Glorious sunshine, lovely company, chauffeur-driven, incredible scenery - what more could anyone wish for on their birthday?
My friend took me out for the day and we went into Nidderdale. It is maybe a lesser-known Dale towards the Southern edge of the Dales, and is called after its river - the Nidd. There is a river called Nidd in Norway - I think flowing through Trondheim - so I presume it to be a Viking word. It is a picturesque river and where it flows through its Dale it is quite small as you will see from the photograph - but it eventually flows into Knaresborough, where it takes on a much more mature face.
We left home at ten o'clock and drove a short way towards Ripon before branching off into the high country. Up there on the tops it is wild and empty, populated only by Swaledale sheep. The heather has finished flowering and has gone brown so we drove through miles of this open moorland before Nidderdale opened up in front of us - a pretty dale, peppered with tiny grey stone villages looking so neat and tidy in the Autumn sunlight. Everywhere we looked there were patches of deciduous larches standing tall and golden in the sun and beech trees in their weekend of glory lighting the landscape like Hallowe'en lanterns.
There was a lot of cloud overhead but round the edges was blue sky, so we decided that it wasn't going to rain - and we were right. After going through several small villages my driver suddenly turned off over the River Nidd and into a tiny hamlet where there was the most beautiful Country House Hotel. The hamlet was Wath and the hotel The Sportsman. Here, in a cosy, well-upholstered, warm, pretty lounge we had a tray with a cafatiere of coffee and a plate of biscuits, served by a charming and welcoming young lady - very civilised. As we came out we gave my friends dogs a Utility Walk (as she chooses to call it) and I took photographs of the river from the pretty little bridge.
Then it was on into Pateley Bridge - Nidderdale's market town. We didn't stop here but I took a photo from the moving vehicle so that you could see what it looks like.
And then it was off again over Grassington Moor, another high moorland place, although this one has a main road running through it, so there is more traffic. We stopped at the Old Hall Hotel for lunch. We had (to quote the menu) Award-winning sausages on a bed of mash, with onion gravy. I hope your mouths are watering - it was delicious. Here we met a lovely rescue dog, reputedly Border Collie cross Labrador, with such a shiny black coat, white feet and a tiny white tip on his extra-long tail.
Then we were off again (Heather, Marmalade Rose and all other embroiders can feel jealous here) to Embsay Mills near Skipton - an embroiderers Mecca. We had a lovely mooch, were sorely tempted - in fact I spent the Birthday money my friend had just given me on a lovely box
of materials (see photograph in order to feel intense envy those mentioned above!)
A cup of coffee in the cafe and then it was home again by a different but equally pretty route, through villages with lovely sounding names - Kirby Malzeard, Grewelthorpe, Masham - ending up back at home just as the farmer was about to light the pumpkin.
Lovely birthday - thank you dear G.