Tuesday, May 3, 2011

North and South

This comes from a hotel room at Heathrow airport. We've just driven down from Yorkshire on a Bank Holiday Monday, so this is kinda therapy. (Actually, the drive was surprisingly easy: no hold-ups anywhere, but whizzing along at 120 kph with all that other hardware seems to be more stressful these days).

So it's nice to be able to dwell instead on the past couple of weeks and our experiences in the North and South (see Elizabeth Gaskell). Maybe the first thing to say is that the weather has been exceptional: no rainjacket since our first day in Cornwall!

From Cornwall we travelled not far north to Somerset, to stay for a few days at Parsonage Farm in the tiny village of Over Stowey on the edge of the Quantock Hills. I've blogged Parsonage Farm before, so suffice to say that it's a gorgeous place and we enjoyed walking on the hills and eating in the pubs. But we never saw a Lesser Spotted (hardly ever spotted) Woodpecker!

Jeannie explaining to orphan lambs that she has no food for them.

Tea in the garden at Parsonage Farm.

We met up with Jim and Cheryl Wilson for a night (see their Marvellous Adventures blog) and then committed ourselves to the bosom of the M5 and M6 to be whirled up north to my sister's near Bolton, Lancashire. Now you may not be aware that this country, as well as its well-established class structure, has an even deeper north-south divide than Tasmania! Probably even before Elizabeth Gaskell, southerners thought the north was populated by clog-wearing labourers with laughable accents, while the northerners believed the other half to be effete aristocrats busily grinding the faces of the poor. And there's still more than a bit of that, but our experience (as southerners originally) is that the north is full of lovely people who smile at you in the street and stop their cars to ask whether you are lost. That don't happen in London!

With Kate and Chris we visited a couple of stately homes and gardens, marvelling at the vast numbers of people who come to enjoy them. We also got to meet our very new grand-niece, Sophie: a real little charmer.

Tatton Park being enjoyed by the crowds.

Kate & Chris on the steps of the church where they were married 34 years ago, to the day.

Jeannie and our nephew Robert, the Boy from Bolton.

Grand-niece Sophie.
Why is that man making funny faces at me?

Family group, Andrea is the only one you haven't met already.

Our final stay in the north was in the North York Moors national park, an area that I've never been to before, but which Jeannie visited as a student. We stayed in a B&B at Kirkbymoorside (good names up there) and since the weather was so good we bought a book of walks and did one each of our four days. It's lovely country: deep valleys with stone walls and very white sheep in very green fields and then miles of open heather moorland on the ridges (or "riggs" locally). Just made for walking, and many people do; at every stop we would see people putting on walking boots and shouldering packs. We met plenty of people on the tracks and one pub offered covers for muddy boots at the door!

The Cornmill, Kirkbymoorside.
The mill leat still runs under the dining room floor.

North York Moors.
Quite steep!

Green grass, white sheep.
The word is "bucolic".

Intrepid walker.
Italy? Bring it on!

Next stop: Italy, and some more walking. Watch this space (but don't forget to breathe, dunno when I'll get wifi next).

What's that? Wedding......? Did someone get married? (OK, we admit it. We stayed in and watched)


  1. Yay! There was a new entry for me to read! You guys are going to be super-fit on your return home (not that you weren't before you left!...Your swimming has turned into walking!). Once again, it all looks so pretty. You looked your usual clucky self with Sophie! Enjoy Italy, I look forward to photos from there (but no rush!). Love to you both. xo

  2. Oh Papa!
    What a lovely post.
    When Marty wakes up from his nap, I think he's going to especially like Granma and the lambs.
    We already have the family photo of you all on the screen saver and the other day I heard Marty saying "Mama" and pointing , when I looked he was pointing at Anri, I wonder if he thought she was me, or if he was telling me that she is Sophie's Mama?
    There's certainly some similarities between us!
    It's great that you can click on these photos and enlarge them for all the detail. Thanks for all the photos, that lavender jacket really suits Jeannie.
    Happy rambling in Italy, we are with you in spirit. I think Jac would say that she left a little part of herself in Rome, probably at the top of Palatine Hill.
    Much love,
    us three

  3. That's a nice picture of you both meeting Sophie for the first time! Looks like you had a nice time walking in North Yorkshire, I am so glad the weather stayed good for your entire trip! It makes up for our terrible winter.
    Hope your trip to Italy is fun. Looking forward to reading the blog following that.
    Love from the three of us in Leeds x

  4. So you been up on t'moors eh? By gum they don't look half grand, and no mistake... No idea why a man would commit a crime just to escape scenery like that for scenery like this... Convicts make no sense; indeed they still make less sense as I sit here. Looved the shots o'west country too. Red sky at night...barn's on foire! cheers from the Dr T