Thursday, February 25, 2016

Richmond Castle and a Conversation with a Yorkshireman

We had a long list of things we wanted to do with my parents when they were here, and we would have considered it a shame if we let their visit go buy without seeing a castle.  That would just be wrong.  Right?

We drove up the road to a town we'd never visited before, to Richmond, and walked to Richmond Castle in the center of town.

This is my dad channeling his inner James.

We missed out on rain, but the fog was magnificent. I considered cloning out the picnic tables in this picture.  Without them it feels like this could be a picture from any time in the past few hundred years.

We climbed up the dark stairs of the tallest tower, and the view was lovely in the fog.

I was still reading Charlotte's Web to James at the time, so I was susceptible to stopping and taking pictures of spider webs.

I love the colors of an English town against the fog.  It's just the way it's supposed to be.

We ran into friends as we wondered down the cobbled paths around the castle grounds and then walked down to the rushing River Swale.  It sounded pretty ferocious with all the rain we had over the Christmas holidays.  Have I mentioned the amount of rain and flooding?  We're all still talking about it.

Speaking of talking about the weather, I want to record one of my favorite encounters with a Yorkshireman that occurred on a sunny day during the first week of the new year when I was picking the kids up from school.  The sun was making a rare appearance, and I was walking toward the school soaking up that Vitamin D when a man joined me on the sidewalk on his own way to the school.  As you do here, I remarked to him about how nice it was to see the sun.  He agreed.  But then I just took it a step too far, I guess, because I added, "After all those rainy days it's just SO nice to see it again!"  Yorkshiremen don't like to see you lose your head because he said, "Well, now, we could do with it being a little warmer.  Let's not get too carried away by a bit of sunshine."  Ha!

I'm afraid that getting carried away by sunshine is exactly what we do here.

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Life Hack for Your Monday

It's the end of a Monday, and it's been a good one.  That in itself is kind of an odd thing to say, isn't it?  

I've been trying out this amazing new secret for productivity the past couple of days.  It's called, writing things down.  Try not to let your mind be blown by my originality.  

My brain becomes so overloaded by the sheer number of possibilities for a day that I can get stressed out and overwhelmed before I even start one thing.  Utilizing our chalkboard wall the past couple of days has harnessed so much of my mental energy.  It puts it all out there and helps me focus on the most needful tasks.  I had everything crossed off the list for today except for "write a blog post," so here at the end of a day, a small record of our Monday and some sunset pictures from Valentine's Day.

Today's memorable moments included watching Mt. St. Helen erupt on YouTube with James as we were reading about volcanoes for our science lesson.  I have found YouTube such an educational tool with him lately.  We've also watched a tsunami or two and a cartoon about Henri Matisse.  And to think it started out as a place for people to share videos of their cats.

I started reading Old Yeller aloud to James this afternoon.  Too soon?  I have so many memories of watching that movie with my family growing up, though I usually had to leave the room when Travis shot Yeller.  I was surprised that he reveals that he is going to have to kill the dog in the first paragraph of the book, so I made sure to point that out to James.  There will be no surprise sad endings here!  Though I guess the sad part is how much it will hurt to have to do it.  I much prefer the sequel, Savage Sam.   It's not nearly such a tear-jerker.

In an attempt to not spend all my time cleaning up after the kids, I had Ella make James's bed today. I could have asked James to do it, but I guess I wasn't ready to relinquish that much control of it looking good.  I knew Ella would do a good job, as she has been making her bed faithfully every morning for a few years now.  Plus, I think James was taking a Math test at the time, and Ella had a few minutes to spare.

I'm going to go check this off my list now.  Feel free to borrow my amazing secret to accomplishing your everyday chores and responsibilities.  Go forth and write things down.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Haworth, Home of the Brontes

This is a story about how my mom and I drove to Haworth in West Yorkshire to visit the home of the Bronte sisters only to discover that the parsonage where they lived is closed for refurbishment in January.  It's not as sad as it sounds.

When we arrived in the village I parked up above it where we could look out on the moors.  The wind was howling and whistling and set the stage perfectly for a visit to Bronte country.  Sadly I discovered that I had forgotten my coat.  It was nearly lunchtime so we decided to eat before going to the parsonage that is now a museum, and that ended up being a good decision not only because it delayed our finding out that the parsonage was closed but because it was the best meal I've eaten in Yorkshire.

I had an amazing butternut squash and chorizo lasagna, the dishes were adorable, and the tea delightfully warming after the walk in the wind.  After lunch we walked through the cobblestone streets in an almost eerily quiet village, the kind of quiet that you only find in the first week of January, I suppose.

All of the bookstores were closed, which was a disappointment because they looked amazing.  And I most assuredly would have wanted to buy the "Reader, I married him." mug if that delightful shop had been open.

Looking back I think the quiet and closed shops should have made me think that the parsonage might be closed as well, but it didn't occur to me, and that doesn't really surprise me.

I was too busy enjoying the pretty doors.

I think most people who read Wuthering Heights for the first time ask themselves what fueled these type of stories?  Maybe it was, in part, the desolate but beautiful surroundings, the shrieking wind, and the graveyard that would have been the view from their front windows.

Being in Haworth definitely made me want to re-read a few novels AND go back again when the museum is open.

You can usually count on the church to be open, and we listened to a man regaling two other women with stories about the Bronte family.

There weren't any stained glass windows in the church during the Bronte's time, but I loved this one donated by an American citizen "to the glory of God in pleasant memory of Charlotte Bronte."

The architecture is beautiful.

It was a bitter walk into the wind going back to the car, but it was so atmospheric I don't think we would have had it any other way.