So we’ve just passed our 3 month anniversary back in the UK and this weekend seemed a good time to stop and take stock. I don’t know that we’ve ever had a more interesting 3 months in our lives, although I’m sure the other times we moved countries were pretty interesting too. It’s just that we seem to be more conscious this time of making the most of it. Age I suppose. We’re more aware that time is limited and precious and not to be wasted, and so we really have made the most of every moment (with the exception of those moments where we’re just too damned tired from all the exertion and in those cases we have a nap instead).
I can’t possibly write a long post about everything we’ve done in these last few months, not least because I’d put you all to sleep, so I went through all the photos we’ve taken and pulled out a few at random that capture at least some of our experiences so far.
Despite the fact that we haven’t yet spent a night away from home, we’ve seen some lovely towns and villages – any one of which I could happily spend a week’s holiday in if I didn’t already live so close. There’s lovely Knaresborough where we started out, and which proved such a wonderful surprise to both of us.
And York, which isn’t a town but a city, and which we can’t wait to explore in more depth
And gorgeous Richmond, just an hour north up the A1 from here
And finally, let’s not forget Holmfirth, where fans of Last of the Summer Wine can visit the museum and have tea in the ‘Wrinkled Stocking Tea Rooms.”
But we haven’t spent all our time in towns – we’ve really got out into the countryside to explore, and we’re both finding that’s where we’re happiest. One thing you notice after being away is how very green everything is. From walks right by our house …
… to longer trips into the Dales, the different shades of green always amaze me.
And being long-time ex-pats who spend 20+ years in America, we are suckers for old buildings. We see a ruin as we drive by, or even a sign for one, and we’re there!
Here’s Fountains Abbey in the Spring
And Knaresborough’s lovely castle
And me in the ruins of an old manor house just down the road from here, formerly the ancestral seat of the Percy family.
We love where we’re living. It’s a small village and very quiet, but only a few miles from town.
We’ve met our neighbors
And after some initial confusion, our cats have settled in well.
And even little Theo, who had to have surgery just after we arrived for a hyperactive thyroid, now seems relaxed and happy.
We registered with the NHS in our first few weeks and were immediately accepted into the system no questions asked.
Well, that’s not strictly true. When we went into the little village practice to fill out forms, we were a little surprised to be asked to fill in an extra form with questions such as the following:
“How many times in the last few months have you had so much to drink that you woke up not knowing where you were?”
Huh?! I like a glass of wine or three, but even if they changed the question to “how many times in your whole life have you woken up not knowing where you were?” the answer would still be never!
We haven’t seen even the slightest sign of Britain’s binge drinking problem, but if they ask that question in a village like this one, I definitely believe it exists!
Speaking of unhealthy habits, I’ll just say this
At least we’ve been nourishing the soul with better nutrients. We’ve found a really vibrant art scene here in Yorkshire with interesting galleries in every town and village (this one is in Knaresborough).
And we fell in love with the work of a local farmer, Richard Snowdon, who paints every evening and exhibits all over the world. Here’s his own gallery, in a converted barn on his farm
For Phil’s 50th birthday (just gone by) we took the plunge and bought two of his paintings – the pink sheep that you see on the photo above, and a vibrant colorful take on the view from Knaresborough Castle.
In between all this, we’ve somehow found time to furnish an entire house (a LOT of shopping trips)
And spend some wonderful days and evenings with friends and family. We have seen my mum quite a bit since we got back, popped down the road for beers with my brother a few times, driven over to Southport to spend time with Phil’s family, been out to shows and concerts with buddies, and even attended the amazing Great Knaresborough Bed Race (don’t ask) with the wonderful Dave and Deb. Of everything we’ve gained by coming home, this is the best thing of all.
I don’t want to post photos of people because I know they’d all be embarrassed, but this photo I snapped at dinner with old friends Jonathan, Simon, Mark and Ruth sums up perfectly how I feel to be back – warm, cosy, welcome and absolutely where we belong.