Birds, birds everywhere, but not a Cormoran(t) in sight!
Holibobs! OK, it’s just a long weekend in Yorkshire, but it’s a break…and there’s a hot tub on the horizon.
Over the years I’ve visited a few Hoseason’s lodges and they are a great place to wind down. The ones I go to are usually in a remote place where you can unwind and relax with a bottle of Prosecco, a book and a hot tub. There are usually places to walk and explore and they’re great if your idea of fun is peace and quiet!
This winter (it’s always winter when I go, best time to go I think for hot tubs) I decided to try a new location. Cedar Retreats in West Tanfield is relatively new, about 4 years old, and near the Yorkshire Dales. As I was heading northwards, I thought I’d stop off at York for a little wander around The Shambles, a bite of lunch, and a quiet pint at the iconic King’s Head by the river. Iconic because it is prone to flooding, it even has a sign on the pub wall showing how high the water has risen!
Thirst slated and onto West Tanfield, a lovely little village near Ripon. The welcome at Cedar Retreats was warm, and we were directed to our lodge. Now the brochure shows lodges surrounding a duck pond, but in the company’s defence, they do state that you need to advise them if you want a duck pond view. Our lodge was quiet and out of the way, and not overlooking the duck pond. As much as I love wildlife, three ducks started having a squabble about 11:30 at night, and it was then that I was relieved I wasn’t near the pond. I was trying to relax in the hot tub and I just wanted to hunt them out with a vat of orange sauce. That from a veggie…terrible!! Even worse, the next morning when I opened the patio doors, Mr and Mrs Duck decided they would join me for breakfast.
I hadn’t made any plans with what to do with my time away, often my plans are weather dependent, so I just decided I would take each day as it came. The hand book supplied in the lodge suggested a place called Thorp Perrow Arboretum for a good day out. The sun was shining, and I had just signed up to a digital photography course to learn how to take better photos and get the best out of my Canon EOS700D. A day shooting the springing snowdrops seemed a pleasant way to spend a sunny day. There is a bird of prey centre at the arboretum and seeing as I missed out on a planned visit to a bird of prey centre a few weeks ago because my cat was poorly, I thought I’d check this one out. A flying demonstration was due to take place, so I took a seat on a bench at the front of the display area and the head falconer Lindsey introduced us to three owls. She was so entertaining, informative and clearly had built up a wonderful relationship with the birds. She had them flying and sitting next to the people on the benches, and I just sat and held my breath as these owls sat next to me.
I was enthralled. I had recently started reading H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald and the magnificence of these birds was just starting to dawn on me. I hadn’t realised the connection that could be achieved by the falconer and the birds, it was pure poetry watching the trust between raptor and human. A further demonstration was to be held a couple of hours later with three different birds and so I wandered off for a cup of tea before coming back to witness George and Mildred, a couple of Crested Caracarra who were great entertainment value.
I hadn’t realised just how close Masham was to where I was staying, it was only about ten minutes away in the car. By the time I’d finished at the brewery it was too late to go into the village for a meander round, so the next morning I went for an early walk by the river in West Tanfield, and then after breakfast I set off to Masham to take a few photographs around the town square. Why? Well some of The Cormoran Strike series was filmed there, and I like seeing the differences between what you see on TV and what the real place is like. Normally I will go to places after I have seen them on screen, but as the opportunity was there I thought I should take it.
Masham is still as pretty as I remember it from over ten years ago. I walked through the church the production crew had filmed at and the graves were carpeted in spring snowdrops. It really was peaceful. It was hard to imagine a film crew had been bustling around there only weeks before. At the back of the graveyard a gate leads across the fields and down to the river. I wandered down and followed the path round, fortunately, despite having no idea where I was going, it turned out to be a circuitous walk which eventually took me back to the village.
More cheese Gromit?!