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To Harrogate, somewhat disorganised

July 28, 2010

Despite what anyone says,  Agatha Christie did not disappear for eleven days in 1926. She simply wasn’t where anyone was expecting to find her. Instead she was here, at the very lovely Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate.

Front of the Old Swan hotel, Harrogate 

After spending Friday night there courtesy of the fine folk at the  Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, I’m hoping some of the Christie magic has rubbed off. If not, there were plenty of living crime writers around to learn from.  (Husband has just winced at this ungrammatical sentence construction. Apologies to anyone who objects to ending a sentence with a preposition. As Winston Churchill is alleged to have said, ‘that is something up with which I will not put.’ ) Meanwhile, back in Harrogate…  

I especially enjoyed a panel discussion between ‘gritty’ and ‘cosy’ authors – turns out the ‘gritty’ folk are surprisingly unscary and the ‘cosy’ ones aren’t as soft in the centre as you might think. Outside the formal events, there was time to wander the middle of town enjoying a game of spot-the-author. Unfortunately this had to be abandoned early on Friday evening for a solitary and desperate game of spot-the-open-shoeshop. (The result of packing at the last minute, very late at night.)

 More rushing about meant the chance to catch a few hours in York before driving home.  In Museum Gardens they were announcing

  

 Possibly they were referring to this, on a hoarding outside the nearby Yorkshire Museum:

   

 but ‘The New Yorkshire Museum opens on 1 August’  wasn’t especially good news for those of us who hadn’t done our homework, and turned up in July.  Still, there’s no shortage of things to see in York. I will restrain any urge to wax lyrical about the apsidal end of the legionary bath house in the cellar below this pub, but it really is rather good…

   

Regular visitors to the blog may recall discussions about the presence of Africans in Roman York. So it’s entirely appropriate that crowds had gathered just down the road to hear a superb music-and-dance group from Zimbabwe (who may or may not be called Siyaya):

  Zimbabwean music and dance group in street performance 

Vowing to return when the museum’s open, I spent most of the long drive down the motorway happily listening to Ian Rankin’s gripping novel, ‘The Complaints’. Today an official letter arrived. Seems I was so gripped by Ian Rankin that I failed to notice the speed limit.

 It’s been an interesting weekend.

  

   

 

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2 comments

  1. Ruth, I love York too, and have been impatiently waiting for the refurbished Museum to be open. I must try and get over there next week. They had some interesting Roman stuff before, and I gather they’ve expanded the Roman display. Quite right too – the Vikings have had plenty of publicity in York, now it’s time the Romans were in the limelight!


  2. Yes indeed. And I see from ‘The Guardian’ that while some other museums have spend inordinate sums on their refurbs, the Yorkshire has managed to do a grand job for a couple of million because all the staff have pitched in and tried some DIY. Which makes me all the more frustrated to have missed it…



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