Tuesday, May 14, 2013

West Witton with the Wignall's

The final leg of our UK journey was a return visit to see the Wignall's: Uncle Paul & Aunt Jayne in West Witton, the epitome of the gorgeously verdant English countryside. The UK TV series based on the book, All Creatures Great and Small, was filmed in North Yorkshire and parts at the nearby Bolton Castle. The Wignall's front yard is a huge pasture where twelve sheep graze. The distant hills appear as a true movie set with stone hedges, flocks of ewes and their lambs as well as brown and white/black cows. It's pure serenity and peaceful. I can see how they picked that little town.
Their home is called The Barn House, a spectacular converted barn which they've done a magnificent job renovating. We stayed in the big guest room on the second floor, overlooking the sheep field. We slept with an electric blanket, duvet and socks because it was pretty cold there at night...35-40 degrees.
Rally car memorabilia adorn their walls.
We enjoyed days and nights by their fire.
We were welcomed with open arms and felt so at home at The Barn. lOn Sunday morning, we accompanied Paul to mass at St. Peter & St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church in Leyburn, a neighboring town 4 miles away. There, we saw Aunt Julia who regularly attends there and met Father Patrick, who immediately recognized Saipan as the island that ruined the Irish National Football Team's chances at the 2002 FIFA World Cup when Roy Keane, their captain and star player fought with Mick McMarthy, the manager about the training conditions on island and was fired before the Games. Most Irish know about Saipan through that specific yet unfortunate incident.

After church, Jayne cooked a lovely lunch with a roast beef and vegetables and freshly baked apple pie. It was wonderful to catch up and share good times.

We also paid a visit to Jayne's nephew's family whom we met last year. Andrew is 13, and the twins, Sophie & Amy are 10. They entertained us with music, flute and guitar that night. 
They were quite intrigued with meeting an American last year as Russ dressed up as a cowboy with a thick southern accent. This year, the kids were happy to see us again.
 
On Monday, we went to the city of York and toured the Minster, the old cathedral built between the late 1200's and early 1300's. I still marvel at the fact that architecture back men was much more complicated and intricate than anything we see today. Modern buildings have lots of glass and steel but they're basically square with clean lines.
The Minster was enormous, immense, magnificent and impressive! 
York is a popular tourist town as it's quaint with many shops and cafes. The city has character and while we walked a little, we could tell that it was a nice place.
For lunch, we ate at an Italian restaurant with tasty food and scenery.
Afterwards, we toured the Jorvic museum which depicts the Vikings' immigration to York in the 800's. there's a sitting ride that allowed us to view typical village life during those days and then we walked along the display cases with artifacts, skulls, jewelry and coins.
The strangest part of this museum was the actual piece of ancient human poo encased as a preserved showpiece. Good thing we ate before or it could have spoiled our appetite.
On Tuesday, we had a morning to relax before we went sightseeing to the west. One of the sheep,at The Barn came close to me as I held my iPad. He looked intrigued.
Lake Windermere is another tourist area where visitors flock to the waters for boat rides and ferry cruises.
The swans, ducks and pigeons there are so tame and enjoy being fed by people.
We drove through several small towns, past more lakes in the Cumbria region that afternoon where we had nice sunny weather all day.
That evening, Paul was one of the guest panelists invited to speak by the Wigton Car Club with former and current race and rally tour drivers. The keynote speaker, Stuart Turner, gentlemanon far left, is a legend in the motorsports world and did a brilliant job delivering his clever witted presentation. Uncle Paul's remarks were quick and funny as well and it was wonderful to see him among the esteemed panelists. That evening, I learned a lot about rally and F-1 racing.
On our final morning at the Barn House, I met the farmer of the sheep who came to inject penicillin to two of the sheep that were limping. His sheepdog, a collie named Jim, easily maneuvered the flock to a certain area. He had an important job to do and he did it well.
After returning to Birmingham to get Russ' staples removed, our timing was fluid as we had sufficient time at each airport to catch our three flights back hime. In the photo below, we were over the English Channel approaching France, as Paris was our first transit destination.
At Paris' CDG airport, they have these red funky lounge sleepers which actually looked comfortable.
That airport was huge so we were met by an escort with a wheelchair to get us through quickly. She seemed a bit too busy in the phone at times.
We had a couple hours at Narita and then came home and were surprised by Jun & Linda who were there at 12:30am to pick us up! How considerate and amazing of them! 
Perfect flight sequence from Birmingham to Saipan. It's nice to go on a trip, but it's always refreshing to return to our home. Now, it's "rest and recover completely" time for Russ. We were blessed with few travel complications, great weather throughout the trip and a highly successful surgery. What more can we ask?

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