Once upon a time a girl from a concrete town in the North of England discovered inspiration in a book, planned a trip and found home. A place to breathe, to marvel and to dream. Now living closer to that dream, our family's heart travels the last few miles almost every day as we talk about our Last Best Place and tell each other "Love you more than Montana".
"And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown’. And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way."
— From a poem entitled ‘God Knows’ written by Miss Minnie Louise Haskins in Bristol, England in 1908, revived by King George 6th in a broadcast he made during the darkest days of World War 2.
Out for a walk, we arrived at a cafe, much to their dismay, as they were trying to pack up 5 minutes before closing time. We persuaded them to let us buy a much-promised-to-the-kids ice-cream treat; they acquiesced but would only offer Mr Whippy. One of the servers turned to my kids and asked “Would you like a Mr Whippy ‘99?”
Blank stares. The server wondered why he wasn’t receiving his usual enthusiastic reaction and I had to then set about explaining to my kids what a Mr Whippy 99 was; once they heard it involved ice-cream and chocolate they were in (they take after their Mum).
Some things just get lost in translation and I am glad to have rectified what was a huge parental omission on my behalf, how could my child get to the age of 8 and not know about Mr Whippy 99? I need to start writing a list of things to educate them on.
Sometimes, you don’t know what you miss from home until you return.
Apparently, after living in a land of wooden houses, I have been missing stone; in particular dry stone walls. These are walls constructed from stone but without mortar to bind them, the art is in how you put the stones together. They traverse the countryside in the Yorkshire Dales and are a thing of beauty whether new, covered in moss and algae or broken down; they are full of character, see for yourself in this Flickr group.
The English Tea Room | Betty’s, Harrogate, Yorkshire
I could not live without black coffee, but on this trip I have returned to my Great British tea drinking roots.
My home county of Yorkshire, has impressive tea credentials; including Taylors of Harrogate producers of my favorite - Yorkshire Tea, an item that nears the top of my “must get in the suitcase” list.
Since 1919 we have also had a great heritage in Betty’s Tea Rooms. There is something so delicately English and old world about a silver tea pot, sandwiches with crusts cut off and a vanilla slice. The girls practiced manners from Felicity’s tea lessons (American Girl) as we sat soaking in the sunshine and beautiful gardens; bliss.
Visit Britain | Yorkshire, Northern Ireland, Dundee, Edinburgh, London
Every Summer we pack the car, wake the girls in the middle of the night and start our drive to Montana. The girls talk all year about that night, the one where they are woken up with a whisper, “girls, girls, wake up, it’s here, tonight we are going to Montana, wake up, Montana is waiting for us.”
However, this year it is not to be. For the first time in over 4 years we are heading home to the United Kingdom. We packed up the car in the afternoon, and our journey commenced with a transatlantic overnight flight and then several hours driving in the car to Yorkshire, England.
Our plan involves planes, trains and automobiles and an 8 hour time difference, but so far the girls have held up like troopers. For those of you not familiar with UK geography, you can find a map here. We plan to visit Yorkshire, England; then travel to Northern Ireland, Scotland and back to London before flying home.
I am excited to be back ‘home’ for the first time in 4 years and some places I will be visiting for the first time since we moved to America. My oldest daughter is thrilled at the thought of seeing London, where she was born, but does not remember. Returning with young children, rather than babies or preschoolers, you see the country through their eyes, it is fascinating to observe the differences they perceive and what they are excited about.
My oldest exclaimed as we came into land over London (with views of Tower Bridge, the Thames snaking it’s way through the City and the London Eye), “Wow, I must say London is putting on quite the show!”.
I am also trying to deprogram the girls from calling me “Mommy” which is one American phrase I can just not get used to. Please girls, please call me “Mummy” especially when you are shouting from a bathroom stall in the service station asking where the automatic flush is you just sound so … American ;-)
Literary Map of Britain: This is cool. Now when people ask where in Britain I am from, I can navigate geographically by author. Sometimes it is easy to overlook the literary heritage of a country the same size as Oregon. This map would form a beautiful reading list.