Posted: 4/4/2011


       A warm spring Saturday in North Yorkshire. First a quick visit to the market in Ripon. There was a special stall with 2 lads and a lass from Ripon High School selling cakes and cookie to support their summer trip to South Africa, under canvas at Kruger National Park. I bought three large cakes.

       Then the Dales & District bus, one hour north to Middleham and its splendid 11th Century castle. It was the boyhood home of Richard lll, the last King of England to die in battle, at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. 'William Shakespeare made him famous with the quote, " A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse" when he fell off. He lost his crown, his kingdom and his life that day!!

       I went there to see the 500 or so racehorses gallop on The Moor each morning with their stable boys and grooms. The little cobbled street village has 4 pubs, The Black Swan, the White Swan, the Richard lll and the Black Bull,(not bad for a population of only 850.) and was granted the right to have a market in 1305. Monks at nearby Jervaulx Abbey used to race over 200 years ago.

       Then on to Richmond, with its magnificent cobbled market square, Georgian houses and the splendid Earl's Orchard football field, across the fast flowing River Swale and under Richmond Castle, an awesome location, one of the world's most beautiful sites.  I went with Pete Marshall, who with his wife runs Castle Walk Sports in town. In the back of his shop he had been embroidering jerseys for nearby Wensleydale School, in Leyburn, whose football team was off to Los Angeles shortly to play and sightsee. One former old boy who made it to the big time is Michael Dawson of Tottenham Hotspur.

        Pete coaches the young Academy team in Richmond, but we were watching his ex players on Richmond Town v Ackland Steel Works FC from Middlesborough in the Teeside League. It was a big match with the first and second teams in the league, but finished up no contest.

       Thanks to a solid defence and a hat-trick from Col Anderson, the home team 'The Drummers', got three goals and three points.  This week Fabio Capello said he only needed to know 100 English words to communicate with his squad. Well, the Ackland coach only used about 8 to shout at his players, the referee and the opponents. All were four letter ones!! Anyway, after the match both team went to drink, eat and socialise at The Turf pub

        Earl's Orchard used to be used by England's longbow archers to practice. The pitch has been surrounded by a metal fence recently, to keep it pristine, but it's easy to duck under it. One local man objects because he can't walk his dog on it and let it foul it. He wants the pitch turned into a village green for dog walkers, and the football team's turfed off. One fan who I talked to,Tony Conway, told me what the guy could do with his dog, 'unnatural acts' and other things.

        In the footballers corner is the local Member of Parliament for Richmondshire, none other than William Hague, the Foreign Secretary,who has promised his considerable support, after he has taken care of Moammar Gadhafi and the Libyan crisis.!!

         My last stop was at Richmond's twice yearly outdoor French Market. I chatted with Francesco from Sicily at his cheese stall, and bought some local sheep's cheese after tasting a few samples. Next to him was another Sicilian who sold me some rum and raisin flavoured chocolate fudge and some pistaccio nougat. I bought both.

         What a great day out!!