Thursday, 10 January 2008

Astha eerbinuppeer?

Ehem. Forgive my lapse into my native tongue. One of my colleagues, a self-confessed Londoner, amazed me the other day. She has never been further north than Watford. As she rightly points out, it is warmer if you head south. Being from north of Watford myself, I have all too often joked about the folk down south who think there's nothing of any value north of Watford, but I had been yet to actually meet one in the flesh. I certainly didn't think that they would take the form of a well-rounded person, and I couldn't possibly imagine that they might be the sort of person I could get on well with. But they are. She is. The revelation left me gibbering slightly in my dulcet Yorkshire tones.

In the absence of northern family or friends, the reason to travel north of Watford is to experience those awe-inspiring slivers, urban and rural, which nestle between the folds of the country. I scraped five together to evidence my assertion that there were places north of Watford that were worth the journey, even if that journey involves the M25 and M1. Here's my off-the-top-of-my-head list of locations:

Scotland: If you don't make it north of Watford, you'll die without seeing the Highlands. If the scenery doesn't move you (assuming the weather has been kind enough to permit you to see it), check your pulse and if still viable, take a crash course in spirituality. Edinburgh's up in Scotland, too. Definitely worth a trip, and not just for shortbread retail therapy.

The Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford: I cannot understand why this place is not rammed full of visitors gawping at its shrunken heads, war quoits, and the spoils of the Victorian Smash-and-Grab approach to cultural exchange. It has an amazing and wonderful (though quite ill-gotten and somewhat higgledy-piggledy) collection of anything that interested our explorer types on their overseas jollies, and which they fancied relieving the natives and noble savages of and bringing back home. So visit the shrunken heads, the mummies, the random collection of boats suspended overhead. Take time to reflect. Pause for thought at the scale model of the sun, earth and moon on the balcony above the natural history collection on your way out, and say hello to the dinosaurs - they don't bite.

Berwick Upon Tweed: I defy anyone to visit this little town and not fall in love with it. Forget any notion of going to Durham. Have a potter round Berwick instead. Sinner's Coffee shop is truely fantastic, and the only coffee shop I could ever envisage spending a whole day in and enjoying. It's well-hidden, but that's part of the fun and joy in discovering it.

Kinder Scout: Kinder on a winter's day is the sort of territory that lets you know in your heart, if not in your head, that parts of the UK are in fact at the same latitude as bits of Siberia. Kinder Scout is a big lump of land in the middle of the Peak District. Bleak and Beautiful. Hags and Groughs. Yin and Yang. Go there and restore your balance, and retire to a log fire at a pub by one of the edges at the end of the day. Try not to spend the night on Kinder unless you planned to do so. Local hostelries may be warm and welcoming. Kinder is not.

York: Heck, if you don't know why you should go to York, you really need to go there. There is a fantastic pub which serves very good beer and an excellent range of tapas (and does all those traditional log fire things as well), but that's not the primary reason why you should visit York, though. History - that's why. They have it in spades up there, with a couple of millenia worth of the stuff on display. They also have Betty's tea room, a visit to which for the purposes of consuming a fat rascal is nigh-on compulsory.

There - five good reasons to head north of Watford, without recourse to the Lake District, Northumberland, Newcastle, Snowdonia, Norwich, Stratford upon Avon, Whitby, an abundance of Morrisons, the birthplace of Warburton's, Henderson's relish, Pontefract cakes, and so on. Plenty reasons to visit and spend your hard-earned cash, but don't ever think of moving there. It's grim up north...

11 comments:

Casdok said...

Ive actually met people who has never been out of the town where i live!
I am south of Watford so maybe that explains it!

trousers said...

Berwick on Tweed is the only one of those that I haven't been to (unless you count Edinburgh, though I've been to several different parts of Scotland). Since I can vouch for the quality of the other ones you mention, then I must rectify this state of affirs forthwith. Or to put it another way, "al ay ter gerruptheer."

KindaBlue said...

Aye, it's grim up north. You can go for days without seeing a traffic jam - you're much better off in Camberley...

But Why? said...

Casdok,
Is that through choice? Now that is truely terrifying!

Trousers,
Ah, Berwick. Yes, I heartily recommend it. Mind you, they speak a bit funny up there. (And BTW, I do find it remarkably difficult to transcribe Yorksha. Speaking it is one thing. Writing it is quite another...)

Kindablue,
Yes, yes. We must remind everyone how grim it is up north. At every opportunity. Otherwise they might move there and that would be so very, very terrible. But I do feel that we perhaps need to direct them towards somewhere more pleasant and livable than Camberley if we want our plan to work. I suggest the Isle of Wight - what do you think?

trousers said...

Well, am frum Derbysha which as as menny diffrences to Yorksha as it as similarities...am a bit more used to it though cos me and a mate text each other in transcribed Derbysha, it meks us laugh.

But Why? said...

Trousers,
Ah, you practice. Well done, sir. Yes, I do find it difficult to decide, for example, whether the post should be entitled as written, or whether "asthaerbinupeer?" might be more appropriate. And there there is the whole question of where to put the emphasis - on the "as" (incredulity), the "e'er" (still incredulous, but more derogatory), or "eer" (alarm, and perish the thought of the invading southerners). Tricky decisions...

Wayfarer Scientista said...

LOL! I am in love with places colder and thus further north and am quite content if the rest of the population leaves us to it's peace. They just don't know what they're missing.

But Why? said...

Wayfarer,
I quite agree that the unenlightened are doing us a favour through their self-imposed southern confinement. For the most part, I would not encourage southerners to make the trip north for that very reason, but in the case of my colleague, I suspect she's a genetic northerner who, by some freak of probability, had the misfortune to be born down south. What should we do about such people - invite them further north, or leave them to their southern lives?

Gary said...

I'm arranging to have you struck off the Yorkshire register - you should know damn well that we don't go telling those soft southern nancies about our heritage up here, they'll be crawling all over here if we carry on like this, shame on you, let them travel to the end of their known universe in the belief that Watford is a wonderous place...

Rob Clack said...

Many (OK, 30)years ago, when working at British Steel, Redcar, I used to get a lift to work from a chap my age who had never been further from home than Darlington, which must have been, ooh, 20 miles away.

But Why? said...

Gary,
Firstly, as a self-confessed Essex girl I was never added to the Yorkshire roll. More is the pity. Secondly, any true southerners (from the south east - those in close proximity to Dartmoor, Exmoor and Cornwall are of course honourary northerners...) heading north are likely to perish on Kinder (being unaware that the UK can present anything more challenging than a riverside ramble or short trek to a village pub). Those of them who do make it into York are usually contained by Betty's, the Minster, and the Jorvik centre. They're not frequently found making the streets look messy, and they do spend cash. (Yorkshire hoteliers are hardly going to make a living out of Yorkshire folk). I know this is nigh on heresy, but... (dare I say it?) I think southern tourists should be quietly encouraged (they can always be returned south at gun-point if they try to outstay their welcome....)


Rob C,
I know throughout history this is something that humanity has struggled with, but I must confess that I have extreme difficulty in imagining what it must be like to have a mental model of the universe which has Darlington at the centre and which doesn't seem just a little bit implausible... Did this gentleman show any other signs of delusions?