The pandemic has written many stories of loss, of cancelled plans, of isolation. I can only hope that the sequels contain joyous reunions, and adventures that were all the sweeter for the waiting. It was certainly true in our case, as we traveled to the UK for the first time in two years, and were clasped in tight hugs by my in-laws upon emerging from immigration at the airport. For the next two weeks, we indulged in all that we had missed ... Spousal Unit's childhood home, pork pies, the generous hospitality of his parents, British beer, pub food, outings with friends and our beloved walks through the countryside. How fitting it was to find this sign along one of the dry stone walls.
The UK is the 51st most densely populated country on earth, 8 times more so than the US. And yet, you can easily find green spaces. A trip "home" is never complete for me without a walk through Gypsy Lauren and past the Bunny Banks, a mixture of woods and rolling farm fields where Spousal Unit might have gotten up to the occasional mischief (see picture above). I was delighted to see these dahlias brightening a home garden within the village.
My in-laws are avid gardeners, nourishing vegetables and flowers in the allotments directly across the street from their house. We can always count on fresh vegetables for dinner. These are just a couple of the carrots we savored during our visit.
On our fourth day in country, we drove to Leyburn, hoping that the weather would hold while we explored the Leyburn Shawl, a remarkable limestone terrace. The name "Shawl" could possibly have come from "shalle", a local derivation of the Vikings "scali" meaning huts or dwellings. Other historians suggest it is an abbreviation of "shaw-hill", "shaw" meaning a wood. You may prefer the alternative explanation written below - probably not historically accurate, but far more romantic!
(you can click on the image to enlarge)
This rocky scar is often mentioned in local history books as the route taken by Mary Queen of Scots while making an unsuccessful attempt to escape her imprisonment in Bolton Castle 1586-9. Legend tells us she dropped her shawl during her flight and hence the name of this formation.
The limestone terrace extends almost unbroken for two miles, gradually rising to 870 feet above sea level. At this point, the limestone is about 60 feet thick, forming a very striking escarpment overlooking Wensleydale.
As we left the escarpment and descended to the valley floor, we passed this smokestack. Despite a little sleuthing on the Internet, I have not been able to learn anything about it.
We had neared the midway point on our walk, and paused for coffee from Dad's flask, and assorted snacks.
As we left the grounds of the Bolton Estate, we entered the village of Wensley. Despite the chance of rain and cooler temperatures, we took advantage of the covered part of the outdoor patio at the Three Horseshoes pub for an adult beverage. Nearby, the grim skies lent a distinctly Bronte air to this church and its graveyard.
Two minutes further on, this garden delivered us from the gray. I stood on the pavement, snapping macro shots, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a gentleman swinging a set of keys that promptly unlocked the narrow gate to - you guessed it - the garden!
"May I come in and look more closely at your beautiful flowers?" I asked. Well, no gardener can resist that opening!!! We stood just inside the gate, immediately at ease as happens with people who share deep interests in common. I was aware that I was holding up my fellow walkers, so after some minutes of discussing the history of his garden, the scourge of climate change and his passion for dahlias, I excused myself and took micro shots with some assistance from Spousal Unit. What a find!
The second half of the walk took us through the fields we had observed from the escarpment above.
Stone walls and hedges marked our progress, and autumn berries promised food sources for birds and squirrels to store up winter reserves.
As we reached the final uphill section to return to Leyburn, this barn anchored a corner of the field. I wondered about the hands that had laid the stones, and painstakingly placed the slates on the roof. Hands that squeezed a living from the land, creased hands that passed the legacy onto younger, softer hands. Did they know the gift they would give to those of us just passing through, those of us answering the call of the rolling hills?
Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Tuesday (U.S. Mountain time).
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Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us.