Sunday, May 28, 2023

Holiday Highlights

All too soon, our sojourn in the UK will draw to a close.  It has been a whirlwind of time with cherished family and friends, sprinkled with new experiences.   I hope you enjoy these highlights!  

We rarely fail to fit hiking into our holiday, and this trip was no exception.  Some walks were short strolls; others offered a bit more challenge for a variety of reasons.  Beginning at the end (why not?), a few days ago we climbed 3,000 feet in a little more than 4 miles to scale the tallest mountain in England, Scafell Pike.  I was suffering from congestion that day, and it was a push to complete the final mile or so on very rocky terrain.  But our smiles say "We did it!"

Below, Spousal Unit on a bridge near the beginning of the hike.

Can you see the red arrow in the picture below?  That is our destination!!!

Scenes along the way.


(By the way, Spousal Unit has done this hike one time before - the day that Charles and Diana were married - July 29, 1981.  He hiked it with his father and one other family friend.) 

The day after arriving in the UK, we completed a short walk along the River Tees.  Rain was threatening, so we took in two waterfalls and then retreated to the cafe for coffee and cake while the rain lashed the windows.


After the pandemic, we started a new tradition with my in-laws: each time we visit, the four of us go away for a week or so to some part of the UK.  You can read about a couple of those trips (November 2021 - Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, Post 4, Post 5); April 2022 - Post 1, Post 2Post 3).  A mental note for me - check that I have finished both of those trips, and start posting about the October 2022 trip!!!

This year, we went to the Isle of Skye.  Connected to Scotland's northwest coast by bridge, it is known for its rugged landscapes, picturesque fishing villages and medieval castles.  The largest island in the Inner Hebrides archipelago, it has an indented coastline of peninsulas and narrow lochs, radiating out from a mountainous interior.  

It is such a long drive to get there that we stopped for our first night in the village of Dunblane, hometown of tennis champ Andy Murray.  Nearby is Stirling Castle, famous for the Stirling Heads.  

The Stirling Heads, displayed on the ceiling of the King's Chamber, declared King James V's status as a European monarch.  They proclaimed his royal bloodline, his powerful connections, his fashionable court and his aspiration to be a wise and virtuous ruler.  As one of the docents said, "It was his Instagram!"

The pictures to the right and above show hand-carved and painted copies of the originals.  When the ceiling collapsed in 1777, the originals went to the four winds, and have since been painstakingly re-collected.  Many of them can be seen at a special display in Stirling Castle - check out an example below.

The picture to the left does a poor job of demonstrating the scale of these "medallions" - each one is a little more than three feet wide (a meter), and was hand-carved from 16th century oak.

Check back next week for a post about our time on the Isle of Skye!


Linking to Leeanna's Not Afraid of Color for I Like Thursday.  Prompt for June 1: What is your favorite flavor of ice cream at the moment?  Who makes it?  Soft serve or dipped?  Do you buy it in the huge box or a pint at a time? 

My favorite does not waver - mint chocolate chip.  I don't have a preferred brand, and we don't buy it for home consumption - not because I am worried about calorie count - we just don't generally tend to sweet snacks or desserts - we much prefer salty snacks.  Ice cream (dipped almost always) is a treat when we are out for the day and the conditions are right - hot and sunny, or any day at the seaside!

Linking to Mosaic Monday

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Going Home Again

Do you have a place that, when you think of it, just makes you warm all over?  Aromas might involuntarily come to you, as you look at photos from this special locale.  Recalling the place might bring on a little shiver of anticipation.  One memory cascades into another, just begging for new memories to be created, all while being in the moment.  The above sentences are my feeble attempt to capture the emotions racing through me as I consider our upcoming trip to the UK - the childhood home of my husband and my adopted home.  

As usual, I am way behind on blogging about our LAST trip - October 2022, but better late than never.  This blog shows just one day, and it shouldn't be surprising that it features a walk in the countryside, one of our favorite things to do anywhere, but certainly in the UK!

The Tees Railway Path is a 10 km route that provides an excellent way to discover Teesdale.  The Tees Valley Railway was the remnant of a plan for a line from Barnard Castle to Aston.  It was opened in 1868 by an independent company and was taken over by the North East Railway in 1882.  The line closed in 1964 and is now a fabulous way to explore Teesdale on foot.

And not too far from the church?  Stocks!!!

Sheep are ubiquitous on a countryside stroll in the UK, but I was especially tickled by one white sheep in the field - perhaps the "white sheep" of the family?

Part of the trail borders on Balder Banks Woods, designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1991.  The steep and barely accessible slopes within the woods have allowed the vegetation and wildlife to flourish - they have been virtually undisturbed for several decades.  The designation ensures the protection of the flora and fauna.



For me, I cannot resist pausing in admiration of ancient trees - I love imagining all that these trees might have witnessed below their branches.

The trail descends and we reach the River Balder.  Just to the left of the picture below are the ruins of the Balder Mill, in operation from the 1700s to the early 1900s.  At that time, problems of water supply resulting from the construction of the Hury Reservoir brought about its closure.  

Would you like a couple minutes of tranquility?  Check out the video of the small waterfall, nestled among the moss and ferns.  Some golden leaves are caught upon the rocks, and yet most of the trees stand fully clothed in glossy green.

I love bridges - many have a symmetry that appeals to me.  Maybe it's a deeper meaning that grabs my imagination - "crossing over", or a bridge as something that is intended to reconcile or form a connection between two things or two groups.

The moist environment is an ideal location for lichen and fungi - so beautiful in their own way.

And it was about to get more moist!  It began to rain, softly at first and then with intention.  But I couldn't resist this friendly sheep, which walked right up to me as I passed through its field.  I shared this photo with my Dear Neighbor Friend, who knows a thing or two about sheep and goats.  She said this must have been a hand-reared sheep to approach me so readily.  I think she's right - for the 30+ years I have been walking the footpaths of England, this had never happened before!  UK, here I come!


Linking to Leeanna's Not Afraid of Color for I Like Thursday.  The prompt for May 11 is:  do you have a favorite musical style?  What kind of music calms you, makes you want to dance, or stimulates you creatively?  Generally, I am into country music (Sugarland is a favorite), modern Christian music (I love Lauren Daigle and Anne Wilson), and old school folk music such as Gordon Lightfoot (so sad he passed recently).  The folk and Christian music is my solace; country is my muse for creativity (also good for cleaning the house!)  If I want to dance, I would rather turn to a "party" play list expertly compiled by the Spousal Unit - we love to dance together!

Linking to Saturday's Critters

Linking to Mosaic Monday

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