Friday, 30 October 2015

Autumn escape to the North

We've just returned from a few days rest in the North of England. Jee whizz how I longed for and needed just a few short days away from the hustle and bustle of everyday routine. I longed for this little break at the end of the Summer and dreamt of the beautiful heather on the moors....arrr! That was the pull. For some reason I had to see the heather in flower!
Well, our dear (usually very reliable) little Blueberry car let us down back them at the end of the Summer and swallowed up the funds set aside for such an adventure, plus once the dear little motor car was fixed, the Summer and all our days of freedom had gone and the new term with all its commitments was right there upon us once again. I was disappointed but knew that our time would come. To cut a long story short, I got browsing 'as one does' and stumbled across a lovely static caravan between the North Yorkshire moors and the Dales, it was perfect and amazingly was available for three nights this week for fun and adventures (of the family kind ;-))!!

I love Yorkshire! I've always loved it! Tim and I used to holiday there often. I recall well those days when we would drive up onto the moors and just marvel at the views...of course some of those views included the rather scrumptious Nick Berry during the filming of 'Heartbeat'. I used to love the innocence of that programme, plus the vintage era in which it was set.

For this trip the heather was the draw. We left on Tuesday morning and trundled up the M1 North. It didn't seem to take that long (three and a half hours passes quickly when you jabber on)!
It was peeing down with rain upon our arrival. In fact literally once we had ventured out of sunny beautiful Oxfordshire it seemed to start and persistently continued for the entire time we were away.
We kind of guessed that might happen and although it could easily have completely destroyed our plans, it did in fact make us laugh and laugh some more!

All the rain brought mist too, so upon driving out to see the spectacular views we saw this......

This was in fact a pretty clear view! Much of the time we actually couldn't see more than about twenty feet in front of the car! No views!!

Once the mist did finally clear usually later in the day.......WOW!!! The views were indeed breath taking.

Our static caravan was nestled up close to a farm house on a 200 acre sheep farm. You can see the details here. For just £136 for three nights and an extra tenor for the hound, I thought that was a pretty good deal and a whole lot cheaper and cosier than the Youth hostel or camping barn I initially looked at. It even had a bath!!

We had planned to venture out for some grand walks around the reservoir that lay in its glorified beauty at the foot of the farm. As I already mentioned on that first day we couldn't even see it! But my oh my, when the mist cleared........

The first day we just bumbled around the local area trying to find our bearings. I love to escape house just occasionally, to run away from the distractions of the many things that need doing and dare I say it?......'The internet'. Oh the joys of not being able to surf and check emails! They did trickle in occasionally as we hit wifi hot spots but the pure bliss of not having that constant persuasive pull of Facebook and work......arrrr!

We visited the lovely old market town of Skipton on our second day. Skipton was just sooo quaint. Lovely little independent stores and a busy street market, plus the serene canal. I am always drawn to the inland waterways.

The oldest sweet shop in England in Pateley Bridge

Little Jenny dog came too. She was thrilled I could tell, to be allowed to join us on our family adventure. Yorkshire was very doggy friendly :-) Not sure what she thought of her soaking though. None of us remembered to bring waterproofs and I was very reluctant to purchase more when I have a bag full at home!

Day three was a day of railway adventures. We drove a good hour east to the very picturesque market town of Pickering and spent the day 'train hopping'...on a paid ticket of course!
Jenny had to have a ticket too and felt sure that entitled her to a seat, naturally!

Our first stop was Goathland or Aidensfield as it is known in Heartbeat land. The kids loved the sheep on the road. I drove through this place very quickly way back in 2012  on our 'Trip to the North' back then following our disastrous event. I remember we had the threat of snow on the moors back then and had been advised to get across the moors as quickly as possible. We did just that and luckily made it with hot chips in bellies from Whitby at the same time!
It's funny how sometimes memories seem so good and when you attempt to relive them or in my case  introduce your children to something that was special to you, it doesn't always seem to have the same effect. Tim and I holidayed in Goathland several times during our formative years. We camped and explored and it was fun. Times change and move on and I very much felt that although still a lovely place, it was the TV show Heartbeat that brought people to the area. My children don't know anything about it, it isn't even shown anymore, yet all the gift shops were packed with souvenirs and postcards of the characters. Filming can do a lot for a place but as the memories slip, then what becomes of them? This place had become commercialised as a result of its TV connection but what now? What is the future for such a place that prior to the show was just another pretty little village on the map?
We had a bite to eat and hopped back on the train bound for Grosmont; just a ten minute further up the line.

Each of the little stations has been restored to a different era of railway history. I'm not a train spotter but there is something rather lovely about the slow pace of the engines, the smell of the soot and steam and the noise of those whistles!
Our homeward journey back to Pickering was most enjoyable. The children are so grateful for everything I do for them and always thank me profusely for all they receive no matter how small.
The rain eased to a spit and the mist cleared giving us incredible views across the moors. That heather was BROWN and .......sleeping! The bracken was stunning though in its orange/yellow hues.
You can discover more about the North Yorkshire Moors Railway here.

Looking out of the window 'selfie' pose!

Evenings were spent playing board games by the heat of the fire and snuggled up on the huge sofa crocheting my latest Winter blanket (I've finally started my Attic 24 Harmony blanket!) and watching the World gymnastics championships from Glasgow - in my element!!

I've had my fill of Yorkshire for a while now. I do love the area but as always am eternally grateful to return to the place we call home.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Autumn bumblings

Finally, I have happily come to accept that the Summer is well and truly over and Autumn is fully in its moment. I find it hard sometimes when the seasons change, mainly from Summer to Autumn; especially if you don't feel that the season has displayed its beauty to the full extent. This year the colours of Autumn are totally amazing! It's easy to imagine that each of the seasons is very clear cut and distinctively the same. They share similarities but if you take the time to observe, you will see very obvious differences.

This year the colours seem more vibrant somehow. The large sycamore tree en route to our house is a blaze with a rainbow of colours, I love driving past and admiring how striking it is against the back drop of buildings.

Last weekend, I was invited to take part in a worship at The Sanctuary - a corner of a farm field near Stow in Gloucester. My lovely friend and I spent a day in a beautiful area of the country in the company of a very inspiring 'wise woman' who knows everything 'herby'. She's been using herbs in everyday living for years and runs her workshops to pass on her knowledge- I do love that idea!
We started the day tasting samples of tea made from stewing various freely available herbs; marigolds, rose name just a few.
Following the tea we were shown around the 'plots'. My knowledge of herbs increases every year just a little. There really are so many plants out there growing wild that can be harvested and eaten or used to help people. I do find it amazing how nature knows best how to keep us well. Allopathic (or modern medicine) is a chemical mix of ingredients that aim to mimic the natural effects of herbs, some still contain herbal derivatives. In years gone by herbs would have been the only way of treating the sick.

So the plots.....the lady who runs this affair with the help of a very enthusiastic team of inspired women, plant and tend many herbs throughout the year which they then harvest and make into tinctures, salves, balms, teas, elixirs etc etc all very interesting!
I've spent hours in the past, collecting, drying, infusing and much more to make concoctions to treat my family when they succumb to everyday ailments. Then either they don't get sick (which is obviously great) or they become sick and in my haste I reach for the nearest thing available (not always my lovingly created herby concoction) to treat them; if I treat them at all!
After being shown around the plots, we were encouraged to do a little harvesting. It wasn't the warmest of mornings so I opted to wield the spade in an attempt to warm up. I drew the short straw and ended up among the nettles trying to decipher the nettles from the elecampage; a root which is used to treat respiratory problems. It was actually easier than I thought to relieve the soil of the roots and I managed to refrain from being attacked by the vicious nettles that were taller than me!
Roots extracted and they needed washing. Cold water is a no no for me these days. As a sufferer of Raynard's disease I'm not a fan of plunging my hands into cold water. The damp alone is enough to shut down the veins to my fingers and it takes quite some time to regain feeling in my little digits.
It was rather lovely to stand back and leave the root washing to someone else who doesn't suffer with the ghastly 'circulation shut down'. It turned out she was a police officer re-training to do Holistic massage. I'm considering this field myself as a means of making ends meet (that's the massage and not being police officer!), so we had much to talk about and I was able to draw on her experience. I do love the company of inspirational people!
Following lunch we were told to make a connection with one of the sanctuary's trees. Yes i know, this is where things do get just a little bit wacky! However, I do actually believe that every living thing has energy and so to be in the company of a large tree that has graced the earth and undoubtedly experienced far more than me was actually rather pleasant and a peaceful affair. I opted for the most enormous oak tree that had an incredible trunk that wound up and than turned at an angle. I was fortunate that there was a bench around the base so I took the opportunity to lie on  it and look up at its splendour. If you've never laid under a tree before and looked up and the amazing sight above than give it a go. Trees are incredible!
This one was no exception, it was so healthy and strong and didn't even move just a little in the wind. It stood there like solid rock. We were told that it takes 3-400 years to reach full size and a similar amount of time to die. I could only look on with admiration.
Secondly I took to exploring a hawthorn tree. This one seemed wispy and fragile in comparison yet at the same time had energy. I likened it to the wise woman who had knowledge to impart and thus gave it my respect.
It's funny but about five years ago I discovered a spinney of beech trees on a hill in the park near my home. One of the trees had fallen and had come to rest in the perfect position to enable me to lay on its trunk and gaze up at the splendour of the trees that towered above. It was a very significant place that I loved to visit. Sometimes I would walk the dog up there, other times I would take the children and most often I would visit alone. That fallen tree was the perfect resting place to sit upon and breathe in the fresh country air or to gain the perfect view across the valley. It was also the perfect balance beam and when no one was looking I would dance and cartwheel on that log. One day when the estate was sold. The new owner had that trunk sawn up into large pieces and moved around the field to become horse jumps. That place was never the same after that.  

So our day of inspiration from herbs and lovely people continued and was concluded with the sharing of the days harvest bounty. We each got to take home roots, apples, flowers and even a few quince! (I shall give quince cheese a go :-)) Not sure what the plumber thought recently when he came to fix my immersion heater and found my airing cupboard fully of drying roots and marigold petals??!!