Monday 31 July 2023

Nunnington Hall Revisited

Nine years ago, my sister-in-law A and my niece B took us on a day out to Nunnington Hall, a National Trust property. We enjoyed that day very much, and since my sister and I have National Trust passes valid for two weeks (a great idea, and a birthday gift from my sister) and did not want to spend too much time driving anywhere, we opted for Nunnington Hall when A had the day off last Friday.

Driving through the green Yorkshire countryside through pretty villages and past drystone walls is a treat in itself, as our blogging friend Weaver of Grass will confirm.

We stopped at the village of Coxwold, where A knows the owner of a tearoom. They were open, and we spent a very pleasant hour or so in the lovely garden, having tea and cheese scones. It was more like being in someone‘s private garden than at a tearoom - very nice! 

On top of the tearoom, the owner also runs a shop, a B&B and a holiday cottage. You can see pictures and find information about it all here.

Not far from there, we reached Nunnington Hall. The place was as beautiful as we remembered it, but some rooms have been changed, mainly in the attic. Instead of guided tours, visitors can grab a leaflet and wander the house at will, with information available in every room as well as friendly volunteers who answer your questions.

A stop at their tea garden on the bank of the river Rye followed before we went on to explore the beautiful gardens.

After A dropped us off at the cottage, we did a quick shopping at Aldi. The evening was spent quietly with a light meal and watching two epsiodes of Father Brown.

You can read about our 2014 visit here.

Sunday 30 July 2023

A Thursday in Ripon

Thursdays have been market days in Ripon for more than a thousand years, and the market still offers a variety of fresh produce, meat, fish, baked goods, pet stuff, clothes, haberdashery, greeting cards and mobile phone covers - you name it, they have it. Maybe not exactly the latest fashion or best quality, and the number of stalls has decreased over the years, but it is still a good market that attracts many visitors and makes for a very busy town centre on Thursdays.

My sister and I had a stroll round the market and bought some fruit and veg. After dropping our purchase off at the cottage, we returned to town centre and browsed the shops.

Lunch was taken again at Oliver‘s Pantry, and a good rest back at the cottage, followed by tea/coffee on the bench in front of the house were next. Then it was time for one of our favourite passtimes: visiting book shops! The Little Ripon Bookshop is our favourite here, but we also looked at what the others had to offer. I ended up buying five paperbacks, a mix of fiction and non-fiction.

The limiting factors are of course weight and space - we have to keep in mind that we always have to be able handle our luggage ourselves during the entire journey, including stairs and changing not only trains but also train stations in London and Paris.

We choose not to walk back to the cottage directly, but take a detour to include the spa gardens, which were beautiful with their summer flowers.

A place we walked past on our way to Ripon Spa Gardens

Spa Gardens

After our evening meal of salad, cheese and toast, I spoke to O.K. via Facetime, and the day ended with an episode of Vera.

It had been mostly sunny at 22 C all day - not bad for North Yorkshire, not bad at all!

Friday 28 July 2023


Wednesday morning saw us taking the 10:27 bus from Ripon to Ripley. The bus ride alone was nice, passing so many familiar places.

The Fizzy Fox (a clothes and accessories shop which I like purely for its shop sign - you can see it in this post) was our first stop. Once again we wondered how it can keep running. Are there really enough ladies buying expensive silk blouses and designer t-shirts out in a tiny village like Ripley? 

Next was the church, but we didn‘t linger, as there was a coffee morning in progress and it felt odd walking around with the natter and chatter in the back.

Browsing gift shops is fun, although we rarely buy anything. Nothing this time, either. We finally bought our tickets for the grounds and gardens and went exploring.

The walled gardens are beautiful no matter the time of year, and always warmer than anywhere else in the grounds.

A wide loop across the pastures (deer and cows live there, but we did not see either) took us back to the castle.

By now it was lunch time, and we had a pleasant hour with good food and friendly service at the tearoom. Does anyone know the TV series Shakespeare & Hathaway? Our waiter had a voice just like the character of Sebastian in the series! Wasps were a nuisance, but miraculously they kept away while we had food on the table.

A stroll through Ripley and a visit to the village shop (very well stocked and nicely kept) followed, then it was time for the bus back to Ripon.

Back at the cottage, we were ready for a little nap before going for a quick stock-up of groceries at Aldi‘s. I then went to see Mary, walking back after my visit to the sound of the cathedral bells - the bell ringers practice on Wednesday nights.

It was my sister‘s turn to make our tea, which consisted of salad, spaghetti and tomato sauce and a nice velvety Merlot.

Winding down in front of the telly with the rest of the wine was a good ending to another good day.

Thursday 27 July 2023

Time With Friends

On Tuesday, a couple of friends came visiting. One of the nice things about having ‚our‘ cottage to ourselves is that we can have visitors and offer them anything from a cup of tea to a meal.
I have known N from the first time I met Steve, my late husband. He and N were at school together and remained close friends until Steve‘s death. When Steve moved to Germany to live with me, every year when we were in Yorkshire we made sure to meet up, and so we met F, too, shortly after they got together.
They are lovely people, good friends with generous hearts, great sense of humour and an intelligent view of life.

They arrived mid-morning, and after a cuppa and a chat, we walked into town and visited the cathedral. No matter how many times I have been in that magnificent building, here is always something I have not spotted before, or not known.

Lunch at our favourite eating place (Oliver‘s Pantry) followed, and here comes the slightly spooky bit: We were shown to the same table in the sunny backyard as last year and, when we prepared to have our photo taken, we realised that we‘d been there on the same date the year before, and had the photo taken within 10 minutes from last year! (I even wore the same cardigan 🤣)

The food was as good as it always is in that place, and we went back to ours for another cuppa before they set off home to South Yorkshire. 

My sister and I then walked to the Leper Chapel, which we found open. No photos this time, but you can find several on my blog if you type Leper Chapel in the search box on the top left corner of this page.

A little rest at the cottage followed, then our evening meal. After a little drizzle cleared up, the beautiful evening light lured us out for another quick walk around the block (not that Ripon really has ‚blocks‘, but you get the idea).

That was Day Two of our holiday.

Tuesday 25 July 2023

A Perfect First Day

Yesterday, Monday (July 24), was our first full day here in Ripon - Sunday can not really count, since we only arrived at 9:00 pm.

We woke up to morning sun, still feeling somewhat exhausted after the long trip, but happy to be here.

First thing we needed to do basic food shopping, so a walk to Aldi was in order. After breakfast, we checked in with Mary, my mother-in-law. She lives a 15 minute walk from the cottage, and on the way, we had our first view of the cathedral. Coming round the bend of Kirkgate and seeing the beautiful front of that magnificent building for the first time after a whole year is special - one of those ‘welcome back’ moments.

Leaving Mary, we briefly popped back to our cottage; soon, we were on our way to Fountains Abbey.

The weather forecast made it look as if this was going to be our best chance, and so we lost no time. 

That walk is one we have done so often I can easily play it step by step, corner after corner in my mind, something I do occasionally when I can‘t sleep or want to calm my mind.

Lawrence House in Studley Roger

Gate to the Studley and Fountains estate

Walking through the deer park, I was looking at it with the beautiful pictures from the book ‘Still Time to Wonder’ in mind, which my sister had given me a couple of months ago and which I have reviewed here.

Close to the church (St. Mary‘s), we spotted a large group of stags. They were big and beautiful, and especially one of them was truly impressive - I don‘t think I have ever seen a stag with such enormous antlers!

Inside the small, beautifully and unusually decorated church, the organist was practicing. We sat in a pew and listened for a while, until he ended his session with Amazing Grace. A wonderful experience, and the first time in all our visits that we heard the organ.

A bit more than an hour after setting off, we reached the visitor centre where we had a delicious light lunch before continuing on to the abbey grounds. 

Fountains Hall is always our first stop, and this time, the summer house and garden looked particularly nice.

Next was Fountains Mill, and then the vast spread of the abbey‘s ruins.

Not too many people were about on this beautiful Monday, but nearly every family or small group had one or more dogs with them.

We arrived back at the cottage late afternoon with about 13 km under our feet and had a bit of a rest before preparing our evening meal, and eventually settled down in front of the telly. I also spoke to O.K. - facetime is a good thing when you want to talk to and see your loved ones far away.

It had been a really wonderful day, the perfect start of our Yorkshire Holiday!