Monday, July 6, 2015

An Idyllic Day in Every Way . . .

We couldn't believe all the surprises God had in store for us, thanks to your prayers, and graced by His goodness!

The day began with a wasp sting, as I tried to remove him with a Kleenex. The fella had stayed in our room all night. No redness or swelling. . .grace!

A couple at the guest house offered to take us and our luggage to the train station to pick up our car. A surprise!

Olivia and I prayed for wisdom, attentiveness and safety before starting the engine. I drove out of the lot and onto the York city streets at rush hour, and took to left had driving with all its turnabouts with aplomb. And oh, did I tell you that a garmin was waiting for us, an hour earlier than expected? Grace upon grace.

We took off as our GPS instructed us. The voice had a lilting British accent, gently instructing us as we went along. I was thinking of a name for her. Of course, it had to be literary. And it came to me. . . Mary Poppins. Perfect! "Take the second exit at the turnabout and. . .let's go fly a kite!" You get the picture. Olivia and I began to sing that song as we moved along. 

I have been admiring these brilliant yellow fields along the way, which I am told, are Rapeseed, used in industry. Hard to believe such a sweet fragrance, almost like honey, could come from a flower used in that way.

Our itinerary is so full. I wanted to take the time to visit the coast, but was having a hard time fitting it in, since it was in the opposite direction to our Brontë tour. But, the thought came to me to head there today, and to focus on Whitby. It has a literature connection as well (naturally), as the Whitby Abbey inspired the novel, "Dracula". Not that I have read it, or endorse it, but, I am always fascinated with where writers get their ideas. See for yourself:






We had to pay for parking everywhere, but each time, we were able to see the sights in the allotted time. Here is the charming town of Whitby:



We then took some time to park and walk along the Moors road. So beautiful and wild.



This is what the heather looks like in the spring. It doesn't bloom until fall:

Then, we headed for our lodging near Ripon, but we both felt we needed a good cup of Yorkshire tea (strong, full bodied, but not bitter. . .such a pleasure to drink!) Well, we learned something these past few days. Afternoon tea begins and ends in the afternoon. Don't dare go into a tea shop after 4:30pm, or you will be sorely disappointed, or worse. . .turned away. 

Two of the shops were closed by 4:30pm, one had just closed, and the fourth was just turning the 'open' sign around when I quickly walked in and asked (actually pleaded) for the owner to sell us a cuppa. I told her our sad story. Well, more grace. She agreed! And after we had paid, and I thanked her most profusely, she said with a smile, "Well, I've done my good deed for the day." And I'm grateful she did!

We made it to Ripon safely, and stopped for a bite to eat. Olivia noticed pigeon on the menu, and said she'd like to try it. I told her I was 'game', too. (I just hoped they weren't imported from Chicago.)

Ta da! It actually tasted almost like duck, but tougher, similar to the texture of beef. So, we ate the bird, and then noticed something hard in the flesh. When we asked what it was, the waitress said, nonchalantly, "Oh, that's shot. They can't use a large bullet, because it will tear the bird apart." 

Like it was no big deal to find a stone in your meat! I'm just thankful I didn't break another crown. Another sign of grace today.

We arrived safely at this charming 1300’s (believe it) farmhouse called 'Mallard Grange'. I thought I was transported to France. So idyllic. . .even the smells were present. Wish we could stay for more than two nights! 

Maggie, the owner, was explaining the marks on the sheep. She said they identify the mothers with their babies, and their date of birth, in case they are parted from one another. The herders search for them if lost at the end of a day. We caught a couple of lambs sneaking under the fence to cross the road, but skipped back to mother when we drove by!

Look at our adorable room. . .isn't it right out of 'Country Living Magazine?

So, I bid you all goodnight. We need to rest up for a full day tomorrow. Resting in God's grace and mercy.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Ins and Outs of a Medieval City


What a day. I'm sure a pedometer would have registered at least four miles.We walked into town, and saw some gorgeous homes along the river:

Our first stop was another city bus tour, which gave us the lay of the land. Again, quite helpful to get our bearings.

Here is the York Railway Station and the Royal Hotel in the background (no Royals stayed there!)

Queen Victoria stayed in the original station hotel, shown below, with Albert and the children. When a server gave her a bill for their meal, she was furious, and vowed never to come to York again!

Then we went to the visitor's centre, and received some very helpful advice for our trip to Ripon via auto tomorrow. Not surprisingly, I have bitten off more than we can chew, and have been attempting to eliminate some destinations, which is extremely difficult for me. But, alas, it must be done.

Then, we peeked into the famous Betty's Tea Room:

And walked by a very Dickensian Starbucks:

And on to the York Minster:




Next, the Yorvik (original Viking name for York) Museum. Fascinating recreations of the social life of the Vikings and the archaeological remains that helped them piece together their way of life:

After lunch, we returned to the York Castle Museum to visit the Debtor's Prison:

And hear the sad stories of its occupants:

The same museum also had a WW1 exhibit. This is a "dummy head" the soldiers would hold up from a trench, hoping it would receive a bullet. When it did, they would remove it and determine which direction the enemy fire was coming from:

We took a last stroll through the city:

The old homes with their uneven surfaces and structure, along with streets designed for horses and carts:

We found the new mixed in:

Exquisite hats!

Then, we walked up to Clifford's Tower, the castle's central stronghold:

And finally, walked on top of York's medieval walls, which are the most complete walls in Europe. They were broken in three or four places. . .







Tomorrow I will face the biggest challenge of the trip. . .hiring a car and driving on the left side of the road for five days, as we scour the Brontë territory. If you think of it, say a prayer for us. We are hoping to get a GPS with the car, but it's first come, first serve. But, we trust a God who guides our paths daily, without the aid of a human device! Now, on to Ripon. . .

Saturday, July 4, 2015

To York on a Train with a Prayer of Gratitude. . .

The early bird has caught her worm!

I never know the obstacles I will face along the way, so I always plan to be at my destination far ahead of time in case traffic, weather or misfortune slows me down. My husband knows I'd rather scurry around beforehand like the proverbial chicken, than be sweating bullets and barely make my connections at the end. He, of course, is placid no matter what, and assumes everything will always go as planned.

We had three legs or routes to our journey to York this fine morning. The first, a 15 minute ride via commuter train to Bath Spa. This is the train we have taken each day on our trip to visit Jane Austen. The second is another 15 minute ride to Bristol (a much larger station with 15 tracks instead of two), where we catch our cross country train to York. This train (final destination, Glasgow) takes four hours, and only leaves a very few times a day.

Well, I wanted to leave at least an hour early on the first leg to Bath, so I had time to pick up our tickets for the second and third portion of our journey. On Monday, that train was late, and left the station 20 minutes late, so I felt justified. So, that's what we did.

When I picked up our tickets in Bath, I realized that the 10:30 am departure for the first leg from Bath Spa to Bristol, was really the departure time for the Bristol to York portion, so, had we not left on the earlier train to Bath, we would have missed our train to Viking land!

Olivia waiting with our luggage as I went to purchase our tickets

I was so thankful for my inclination to be early, but even more grateful that the Lord for knew all this before hand, and was gracious to have it play out the way it did. My word for the year is TRUST (in the Lord). I know we will find many reasons to do so in the middle portion of our adventure. Especially when I hire (rent) a car for our northern explorations, and need to 'keep left'. This morning at the station, I was bounding down the right side of the stairs, when a business man addressed me brightly with, "You're on the wrong side, Miss!" (Yes, he really did say 'Miss'. Bless him!)

Ah, yes. . . keep to the left. I've always been fascinated with the British term 'leftenant' (our lieutenant).  Jane Austen had a few dashingly uniformed officers (in the militia) well placed in her novels.

Star Trek Toilet 

To make the best of the day, although we arrived at our B&B around 3pm, we visited the York Castle Museum, which reveals the social aspect of York during the Victorian Era and beyond. Here are a few photos of the exhibits . . .

The parlor of the middle and upper class in the city.

One room living amongst the country folk . . .

Thought this was a sweet and insightful poem by a young girl:

A Victorian street. . . 

A millinery shop . . . 

When I went to pay for the ticket, the attendant asked for my name and my title.  "Mrs.", I said. And then, "I'd love 'princess' too." She laughed and said she had heard that from only two other people, and the second was that morning. I had made the young lady's day. 

This was not far fetched. Last month, when I purchased tickets online for the Globe Theatre in London, a list of possible titles popped up, such as 'Lord', 'Lady', 'Barroness', 'Prince', etc. At first I laughed, thinking it was a joke, and almost picked 'Princess', until I realized that this was England, these were true-to-life titles, and they would require proof of identity!

Since we had not eaten all day (except for tea, fruit and nuts), we wanted something substantial. Meat in particular. Well, we found a perfect place to satisfy our Vikingette pallette!

This is what I call a paleo diet . . .

 The Shambles (the guide book states) is one of the best-preserved medieval shopping streets in Europe. Although none of the original shop-fronts have survived from medieval times, some properties still have exterior wooden shelves, reminders of when cuts of meat were served from the open windows.

This was a surprise!


Time tomorrow to visit the state of the art Jorvik Museum. Here we will discover what it was truly like in Viking times. . . sights, sounds and all!

Journey into the Promised Land

Journey into the Promised Land
From Egypt to Israel