Clotted Cream, Devonshire Arms and the Yorkshire Dales

imageAn abbreviated (for me) post this week as I sit at an unfamiliar computer writing this from a “country house inn” in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, not to be confused with the Yorkshire moors which we will see tomorrow.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime-trip which my husband, JP, and I had promised ourselves. And after only about a decade or so of planning, we finally made it to England.

My own anglophile fantasies began back in law school when I (or as they would say here “whilst I”) helped myself to sleep every night by reading one after another of the entire set of Agatha Christie mysteries, the plots of which I completely fail to remember. But they soothed me to sleep, with vivid images of lovely little villages, friendly pubs and rolling green hills.

Later I graduated from the “cozy” mysteries to the genre of crime fiction known as “police procedurals”, which remain a favourite today. My book club friends laugh at my obsession with them but for me they satisfy the need to combine interesting characters, technical details and a tidy ending – along with, of course, a strong sense of place.

Most of the ones I read are set in England, my preferred locale (Ruth Rendell, P.D. James), though I like Scottish crime fiction as well – having read through most if not all of Ian Rankin (Edinburgh) and Anne Cleeves (Shetland Islands). I am a complete sap for any mystery with a strong sense of place.

Which is why when we landed in London last Saturday it was if I knew my way around, so many of the street and neighbourhood names were so familiar.

And now that we have left London (lovely but loud, over-crowded and wow, do they drive aggressively; I was nearly nipped by taxis several times while crossing the streets.) and made our way north to Yorkshire, I feel even more at home, as if I have stepped into the pages of many of the mysteries I have read for years. From the vocabulary – lift, lorry, boot, bonnet, way out, mind the gap – to the food – crisps (chips), chips (fries) mushy peas (just as it sounds), beans on toast (same), pudding (desserts) – I find myself thinking I have perhaps morphed into a character in one of my favorite crime novels or series? Perhaps one of those snappy female detectives (like the ones in the British films “Happy Valley” or “Broadchurch”) with the brusque manners but the tender hearts underneath who solve the complicated murder puzzle at the end.

The nice cab driver who took us from our London hotel to Victoria station today to catch our train told us that he and his family love America, that they try to visit every few years and that their favourite place is Disneyworld. Which is of course, a completely fictionalized place not found in any book.

I was thinking after we chatted with him that I enjoy crime fiction for the opposite reason – because it is not imaginary but based on real life and set in true places.


Which brings me back to England, to this tiny village, where I sit at an unfamiliar (typing errors?) computer in a lovely country house in a small village in northern Yorkshire; early evening and it is drizzling outside. Perfect!

Tomorrow off to see more real life places  with names like Masham and Wensleydale, places I have read about for years and imagined in my mind’s eye.

That is the beauty of books, isn’t it, for many of you were also likely bookworms as a child as I was.

Avid readers always get to go to places they won’t typically visit in real life. I feel so lucky now to be taking this long dreamed of trip to see the places I’ve only known in books. And they look just like I imagined they would.

Pinch me, I told my husband, we really are in England!




































Filed under Baby Boomers, Books, Empty Nest, Husbands, Midlife, Reading, Travel, Writing

11 responses to “Clotted Cream, Devonshire Arms and the Yorkshire Dales


    How wonderful! I, also, read all the English mysteries I can… Right at this moment, for example, I’m reading Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. Jane Austen is also a favorite. My dream, too, has always been to travel to England. Maybe that dream will still come true. Life is full of surprises. Enjoy your trip and send more posts about it. Looking forward to it.




  2. Your sister

    Simply brill! I hope they still say that in the UK.. I am SO glad you are enjoying your holiday… take more pictures and post them please 🙂 l
    love your favorite sister


  3. Lovely post, Nancy. (I’m a big fan of Vera.)


  4. Very Cool!
    When my niece’s wedding was in Oxford it was Inspector Morse franchise land! And her reception was in the dining room where the first Harry Potter’s film dining room scenes were filmed.It is fun to be in the place of your books.


  5. Oh, what a wonderful holiday you are on! As far as books, I can never get enough of them. There was a time, though, when I was SO DONE with reading. Details here… 🙂


  6. Julie

    It’s all relative isn’t it? I felt exactly the same way on my trip to the USA three years ago! It was like stepping into the television/movie screen especially when we were in New York – the street names, places, words like cab, subway, trunk were all exotic and novel yet strangely familiar, as was most of the food. Here in New Zealand we are very English, without the class system! Our language and traditions hark back to our Anglo early settlers and forefathers. I share your love of the crime genre, I often am mocked for my declared love of a good murder! But I really mean the solving of the crime and I especially love those which follow a detective through several novels. I recently read the first two by Robert Galbraith (who is of course actually JK Rowling). Highly recommended.


    • Julie – I read the two Galbraith (a/k/a Rowling) books and liked the first much more than the second but will keep reading them. If you have any New Zealand crime fiction authors to recommend, please do!! Nancy


  7. Miriam Daniel

    Found a Maine Police Procedural – Paul Doiron – Mike Bowditch series. Am about to open now. Loved your English piece. Of course, you know where we need to have a book club meeting is Edinburgh! Miriam


  8. I grew up reading Victoria Holt and Jean Plaidy…historical novels with a strong sense of place. I was absolutely in heaven when I visited Cornwall!


  9. Love it. I agree – a strong sense of place can really make a murder mystery sing. Have a great trip!


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