Alexander Road

Alexander Road

We arrived in Harrogate in mid-June.  The weather was spectacular.  I was coming from Australia, Lisa from the states where she had been visiting friends and family about six weeks.  We stayed in a 2 bedroom flat on Alexander Road, which is a lovely, shady side street near downtown, within walking distance of restaurants, shops, the cinema and the train station.  We enjoyed the pubs, the seafood, the people and the lush countryside, watching the sheep graze peacefully on the rolling hills.

Crab dinner in Harrogate

Crab dinner in Harrogate

Technically, I was there on a business trip, so I had to go to work each day.  This gave Lisa time to explore Harrogate – the shops, the tea rooms, the markets and back streets.  But when I didn’t have to be at work, we explored.  Our first excursion was to take the train east about 40 minutes to York, which is a fascinating town with it’s Minster and markets, it’s pubs and parks.  Then, our second excursion was to drive west a half hour to Skipton and visit Skipton castle, built in 1090 (do the math, that’s over 900 years ago).  Of special interest is it’s famous yew tree in the courtyard planted by Lady Anne Clifford in 1659, commemorating the repairs to the castle following the English Civil War.

Train to York

Train to York

Yew tree at Skipton Castle

Yew tree at Skipton Castle

York Minster

York Minster

The following weekend, we went further afield, driving two hours northeast to visit two castles near each other, Bamburgh Castle on the coast and Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island.  After an enjoyable tour through Bamburgh Castle, we headed to Holy Island which can only be reached by driving across a causeway when the tide is not too high, so you have to be careful to leave on time or you’ll be stuck there.  We stopped first at the ruin of Lindisfarne Priory, which began life as the monastery of Lindisfarne, founded by Irish monk St. Aidan in 634.  Since the tide was coming in, we decided to forego the visit to the castle and quit the island.

Lighthouse near St. Abbs

Lighthouse near St. Abbs

But rather than heading home at that point, we decided to drive north into Scotland and find a BnB along the coast somewhere.  The Lord led us to St. Abbs, a tiny fishing village with magnificent cliffs and pristine cold waters.  It’s a favorite area for scuba divers because of the unusually clear waters and the proximity to Britain’s first voluntary Marine Reserve.  The next morning we visited the lighthouse near St. Abbs, then headed south, detouring to view Roman ruins at V… followed by Roman ruins and Hadrian’s wall at Housesteads.

 

 

Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey

On the 1st of July, Lisa’s sister Carla arrived for a visit.  They covered a lot of miles – the Imperial War Museum in Manchester, a slate mine, Keswick and the Yorkshire Dales,  more Roman ruins and sections of Hadrian’s Wall, southwest Scotland (the Mabie House Hotel in Dumfries), the Boar’s Head Inn in Ripley, England, the amazing Fountains Abbey, and Jervaulx Abbey.

After Carla’s week with us, we dropped her at the airport in Manchester, then headed to a spot northwest of Skipton called Malham Cove, a fascinating massive limestone cliff (260 feet high) that used to have a waterfall flowing over it.  The water now makes it’s way down through a network of caves behind the cliff face, but still flows into the stream at the bottom of the cliff face.

A few days later, the business side of the trip came to an end.  We checked out of our flat on Alexander Road and headed for the east coast, a small town called Sutton-on-sea.  One night there, then south to our old stomping grounds at Huntingdon, Alconbury Weston, and Great Stukeley.  We had lived in that area for a year from 1989 to 1990 and Jessica was born there.  We had stayed at the Manor House BnB for a couple of weeks back in 1989, when it had only been open for a year or so (although the home that it’s in dates back to the days of Oliver Cromwell).  What were the chances that it would still be in business?  It was still open, still run by Jan and John Tilden, whom we remembered from a quarter century ago.  John had recently turned 80.  It was lovely to visit with them.

Steve with Jessica and Dylan

Steve with Jessica and Dylan

 

On Friday the 12th, we flew down to Germany to spend the weekend visiting with Jessica and to meet her fiance Dylan Benjamin.  We stayed at the Hotel Angerer in Vilseck, and had a wonderful weekend visiting with Jessica and Dylan.  The divine timing could not have been more obvious; with little control over when we would be on that side of the planet and which specific weekend we would be able to be in Germany, God worked it out that we were there the weekend that Jessica left for Afghanistan.

Dinner with Jessica and Dylan

Dinner with Jessica and Dylan

 

 

We spent Friday evening and Saturday with them, were able to pray over them and say goodbye, then Jessica deployed early Sunday morning.  We are very grateful for the timing.

 

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace

 

 

 

After returning to England on Monday, we made our way to Oxford to spend time with Julia, a friend and coworker of Lisa’s.  She was a wonderful tour guide.  We visited the graves of Winston Churchill, J.R.R.Tolkien and C.S.Lewis.  We also took a lovely walk on the grounds (2000 acres) of the beautiful Blenheim Palace, home of the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough as well as the birthplace of Winston Churchill.

 

On Tuesday afternoon, we made our way north for our final night in England.  We were staying at the  Queens Head in the tiny village Kettlesing (near Harrogate).  We met friends there for dinner and had a lovely evening.  The next day we checked out and began the forty hour journey back to the center of Australia, Alice Springs.

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