Hello, friends and family. I’ve made it to Yorkshire and am midway through my week-long house sit here. I thought this time would be for rest and relaxation, walking and knitting and maybe even sketching. The fact that I’ve not posted until now may give you some indication that’s turned out not to be the case. I’ve spent the past many days worrying, attending to emails and administrative tasks related to the next three upcoming tours. I took one day off, in London, to run around with a wonderful new friend from our recent Knitter’s Tour of British Breeds (Devon, Cornwall and the Cotswolds). But other than that, it’s been work, transitions from here to there, and playing catch up.
The blessed relief of a comfortable place to stay, friendly dog to walk and breaks during which to walk him is hugely important for me right now. And though I’ve not written about any of the tours after my first, in Scotland, I fully intend to in the week ahead (after the weekend though).
I see that I last posted just before the tour in Copenhagen and the Faroe Islands. Goodness. That feels like half a year ago. Since that time, I’ve facilitated that tour, traveled back to the UK and by the next morning was meeting and shepherding people from London (Hello, Paddington Station, where I’ve never been before!) to Bath and engaging in the third tour (Knitter’s Tour of British Breeds) right away. Heather was the lead guide on that one, but logistical complexities kept me in an actively assisting role until a full-on chest cold knocked me out completely. After that, it was simply trying to recover while traveling, still trying to help Heather, teaching a bit and then getting that tour wrapped up and myself here to Yorkshire. All the while, in the background, the questions, emails and changing logistics of the three Ireland trips were appearing on my screen daily. And questions/requests/tasks related to three tours in the fall. In the midst of it all, our administrator finished working with us, so Heather’s task load has gotten heavier and therefore mine as well. Then back to London and transitioning north (Hello, Kings Cross Station. And yes, I saw Platform 9 3/4!)
As I write all this, and look out from Trish and Richard’s observatory (in American: sunroom), it occurs to me that I have good reason to be deeply tired. And also not to have been posting.
I’ve abandoned the morning – originally slated for further work – in order to bring you all up to date. It feels important to do so. I also want to let you know I’m alive. Things are happening. Good things, impactful things, difficult things, interesting learning experiences. But I don’t have the luxury of reflecting or writing about them. It’s occurred to me that in the past I’ve had one or two tours and a bit of scouting time per seasonal “away”. This time I’m enmeshed in six tours while “away” with really no scouting. It’s an entirely different animal. So please forgive me! Hoping for some more free head space in the days ahead which will allow me to write.
Okay, enough with the apologies. You get it.
So, I’m here in Yorkshire. North Yorkshire, actually and not too distant (in miles or culture) from my 2018 housesit in Myton, just outside York. While the land there was flat and predominantly agricultural – that area is known as the Vale of York – the landscape here is firmly placed in the hills and dales for which Yorkshire is famous. Not even the yard at this house is flat. It slopes steeply toward the house and then drops away below it at the front. Once out the door, I have one short stretch on which I’m walking a few paces of level ground. Then it’s up… or down.
My housesit is in Middleham, a village just outside the town of Leyburn. The medieval center of the village is just as you’d imagine: stone houses up and down the steeply winding cobbled streets. Center square with numerous pubs, a couple of small inns, chippy (fish ‘n’chips) and two or three small shops.
Just above the town stands a great hulk of a ruined castle. It was first built as a motte-and-bailey structure in the 11the century, then later replaced with a massive stone keep. The castle’s most famous resident was Richard III. He was born there and always referred to it as his favorite home. Surprisingly, and unrelatedly, there are numerous, high-end stables tucked in among and between the winding streets. Apparently Middleham is well known as a center for breeding and training racehorses.
The landscape falls away from the town and stretches into a valley on both sides, then into hills beyond. I’ve walked a bit with Hamish, along the river at its lowest point and up onto the nearby hills. Miles of stone-walled pasture surround us. Maybe I’ll be able to climb one before leaving…
So I leave you here, among these grassy, woolly, wind-blown images. Back to the computer for me. Did I mention: the sky is gray here much of the time? But oh, when that sun comes out… it’s utterly breathtaking. Perhaps later today.