Harrogate is where my roots are.  It’s the place of my birth and Betty’s Tea Rooms, where punters queue around the corner to get a table.  A place for me that fuels mixed emotions.  I feel warm and secure when I am there, yet I don’t go back as often as I should.

Sadly there was no time to linger. So much to do, so little time. I boarded a train at Taunton at 12.50hrs and arrived in Harrogate at 18.00hrs, and I left, by car at 17.30hrs the following day. Not by choice, but by necessity.


I stayed at the Old Swan Hotel I had been so focused on other things that I hadn’t realised that this was where Agatha Christie languished after she ‘went missing’ in 1926. For ten days after her car was found empty and dangling over a chalk cliff, she kept schtum about her whereabouts. I came away wondering if staying overnight at ‘Agatha’s Retreat’, whether some of her genii would rub off on my writing. I always live in hope.

My path also unknowingly crossed with one of my musical muses, Dillie Keane. On returning home, I stumbled across a post by Fascinating Aida’s Founder about the crocuses on Harrogate’s The Stray.

I was beside myself when I found out that Dillie performed her one-woman show at the Harrogate Theatre the evening I left.  I ‘d walked straight past the theatre as well.  How could I have missed the billboards?  As I said, I had been focussed on other things. Otherwise, I would have stayed on for an evening of satirical cabaret, but sometimes, you have to get your priorities right.  I was there on family business only, and no time to allow myself to be side-tracked.

So I checked out of The Old Swan, drove past the house I was born in and the pub my grandparents ran, as well as missing my musical muse and left Harrogate with an overnight bag of mixed emotions.