Monday, 31 August 2015

Always Something New

In my previous post, I've already said how there always seems to be something new or different to discover, even in places I've visited many times before, such as St. Mary's church on the Studley Royal estate.

Fountains Hall and Fountains Abbey, although unchanged at a first glance, are no exceptions. This year, we found that an orchard has been planted and made accessible (it probably was there already last year, but we didn't see any signs for it) where there used to be the orchard a long time ago.

What is interesting about this orchard - apart from it being so beautiful and quiet - is that the National Trust people who planted it did so in collaboration with an organization who is looking after old varieties of fruit and vegetables. Trees were chosen that would have been popular in the time when the orchard was still very much used by the inhabitants of Fountains Hall and their employees. On the National Trust website for Fountains Abbey, I found this information:

"Discover the orchard over the bridge from the herb garden. This collection of apple trees is in an idyllic location by the river and includes some heritage varieties such as Ribston Pippin and Forty Shilling."

Here are my pictures from August 17 (the day after our arrival).
Towards Fountains Hall, and then the herb garden:

 View from herb garden to Fountains Hall, and the bridge to the orchard:

 Fountains Mill can be seen at the far end of the orchard:

Inside the mill:

On the official website, it says: "Built by the Cistercians in the 12th century to grind grain for the abbey, Fountains Mill survived the closure of the religious house and continued to mill up to 1927. Now you'll find a hands-on exhibition inside and be able to have a go at grinding corn or join special waterwheel workshops." We didn't join any workshop, but had a good look at the new exhibition on the top floor that wasn't there yet last year.

Now off to the ruins of the abbey itself. This time, I have deliberately NOT taken a picture from what must be the most photographed spot here; the huge (empty) window in the main church building. Instead, I have tried to catch different glimpses through, between and out of the ruins.

On our way back out, my sister pointed this tree out to me. What made it grow so twisted, we were wondering?

The next day, Tuesday (August 18), turned out to be the only really rainy day of our entire stay. What did we do? You'll find out in one of my next posts :-)

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Keeping Up Traditions

Just like Ripon is keeping up the tradition of the Hornblower, I have my own traditions for when I am there. One is to walk from Ripon to Fountains Abbey and back. You've seen the walk on my blog before and can easily find the old posts (if you are interested) by typing "Fountains Abbey" in the search box in the top left corner. Or you can just look at the new pictures, taken last week.

Studley Roger is the very pretty village at the Studley end of the large area that comprises Fountains Abbey, a deer park and Studley Royal (water garden). It is where you arrive when you take the walk from Ripon across the fields.

The gate leading into the deer park. It is open during the day, but there is a grid on the ground so that deer can't walk through. Looking back, Ripon Cathedral can be seen in the distance.

Walking up the road leading through the deer park towards St. Mary's.

The church of St. Mary's. There is a bit of information about the building on this older post of mine.

Although I have been inside this church several times, there are still things I didn't know or detail I had not seen before. One of the welcomers pointed out this little stone mouse to us:

He also showed us the swallow on this pillar, and made sure we'd spot the green parrots in the gilded ornamental border here:

The architect behind all this (and much, much more) was William Burges. You can read about him here on Wikipedia. Apparently, a lot of the dreamier elements of his designs had something to do with him being an opium addict. Whatever the cause, St. Mary's definitely has a LOT to look at, and is always worth a visit.

After leaving the church, we walked on towards Fountains Hall and Fountains Abbey.

That will be my next post.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Returning to Ripon

Ripon has been a regular holiday place for me since 2003, when my mother-in-law moved there from near Barnsley. It was a big improvement; her house here is much smaller than it was there, but she is on her own and doesn't need a big house anymore. More importantly, her eldest daughter and family live here.

Steve and I came to Ripon each summer for several years after her move, usually spending a few days at Mary's, then travelling to Scarborough where we'd enjoy a week by the seaside in a B&B, and then going back to Mary's for another few days before flying home. 
There was a gap in our regular Yorkshire holidays when in 2007, 2008 and 2009 Steve wanted to discover more of his new home, Germany, and we spent our holidays in different places around Lake Constance. Only after his death, in November 2009, I returned to Ripon and have been doing so every year since.

Coming into Ripon for the first time after a year always feels like coming home - the market square, the cathedral, other buildings and parks are almost as familiar to me as my hometown. I like its size; not too big, but big enough for there being everything available you may need. And if Ripon shops are not enough in terms of choice, Harrogate is only a bus ride away.

One can eat and drink very well in Ripon. The "Royal Oak", for instance, is a pub offering excellent food at reasonable prices. Its interior is a good mix of old and new, staff is friendly and the place is clean. 
Most of the time, though, we were cooking our own meals, getting the ingredients either at Booth's (posh supermarket less than five minutes from our cottage, with a huge range of "green" food), at Sainsbury's (on the market square, so only two minutes further down the road) or on the farmers market on Thursdays.

A visit to the Cathedral is a "must"; it is not only impressive in its size and beauty, but also a place teeming with life. There is always something going on; choir practice or preparations for a concert, exhibitions on various subjects, and a general atmosphere of friendly activity.

Walking along one of the three rivers that go through Ripon (the Ure, the Skell and the Laver) is always nice, too, giving you a different glimpse of the Cathedral in various places. And then there is the canal, where long narrow boats once used to transport goods, now holiday homes. 

The tradition of the Ripon Hornblower is something I find fascinating; I have explained it here. The Hornblower I knew from past years has retired, and the job is now shared between three men. It was the turn of this elderly gentleman when we were watching one night. He was doing the job well, of course, and when he offered us to stay for a bit of history, that was funny and interesting, too. But I must admit he did go on a bit long, and went into much detail that wasn't really all that important to understand the tradition; I liked his predecessor better. Still, I was satisfied to have seen the setting of the watch, as I am determined to do at least once every year, and maybe will get to see one of the other two next time.

In short: It is never boring there, and we have not even been to any of the three main museums this year!