert cart has come for a visit!

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Some random photos taken around Harrogate. This one of the Crown Hotel, I think it would be an ideal location for a visit here although I know nothing of it.

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A traffic circle in front of the Crown Hotel.

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Bob and Margaret enjoy sitting in the park. I don’t actually know who they are, I just like calling couples I don’t know Bob and Margaret. Except not same-sex couples, that would be silly. I guess I could say Bob and Bob or Margaret and Margaret for those couples but for some reason I don’t.
I’d like to have a dog named Margaret someday.
I had a staff member named Margaret once, she was from Manchester. I will be visiting Manchester in some weeks and you can read about that visit in September over two separate postings.

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This is the only bath house that remains in use today. The others are mostly restaurants now.

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This bath house has become a Chinese restaurant.

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Another dose of beautiful countryside on my way to Leeds.

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