Some people would probably find it amusing that our itinerary included Brighouse, West Yorkshire… Most wouldn’t have heard of it, and neither had I. We’re staying in Brighouse with an old friend of mine (Dan) who spent a few weeks on the couch in my house in North Lambton many years ago when he was backpacking around Australia. He’s now a (famous) emcee in a couple hip-hop crews, Flame Griller and the Shedmen.
It wasn’t Brighouse that brought us to Yorkshire though, it was the countless stories about the area I’ve heard from my mate Sam Berry as well as the hundreds of games of FIFA we played as Huddersfield Town FC and the delicious, rich ales that they brew around here.
Our first stop was Theakston Brewery in Masham. A family owned brewery in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. Sam’s father Adrian got me onto their most famous ale a few years back, Old Perculier, it’s been notoriously difficult to get in Australia but I think Dan Murphy’s seems to be keeping them in stock now. I was really looking forward to seeing how they make it and having a pint of the un-pasteurised cask version.
It was quite a drive down from Loch Lomond, although we had a bit of a sleep in and didn’t leave until 10:30ish. We made it to Masham just in time for the last brewery tour of the day at 3pm. Having been through a brewery in Belgium it was great to see how they do things at Theakston. They even took us into one of the fermentation rooms, full of live brews! After the tour Elyse was patient enough to let me taste my way through their range and I even got a cheeky photograph behind the bar pulling a pint!
We set off afterwards for a drive through the Dales to Brighouse. It was stunning, miles and miles of dry stone walls and the greenest pastures in the world! The narrow roads were good fun too although we came fairly close to another car over a blind crest.
Outside of the Dales Yorkshire is quite an interesting area as well, most of the towns have a heritage of mining and industry… But these days the mines are all closed and the mills have been converted into apartments or demolished. There’s also a huge population here of families who immigrated from India, Pakistan & the subcontinent to work in the factories back in the day. One of the great things about this is that there’s a curry restaurant on nearly ever street corner! So, in the evening we set out for a big curry feed with Dan & his mate Luke. We all had a great laugh at each others accents and the funny waiters in the Indian restaurant.
After a distillery visit and a brewery tour on consecutive days it was well and truly time we did something Elyse would actually enjoy so, on Dan’s advice we drove through Leeds and made our way to Harewood House. It’s a huge country house on 100 acres, with beautiful gardens and a collection of birds from all over the world. We really enjoyed walking around the gardens and were pretty excited to see a colony of flamingos! It starting raining (this happens a lot over here) so we made for the tea room and had a big pot of earl grey and shared a Yorkshire Fat Rascal, which is really fun to say and is just like a big rock cake with cherries and almonds. There was also an exhibition of photos from the royal collection, mostly of a young queen Elisabeth, really cool to see these as I’ve only really pictured the Queen as an old lady but it turns out she was young once too. Haha.
I’d managed to get in touch with Sam’s cousin Helen who lives in the capital of Yorkshire, York, and we drove on over to meet her and her man, Dean, for a late lunch. We were running late and I forgot to pay for parking so I’ve got a nice little souvenir from York Council 😦 It was great to catch up as we hadn’t seen Helen for a few years and they showed us around York with its quaint little street of timber shop fronts and impressive minster (cathedral). We got to look through the cathedral for free on Helen & Dean’s residents passes and the choir was in practice at the time, they sounded fantastic!
This evening England were playing Sweden in the Euro 2012 football tournament. Dan drove us in to Huddersfield to watch the game at a pub, which had a similar vibe to the Cambridge back home. Lots of grimy kids wearing black hehe. The atmosphere was great though and the game didn’t disappoint with England breaking the curse against Sweden and winning it 3-2.