This week I’m based in Harrogate and journeying between Ripon and Leeds on the glamorous, leather-seated number 36 bus, stopping off at the many wonderful places in between and talking to the people who live and work there and who ride and drive the bus, which runs every fifteen minutes along the route. I’m finding it a bit harder to keep the pen steady than when I was writer in residence on a train, but it’s just as inspiring…
So far I’ve had the honour of being shown round Ripon by the mayor. I’ve visited an off-duty Harewood House, where the many beautiful objects – which range from contemporary artworks to renaissance altarpieces – are being taken from their display places and dusted and cleaned.
I’ve spent an absorbing couple of hours being shown round Ripley Castle by guides Margaret and Dorothy, who told me about the Sad Lady, Alicia Ingilby, whose ghost can be seen around the place at late hours. I’ve had a tour of the Ripon Museums and seen how the Victorians dealt with the destitute and the wayward, and a meeting with the marvellous Hornblower of Ripon, who every night blows his horn at each corner of the market square before finding the mayor and blowing it at him, too. This tradition has been carried out without fail for 1127 years. If it doesn’t happen, some catastrophe will befall the good people of Ripon. A half-hearted blowing once may well have been behind the 2011 Ripon earthquake, apparently.
It certainly makes a change from sitting on my backside in my shed making things up! I’ve been completely bowled over by the generosity of the people I have spoken to. Nothing has been too much trouble and I have heard so many great stories.
You can read more about the project on Shotsmag Confidential.
Have you got a story to tell?
The brief from my hosts Harrogate International Festivals and Transdev is completely open, but I am planning on writing a cycle of short stories based on the rich material I am gathering, as well as featuring the words of people I meet.
- Do you ride the bus?
- Do you live in the area?
- Have you visited in the past?
- Do you remember the old train route between Ripon and Harrogate, victim in the 1960s of the Beeching cuts, which the bus now replaces?
If you have any views, stories, or thoughts about anything on the 36 bus route, I’d love to hear them. You can either leave a comment here, or email me. The idea is to collate the stories and put it all together into a downloadable publication – so let me know if you’re happy for your name to be mentioned.
I look forward to hearing your Yorkshire stories.