Harry And Betty. 13th May

Clarence Dock or New Dock, Leeds

How many names for a dock can there be?!

A morning doing some research for panto, general Columbian scenes, rainforest. There’s a lot of colour about which is a good thing. I now need to concentrate on interiors and where some of the scenes could be set, John (writer and director) has left some locations blank so I have free reign!

It’s been a while since we last did one of these!

Mick did a touch of shopping, Saturday newspaper mainly, then we had some lunch before leaving Tilly grumpily in charge for the rest of the day.

A walk across the River Aire then round to the bus station. Today with the trains on strike we had no choice but to catch the bus, but what a pleasant ride it was.

River Aire

The 36 goes between Leeds bus station and Harrogate, occasionally on to Ripon. It worked it’s way through areas of Leeds like Chapeltown and then out into the countryside. The bluebells within the perimeter wall of Harwood House were stunning, we sped past too quickly to get a photo.

A bus with skylights

All the time the recorded announcements told us which stop was next and where we could visit should we alight at certain stops. I suddenly realised who the voice was, now a voice from his grave, Harry Gratian, he used to present BBC Look North and became quite a celebrity in North Yorkshire through the decades, even appearing in York Theatre Royals Panto! At times we almost felt as though we should take him up on his suggestions of alighting at certain stops.

The Royal Hall

The road surface turned for the worse as we came into Harrogate a very bumpy ride, we’d reached our destination. A walk through the centre of the town, past the theatre heading downhill all the time. Then past the Crown Hotel where Alan Bennet sat in 1988 making observations about the people around him and reflecting on his own upbringing (Dinner at Noon).

A modern staircase attached to the back of a typical Harrogate building, we pressed the button of the flat required and a chirpy voice invited us inside. Here lives my Godmother Betty. She has never looked after my religious needs as I don’t really have any, but she has always been there in the back ground, sending me cards and more recently emails whilst we’ve been on the boat.

The wonderful Betty

Betty was one of my Mum’s best friend at Leeds School of Architecture. Mum six foot, Betty around five foot. Her 92 years of age have naturally decreased her height, but most certainly not her personality. Today we’d timed a visit with what was to be one of her Grandsons 21st birthdays, but sadly Alfred had tested positive for Covid two days ago, so the London contingency had postponed their visit for a few weeks. However there was still quite a crowd. Matthew, Jules and Rose, along with Louise their cousin.

Betty and Pip 1968

Way back when I was the youngest of the kids on holidays to France where all three families shared gites. They were fantastic times sat on beaches building sandcastles and paddling canoes.

Cups of tea and slices of cake to mark Alfred’s birthday were consumed as we caught up on everyone’s lives. People looking that bit older from the last time we’d all been together about ten years ago. Back then I was concerned about Houdini moving to live on a boat, taking advice from Rose a veterinarian nurse. Back then Betty’s comment on our boating plans were ‘Now my dear, why on earth do you want to do that ?!’ Now she is quite happy with our chosen life and looks forward to the occasional postcards I send of places we’ve visited and food we’ve eaten.

A glass of wine was enjoyed before we headed off to catch the next bus back to Oleanna. What a lovely afternoon, so glad we’d arranged it, just a shame not to have seen Anna and her tribe, maybe next time.

The bus back was busy, the bus station busier.

Time to order ourselves pizzas. We both opted for the same topping, one gluten free. When Mick went to pick them up (cheaper to drink our own wine on board) our pizzas had been rejected as being over cooked, so he had to wait for them to be done again.

I think mine didn’t have quite as much topping as Mick’s, he certainly had more cheese and chicken! But they were very tasty. We sat up to watch the final score come in at Eurovision in Liverpool, having not seen or heard any of the songs.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 hours research, 1 newspaper, 2 buses, 92 years soon to be 93, 1 Godmother as bright as a button, 1 son, 1 daughter, 1 niece, 1 daughter in law, 2 bus passes, 1 lovely afternoon, 2 pizzas, 2 boaters snoozing through Eurovision.