James Herriot and a Return to Gentler Times

Do you have difficulty falling asleep? Is it hard to turn off all the madness of the world, the media, the politics of today? My own personal sleeping aid has always been to re-read the wonderful stories of James Herriot, my very first Yorkshire love. Jonathan is, of course, my one and only Yorkshire love, but I like to pretend I've had many suitors, though it's just not true.  Jane Austen, I'm not, to my never-ending chagrin.
Still, next to my bed (along with my Jonathan, snoring sweetly beside me), I have a worn and tattered copy of All Creatures Great and Small . I never tire of James Herriot's timeless stories of the Yorkshire Dales and all the people and animals he encountered over the years. It's wonderful to be able to slow down these days, to take a deep breath and wallow in simpler times, it sets the mind at ease, makes for a peaceful slumber. Oh, I think I should have been born about one hundred years earlier.
Last September I visited James Herriot's veterinary practice in Thirsk, England. Jonathan and I were heading right past Thirsk on our way to the Lake District so we stopped for the afternoon to visit one of my favorite author's residence. It was so incredible, a dream come true for me.


If you haven't read his books, I suggest you do. What a wonderful writer, what fascinating tales of a time and place that probably don't really exist anymore. James Herriot was a gentle, talented man, a true gentleman with an amazing sense of humor and a love for All Creatures Great and Small. All of his books are treasures, do read them all.



I was surprised that his practice was in a city center area, I guess it must have been more of a village in his day.

The house/museum is set up to replicate and preserve how it all was in his time.


It was fascinating to see the setting of his stories, to see how he lived and how it really mirrored the tales in his books.

They've kept everything as it was, when he and his family were living here.

The family had an air raid shelter, as was not uncommon. So interesting to see.

Here is the staircase leading down to the shelter.


So interesting to see the posters on the walls in the shelter, what must it have been like? Here are a few more.

The shelters were outfitted to keep the children busy.




Here is the dispensary, where he mixed and prescribed the medicines available at the time. In some of his books, he laments the medications that he had to use at the time, but they were all they had, and sometimes they worked. 

 Jonathan enjoyed the kitchen area where he recognized things from his grandmother's kitchen.
It was so wonderful to visit this lovely part of history; the story of a truly gentle man, a gentle way of life, a world of times long gone. And so I strongly suggest, in these times of turmoil, turn to the tales this man wrote, tales of a gentler time, tales of compassion, humanity and kindness. We could all use a bit more of the lessons that James Herriot has bestowed upon us in his beautiful stories of life as a veterinarian in the Yorkshire Dales. 

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