Rain or Shine…

And you awake to pouring rain. A lazy cozy day indoors you say? Absolutely not. Remember it’s England and rain or shine, there’s a world out there waiting to be explored.

So instead of making our way to the Yorkshire Dales we visit the nearby town of Saltaire. This well-structured town has its history embedded in the fancy of Sir Titus Salt who believed that the welfare of his people was key to his success. As such to ensure the longevity of his large textile mill, he constructed a charming town where his workers were encouraged to live – a town with all the necessary amenities including a hospital, schools, gymnasium – and the list goes on. The story goes that Sir Titus Salt believed that alcohol was the devil and purposely excluded the inclusion of pubs in this thriving town. As you can imagine this lasted only until his death, when the rise of pubs increased with one of the first being entitled “Don’t tell Titus”.

Making our way to Appletreewick to meet up with another friend, we cruised through the lush dales with grazing sheep and cattle, stopping off in the sleepy town of Grassignton, a town committed to the summer weather.

Moving through North England…

So much to see and so little time to do it. As we made our way from York through to the Moors and onto the ancient sea faring coastal town of Whitby.

Visiting Castle Howard on the way gave us an insight into the luxury living of the wealthy in the 18th Century. Designed by Sir John Vanbrugh and built with the assistance of Nicholas Hawksmoor, Castle Howard and its 1,000 acres of well-kept grounds afforded you, your personal lakes including your personal wildlife, riding stables and trails, of course. Not to mention secret afternoon ‘tea spots’ with magnificent views and, in the winter, your very own ski slopes.

Surely your friends would have been well accommodated in the many-something room castle and your entertainment needs would certainly have been met. Ah well… I may just have enjoyed that life.

Moving onto the vast North York Moors where speculation of meteorites is ripe but, alas the Moors are in fact a product of nature at its best. Heather in all its glory, sheep grazing happily. Walking paths to your heart’s content – your 10,000-daily step goal, over-achieved.

To finish at Whitby, reminiscent of pirate towns of the ancient past, pubs aplenty, the cool wind on your face, the crashing of waves drowning out your cluttered thoughts, allowing you to relax, gaze and enjoy the moment.

Touring York…

What a wonderful opportunity to visit a place I’d never been before. In fact, in all my years of visiting England I’ve only ever been to London and South Brent. This year, due to some new acquaintances we made on a previous vacation, we headed to York for a quick visit. Travelling by car made it a much more pleasant experience, witnessing the countryside in all its splendour.

York as a city dates to the beginning of the first millennium AD but you can witness archaeological evidence of inhabitants much further back to between 8000 and 7000 BC. It is intriguing walking through this walled city with its cobblestone paths, narrow streets and medieval buildings interspersed with Roman and Viking remains and Georgian architecture – buildings transformed internally for modern use, built so many centuries prior.

If only the walls could talk, you would hear stories of the Viking occupancy and the city’s rise to become an important royal Centre for the Northumbrian kings. Stories of the Emperors Hadrian, Septimius Severus, and Constantius would keep you riveted, and of course Constantine the Great himself one of the most important personalities in history, who was the first emperor to rule in the name of Christ and was a major figure in the foundation of medieval Christian Europe.

York Minster, the York City Walls, the Shambles all worth the visit.

In and around Bristol…

Bristol is known as one of the warmest and sunniest cities in England – I guess that is an encouragement when you consider the fact that England is synonymous with grey skies and cold rain. It doesn’t however exempt you from the reality that, it will rain and, it will be cold.

It has also been named the best place to live in the UK. Its independent spirit, cultural diversity, ease of getting around and exploratory heritage, is reason enough to visit and truly enjoy the many levels of interest that Bristol has to offer.

So we set off to tour this wonderful city, determined, rain or shine, to enjoy its ancient architecture, in search of the Clifton suspension spring bridge, dogged by political and financial difficulties, and renowned for its spectacular setting on the cliffs of the Avon gorge, while oh so secretly scouring the well preserved buildings for the nearest pub – a suitable watering hole to warm up, refresh and rejuvenate.

Not a moment lost, not a moment regretted.

What are weddings made of…

A Prince in shining armour and a Princess in waiting – a promise of love ever after – a life filled with joy and laughter.

You may wonder which fairy tale I’ve been reading lately but the truth is that there are still weddings that are truly magical. Maybe not in the way we all imagine it to be with all the visible glitz and fluff. But magic sometimes happens in our hearts and manifests itself in the simplicity of our actions, over a period of time.

In this instance, the groom proved himself to be the prince in shining armour through his commitment, strength and dedication over the years. The princess in waiting, used his love and support to overcome her challenges and shine for all the world to see. Witnessing their journey warms your heart and gives you the assurance that there will be a love ever after – that the ‘til death do us part’ will be real. That their new journey will continue to be filled with adventure, joy and laughter – and hopefully little ones as well.

Congrats Rob and Gill – may your magic continue.

It’s been a long time…

… since I’ve had no plans. Since I’ve been free of time constraints. Since I’ve been free to be wherever, whenever. And, what surprised me the most was the fact that it took very little time if any to get used to the process. Not surprisingly therefore, I’ve been enjoying the simplicity and ease of every moment.

Our main focus was to get to Bristol for a family wedding. And that we did. Slowly, to our own beat and enjoying what Britain has to offer on the way. Oldies but goldies on the radio, changing scenery, changing weather.

Britain has always had a charming appeal for me – on arrival you are greeted with a friendly smile and conversation at immigration, genuine interest in your visit to their land. You are warmed by their quirky sense of humour and piqued by their turns of phrases. Only the British can squeeze through a crowd with a polite “Thank You”. Only in Britain are you referred to as “Ma’am” and don’t take offense. You may even blush at the reference.

And as you settle into their culture, you begin to understand that beneath the politeness and often misunderstood ‘stuffy’ front, the Brits are truly fun to be around.