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Entries in northern England (1)

Thursday
Sep232010

Travels: All Creatures Great and Small

Photo of Herriot MuseumHerriot Museum in North YorkshireIt was the best of all worlds for an animal lover and writer who is also a decorator!  
 
I was in North Yorkshire in northern England and found myself at Skeldale House, the home of Alfred Wight, known to those of us who loved his books, as James Herriot.  Now the Herriot Museum, it is where he lived for almost half a century and cared for sick animals.  But most important, it was where this veterinary surgeon became world famous for writing "If Only They Could Talk"and a host of other books that spawned the BBC TV series, "All Creatures Great and Small." Cover of All Creatures Great and Small
 
The best part, my tour was lead by his son Jim Wight, who took my small group through this wonderful visitor center dedicated to his father's memory.  It is a museum, an attraction and a historic site that gives you an amazing insight to this life of this modest man.  Most important, it was Jim's home and he shared such wonderful stories of growing up in this house.  Of the ups and downs of his father's life as a country vet.
 
With Jim Wright at the famous red doorWith Jim Wight in front of the famous red door.Our visit began at the famous red front door, which is still largely untouched right down to the old white painted box on the wall, where James would leave medicines for farmers to pick up out of surgery hours.  Much of the furniture in the house is original.  The dining room doubled  as the practice office and farmers would wait at the table to pay their bills.  One client was allowed to leave bags of coal as payment to settle his debt.
 
The dispensary is filled with untouched bottles and the old shelves are just as Alf would have left them in the 1940's.  My stroll through this home and its beautiful garden made me feel as though I knew this wonderful man.  And the opportunity to share its stories with his son, I will always treasure.  A priceless afternoon in the beautiful English countryside.