Last October I flew out to visit my daughter and her husband in their new home in Yorkshire, England for a couple weeks. Amy and I decided to take a little trip on our own. Peter took me out to practice driving several times in preparation for our expedition. It was really challenging because it has been years since I've driven stick shift and you have to shift on the left, naturally since you are sitting on the right. And driving on the left. Oh my! Did I mention roundabouts? And one lane roads with two way traffic?
We set off on a rare sunny day with reservations for a guesthouse in Richmond on the edge of the Dales. We made a stop at a wildlife refuge to do a little birding. There were large shallow ponds that attracted flocks of the prized lapwings mingling with golden plovers. The lapwing is an elegant bird, with a feather on his head, white and black tuxedo tucked under his wing- only visible in flight. When they all startle up a flock of lapwing is a striking sight.
We walked along the edge of ponds near a quarry, through pastures of sheep, edged with bushes loaded with berries shining in the sunlight. We were not accustomed to how cheerful the landscape looks on a sunny day. Walking through a little woods we noticed slender little birds with long tails. Their chests were a soft cinnamon color, their backs bluish gray. It was the only place we saw long tailed tits. We ate our lunch on a picnic table then set out for Richmond.
I had done well so far driving but was feeling anxious about the small, unfamiliar hill town. Hills and stick shifts... All went well until we tried to find a parking space for our guesthouse. The narrow cobblestone lane with parking spaces all filled led up a steep hill, up and around the corner where we came to a wall. There was nothing to do but attempt a three point turn on a hill. It was scary but I did it!
Our room was cozy- heavy wooden beams, a window seat, micro bathroom, a tray under a chair to put hiking boots on. This was a resting place for people walking the coast to coast trail. The row of houses were built in the 1700's- it was a Georgian town, but the owner said the house had originally been built in 1400. Our host gave us a flask of milk for our tea and homemade fudge- balm to our jangled nerves. We caught our breath and then set out to explore Richmond in the little bit of daylight left.
We walked up to the Norman castle that dominated the town, built in 1,000 to conquer and control the rebellious region. From gray stone towers we looked down on the town directly below, a ring of market buildings and church. They looked like toy blocks. From the walls to the south we had a view of the Swale River below and the rolling hills. We wandered around the grounds, found a little chapel in the stone wall, a hidden garden outside the wall. When the light was gone we headed back down to the town to look for dinner.