Way back pre-Duncan Elspeth and Tim invited us down to Yorkshire for a weekend vacation this month. They’d come up to visit us back when I was making funny shadows back in April/May and we knew that they’d be understanding people to share the stress of travelling with our boy for the first time.
Sure enough, driving from Aberdeen to south of Newcastle turned out to be a long, loud trip. The deafening rain gave Duncan quite a scare, so between the rain, Duncan screaming, and Cory and I madly singing “the ants go marching two by two…” it wasn’t exactly a peaceful drive. But as soon as we crossed into Yorkshire, the rain that had been our constant companion all day started letting up and when we pulled into the village with Elspeth’s parents live, the sun was shining and it felt like we’d entered into heaven. Or maybe that was the glass of wine waiting for me when we arrived… I’m not totally sure.
The next morning was equally bright and we started our day by hiking in Aysgarth Falls, thoughtfully researched by Elspeth and Tim as a buggy-friendly hike. Duncan loves his buggy, we all love being outside, and blue skies make everything seem wonderful so it was an amazing start to the day, and a huge contrast to the day before.
No trip to Wensleydale, where we were staying, would be complete without visiting the Wensleydale Creamery, best known for being Wallace’s (of Wallace and Gromit fame) favourite cheese. For a breast-feeding mum, this is far better than a distillery, as I ate about a pound of cheese in the tasting room and then more at the cafe for lunch. Surpisingly, I didn’t gain any weight on this vacation. While Duncan wasn’t too interested in the factory, we enjoyed it, especially the lovely cheese-oriented lunch.
(Talking to my parents afterwards, I’ve found out that my Gram loved Wensleydale cheese and would go to great lengths to obtain some when she lived on the shore of Lake Huron in Ontario, so maybe my enjoyment is genetically programmed… )
While the fact that England doesn’t yet have a smoking ban sucks (we hit rock bottom on the way down when we considered stopping the car and taking a break with our screaming baby and we realized that pubs are still smoky and therefore not baby-friendly places (and it was after 5pm so nothing else was open)), we still found plenty to do in Yorkshire, visiting a rope-making factory and shopping in Hawes.
But no one can really visit the dales without checking out a pub, so we spent a happy hour on the patio of one in Reeth, enjoying a half pint while Duncan had his dinner. Happy baby, happy parents, perfect day! Elspeth and Tim really showed us an amazing glimpse of England, a much prettier, enjoyable glimpse than my business trips had so far provided.
It’s hard to top a perfect day, but exploring a ruined abbey in an atmospheric mist comes pretty close, especially when followed by crumpets with chutney and wensleydale cheese. (Thanks to Tim, we now know what crumpets actually are, and we picked some up at the grocery store to have at home.) I like a region where there’s tea shops and pubs on every village corner. Of course, part of the reason there’s pubs on every corner is the fabulous local real ales. We stopped at the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham for lunch before having to head off for the the long drive home.
On the way back from Yorkshire we stopped for a couple nights in the Borders, thereby making the return trip quite a bit more relaxed that the way down, visiting favourite places from our vacation last year. Duncan’s fine for two, 2-hour sessions in the car, but any more than that is asking for trouble. We’d wanted to stop off at Hadrian’s Wall, but by the time we got there it was already 4pm and Duncan was feisty, so after a quick glimpse of the wall from the side of the road, we headed up to our B&B for the night, just outside of Jedburgh. Normally we stay in 3 star places, but due to a Vintage Car Rally that weekend, all the budget B&Bs were booked up. So, lucky us got to splurge and enjoy ourselves at the Palace Country House B&B. I’ve posted a picture of the room because it was that impressive!
On our last day of vacation we explored Smailholm tower and took in the views from the top.This is Sir Walter Scott country, and they don’t let you forget it! To complete our literary day, we stopped off at Traquair House, now known for it’s brewery as well as it’s role in Scott’s novel Waverley. After a quiet night in Lilliesleaf, including a trip to the local pub, we headed back for home, utterly exhausted.
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