When traveling in northern England, the place to visit in Yorkshire and a real treat to book lovers, is the World of James Herriot. Former home of the best selling author and an inspiration for the popular BBC series „All Creatures Great and Small“. The house has rooms set faithfully to the era as well as an interactive study center for kids and a movie studio, all aim to introduce and celebrate the life and work of the most famous veterinarian in the world.
James Herriot books have been a joy in my life from an early age. One day mother came home with a small yellow book. I remember the cover looked funny to me and had pigs on it („Vet in a Spin“ published in Estonian on 1994). Soviet union had recently collapsed, and with open borders came first translations of many good books that the rest of the world had already known and loved perhaps even for decades. Until then, only a few select English authors, approved by the central government, had been translated and available. With the new times the world was expanding for a traveling opportunities as well as books.
You better believe it that we were all eager to read the new book. To avoid quarrel my mother decided that we are not too old to have a bedtime story (I hope one can never become too old for such thing), and she read the first few chapters out loud for us to hear. Next day my older brother, however, ran away with the book and continued to read it on his own as he didn’t want to wait, so I had to. Eventually I got my turn as well (when he finished) and have been a fan ever since.
Herriot stories are about an everyday life of the veterinarian practicing in rural Yorkshire. Light reading, filled with a warm humor and colorful characters of many shapes, sizes and number of legs (usually up to four). As often as not the colorful characters can be a devious cat or its doting owner, a cow whose sole enjoyment in life seems to be an attempt to break vet or its proprietor. Pets, owners, colleagues, farm animals, all are active part and happily contribute, making sure that the vet would never get out of shape or oversleep.
Herriots love for his profession and Yorkshire shines through his writing, you can feel that he is a person, with an incredible devotion and passion for what he is doing. Yet, a keen observer who loves a good laugh as much as the next person. What would you do when you had so much money that you would not have to work for living? Herriot got an answer for that question when after a slow start his books eventually started to sell. He continued to work in his practice, doing what he loved most, taking care of the animals.
When traveling in northern England and admiring a rolling, green hills of Yorkshire, make sure to visit the World of Herriot, the house where it all started. Located a short 30 minute drive from York , in a small town called Thought. Acknowledged as the best visitor attraction in Yorkshire it’s a wonderful place in Yorkshire to visit when traveling solo or with the family.
His house still displays his life and work through his second passion, writing. Two united houses make up The World of James Herriot. The first floor is set up as a home and veterinary practice at the time would have been, with study, sitting room, office, kitchen, etc. Authentic with a small room to mix medications. You can also on display various Herriot’s books, read about his life and watch a short movie in a barn, a pleasant scent of hey teasing your nose. The second floor is transferred into an interactive play-study area to keep the children happily exploring different aspects of working with animals and a displays of veterinary equipment, interesting in their historic context.
Connecting house contains the movie set from the TV-series „All Creatures Great and Small“ with the powder blue car, used for the filming, as a crowning jewel of the studio exhibition.
Life is not always as books, but it can get pretty close. So what if the, James Herriot turns out to be James Alfred (“Alf) Wight in real life. His partner Siegfried, brother Tristan and wife Helen become Donald, Brian and Joan respectively. Life lived well, with passion and compassion is till celebrated and his legacy in good hands. The house has familiar feeling of the long corridors, narrow passes, load of surgical instruments and tiny room for mix the medications. Also present is the phone, in my mind I get carried back in time. It must be a wee hours of the night and I can almost hear it…
„I huddled deep in the blankets as the strident brreeng-brreeng, brreeng-brreeng of the telephone echoed through the old house..“.
Another day in the picturesque little village and surrounding fields of Yorkshire has started a few hours ahead of time, the vet is on its way.
Find more great authors whose works are a good read for a school kids and teenagers here.