I adored James Herriot’s books as a kid. My love for animals, especially dogs, has only grown as I’ve gotten older. I’ve always enjoyed a good story, and Herriot made me laugh, cry, and wonder what it’s like to have your arm up a cow. I wrote James Herriot a fan letter, and I got back a form letter from his secretary. Inside the letter was a small slip of paper with Herriot’s autograph. It is one of my treasures.
Fifteen years later, I visited the Yorkshire Dales for the first time. My memories of the books had faded, but something mysterious happened when we drove into Swaledale. It’s difficult to describe the feeling I experienced, and I know I run the risk of sounding like a New Age type. I’m hardly that! I felt like crying, full of the combination of joy and grief you feel when returning home after too long away. It’s a feeling that hits me every time I go back to the Dales or even see those green fields and stone walls on film. If past lives are real, I must have had one in North Yorkshire. Even my favorite cheese is from the Dales, and I’ve never been able to find it in San Francisco. Wensleydale is my Holy Grail of cheeses!
Here are some of my favorite images of Swaledale.