Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Helmsley and Helmsley Castle

When you move to a new place, unless you spend a lot of time studying Google Maps like my husband, you really have no sense of place at all.  For several months people would mention village names and local places, and I would vaguely smile and nod while I really had no frame of reference about where these places were in relation to me.  BUT, slowly and bit by bit we are visiting places or driving through places, and the little light bulb comes on for me.  "Ah, so this is Ilkley...".  

Helmsley  was another one of those names that I had heard mentioned frequently, and it lay in the path of our snow day adventure last month.  KJ is always on the lookout for places we can get entrance to with our English Heritage pass, so Helmsley Castle was the perfect spot.

It's a really lovely village.

I think some form of the castle has been here for 900 years.  There were lots of weapons found from when it was a stronghold during the English Civil War, which you can see inside one of the remaining parts of the castle.  There's also a really huge moat, and the tower is really impressive.

The sunshine was nice because it was actually pretty bitterly cold.

We made it down the icy stone steps with no incidents, which always feels like a success on a family outing.

KJ and James stepped into one of the many cafes for hot chocolate while Ella and I checked out the charity shops and the book shop.  I'd say we were all doing our favorite things to do in a village.

There are so many wonderful bookstores scattered around North Yorkshire that it occurred to me for the first time on this outing that I needed to take a picture of them all, especially when I purchased a book.  So from now on we'll have fun records like these:

Monday, March 28, 2016

Sutton Bank

I know it's the day after Easter, and it's officially springtime, but I fell behind on editing pictures of our outings and wanted to put them on the blog for memory's sake.  So...rewind to February 15 and a drive up to Sutton Bank.

This is our second winter in Boroughbridge, and what we've experienced so far is that being in a bit of a valley means that places all around us will get snow while we may only see a few flurries.  A friend showed us how to look at the traffic camera pictures of the county that update every 10 seconds online.  We saw where there was snow and mapped out a route from there.  It's actually a pretty sweet deal.  We can drive up into the hills and enjoy the snow then come safely back down to our snow-free town.

We were able to borrow a sledge from another friend, which made it a magical experience for the kids.

It was such a beautiful, beautiful day.

The snow was just right for snowballs, and everything was so still and quiet.  We arrived before the masses came with their dogs and sleds.

And "The Finest View in England"

You can see for several miles on a clear day.

And it was a really good thing we stopped for a snowball fight because a couple came up behind us carrying KJ's phone that must have fallen out of his pocket while he was bent over pushing the sledge.  That could have had a much sadder ending.  James had to get out and push after that.

We had two more stops on our journey that day, but this will do for now.  I'm taking baby steps.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Baking Across the Pond

Living in England gives lots of opportunities for talking about differences between England and the United States.  When you're "separated by a common language" there are always similarities and differences, sometimes very minute ones, to discuss.  A funny minute one we discovered in recent months came when talking to a friend about a splashback she wanted to install in her kitchen.  "You mean a backsplash?" I asked.  We laughed a lot over that one because it seems so characteristic, just gotta be a little bit different, just enough to throw you off a bit.

Cooking offers a chance for new vocabulary and a learning curve, using a "fan oven" instead of electric, heating things up on the "hob" instead of the "stove."  Most of the time it seems we just use the same words differently.  For instance, the southern American use of casserole would probably be called a bake here in North Yorkshire.

Last Easter we had our church over for lunch, and I made a Pound Cake for dessert.  I didn't realize until I did that the Bundt pan and bundt cake were not as common on this side of the ocean.  At my Christmas time meeting with my Book Club, I rediscovered that fact when one of the ladies brought up seeing a bundt cake made on a cooking show and how she really wanted to try one.  I told her I would bring one to our next meeting, and I settled on this Cinnamon Roll Bundt Cake, mostly because I had all of the ingredients on hand.  Instant pudding mix is harder to find on this side of the pond, but I happened to have some in the pantry.  This cake comes highly recommended by my book club.  That buttery, cinnamon sugar filling is amazing.  I didn't get a picture of the finished product, so check out the original post for all the delicious details, and go forth and make bundt cakes!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Chasing Waterfalls

The last day we had with my parents we went driving into the Yorkshire Dales again, hoping to avoid rain.  My dad loves to photograph waterfalls, so KJ had done some research (of course!) and had a route planned.  Our first stop included this sheep who was very worked up about something.

Our boots were sinking deep into the muck of two weeks of rain in that grass.

One of my favorite assignments to give Ella that she enjoys as well, is to send her on a photo scavenger hunt.  I made a list of things for her to look for on our journey.  I think she's capturing a newly formed stream running through the grass toward the river.

My mom and I love all that green, green moss.

After walking around a bit we drove to Burnsall, which KJ told us was supposed to be one of the most picturesque villages in the Dales.  It really couldn't be more nicely situated if it tried.

There was a bit of snow and a lot of mist on the hilltops.

I loved the naked trees in the mist on the horizon.  They're so very winter-y.

We ate our sandwiches at the top of the hill overlooking the village, listening to the sound of the schoolchildren playing in the yard below.  It would be such a nice, quiet place to live.  Can you imagine that being your view everyday?

It was also a nice place to eat your cookies B.P. bought at the bakery that morning.

The village store was closed.  I didn't notice last year how quiet and closed a lot of things are around here in January.  It makes complete sense.  I guess we just didn't try to go anywhere last January!

As we continued our drive further up and further in the clouds cleared, and we saw the sun.  It's so amazing what a difference the light makes on a landscape!  The Dales are beautiful in the mist, but they are breathtaking when the sun shines on them.  I was hanging out the window snapping pictures. Below you'll see my dream house.  I'll try not to think about how cold it probably is in winter.

Our final stop was in Wensleydale, which in these photos just looks wild and otherworldly to me. One fun thing about this stop was that we'd been there almost a year previously when Matt and Seth came to visit.  They were our first visitors, and it was fun to see something familiar.

This was probably the moment I wondered to myself why we didn't make this drive more often.  It's just so incredibly beautiful!

Just look at that place.

We rushed home in the sunshine to get Ella back in time for her ballet class, passing Castle Bolton on the way.  Someday we'll make it inside there.  I always take a good look around when we pass it and think about how these are the views Mary, Queen of Scots had during her imprisonment there. We love this land of long ago history.