Flowers in February

Okay, so I know it’s March 1st, but these flowers have been here for almost the entire month of February and I just had to share them with you.  They have come up everywhere!  Parks, gardens, alongside the roads and in playgrounds to name a few.  The white ones are called Snow Drops and they arrived early February, surviving a cold spell and one good snow storm.  The rest are crocuses and the daffodils should be blooming any day now.  Who knew so many flowers could bloom in the winter??  But then again, other than the two to three weeks of colder temperatures (mid twenties to 30° F), this winter has felt more like spring with all the bright green grass and occasional pink blossoms on one or two trees.  It hasn’t even been that dark or dreary!  The sun usually peeks through the clouds almost every day–most days for a couple of hours and some days for just a few minutes.  I love this climate!  Oh, and one more interesting tid bit:  the flower planters actually come back in the spring!  I almost threw mine away since that’s what you do in Colorado, but I never did since the prim roses kept blooming throughout the entire winter.  My planters not only have lovely flowers coming back alongside the prim roses, but they have crocuses bloooming and some sort of other bulb shooting up!  Incredible.

Enjoy the flower photos below!  I snapped them this morning at the village green.  You’ll notice the Snow Drops are on their way out as they are a bit droopy.

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Exploring a Nearby Village

On the way to Grassington

A half mile walk exploring the village of Grassington was our goal for the afternoon.  We had plans to stop at a tea room on the way home with enough time to spare before dinner.  However, we forgot to take into account all the time it would take to stop and enjoy all the fun and interesting buildings and scenery along this short route through the village.  We barely made it back to the car before dark!  If it weren’t for the friend who passed on Elizabeth Fowler’s Town and Village Discovery Trails Yorkshire Dales book to me, we may have never driven the 30 minutes to encounter this adorable village.  My mom is graciously sharing her photos again below.  These are our favorites of the afternoon.  Enjoy!

p. 27 Town & Village Discovery Trails Yorkshire Dales by Elizabeth Fowler

Start: Barclays Bank, at the corner of Hebden Road and Main Street.”

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An afternoon at the Abbey

My mom arrived almost a month ago and just in time for the arrival of our second daughter.  A passionate artist, she has been sketching or painting daily, even if for only half an hour.  I asked her if she would like to share some of her England experiences on my blog and  after our day out at Fountains Abbey yesterday, we both determined to make this post happen.  If you’d like to see my mom’s sketch of the Abbey, please visit her art blog. ~Em

I am excited for this opportunity to share some of the photos I have taken while visiting England. I am happy to say that I have heeded the advice Emily gave me when I first arrived: “ALWAYS take your camera with you wherever you go”.  And so I have.  Hopefully, this will be the first in a series of guest posts where I will share some of my favorites.

When I am not painting and sketching, I’m taking photographs. And there is so much to work with here in countryside of North Yorkshire; the scenery and points of interest are breathtaking! I am constantly inspired.

We spent the afternoon at Fountains Abbey. I was stunned at the magnificence of it all!


Joel took this on our walk back from Deer Park

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Christmastime in York

We read in a magazine recently that York is England’s Christmas capital so we decided we better head over for a visit with it only being 25 miles away.  Yesterday was a perfectly sunny day, although a crispy one with it dropping to -.5° C (about 30° F) and that actually feels REALLY cold here, so we bundled up and took the train from Harrogate to avoid the hassle of parking in York all the while enjoying the beautiful rays of sun.

Since we only had the afternoon to explore, our goal was to see the Christmas markets, pop in a toy/Christmas shop for an ornament or two, and have a cup of hot chocolate from Monk Bar Chocolatiers.

Here’s what we experienced…

Roasted Chestnuts? I think so.

The vendor showed us how to crack open the nuts using our thumbs to get to the steaming, warm, soft meat inside.

Christmas Stalls

New Gate Market

My mission for a cup of hot chocolate wasn’t a casual one.  When we were here three years ago, I had the best cup of chocolate EVER (not too sweet so you can actually taste the chocolate) and it was from Monk Bar Chocolatiers on the Shambles, which is the most quaint, lovely alley-sized shopping street that I’ve ever been on.   Below is a shot of the Shambles.

Most of the fun was just browsing the extravagantly decorated and beautifully lit window displays.  Notice the miniature Christmas trees hung above the shops.  We see these in every village.  Aren’t they so fun?

Betty's Tea Rooms

Stonegate Street

St Helen's Square

Rushing back to catch the train, we stopped for a quick shot of the York Eye from Lendal Bridge.

Part of the wall with changing colored lights

By the way, today is a perfectly sunny day too!  I was able to get a good gauge of when the sun actually rises and I saw the first few rays touching the top of the cliffs at 8:40 am.  The sunshine didn’t actually reach the valley until 9:10.

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Village Walk on a Sunny Day

Two weeks ago, we enjoyed a full day of blue skies and we didn’t let it go to waste.  There’s a loop through Pateley Bridge that I’ve wanted to walk since moving to the area and this was the perfect day.


High Street in Pateley which includes a butcher, a baker, no candlestick maker but a specialty deli that I LOVE called Elliot’s Deli, the Oldest Sweet Shop in England, a post office, an outdoor gear shop, three tea rooms and a couple of historic (okay, to us Americans, almost everything here can be classified as that) pubs, and a fish and chippery to name a few.

A view of Pateley Bridge from Panorama Walk

Panorama Walk

Stone steps up to a residence–I love it!

Passing through the cemetary, a view of the Nidderdale Valley

Ruins of St Mary’s Church 1320

 View of St Cuthbert’s Church (1828) from King’s Street.  The building on the left is St Cuthbert’s Primary School.

King’s Court

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Dreary Days

You know the scene at the very end of the movie in Pride and Prejudice when Mr. Darcy appears out of the fog, striding through the tall meadow grass to confess to Elizabeth that she has bewitched him body and soul?  And he lov, lov, loved her?  That scene is the BEST up until Lizzie’s lamest line of all time, “Your hands are cold.” I could think of a thousand better responses, but let’s get back to the weather.

I’m recalling P & P because I always thought that the fog in that scene was a rarity and that they must have had to catch it on just the right day.  Well let me dispel that myth!  Fog is to England as sunshine is to Colorado.  Our friendly neighbor, Ken, told me the locals call a day like today, “raw”.  At least that’s what I think I heard him say.  No matter what I’d like to call it, I know it’s a dark day when I have all the curtains open at noon and our hallway nightlight is still on.  It makes you want to just go back to bed.

I decided to take Elena for a walk this morning and get out in it, since all the previous foggy days have made me feel like staying inside and being depressed.  I ran back inside to grab my camera when I felt the inspiration to share this day with you.  It really changed my perspective when I was taking shots thinking of you all.   So, thanks.

The fog wasn’t too thick today as you can see pretty far.  It has just been hanging over the tops of the trees and gets more dense with the elevation.

 We had some near moldy bread to feed the ducks.  I try not to feed them bread with mold on it as Elena usually ends of feeding herself instead of the ducks.

On the way home… A shot of what I like to think of as The Secret Garden.

One of the village Royal Mail drop boxes we always pass by.  Every little red box I pass like this one makes me happy.

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A Trip to the Seaside

In early July, as I was glancing through tourist attractions in a guide book, I saw a thumbnail-size photo of beautiful red cliffs dropping into the ocean called Ravenscar.  What a cool name!  As you read that word, try to put your best British accent on it and read it as (Raven’scur).  It was taken from Boggle Hole Beach and I decided we needed to go there, that very morning.  So, we did!  Allow me to share our day with you.

The 80-mile drive took about 2.5 hours due to all the winding single carriageways, but the view we came upon was so worth it.

We stood atop the small village of Ravenscar and started downhill toward Boggle Hole, very doubtful we’d make it the entire 3.5 miles to the beach and back with Elena in the Ergo on Joel’s back the entire trek.

Robin Hood’s Bay

We hiked down about a mile and a half, stopping to get a good look at the bay from the edge of a cliff as well as the view of the cliffs below Ravenscar.

The hike back up was not easy.  We had descended a good 600 feet, so we were really wanting to get our feet in the ocean by the time we arrived back at the car.

We drove the 20 minutes over to Boggle Hole Beach, anxious to get our feet wet.  Stepping into the North Sea took our breath away it was so cold!  It took me right back to jumping Cascade Falls and into Spud Lake north of Durango, CO.   A bit of sunshine would have been so nice, but this was summer in England and at least it wasn’t raining, yet.  Elena didn’t flinch and just went for it splashing and chasing the tide as it slowly creeped back out to sea.

We three left feeling exhilarated and so blessed for the adventure and beautiful day.

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