A Telephone Box Graveyard and Mining For Alans

Two photos. One of the luscious subtropical landscape in the Azores. I fell in love with these islands two years ago and it’s perhaps the only place outside the UK that I have ever felt a desire to live. A month later I visited North Yorkshire again. Looked up at the moors and said, ‘Oh!’. Did I need to fly over four hours out into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to find a landscape that I could fall in love with? The other photo is taken just outside the quintessential North Yorkshire village of Ingleby Arncliffe, where I lived until I was 12. Which is which? It’s the verdant, rolling greens, that fall so easy on the eye, that make North Yorkshire so singular to the UK. A landscape that suspends the tension within you. That puts aside your weekly stresses and allows you to exhale. Exhale a breath you didn’t even know that you were holding.

And this is where I am today. With a tumble of 12 year olds in the back of my car we arrived in the North East from the South West today, making a beeline for Ingleby Arncliffe. But were tempted by a wonderful curiosity en route. In Carlton Moniott, near Thirsk, you will find what is dubbed The Red Phone Box Graveyard. Now this the kind of curiosity that we love. I’d give you specific directions but trust me you can’t miss it. It’s run by the lovely Mike, who seemed more than happy that I had randomly rang his doorbell and introduced myself, accompanied by Youngest Offspring and her two friends – Friend J and Friend P, all grinning broadly as he opened his front door. He refurbishes red telephone boxes, pillar boxes and lamp posts. (And I so want a lamp post now for my garden. One that will give the appearance that I perhaps live in Narnia.) He talked us through the K2 and K12 phone box, showed us how stamps used to be dispensed from the larger post boxes, and how he was evacuated during the war (I’m always a sucker for a war story). It was like a mini theme park. I asked if he was ok if I posted pictures about his wonderful place, he delightfully said yes. I did warn him that he might now have a lot more visitors…

Obviously this novel excitement brought on a hunger, so off we were to The Joiners Shop in Ingleby Cross (next to Ingleby Arncliffe). This quiet village was a veritable hive of activity with people coming and going from the new-ish-ly opened coffee shop-plus. The owner was lovely and humoured me generously as I wittered on about having grown up in the village. I think the photo of the gooey, gloopy interior of my praline brownie speaks for itself. Enlarge, lean in close and enjoy.

Then a full tum stomp up Roseberry Topping. It blows out the cobwebs after a long journey. This inviting hill is managed by the National Trust (and who doesn’t love the National Trust), stands at 320 metres high. And today took us 58 minutes to climb up and down. This included photo opportunities as well as a chat with a woman who was foraging for wild garlic. You immediately know where it is, as a rich, pungent scent hangs in the air.

Roseberry Topping used to have a sugarloaf shape, being formed from a geological fault, but in 1912 got its half cone shape due to a collapse because of mining nearby. I explained to the girls that alum and ironstone used to be mined. Alan?!! came the cry. They mined Alans?!! They have now left me with a Pythonesque image of the likes of Alan Partridge, Alan Davies and Alan Sugar being slowly unearthed just outside Great Ayton. Curls shaken to remove dust, shouts of Ah ha! ringing out. A scene that you could perhaps view from the summit, because on a clear day you can see for 40-50 miles.

So an interesting and diverse day today. As is the norm in North Yorkshire.

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