This B stands for Charlotte Brontë’s 200th anniversary this year (Valley Gardens, Harrogate)

IMG_8371IMG_8370IMG_8376Judith was working today so after lunch I took the bus into Harrogate again (it’s 7 pounds 90p for a return – a bargain!). The previous day I’d  seen that a masterclass by Sir Willard White was taking place in the Wesleyan Chapel in the center of the town so that’s where I was heading. I’d booked a ticket online anxious that it would be already sold out. As it transpired  about 30 people attended, but before that I explored one of Harrogate’s main attractions – Valley Gardens, in July at the peak of its bedding plant splendour. In one bed celebrating the anniversaries of British authors the initials of Beatrix Potter, Charlotte Brontë, Roald Dahl and William Shakespeare were ‘painted’ in flowers – quite beautiful, but difficult to photograph since I didn’t have my stilts with me! It was yet another very hot day and I made a bee-line (get it?) to the tea shop and asked, with some trepidation, if they could make an iced coffee. ‘Of course,’ came the reply, ‘Do you want sugar in that?’ When it arrived it was made with half water and half milk and nowhere, I mean nowhere, was there any ice involved. I’ve had some strange iced coffees before but none that didn’t involve ice:-)


The iceless iced coffee

I arrived at the Chapel just before it opened. I’d purchased an open seat in the balcony and wanted to be sure I got a good view. As it was there were just two of us in the balcony! One thing I hadn’t thought about was that heat rises, and this was a very hot day – no fans, all the windows closed, no air. I chatted to my partner in crime who had recently moved to Harrogate and had just come to this event on the spur of the moment. It seemed odd to me that two world renowned artists , the author Val McDermid yesterday and bass Willard White are playing to a ridiculously small number of people during the day for free or very little, while in the evenings they play to sold out audiences in big venues as part of the Harrogate Festivals.


The masterclass was wonderful and reminded me of the play I recently saw in Santa Cruz called Masterclass which is based on masterclasses given by Maria Callas to emerging singers. It wasn’t until I was looking up more about him that I found out that Willard White was one of the up and coming singers who performed in a masterclass with Ms Callas. “Insecurity is the instigator of creativity,” was one of his quotes that I came away with. With the soprano he concentrated on her dramatic interpretation and with the baritone he focused on continuous sound production.


Sir Willard White

The masterclass was over in an hour and I thought about wandering back to the gardens but a big storm cloud was hovering over the town and I decided to get back to Birstwith. Judith had popped home for tea before she went off to usher at one of the festival events – Unthanks, a duo from the North East. She didn’t enjoy the show. I settled in for an evening of embroidery, watching on TV the Strictly Proms event I’d listened to on the radio the previous evening. Since this particular prom had a dance element to it that’s not so ridiculous as it appears. I chatted to Anna and Sarah via Facebook. Sarah was in the middle of helping Anthony’s family remove his stuff from my house. After his terrible road accident coming back from Tahoe on July 5th in which his two friends had died, he needs 24 hour care and is moving back in with his parents.


Wesleyan chapel was the venue for the masterclass