Ripon has been a regular holiday place for me since 2003, when my mother-in-law moved there from near Barnsley. It was a big improvement; her house here is much smaller than it was there, but she is on her own and doesn't need a big house anymore. More importantly, her eldest daughter and family live here.
Steve and I came to Ripon each summer for several years after her move, usually spending a few days at Mary's, then travelling to Scarborough where we'd enjoy a week by the seaside in a B&B, and then going back to Mary's for another few days before flying home.
There was a gap in our regular Yorkshire holidays when in 2007, 2008 and 2009 Steve wanted to discover more of his new home, Germany, and we spent our holidays in different places around Lake Constance. Only after his death, in November 2009, I returned to Ripon and have been doing so every year since.
Coming into Ripon for the first time after a year always feels like coming home - the market square, the cathedral, other buildings and parks are almost as familiar to me as my hometown. I like its size; not too big, but big enough for there being everything available you may need. And if Ripon shops are not enough in terms of choice, Harrogate is only a bus ride away.
One can eat and drink very well in Ripon. The "Royal Oak", for instance, is a pub offering excellent food at reasonable prices. Its interior is a good mix of old and new, staff is friendly and the place is clean.
Most of the time, though, we were cooking our own meals, getting the ingredients either at Booth's (posh supermarket less than five minutes from our cottage, with a huge range of "green" food), at Sainsbury's (on the market square, so only two minutes further down the road) or on the farmers market on Thursdays.
A visit to the Cathedral is a "must"; it is not only impressive in its size and beauty, but also a place teeming with life. There is always something going on; choir practice or preparations for a concert, exhibitions on various subjects, and a general atmosphere of friendly activity.
Walking along one of the three rivers that go through Ripon (the Ure, the Skell and the Laver) is always nice, too, giving you a different glimpse of the Cathedral in various places. And then there is the canal, where long narrow boats once used to transport goods, now holiday homes.
The tradition of the Ripon Hornblower is something I find fascinating; I have explained it here. The Hornblower I knew from past years has retired, and the job is now shared between three men. It was the turn of this elderly gentleman when we were watching one night. He was doing the job well, of course, and when he offered us to stay for a bit of history, that was funny and interesting, too. But I must admit he did go on a bit long, and went into much detail that wasn't really all that important to understand the tradition; I liked his predecessor better. Still, I was satisfied to have seen the setting of the watch, as I am determined to do at least once every year, and maybe will get to see one of the other two next time.
In short: It is never boring there, and we have not even been to any of the three main museums this year!