Harrogate railway station has practically no frontage at all (even less than Leeds) and the town’s charms are undermined by one-way traffic everywhere, but I enjoyed my visit here. Sadly all the spa buildings are in private hands: I managed to stroll through Wetherspoons (now occupying the Winter Gardens) but – not fancying either a massage or a Chinese meal – I didn’t see the remainder.
I did however visit the Pump Room; my nose caught the smell of sulphur before I actually saw the building. The little museum was interesting: I had never heard of heated peat baths (sounds a bit like Tollund Man) or Bergonié treatment (electrical stimulation for obesity, which later seems to have been regarded as a panacea – charlatan alert!). There was a little bit of ancient Egypt there too: a local farmer was an enthusiastic collector, so you have a 3,000-year-old sarcophagus on view.
I felt obliged – willingly so – to have lunch in Betty’s, which is basically a posh Konditorei. Not surprising, really, since the founder was Swiss. Enormous portions which left me wondering if I could still fit between the tables on my way out.
Turkish baths, Chinese restaurants, French treatments, Egyptian antiquities, Konditoreien, an Australian woman lamenting her deceased Staffie . . . all in a small corner of Yorkshire. When does cosmopolitanism shade into globalisation?