Friday, December 8, 2017

The trip across the Pond

I have a series of posts here of the trip which included parts of England, Scotland and Wales.  Posts, by the nature of this site, are in reverse order so that the most recent entry is always first.  You can certainly read these entries going backwards.  Only rarely do I refer to another post.  Or you can read them in the order I wrote them, which roughly is the order of travel.  Simply go down to the September post which is the first and work your way backwards.  Either way, at the end of each page is a notation to go to an earlier post or a later post.   I suggest reading the post and the captions first, for each entry.  Then click on one of the photos to enlarge and you can go thru as a slide show with almost full screen views.  Photos were downsized to do the blog, but should still show well in full screen.  Hope you enjoy. I had fun reliving the trip, going back and double checking some of the facts, and this will be a good reminder for me, long into the future of this five week trip.

I love it when you leave messages on the blog.

North Yorkshire, Part 2 of Yorkshire blog postings.


Last summer I had an English couple on my photo tour in Yellowstone  and mentioned I would be going to the UK this fall.   After the tour we stood talking for a bit and they asked where I was planning to go.  I mentioned the places we had already determined, but said that I wanted to spend time in Yorkshire.  Except for Leeds to see a friend, I wasn't sure where.  They said they knew just the place for a photographer and suggested I spend a few days in Whitby.  Since these were good photographers and knowledgeable about their own country, I decided to check it out.  It didn't take long, reading about Whitby and checking on accommodations, to make a reservation.

On the day of the eclipse I had just one passenger as just about everyone else had gone a bit south to see the totality.  He was from England and we had a great time with the quiet, uncrowded conditions in Yellowstone.  I told him I was going to the UK in the fall and he asked where.  When I mentioned Whitby he was delighted and added that I would find the best fish and chips in all of the British Isles in Whitby.   At the end of the tour he handed me a tip saying, "this is for your fish and chips."   I honored his request and must say they were excellent.  The lightest coating on the fish and moistest flesh I had on the entire trip.

The swing bridge over the River Esk.  Whitby is on both sides of the river.

Whitby is in northern Yorkshire, overlooking the North Sea,  Traditionally a fishing town, and there is still commercial fishing, it has become a major tourism site.  But the tourism is more for natives of the country than for the bus loads of overseas tourists.  So, it had a fairly quiet feel.  At least until the weekend which was the beginning of a one week school break, including Halloween.  Since Bram Stoker was inspired to write Dracula while sitting overlooking the town and the ruins of Whitby Abbey on the far side, Halloween is a big event there.  They light up the Abbey for that night.

I left before Halloween, but I had three and a half days in Whitby and nearby Robin Hood's Bay.  I preferred the quieter days before Halloween for my explorations.

Whitby has a couple other claims to fame.  Explorer James Cook did his seafaring training in Whitby and nearby area.  A statue of him, looking out in the direction of Hawaii, sits at the top of the hill on the west side of the harbor.  We have all heard the phase, "black as jet."  Jet is a stone, and while it is found in other parts of the world, Whitby became famous for mining and processing it.   And yes, I added a nice set of post earrings of jet to my collection.  the Abbey was also the home of the man, Caedmon,  considered to be the first poet of the English language.

Streets are narrow and the city, on both sides of the river and harbor, is steep.  I loved walking, exploring and photographing, even the 199 steps down from the Abbey.  I did ride the hop-on-hop-off bus to get to the top, but once there the driver announced they were short staffed that day, and there would only be one more pick up at the site.  Since that was in just an hour, and I knew that wasn't enough time, I decided, arthritic knee or not I would walk down.  It turned out to be fine.  The steps were shallow and easy on the knee and the views were well worth it.  So was the old cemetery between the Abbey and the steps.
You can see why I enjoyed the walk down the steps.  What a view.

Next to the steps is another route.  Think I might want compound low in any vehicle I attempted with this.

My hosts at the delightful Lansbury Guest House, a B&B not far from the bench where Bram Stoker had his inspiration, suggested I try Robin Hood's Bay on Saturday.   They knew Whitby would be crowded with families.  Great suggestion.  But first, some more photos of Whitby:
 The Swing Bridge has quite a history.  The first bridge over the River Esk in Whiby was built in 1351.  In 1407 a man by the name of John Schilbotyll left, in his will,  an oak tree to be used for repairs.  By 1620 the bridge was replaced with a structure with movable parts, a system of pulleys to open it.  In 1832 it was replaced with a swing bridge that moved horizontally.  The current bridge dates to 1908 and can carry trucks on its one lane.  Not terribly large trucks.  Not because of the bridge, but the streets, are quite narrow.   The 1908 bridge has motors to swing the bridge but the two bridgemen operate the system from the bridge.  The bridge is the only access to the east side of town unless you go by water. I walked it numerous times.  My lodging was on the west side.
This is the main business street on the east side of the bridge.  The two delivery trucks are using the sidewalk.  It was a little wider than the side streets like the one below.

On the west side, along my route from my lodgings

the Abbey ruins are at the top, left of center.

The ruins of the old Whitby Abbey were great fun to photograph and you can see I spent some time there.  The history goes back to the 7th century when it was built as a monastery.  Later the Benedictine Order took it over as an Abbey.   The land and building was confiscated by Henry VIII when he banned the Roman Catholic Church in England.  The land was taken over by a private party who built their manor close-by.  In 1914, it was shelled by the German Army.  But it remains, now a national treasure, and its stark outline may be as dramatic as it was when it was an operating abbey.  

This side of the Abbey faces away from the town and port

Even the shadows were fun

This cross has special meaning to my family.  It commemorates Caedmon, the earliest knownEnglish poet.  He lived at the Abbey.  My cousin Bonnie's son is named for him.

Love the view of the beach

If you enlarge this, you can make out people on the steps below the abbey, the church and
the cemetery.

This was taken from near the spot where Bram Stoker was inspired to write Dracula.  The Abbey was a scene used in the book

                                              ROBIN HOOD'S BAY

I love small world stories and there is one that relates to my visit to Robinhood's Bay.  During a slide copying project,  I had seen a photo of the house that Dave, one of my Park Sierra neighbors, was born in.  But that was some time before I had made all my plans and I didn't connect his location with where I was headed. But when I returned we talked.  I was telling him how much I enjoyed Yorkshire and he asked where I had been.  When I mentioned Robin Hood's Bay his eyes lit up.  It was a place he remembered well. He asked if I had gone to nearby Scarborough, which turns out is his birthplace.  I had to admit I went through twice, but didn't see much.   On the trip up I was on a bus.  It was raining fairly hard and visibility was poor, although I do remember the bus driver coming to a crawl in one small town near there, due to  sheep on the road which we could make out in the headlights.  On my return trip I took a bus from Whitby to Scarborough and transferred to a train to York.  About all I saw was the bus route in and the train station. 

The bus from Whitby to Robin Hood's Bay dropped me in the town at the top of the hill.  I walked down from there.

Says it all
Walking was the way to go.   There were a few narrow and steep roads.  There were also pathways and stairways that clearly could not handle vehicles or bicycles.
So, why is Robin Hood's Bay, named for him  It is highly unlikely he ever set foot here.  It is a long way from Sherwood Forest, particularly with the transportation of that time,  One legend is that he kept a boat here in case he needed an escape.  More likely, this little bay, without a river to make a port, was handy for small fishing boats.  It was also handy for scavengers of larger vessels that went aground nearby.  That form of piracy may have prompted the name of Robin Hood.  Whatever the case, there is a small cobbled slipway to the water at high tide.  The homes of the fishing families were small but close to work.  Today, many of those same houses serve as holiday guest cabins. 

First version without a car, second with a van. the green container on the left is used to store sand , handy for traction in winter,   I am not sure I would want to walk down the hill into town if the street were icy, much less drive.

I caught an early bus and it was quiet when I arrived. But it was a beautiful Saturday, the tide was way out leaving a huge, long beach.   Soon people were running their dogs, digging for clams, searching tidal pools, and generally enjoying themselves.   On the inside of the breakwater on the picture below were several tile murals about the natural and human history of the area.

Cobbled slipway for getting small boats into the water.  Warning signs about dander if
tide is high and the tiny creek (see what looks like a tunnel) is running hard.  The people here were gathering for a program to learn about tidal creatures and perhaps fossils.  I eavesdropped but didn't hear the whole conversation.  
Ice cream truck on the beach

Add caption
The main road into the  village.

If you enlarge this sign, it tells the story of  an incredible rescue of  the ship, Visiter,  which came ashore in a storm.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

YORKSHIRE Part 1--Leeds and York

Yorkshire was several distinct experiences.   It included Leeds where I stayed with an old school friend, included the old walled City of York, and several days experiencing the coast.

My journey to Yorkshire began in Leeds where my friend Gayle lives.  Gayle and I went to kindergarten together, lived in the same tract, finished high school together although she had a couple years away while her dad worked as a civilian for the military in  Okinawa.   Through the Internet we got back in touch a few years ago and I saw her in Arizona when she was visiting family and again a few years later when she visited Yellowstone.

I stayed with her and her husband, Andrew in their home in Leeds.  She took me touring in the area and I saw a number of things I probably would never have found on my own, especially in the short amount of time I had for the whole country. 

As the third largest city in the UK, which right off the bat would have put it lower on my list of places to visit, I discovered it had some delightful treasures.   It always helps to have a local guide.  Since her marriage to a native of Leeds, Gayle has learned her way around the city, goes everywhere on public transit, and is well informed on her adopted home.  Once a leading city of the Industrial Revolution it has some magnificent old buildings.   Besides industry as we think of it, it also was a center for exchange of agricultural products.  The old Corn Exchange was one of my favorite buildings.   Corn, in England, refers to grains and not corn as we Americans think of it.  Today the building has been refurbished as shops and eateries.  Note the bottom floor of the building in the photo.   Here the grains were displayed before being auctioned.  As I started to write this blog entry I wanted to refresh my memory.  This spot isn't even on a couple of the tourist sites for Leeds.  What a shame.  But goggling "corn exchange, Leeds" I did find a listing.

This is the interior of the magnificent Leeds Corn Exchange.
Another treat in Leeds is the existence of several arcades.  The first goes back to 1887 when a man named Thornton decided to cover one of the traditional shopping alleys

Two students make use of the piano at County Arcade,
providing an impromptu concert.

Below are some photos of another treasure. In 2007 renovations were being made to the museum and library complex.  As they worked, they discovered that under various renovations in the past, were magnificent old tiles.  Plans changed, and the remodeling preserved and enhanced this incredible room which is now a coffee house.
Here is Gayle just inside the arched entrance to the coffee room

On one of our excursions, we rode the bus out to Harewood House, an estate built between 1759-1771 for the Lascelles family. who made their fortune in the West Indies.  It is a great example of how the top echelon lived, and lives.  The house has a great history, including royal visits and the marriage of Princess Mary, oldest daughter of George V into that family.  She lived here and was involved in various charitable works, including projects during WWI.  In WWII the ground floor turned into a convalescent hospital and the estate was used for military personnel.   Part of the house and the gardens, a trust, are open to the public for tours while the Lascelles family still maintains this as their family home and are using the estate for projects of sustainability.    

Since the family fortunes were made in the West Indies, it is likely that the ownership of slaves was involved, although the literature indicates that the family member who commissioned the house was not a slave owner, even if earlier members were.   That said, a visit was interesting.  The current Count of Harewood is a film and television producer.   The TV series, Victoria used Harewood House for the scenes which took place in Buckingham Palace.  The Count of Harewood, although a producer, is not listed on the credits so it does not appear that he was involved in this production.

Although a shuttle will pick you up at the gate, Gayle and I chose to walk through the estate, not a very long walk, to see the house and gardens.  We started walking back, but when the shuttle came by, we did decide to hop aboard. The sky was threatening rain. 

The downstairs kitchen

Ceilings in the ground floor

Gayle outside the house, looking towards the formal gardens.
These dresses were used in the filming of the TV series Victoria.

Organ in the city hall in Leeds

Inside concert hall in Leeds City Hall
 Another day we traveled to Ilkley.  Ahead of my visit I told Gayle I would like to see both an estate (above) and some of the countryside of Yorkshire.  After reading all the James Herriot books, All Creatures Great and Small, and additional titles, I wanted to see the countryside a bit.  We headed to Ilkly by bus which was perfect.  We hiked up the hill above the town for the view.  Although we didn't go all the way to the top, we saw the rocks that crown Ilkley Moor.   We had tea at Betty's Tea House, one of five that exist in Yorkshire.  (I had high tea at Betty's in York as well)

When we returned home, Andrew delighted me by singing "On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at," considered the unofficial anthem of Yorkshire.  He did all the verses!.    Done in Yorkshire dialect, the title means, "on Ilkley Moor without a hat."   For fun, check it out.  Google has the history and several You Tubes of various singers. 

View from the moors

View of town


View from the stone wall around the city with York-minster in the background, lovely garden in the foreground

   York goes way, way back. It has been a center on the Ouse River for thousands of years.   One of the things to see in York, which I did on a very wet day, is the Jorvik Viking Center.   Back in the mid-1970s, the city was planning a major redevelopment.  As some Viking artifacts had been found, they gave archaeologists time, while plans were being drawn and approved, to excavate the site.   In their digging, including under some existing buildings, they found an entire Viking village from the 10th century.  The peat had preserved not only the metal and stone artifacts, but items that usually rot like clothing and wood.
    Today, the Jorvik Center includes life-size dioramas.  Visitors ride through in open cars on a track.You see the period from 948 AD back 100 years; the houses, the trades, animated manikins, talking and working.   I was told to be prepared for some pretty gross smells in one area, replicating what a town with animals, sewage, smoke etc. would have been like.   But either that feature has been disbanded or my allergies were worse than I realized, because I didn't experience that part.
   I don't seem to have photos of Jorvik.  I didn't take many inside, but had some.  I need to go back and look at my backup drive.   But my photos hardly do it justice.  Take a look on-line for more on this incredible experience.

    One of the hallmarks of York is York Minster, the Gothic cathedral that dominates the skyline.  The original church was built as early as 637.   By the 13th century, a Gothic cathedral had been built.  But over the years, fires, wars, structural collapses have plagued it.
     In addition to touring the inside, I went back for Evensong.  Often that service is done by the children's choir but it was a school holiday.  Instead it was the Men's chorus and I was not disappointed.  The singing and acoustics were close to celestial..  No, there are no photos or recording of that.  It is not allowed.  But I do have some photos from the touring I did earlier in the day.

Ceiling in York Minster

York is a walled city.  The walls still surround much of the old city and are accessible to walk.  I walked both sections and enjoyed the sense of history and the views.

To the right, above the red jacket, you can see the stairs leading to the top of the wall.

Cliff Tower, the last of York Castle.

Castle steps are a challenge

Some street scenes in York:
That weekend had a marching band competition going on.