Saturday, 12 May 2007

There's Culture Up North Tha' Knows...Our Perfect Weekend

Grand opera and grand gardens – it could have been any of Europe’s cultural capitals; but it wasn’t, this was Yorkshire, England. Celebrating a significant birthday for Mrs C, we gambled on the English summer weather with tickets for an outdoor performance of La Boheme. After dropping bags at our B and B, Watergate Lodge, Knaresborough, we set out into a perfect summer afternoon and enjoyed the town’s riverside tranquillity before dressing to impress, picking up our picnic and heading to the hauntingly beautiful Cistercian ruins of Fountains Abbey.

Opera Brava are a small company who specialise in pared down performances; accompanied simply by a pianist they manage to distil the essence of grand opera into exquisite miniatures. Their performance was punctuated by Tawny Owl calls lending a fittingly sad note to Puccini’s tragic tale of love and loss in Bohemian Paris. Cynics say that plots like La Boheme have about as much depth as Coronation Street, their distant detergent relative; but as poor Mimi coughed her last tuberculous breath into the hankie held in her tiny frozen hand, assembled picnickers took an extra sip of Chardonnay to disperse the lumps appearing mysteriously in their throats.

The following morning, replete with culture and Peter Guest’s excellent Watergate Lodge breakfast, we headed to the RHS Gardens at Harlow Carr. These are gardener’s gardens where people won’t glance askance at you for talking about mulch or compost. There is a gorgeous floral array, a stunning kitchen garden, woodland walks and the national rhubarb collection - fabulous. We also benefit from the knowledge that the growing conditions are not dissimilar to our home patch: ‘if it grows at Harlow Carr, it will grow at home’, our motto.
Opera and gardening: not to everyone’s taste – but this was our weekend and we loved it.

1 comment:

UrbanCowgirl said...

Your weekend sounds lovely. I have sat among the ruins of a few monasteries in my time, and they are so peaceful it almost defies imagination.