Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Good-Bye, September!

September was a beautiful month here, most of the time, and I find it hard to believe that today really is its last day. Somehow, this month went by even quicker than other months; maybe because of the return to work after my holiday, and being a little more busy with customers' projects than usual.

We had many sunny days with some rain in between; some afternoons were still as warm as summer at 25 Celsius or more. But mornings and nights are getting rather cold now; when I checked this morning at 7:30, the thermometer showed 6 Celsius. 

Leaves are turning and dropping already, chestnuts are ripe, and there is a general air of busy-ness around, without the seemingly unavoidable hectic of December.

My Mum and I went for our favourite walk two weeks ago (you've seen it often on this blog; I mean the walk to my parents' allotment). As usual, my Dad had coffee, Brezeln and cake ready for us by the time we arrived, and we were joined by my sister who later went on another walk from the allotment to my favourite grassy path with me.

I did not take all that many pictures on either walk, because I've showed you most of it before, but here are a few to say good-bye to a great month:

Monday, 28 September 2015

What I Brought Back

In one of my many Yorkshire holiday posts, I have already mentioned that I brought back several dresses and a coat, as well as a pile of books my mother-in-law had set aside for me.

Here are the first two of the new dresses:

They are both from Ripon's Dorothy Perkins shop. The summery one was in the sale and cost only 8 pounds, the other one wasn't very expensive, either. The first two weeks back here after the holiday, it was still very warm during the day, so that I was able to wear the sleeveless dress already and did not have to wait until next summer. The other dress is warm enough to be worn quite a while yet, and it has very quickly become a favourite of mine for its very comfortable cut and crease-free fabric.

Meanwhile, it has become rather chilly; although on a day like yesterday, it still gets warm enough mid-afternoon for some sunbathing on my window sill, I have been wearing a coat (and seriously been thinking about gloves) in the mornings on my way to work.

So, I have for the first time in my life decided to take those items out of my wardrobe that I won't be wearing for the next half year or so, just so that everything I will be wearing has enough room and is easier to organize. Up until now, I've always had my complete wardrobe together, never separated anything, but it is so much nicer now (and gives me the illusion that I do not have too many clothes...). I only let go of four items which will be collected Tuesday morning by a charity organization who have put leaflets in everybody's mailboxes in my neighbourhood.

In order to make this post a bit more interesting, here are two views from my kitchen window:

The time of the year has come when I get to see sunrises - my kitchen window faces East. And that rainbow in the second picture was much more brilliant in reality; the camera couldn't capture it as beautiful as it really was.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Atlas Fountain and Walled Gardens

Believe it or not, this is the last post about my 2015 Yorkshire Holiday.
After the Temple of the Four Winds, we walked down a slope past beautiful statues and across a time capsule to have a closer look at the Atlas fountain, which we'd already seen from inside the house.

Next, we entered the walled gardens, which were beautiful - although I must admit I felt more "at home" in Ripley castle's ones.

Back to the courtyard where we began, we browsed the shops for a bit. By now, we were truly ready for some refreshment and had excellent cakes and tea/coffee at the Courtyard Café before the drive home.

It had been our last day, and we spent the evening packing and getting the cottage ready for tomorrow's returning the key to its owners.
Bye-bye Yorkshire for another year!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Temple of the Four Winds

After we had seen all the rooms at Castle Howard where visitors were allowed (see my next-to-last post), we left the house and ventured into the grounds. We had a map and decided which parts we'd forego - the place is just so huge, we would have needed an entire day from morning to night to see everything without rushing.

Away from the house and up a hill much steeper than it looks here, we arrived at the top to find a water reservoir that still nurtures the fountains at lower ground level. It is a very quiet spot, surrounded by woodland, and I can well imagine that family members used to come here sometimes when they wanted to be on their own. 

A short walk through the woods - where there are such surprising features as this "Maya" pyramid - lead us to what was to leave the greatest impression on me: The Temple of the Four Winds.

On top of it being a very handsome building, it offers beautiful views from everywhere.

Of course we would have loved to go inside, but it is locked and cordoned off so that we could not even sneak a peek through the windows. On the official Castle Howard website, it says that the building was originally "used as a place for refreshment and reading, beneath it is a cellar where servants prepared the food they served to the family above." So maybe it is opened occasionally for the use of the family and their visitors, or one can rent it for special occasions.

I loved the way the statues seem to look out across the land in a... I don't know, melancholy way? It certainly is a place I want to come back to.

From here, we took a different part back towards the house, one that would take us to its other side and to the big fountain we had seen from inside. I'll show you that in my next post.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Read in 2015 - 25: Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Café

This is the first of a pile of books my mother-in-law had prepared for me when I came to see her in Ripon in August. It is the second Milly Johnson I have read, and I truly enjoyed the first one. You can read that review here.

Once again, we find ourselves in the Barnsley area. But while in the "Teashop"-book, the teashop really was the focal point for all the action, "The Sunflower Café" is not where everything happens. In fact, it took more than 20 chapters before some of the characters went to the café for the first time, and afterwards, we read only about a few more visits.

So, what it the book about?

In short: Friendship and love. Big words, and indeed big changes in the characters' lives which prove the immense value of both.

Most of the story concentrates on three women, but there are other characters featuring almost as prominently. The cast is well drawn and credible, not too black and white (with a few exceptions).

Cheryl sends her boyfriend of 10 years packing after he has - once again - gambled away all her savings, money she wanted to use for one more attempt at IVF. She is left with no money and no car, which makes her job as a cleaner not easier.

Della has been managing the office of a cleaning service for decades, always hoping one day her boss would realize that she could be so much more to him - if only he wasn't married... But when that marriage does end, it is completely different from what Della had always imagined.

Connie spent all her married life looking after others, and chocolate was her only comfort. Then something happens that kills her love of chocolate for ever... or does it?

The lives of these three women become linked in a way none of them could have foreseen. New opportunities arise for each of them, at work as well as in their private lives. Sometimes the obstacles seem to be too big to ever be overcome, but the ladies show how much strength each of them possesses when it really matters, and there are (of course) happy endings all around.

Some of the twists and turns are rather foreseeable, but by no means all, and I still wanted to keep on reading to find out what was going to happen next, and even when I did guess right, how it would come about.

It was light, enjoyable reading with a good portion of humour thrown in, and I wouldn't mind reading another Milly Johnson soon. 

Monday, 21 September 2015

In the House

Something I really like about many of the grand houses I've been to in England is that you can often walk around on your own and do not have to take a guided tour as part of a group, which sometimes moves either too fast or too slow for my liking. 

Castle Howard is like that; ropes and signs clearly show you where you can and where you can't go, but otherwise, you can spend as much or little time as you want in each room. There are information sheets ready for you placed in some of the rooms, and a kind person to keep an eye on things and offer more detail and some interesting stories if you want to know more. 

He has the best place of all, I think:

A little light reading to take on the plane tomorrow, maybe?

The chapel was designed by William Morris. It was rather dark, but I think I still managed to give you an impression of its general atmosphere:

Castle Howard is great inside, but to be honest, what I enjoyed most while in the house were the views from the windows across the grounds. Apart from one or two of the bedrooms, it just didn't feel like a place where I would like to live; too grand for me in all its Baroque opulence.

It was now time to explore the grounds, where there was so much to see we didn't even get around to look at everything, but it was still more than what I'll fit into one post