Thursday, 15 May 2008

Up hill and down dale in Yorkshire

All we were trying to do was go and find Joanne. Jayne and I had set off in search of the creator of Chocolat when a dastardly hill presented itself...and my laptop went flying, possibly followed by a big cake tin which was probably what dealt it its final blow. My hangover was hellish after my evening with the Rusbys and life without the computer seemed harrowing, but we got our act together, rescued the hard drive and, actually, a return to the simple life of pen + paper seemed quite appealing.

I left the Brighouse lot and got on my way. It was time for a B&B again and I'd found a really sumptuous sounding one near Thirsk. I was late as usual and didn't arrive til 9.30pm. The owner greeted me with an enormous plate of spag bol (more like bol spag actually) and a large glass of warm Blue Nun and then bolted off to bed with her wife-beater donning Polish lover. I slept long and hard and woke up excited at the fact that I could end up anywhere I chose that day.

Off I went, straight onto the small roads and soon enough, as is becoming customary, there was a trail of slightly pained looking people behind. I feel like I know how it is to be a tractor driver now - especially up north where the hills are so steep. Changing down into third...and then second..and then, crikey - first gear. What if first fails me also? Am I supposed to turn the beast around and reverse up these obstinate inclines? So far it hasn't come to that but I wouldn't be surprised.

Ampleforth appeared on my map and I seized the opportunity. I rolled onto the marvellous campus, had a brief chat with Brother Henry who was doing the gardening (never seen a monk in shorts before) and then proceeded to the main hang-out area where I sounded the chimes and opened up the hatch. A mob descended - big, boisterous, beautifully behaved boys. Lots of pleases and thank-yous and endless ice cream orders. I toiled away, somewhat chaotic in the freezer, shifting flavours about, labouring over the pesky white chocolate ice cream and the churlish mocha. They jostled for space at the counter and every now and again an adult face would crane through the driver's window and ask if they could have a word.

"Do you have permission to be here?"
"..errm, well I asked a couple of monks...I'm just passing through...I'm doing a tour"

The first one's face softened in seconds. Back to biz I went with a cheer of relief from the boys. Then came a more determined teacher - he wanted me out of there, sharpish. He relented in the end just as my ice cream was also loosening up and I promised to not come fly-pitching again without permission. All done and dusted I steered Jimmy off towards the moody Moors. I'd decided to book into the La Rosa campsite on Jayne's recommendation and had to be there PDQ - not very easy when confronted with mile upon mile of cranky, severe gradients, nor when I wanted to stop all the time to lose myself in the bleakness.

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