Saturday, September 26, 2009
A PIECE OF OLD ENGLAND
Jer and I really aren't world travelers. Although we went to the Caribbean on our honeymoon, the middle-east on a guided tour, and then of course to Turkey when he worked there, the other trip that I can say we really had total control of was our month-long driving tour of England in 1985. Every single choice was ours to make, and that is probably why it stands out as the vacation of my dreams.
We rented a car and drove for three weeks. At the end of that time we turned our car in, took a train to London, and hoofed it for the whole week we were there. This is surely seeing England in the best way possible.
The photo at the top of this column was taken in the Dales after we left the amazing town of York. To be honest with you we haven't seen all there is to see in the U.S., so we may have some scenes that equate with this one, but for us we had never seen such sky, such clouds, such green fields, such stone walls and charming houses, and of course so very many lambs. On this particular day we were hoping to outrun the storm. We didn't want to miss anything, but we sure didn't want to spend our afternoon in a downpour. And we discovered that we just had nothing on which to base our understanding of the weather. Where we live now in California we can judge from the time of year and the condition of the sky what kind of weather is going to happen in the next few hours. In England we couldn't even speculate! It was an odd feeling of being quite handicapped in figuring out what we should do.
On this particular afternoon we managed to make the right choices and by late afternoon we had found a little bed and breakfast house that was available and we booked ourself in. It was called the Brough Castle Farm and it was a real working farm and it sat next to Brough castle -- castle ruins to be exact, but then one doesn't see many "working" castles except maybe like Windsor or Buckingham. Anyway, this castle was good enough for us.
The Beckwith family owned the farm. Mrs. Diane Beckwith was a young mother with the most beautiful red-headed children I'd ever seen. Mr. Beckwith came in from his farmwork in the evening and was out again in his field early in the day. We slept in their extra bedroom and took our meals in their kitchen. We found that many of the bed and breakfast accommodations were almost like an inn - a real commercial operation. Not so many were little operations run by mom and dad. These are the ones, like the Beckwith's, we remember. And of course we remember their red-headed children who now are probably grown up and have families of their own. Things change.
Besides those children I have two very distinct memories of this place. One was that it was so far north that it was still light enough at 2 a.m. to read a newspaper in bed! The other was that out our bedroom window we could see the castle ruins. The castle truly was very close to our room, and it was beautiful to us even in its ruins.
We still have the business card they gave to us. It says "Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast" Brough Castle Farm, Brough, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. Who knows whether or not it is still operating there as a bed and breakfast. But I'm sure the old castle will still be there, charmings others as it did us.