All Creatures Great and Small was a well-loved British television series based on the novels of veterinary surgeon James Herriot (real name Alf Wight.) He wrote them at home while sat on his couch watching television and here I am at his home-cum-surgery. Thereís a blue plaque outside on the wall and you can pay to wander around the place at your own pace. The back rooms are given over to his vets practice where he made his own medicines and vaccines (rather than buying them.)
There were ninety episodes and they were so popular they were repeated regularly often on Sunday evenings when some light and benign was required on television to end the weekend. Filming started in 1977 and one of the prime features of each episode was the spectacular Yorkshire countryside. Iíve driven the motorhome to the filming locations a few times - Wensleydale, Leyburn and Askrigg (now known as Herriot country.) You can drive for miles without passing anyone and when I stayed by the side of a road for a night the silence was eerie. I didnít feel to be in danger but I still locked the doors before I flopped into bed.
The real James Herriot worked in Yorkshire for nearly fifty years and heíd probably have died without fame had he not wrote those eight books about a rural vet's practice set in the 1930sĖ1950s. He was 50 years old when he started writing fiction encouraged by his wife. He bombarded publishers with short stories but got rejected many times. He struck gold when he wrote about daily life at the vets and his rounds to rural farms: constipated cows, bad-mannered farmers, swine dysentery, sunburnt pigs, barb-wire mangled Collie dogs and big bulls in need of castration. He was married with two children who were inspired by their pop to become vets. He died aged 78.
Here I am out the house. It's just off the main cobbled square in Thirsk. Sometimes I stay there in the motorhome and observe the busy nightlife that kindles after dark. Shops and banks close and pubs and cafes open. I fry some eggs on the stove and sit in darkness people-watching for free.