Sunday, 18 September 2016
Little Barugh Holiday:: Days 1 - 3
Hello! Hello!! I am back from my holidays, huzzah. We had an absolutely fantastic time, the weather was glorious (dare I say, I return slightly suntanned?), the house was amazing and beautiful with all the traditional touches combined with handy mod-cons, the scenery was spectacular and just generally all was good in the honorary Power household. We went up to Yorkshire and stayed in a quaint farming village called Little Barugh, pronounced (most amusingly) 'Bath'. Actually the drive from Sussex to Yorkshire wasn't good as it bucketed down along the motorway and visibility was really poor, but when we crossed the border things sort of cheered up and the sun was attempting to break through when we reached our first holiday visit of Kirkham Priory.
There don't seem to be as many people in Yorkshire as down South which may be a silly thing to say (perhaps they were all hiding behind the trees) but it is really noticeable how empty it appears to be. Vast fields and areas of woodland stretching out as far as the eye can see, the only traffic seems to be in the towns but once you pass through them the traffic disappears and you are alone on the roads again. The quiet is the other thing that struck us as we were munching on sandwiches alongside the river, it was so peaceful there, the only noises you could really hear were the birds, the cows mooing and grunting by the water's edge, the occasional farm vehicle and the trains that passed by every now and then on the other side of the bridge. We hadn't realised how noisy and bustling things had become in the South, as areas have become more and more built up due to the commuter belt. I guess you don't notice it if you are living there every day.
After finishing our picnic and lunchtime pondering, we wandered over to the Priory which is an English Heritage site. The Priory was founded in the 1120s by the Lord of Helmsley, Walter l'Espec and was a place for Augustinian monks. The largest part of the surviving building is the gatehouse which has very impressive carvings still visible, one side depicting St. George and the Dragon, and the other David and Goliath, along with shields of the Priory's benefactors.
Later the site was also used to test D-Day landing vehicles by the army due to it's proximity to the water and Winston Churchill even visited here in secret, ssssshh.
Now though, it is being lived on by inquisitive cows who were quite amusing to watch. When they had finished splashing in the river and getting muddy, they wandered back down their own private passageway, pausing to stare at us staring at them before continuing into the field for some more grass. It's a hard life, being a cow.
Our journey to the holiday cottage was quite quick from Kirkham and we were greeted by the arrival of the sunshine and our smiling landlady who showed us around our new home for the week. The building is part of a renovated farm complex which curved around in a square a bit like a Roman villa would have done, with a garden area in the centre. We were one of two holiday cottage 'wings' with the landlady's house joining the two together. (See details of this lovely cottage, here.) There were quite a few more farm buildings, workshops and garages, along with an enormous field with a fantastic view, and an orchard full of apples and plums. We were invited to pick as much fruit as we liked from the orchard and spent a little while choosing the nicest looking apples from the tree and collecting them in our borrowed wicker basket, very Country Homes!
As Sunday is a well known day of rest, we pootled very slowly around a nearby town in the morning, buying essentials for lunches and teas in the local supermarkets and exploring the kitchen cupboards to put things away into. By lunchtime we had recovered sufficiently to be able to explore further afield and in the afternoon we headed off to a recommended place, the Yorkshire Lavender Farm. It's free to enter and has a Lavender maze, several gardens and games to play in each, Lavender terraces, a Deer pen, a shop and a cafe. We had just missed the lavender being in flower which must have looked absolutely amazing, but the gardens still had a very sensory feel to them as you were surrounded by smells of Lavender, the strong breeze was causing the tall grasses to rustle soothingly and there were still lots of colours from the other plants in the gardens to be attractive to the eye.
From the shop I bought a bottle of their still Lavender Lemonade which was incredibly sweet and tasted rather odd, nice, but odd, and also some Lavender Hot Chocolate sticks to try out at home. These were also quite odd tasting, you could recognise the Lavender in it, but after the first few sips it kind of stopped tasting so much of Lavender and melded more into the chocolate, very strange. It was lovely and creamy though!
On the drive home we went over the Yorkshire moors which are absolutely vast! All you can see for miles around is more moors, green fields, dry stone walls, scrub trees and the occasional sheep. The wind was rather bracing, even though the sun had reappeared in full force. It's quite incredible how far away you can actually see on a clear day, miles and miles away!
Our third day started with a trip to the seaside. They don't appear to have coastal roads like we do at home so you kind of have to pick a beach or seaside town and go there, then come back out and go cross country to the next one, looping along to the different beaches. Our first seaside destination was Scarborough and it didn't disappoint!
The town is set up on the top of a cliff so you either walk down the steps in front of the Grand Hotel or you catch the tram down. We opted for walking down through the gardens which spits you out right next to the sand. Glorious golden soft sand! What a day for beach walking with this beautiful soft stuff underfoot, the glistening silver sea washing gently in and out, and the brilliant blue sky above, it was like stepping into a postcard! Plus then you had the interesting things happening, like the chap with the metal detector bumbling along and an enormous land/water vehicle driving through the waves before beaching itself and driving up the beach leaving enormous tread patterns in its wake.
It is a working beachfront and there were lobster and crab pots everywhere and little fishing boats moored up in the harbour. There are also an agreeable amount of tourist shops selling postcards and badges for ones camp blanket, along with cafes, seafood pot huts and even a little permanent fairground.
We wanted to visit the castle which was right at the top of the cliffs, even higher than the town which meant we had to walk up a seemingly endless flight of steps to get to the top, I can't imagine how many calories were burnt in the trek, certainly I wore off those from the hot chocolate the night before. It was all worth it though as the panoramic view at the top was magnificent!! The castle sort of juts out towards the sea, creating two bays either side of it and with views out to the sea at the front.
Scarborough Castle is another English Heritage site (they seem to have a wealth of them in the Midland's area) which has a very lengthy history to it. Before the castle was even built, Romans used the site as a signal station and the Vikings also set up camp here . The castle itself has housed and battled medieval kings, Civil War armies and just about survived naval attacks from the German forces in World War II, and has been rebuilt, remodelled and refurbished several times. It is in the most amazing location and would have been an imposing and intimidating sight to anyone approaching Scarborough from the sea.
After Scarborough, we did our coastal popping in and out thing, and reappeared along the coast at Whitby, to visit Whitby Abbey. From my experience of ruined Abbeys, there was quite a lot of this one left, especially considering the natural erosion which also happens along the coast where it is open to harsh elements. Lots of the stones were displaying a ravaged, pockmarked surface which was definitely down to the strong winds and the rain.
It is another very imposing and impressive site, and was apparently one of the inspirations for the story of Dracula, written by Bram Stoker. The Abbey is a 13th century, gothic design, and the site became a highly significant religious centre during the Anglo-Saxon period when Abbess Hild ruled the roost for both men and women in a double monastery. My favourite part of these types of building is always the columns. They remind me of an artist study I did many years ago of graphic designer, Ben Nicholson who worked with fine lines and monoprinting. His arch studies are quite abstract and have layers of arches which can't possibly work architecturally, but bring to mind the idea of fragments of arches appearing behind or in front of one another (ooo, getting all arty farty now!).
As the day was nearing to a close (we were given lots of extra pieces of flapjack at the Whitby Abbey cafe as they were starting to close down and wanted rid of them- not that we minded, cranberry and mixed seed flapjack, yummy!), we did one more coastal hop to a beach we had heard a lot about on another blog, Attic24- Robin Hood's Bay. This is another beach where you park and leave the car right at the top of the hill and walk down through twisty turny tiny streets until you get to the bottom, and the beach!
I love beaches like this, with firm sand and rockpools, slimy seaweedy areas and layers of pebbles and treasure lying where the sea left them, waiting to be picked up again at high tide. By treasure I mean sea glass, pretty shells, and if you are very lucky, sea washed pottery. I was very lucky and collected quite a haul of all of them on my beach jaunt, with three pieces of blue pottery, one with a pattern still visible!! It was too exciting for words!
On our journey back home, everyone smelling just slightly salty and feeling slightly scrubbed by the sea air, we paused over the moors at the sight of this incredible 'bowl' that had been carved out of the land. It is known as Horcum Dyke and was created by glaciers many many moons ago. Imagine what the moorland would have looked like when covered with snow and ice and enormous glaciers rampaging (well maybe not quite rampaging, swirling incredibly slowly?) through the landscape.
Join me again for the next couple of days from our Yorkshire holiday!