tales from the Dales

 

Inspired by the countryside of the first stage of Le Tour de France, we booked ourselves 4 nights cottage stay in the Yorkshire Dales. This area of countryside is famous for dry stone walls, author James Herriot, Wensleydale cheese, outdoor pursuits, roaming sheep and breathtaking scenery. The weather couldn’t have been better, in the mid 20’s each day. This made it perfect for walking through the countryside and dabbling our tired and hot feet in streams… Which is exactly what we did!

We walked to Malham Cove, where there used to be a waterfall higher than Niagara but the rain water has eroded the limestone cliff and now the waterfall runs through caves underground, it then springs up further down stream. You can just see in the photo the interesting rock patterns it made in the limestone underfoot. This is me at the top of the old waterfall. 

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We drove much of the route of the Tour de France, this is through some spectacular countryside. It tested Jason’s driving skills as we drove up steep gradients, along unfenced roads and over perilous passes. Here’s a picture of the Buttertubs pass where someone has kindly labeled the road prior to Le Tour. The pass is said to have this peculiar name as it is where farmers would use the deep caves to store their unsold butter, on their way back from the market in Muker.

 

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We also visited Bolton Abbey, which is the site of a ruined abbey on the River Wharfe. On a hot day people park up along the shore and swim in the river. After a walk along the river bank and through the trees, Jason couldn’t resist getting in with the ducks. We did a similar ‘amble and dip’ at Aysgarth Falls. Even Rosie enjoyed paddling in the cool river; she loves splashing and has just about learnt to stop putting the sand and gravel in her mouth.

 

 

 

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cornish cousins

From the North East we headed to South West England…

Jason spent the weekend in Cheltenham for a boy’s weekend with his old university mate Eric. Eric is the captain of Cowley Cricket Club and had invited his Aussie mate to join the team for a game of 20/20 cricket. From the match report you can see that he impressed with his bowling. “It was Eric’s Aussie mate (Jason) who got the breakthrough in the 13th over as the no2 was given LBW for 29 and then in his second over he bowled the dangerous no4 for 47.”  I am not going to mention his batting attempt….quack. 

The weekend also entailed 2 games of golf, watching the world cup final and a ten mile run up Leckhampton Hill. Here they are at the top of the hill.

I joined them later for an evening drinking french wine and a walk into Cheltenham, before traveling down to Cornwall the next day.

Cornwall is the home county of my cousins. My Aunty Pam and Uncle Graham made us feel very welcome at their beautiful house in Looe, which has spectacular sea views. My uncle is the most amazing cook and it was a treat to share in the consumption of his culinary delights, including a barbecued paella complete with mussels and shrimps. Although eating alfresco at the seaside town became somewhat of a tactical defence exercise against a growing army of hungry seagulls. Here’s a picture of Jason and Dad practising their world cup skills whilst waiting for their dinner. From Looe we went over to Padstow where we met up with some distant relatives from Perth and our friends Tess and Chris from Melbourne. How strange it is to travel to the other side of the world to catch up with people who live in our own country. 

We walked along the coastal path from Looe to Polpero with Rosie on our back. This is a beautiful walk but has quite a few steep inclines along the cliff. 

Polpero.JPGAfter such a walk in Cornwall it almost seems obligatory to buy cornish pasties for lunch. Here is a picture of Jason, Dad and a sleeping Rosie on their descent into the cute fishing village, Polpero. Since the weather has been gorgeous Jason had a quick dip in the English Channel before dinner, which was booked in the Mediterranean Bio-dome at the Eden Project. These are two enormous greenhouses (pictured) and are a major tourist attraction. It felt special to be there after all the visitors had gone home and enjoy our meal in such peaceful and leafy surroundings. Here we met my cousin Katie for the first time in many years, and her two adorable children Alfie and Matty (pictured). 

Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to Cornwall. On the return leg we went through Somerset and visited Cheddar, a great little tourist town famous for its gorge, (cheddar) cheese and strong apple cider called scrumpy. It also holds great memories as Jason and I had been on one of our first dates here back in 2007. 

We also stopped in Bristol for a couple of nights. This is where I had lived and worked prior to moving to Australia and where I first met Jason. We stayed for a night with Sam at his new house and spent the evening assembling his new coal BBQ. Those who have cooked on coals before will know that there is quite a skill involved in creating the fire and ensuring that the coals have burned and cooled perfectly for an even spread of heat for cooking sausages. You may also know that everyone has an opinion to share on how their dad used to do it! We were very proud of our efforts and ended up with perfectly palatable, burnt sausages. As always, the coals had reached their perfect cooking state by 10.30pm, after all was cooked. 

We also stayed the night with Helen and her husband Ed, and children Alexander and Jasmine (pictured). Helen is a friend who I’ve known since my single days and we were very happy to put all the children to bed, order a take away and open a bottle of wine. Such a lot to catch up on. 

We drove back up North through thunder storms and torrential summer rain.

Le Tour de Grand Days Out

 

A major highlight of our trip has been seeing Le Tour de France, which began its first two stages in Yorkshire. We were joined by my good friend Sam and set off early to beat the traffic into York and get a good spot, close to the action. After two and a half hours of waiting, which included a parade of all the sponsors throwing freebies into the crowd, the peloton cruised past before racing from York to Sheffield. There was a vibrant atmosphere in the city and it was great to be a part of it. We came home in the afternoon and watched the recording of the race on the TV; we were just able to see the corner of Jason’s hat from behind the riders. 

At the end of June, Jason entered the Humber Half Marathon. Humber_half.JPGIt was a fun day as we had quite a few other friends competing too. The weather was terrible on the morning of the race with torrential rain and cold winds. However, it cleared up half way through the race and Jason made a good time of 1 hour, 42mins (despite a preparation diet of mostly beer). 

 

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 Being a great Yorkshire girl, a visit to the Great Yorkshire Show was a must-do on our list. This is a large agricultural show where Yorkshire people meet to compete, award themselves ribbons and generally celebrate how great they are. My main viewing was the show jumping but we were also intrigued by the shaggy highland cows, the show sheep, the country craft sales, the buggy racing, the ales and Lorenzo (a french guy who rides 8 horses at once by standing on their backs). The day was made better by getting members passes for being international visitors (you can see Rosie holding Jason’s pass). This gave us access to the grandstand, members’ lounges and superior toilets (with baby change). As a side note, it appears that the good folk of Yorkshire have not yet been introduced to sun tan lotion. We saw nobody else apply theirs and watched as they turned from white, through to fire-engine-red by the end of the day. 

 

Having been friends with (adult) Rosie for over ten years, Sledmere.JPGit’s quite surprising that we’ve never found a suitable half way destination to meet at… until today, when we met at Sledmere House. This is a beautiful Georgian country house which has large grounds, including a walled garden. Here we found a fountain that caught baby-Rosie’s interest. We had a very pleasant afternoon walking around the gardens and playing hide and seek with Rosie’s son Peter. The afternoon was topped off with a potter around the gift shop and a cup of tea, milk and lemonade from their cafe. Planet_baby.JPGI mustn’t miss this opportunity to plug this very talented friend’s newly published book. It is a clever and witty fiction on becoming a first-time parent. If you have a kindle app, you can download it from Amazon for $4.29. It’s called ‘Surviving Planet Baby’ by Rosie Liddle.

 

 

Lucy.JPGIt’s always good to meet up with other people who have called Australia and the UK home. Here we are on a visit to York for a very tasty sandwich and playdate with Lucy and her nephew, (cowboy) Roman. Lucy worked with us in LC4 at Silverton a couple of years ago. She also very kindly provided us with car parking for the Le Tour de Yorkshire. 

 

 

Next stop… Cheltenham, Cornwall and Bristol (South West England)  

 

mussels in Brussels and cruises in Bruges

One train down to London and another one over to Brussels, we found ourselves back on another European vacation. Both train journeys were only a couple of hours and lulled our baby to sleep. We had a nice hotel next to the station in Brussels so we were checked in and ready to explore the city by 4pm. 

But before embarking on the city to find Belgium beer, chocolate, waffles and mussels, Jason checked his emails (free wifi every hotel so far) and found that he had received an email from his university supervisor. They urgently required his signature for his research grant application. So we had a mad hour, using the concierge to print the page, and finding the post office.

Jason walked me through the dodgiest part of town to find somewhere for dinner. After dinner we found this lady and many others dressed in their medieval costume for the Ommegang festival. 

As well as people dressed in medieval attire, many Belgians were dressed in Belgium colours, scarves and hats in readiness for their world cup game against the USA. Jason didn’t need encouraging to find a nearby pub and join many nervous Belgians to watch the match (they won in extra time.)

The next day was spent sightseeing including Grand Place, Grote Market and Palais Royale. No trip to Brussels would be complete without seeing the statue of Manneken Pis (little man peeing.) 

After a breakfast of waffles and fruit, we caught the train to Bruge. We were enjoying the view of the Belgian countryside when the conductor came and asked us to move back to second class, as we were unknowingly sitting in first class. However Rosie was asleep, and we couldn’t face moving our luggage, so the only sensible thing to do was pay to upgrade and enjoy first class.

Bruge is a smaller city which makes it lovely to walk around. It has beautiful medieval architecture with cute little bridges that span the canals, which criss-cross the city. As well as more waffle eating and beer sipping, we also did a boat ride along the canal and spent our 5th wedding anniversary wandering around the cobbled streets and into the gift shops.

We travelled back over to the UK by the Zeebruge to Hull overnight ferry. Rosie loved hooning around the corridors of the ship and entertaining the other passengers by clapping and waving at them. The sea was calm but unfortunately Rosie’s cot was too small, so I ended up sharing my very thin bunk bed with my daughter- Not my best night’s sleep! We were glad to have John and Helen pick us up from the port in Hull, then take us to a beer festival in Millington (just what Jason needed – more beer!)