Recently, Raul and Lauren spent one week in England. Lauren was engaged to present at the venerable 2014 International Medieval Congress in Leeds, so Raul decided to tag along and make a short excursion of it.
On Saturday, they arrived at Manchester Airport, greeted by grey, gravid clouds, just as the weather forecast predicted. By the time they picked up the rental car and dropped their belongings at the lovely home of Emily and Luke (and their dog Lola), their Airbnb hosts, it seemed that Yorkshire was determined to make fools of weather forecasters. The sunshine and blue sky roused the weary travelers from the temptation of a quiet nap and they made their way to lovely York with its impressive walls and Minster.
Besides her own exalted forum, Lauren would also attend numerous other presentations on Monday and Tuesday. Therefore, Raul was named the official driver for their hired car. Although he had previously driven on the left side of the road on Eleuthera, this would be his first experience driving a right-hand-drive vehicle. The drives on Saturday and Sunday, with Lauren navigating, engendered the vital comfort and confidence necessary for Raul to go adventuring alone on Monday and Tuesday.
By unhappy coincidence, the Tour de France started the very weekend of their arrival, in Leeds itself. Raul and Lauren were delighted by Yorkshire’s enthusiasm for “The Tour,” but the purpose of their visit was orthogonal to the Tour de France, and they faced a few inconveniences such as road blocks and the extra expense associated with lodging in such circumstances. On the other hand, they were within a mere couple of miles of the future king and queen, who were seeing the competitors off at Harrogate, so maybe that counts for something.
Sunday morning, they visited their first of several abbey ruins, the Kirkstall Abbey, a testament to the tyranny of Henry VIII and his destructive rejection of the Catholic Church.
After taking in the ruins, Raul and Lauren strolled around the abbey grounds. Raul found an easy tree to climb, though not easy enough for Lauren to conquer.
The rest of the day was spent exploring the estate of Lotherton Hall. The grounds were peaceful, with wooded lanes, an impressive tennis court constructed of impeccably laid bricks, fountains and rose gardens, a bird garden, and of course the country house itself.
Their lodging near Leeds was a pleasure. Emily and Luke treated Raul and Lauren to a home cooked dinner of Spaghetti Bolognese, with portions maybe too large even for Trent Terwelp. The following night, all four of them sat together to watch the semi-final World Cup game between Brazil and Germany, which will not soon be forgotten.
Raul fancies the classic taps in the bathroom, with hot and cold water having independent spouts.
In the next post, Raul visits two more ruins, and Lauren joins him for a hike through the Yorkshire Dales.