Friday, November 17, 2006

from Pickering: picturing England

A work day for me today and so you get a short-ish text with a photo recount of Thursday.

It will surprise no one that, having meetings in Sheffield, I would choose to stay two hours away in the deep Yorkshire countryside. Perhaps I can say that I am being frugal. A country inn, the White Swan at Pickering, is inevitably less costly than comparable city accommodations.

But really, I am a sucker for these village inns. They are high on ambiance and atmosphere and it hardly matters what the weather is like, I am happy sitting in front of a fireplace there, listening to local chatter, waiting for the dinner hour.

I do read about where to find good food ahead of time. One must, in order to eat well here (and truthfully, anywhere. Great food isn’t the norm, especially in northern European countries).

The White Swan sources locally and uses some of the best purveyors of meats and seafood on the islands. And the prices are remarkable – nothing like London. More like Madison.

And they have WiFi.

So, my day, yesterday:

A London breakfast on the run: note the toast. There is always cold toast.

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I take the train on a wet wet day – the Flying Scotsman. Only I get off at York, rent a car and drive up toward the moors, to stay here:

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…with a view out the window onto the village market square:

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Remarkably, the skies began to clear a little. And so, in the late afternoon, I venture out into the moors and dales. First, the dales:

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The colors are still pronounced in the dales. Sort of like our early autumn. But high in the heathered moors, the season is over. In the setting sun, they appear golden.

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And everywhere, I have company:

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The sun sets by four. I drive to the coast, just for a quick look at a fishing town, Whitby, now in the darker shadows of the evening:

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Then back to the White Swan, where a fresh and honest meal begins with Scottish Loch Broom scallops

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…and moves on to what they do so well here – longhorn beef, from a farmer five miles up the road. The dish has plenty of potatoes (in goose fat, yes, of course) and glazed beetroots.

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I could not pass up a cheese. I took just one, the handmade Wensleydale Braffords Camembert, with chutney:

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For dessert – apple and bramble oat crumble with cinnamon and almond ice cream.

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I’m off now. It’s hardly light out, but the drive is long and there is the matter of work to be done.