Monday, 11 December 2017

Northern Eire

Here I am sitting on the Giant's Causeway, blown away (almost literally) by this natural phenomenon. I wasn't expecting this site to be so beautiful. Rugged it is, but just instantly and utterly breathtaking. 

The views are even more spectacular from up high on the nearby cliff-top walks.

This is the Carrick-A-Rede bridge, once just a single hand rope used by salmon fishermen to cross (over a 100 foot drop to the crashing ocean below) to a tiny sheer faced island where they caught salmon.

You can just catch a glimpse of the single fisherman hut on the island, below it an old wooden boat balances on the rocks.

Dunluce Castle sits on another section of coastline close by, similarly built on top of sheer cliff faces. Its now crumbling ruins are an evocative sight against the expanse of churning ocean.

Northern Ireland is windswept and at the absolute mercy of the wild weather coming in from the North Atlantic ocean, but this just adds to its rugged and weather-worn beauty. A spectacular part of the world. 

Kate  x

Saturday, 2 December 2017


I went for a frosty morning walk through the woodland today, the 1st day of December. I came home with frozen toes and nose, but also with a wintry wreath I fashioned along the way. With some fallen branches, complete with little pine cones still attached, and red velvet ribbon, I now have a foraged wreath in our bedroom to mark the season.

Happy Advent.

Kate  x

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

The Derbyshire Dales

The Derbyshire Dales are pretty indeed, but not in a way that is wholly unbelievable like some of England's southern areas of reputed natural beauty. Derbyshire is real.

The rolling emerald green hills, intersected with miles upon miles of grey stone walls, are dotted with very attractive stone barns and outbuildings, their pleasing aesthetic a happy accident of their utilitarian use and design. The barns, and the machinery they house, are very much for function. And on the horizon you will see the silhouette of chimney stacks, their trailing smoke plumes indicative of a long industrial history. The North is the birthplace of industry. From the peak of the industrial revolution in the 19th Century to the manufacturing heydays of the 20th, the timeline of modern industry is woven through England's North.

The natural landscape is wild and weather beaten in places. But its rugged and exposed beauty is no to obstacle to the people who live and farm here.

Kate  x

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Bare rose bushes

Summer roses are a very distant memory now. My three rose bushes are in a deep slumber. They were only planted in the spring, so hopefully an autumn and a winter to settle their roots will result in a more prolific flowering period next year.

Kate  x 

Friday, 17 November 2017

Pemberley (aka Lyme Park)

Pemberley sits on the border of Cheshire and Derbyshire, and Miss Elizabeth Bennet was correct, "I have never seen a house so happily situated."

The reflection lake lives up to its name, creating the perfect mirror image of the house on its calm surface.

The gardens are small and mostly informal, preference is given to a more natural arrangement that sees the trees and the woodlands as champion features. The parkland is extensive, with wide views stretching out over Derbyshire below, a deer herd roam the moor-like land.

Of course, Lyme Park celebrates its fame as the Pemberley in the BBCs adaptation of Pride & Prejudice. Visitors can dress in full regency attire as they wander the opulent house and beautiful grounds, all the while imagining the life Mrs Darcy married into.

The Orangery

The angle we are most familiar with, is actually the rear of the house. And despite what the television series would have us believe, the driveway to the house doesn't go past the lake at all. Still, it was magical to see this beautiful place with my very own eyes. And no, I didn't pull on a busty regency frock, nor was Alex tempted by the velvet overcoats and top hats on offer.

I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It was too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun. 
Jane Austen.

Kate  x

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

"God's own county" Yorkshire: Part Two

On the cusp of Samhain as the sun goes down, the floodlit remains of a tenth century monastery takes on an other worldly atmosphere. We arrived at the ghostly ruins of Fountains Abbey as the sky turned to pastel shades of pink and blue, and stayed until the clouds began to part and the stars appeared above us. 

Seeing the silhouette of the abbey against the darkening sky as monastic hymns carried through the ruins was incredibly magical.

We sat in a now-empty window of what was once the cellarium, where the Benedictine monks would have eaten and slept, to hear the choir perform their beautiful music. 

And with another Samhain observing the end of the harvest season behind us, we now begin to think of all things Christmas.

Kate  x

Thursday, 2 November 2017

"God's own county" Yorkshire: Part One

Yorkshiremen have absolutely no hesitation in proclaiming Yorkshire as God's own county. Whether it is a legitimate claim or not? That's for anyone who dares debate the point with a born & bred Yorkshirian to answer. Let me know the outcome. 

An American decided to write a book
 about famous churches around the world, 
so he bought a plane ticket and took a trip to Rome. 

On his first day he was inside a church taking 
photographs when he noticed a golden telephone 
mounted on the wall with a sign that read $10,000 per call' 
The American, being intrigued, asked a priest who was 
strolling by what the telephone was used for. 

The priest replied that it was a direct line to 
heaven and that for $10,000 you could talk to God. 

The American thanked the priest and went along his way.

Next stop was in Moscow. There, at a very 
large cathedral, he saw the same golden telephone 
with the same sign under it. He wondered if this 
was the same kind of telephone he saw in Rome 
and he asked a nearby nun what its purpose was. 

She told him that it was a direct line to heaven 
and that for S10,000 he could talk to God. 

'O.K., thank you,' said the American. 

He then traveled to France, Israel, Germany and Brazil. 
In every church he saw the same golden telephone 
with a '$10,000 per call' sign under it. 
The American finally decided to travel to the UK to see 
if the British had the same phone. 
He arrived in York and again, in the Minster, 
there was the same golden telephone, but this time 
the sign under it read '20p per call.' The American was surprised 
so he asked the priest about the sign. 
'Reverend, I've traveled all over World and I've seen this same 
golden telephone in many churches. I'm told that it is a direct line to 
Heaven, but everywhere I went the price was $10,000 per call. 
Why is it so cheap here?' 

The priest smiled and answered, 

'You're in Yorkshire now Lad, - it's only a local call'.

We started at York's crowning jewel, the glistening York Minster.
The first church on this site was built in 627. Since then it has been damaged, destroyed, built and rebuilt numerous times. Much of the building was constructed between the 13th and 15th Century, and in 1472 the completed cathedral was consecrated. Today, York Minster requires a sum of 
£21, 000 per day to run. The restoration bills run into the millions. On more than one occasion it has had to be rescued from fire or near-collapse. But as one of Europe's finest Gothic cathedrals, it is more than worthy of the care, attention, and staggering cost.

The Nave

The Crossing

The King's Screen

Some of York Minster's 128 stained glass windows date back to the 12th Century. The famous Rose window was successfully saved from ruin by a fire ignited by suspected lightning strike in 1984. 

The Five Sisters Window

This series of windows dates from the mid-1200s and was removed during World War I to protect the stained glass from Zeppelin raids. It is the only memorial in England dedicated to commemorating the women of the British Empire who were killed during the Great War. Amongst the names inscribed on oak panelling beside the window is Edith Cavell- the British nurse who was shot in 1915 by German firing squad for her role in assisting 200 Allied soldiers to escape from German occupied Belgium. 

Climbing the 275 steps to the top of the central tower is a great, albeit blustery, way to take in the city from the highest point in York. 

From up here you can see the historic streets of York, parts of the city walls, the ruins of the Abbey of St Mary's, and on a clear day, as far away as the Yorkshire Dales.

If you're a National Trust member, The Treasurer's House, tucked in behind York Minster is very much worth a look. Historically the house was provided to the treasurer of York Minster, the man responsible for overseeing all of the finances relating to the Minster. Filled with beautifully ornate furniture and exquisite portraits, it was one of the very first properties complete with its land and all of its contents to be given intact to the National Trust.  

Of course, you can't visit York as a tourist without braving a walk down the best preserved mediaeval street in the world, The Shambles. Cheek by jowl, sightseers flock to see the crooked, slanting timber structures of what was once a row of butcher shops and homes. It is still possible in places to see the butcher hooks that the meat would have hung from.

'In some sections of the Shambles it is possible to touch both sides of the street with your arms outstretched.  The architecture which now appears so quaint had a very practical purpose.  The overhanging timber-framed fronts of the buildings are deliberately close-set so as to give shelter to the ‘wattle and daub’ walls below.  This would also have protected the meat from any direct sunshine.'

York is a bustling and lively city. You can't stand still for long, lest you get swept up in the crowds of tourists and locals alike, as they're funnelled through the narrow entanglement of streets in a city comprised of centuries upon centuries of layered history. 

Kate  x