Dear Reader: Dark side of heatwave + Bed Race 'torture instruments'!

A personal column by the Harrogate advertiser's Graham Chalmers
An example of one of the beds in Knaresborough Bed Race in a recent Knaresborough Bed Race.An example of one of the beds in Knaresborough Bed Race in a recent Knaresborough Bed Race.
An example of one of the beds in Knaresborough Bed Race in a recent Knaresborough Bed Race.

The old, the new and the barmy...

Recent years have seen towns in our district appearing in the national press on a regular basis.

One reference at the weekend sparked some unhappy chatter on Twitter about how these glowing reviews always seem to focus on how “traditional” we all are in North Yorkshire.

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Not me. I love the Harrogate district because of the variety.

It’s got the lot - the old, the new and, occasionally, the barmy.

How to explain Knaresborough Bed Race, for example?

So competitive is this hugely popular but gruelling annual charity race through the cobbled streets and into the River Nidd, I’ve been told some competitors this year have taken to making their beds heavier in practice sessions so they feel lighter on actual Bed Race day itself in June.

I mention this because I happened to be in my father-and-law’s barn the other week where he kindly lets one of the local teams store their Bed Race beds over the winter.

I use the word “beds” advisedly.

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As members of the team wheeled out one of the spartan, uncomfortable-looking steel contraptions, the phrase that popped into my head without thought was “medieval instrument of torture.”

Here comes the sun...

The unexpected burst of sunshine towards the end of last week already seems a distant memory.

It certainly came as a shock, this sneak preview of summer - or how we always dream summer will be.

As usually happens, the shortlived heatwave saw new sights and sounds, not all of them for the better.

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T-shirts and shorts became the order of the day in Harrogate, though the new dress code didn’t do everyone one a favour.

The carpet of green on the Stray between the Prince of Wales roundabout and The Empress - normally deserted save for organised events such as local football, ParkRun and the annual bonfire night- suddenly came alive.

Only weeks after we were complaining about the cold, here were people lounging around underclad or picnicking, even.

But the welcome change in the weather was a double-edged sword, as I discovered on Friday when I received a phone call from a reader complaining about the litter left on parts of this precious stretch of open park land, presumably by said sun worshippers.

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The good aspect, he continued, was that he’d also had a knock on the door from youngsters asking to borrow some black bin liners so they could tidy up the mess, someone else's at that, it has to be added,

Being Scottish, I spent most of the heatwave indoors..

Saturday saw me visiting independent Harrogate shop, P&C Music on ther hunt for a new album.

Excessive heat and vinyl usually make for a bad mix but this was Record Store Day.

Among my fellow music obsessives browsing through the boxes of newly-released records was a respectable-looking man.

He had a dog with him but he looked a bit sheepish to be here.

“I had to tell the wife I was taking the dog for a walk,” he explained.