Last weekend Kirsten and I headed up to Harrogate for the wedding of Fiona and Chris. Kirsten and Fiona were at college together and I had only met her briefly prior to the wedding, but was slightly surprised to find that even her mother seemed to know my name without any prompting — I supposed that’s what hours staring at guest lists will do!
The wedding itself was a very pleasant Catholic affair with a typically boozy but otherwise restrained reception at the beautiful converted hotel in which Kirsten and I were staying. We were tabled with mostly Cambridge students and grads who knew the couple through the Fisher House University Chaplaincy, meaning I would have known most of them (and indeed Fiona) had I not been at Downing with the much easier option of an alternative Church less than a minute away.
It was the first time either of us had been to Harrogate and while the gruelling train journey left us immediately pining for both food and London, where no one is more than an hour away, it was easy to see why so many would choose to retire there. Like Cambridge it is a picturesque town that still manages to have virtually any shop you might desire (we even passed a Games Workshop!). The talkative cabbie who drove us from the station was happy to give us a brief tour, pointing out retirement flats that, due to the location’s popularity, now have highly inflated prices.
Particularly interesting is the way the city’s architectural style has been preserved, even in things like the obviously newer extensions to the shopping mall. This cohesiveness makes the area feel strangely tidy in a rather relaxing way. Nothing seems out of place.
I still think Harrogate is a bit too far afield, but it has reminded me that living in London is not a permanent state of affairs, much as I love it now, and I will need to consider where I want to move next. Given that I’ll be working in London for the foreseeable future I am probably restricted to the Home Counties, but there’s plenty of variety even there.