One Thousand and One Words

At this moment, I cannot fathom being happier. None of the pictures I took even come close to doing justice to the stunning sights I saw, let alone the sounds, smells, tastes, touches, and emotions, so I’ll do my best to describe them instead.

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I’m watching a show about British farming, while sitting in a 17th century farm house atop and amidst the Northern Yorkshire moors, feasting on a board of cheeses, meats, and salads produced on said farm.  Farm to table doesn’t even begin to quantify the food’s freshness.

I’ve also consumed a bit of wine, which is quite unusual for me, so we’ll see how that adds to the post!

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I’ve wanted to visit the British Moors ever since childhood due to their many references in children’s literature.  Indeed, this place is The Shire, Narnia, Wonderland, Neverland, and Hogwarts all rolled into one.

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But more than anything, I am reminded of The Wizard of Oz. There are many things I want to take photos of but couldn’t due to the precariousness of taking pictures off the bike and/or the danger of stopping in the middle of the road for a shot. Thus, I’ll tell you all about the quirkiness of York and its surrounding cities from whence I travelled, having left work there equip with Kitt on the train from London.  I slept in a 100 year old granary in a town called Green Hammerton in which many farms housed a phone booth, some of which were overgrown with flowers.  Other farms displayed such oddities as painted yellow bikes hung from a tree with eyes, a nose, and lips, and there was one hedge trimmed to look just like a face with an open mouth and eyes! I honestly passed a cycling scarecrow, which scared me more than the countless black crows crunching on the yellow brick road of golden wheat, as I climbed up some serious peaks and then through endless fields of poppies and heather to this emerald palace of pines.

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Purple has been prominently featured not only in both of my rooms, but also on the train, and I just so happened to have worn a shirt with a purple flower upon it so I felt I belonged here specially as, emerging from a rain filled valley, in the distance shone a faint rainbow.  I imagined myself floating in that hot air balloon back to Kansas.

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The other reason I ventured up this northerly way was that, as a result of my parents’ recent visit, I acquired a BritRail Pass. As with the better known Eurail Pass, the BritRail Pass allows travel within Britain, but only to those who are not inhabitants so I bought mine and had it sent to the States and my parents brought it.  With this pass, I have 8 days within one month to travel anywhere within the limits of Britain! Any train, any time, and I have only been making reservations for the bike on busier trains. Since all have comfortable seating, tables, cafes, and power outlets, and some even have free wifi, the journeys are perfect times for concentrated writing whilst the world whizzes by.

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If I wasn’t already completely enthralled with the experience of staying at High Paradise Farm, then after my ventures throughout the Moors and beyond sealed the deal.  The practically one-woman-show run by the surprisingly young but expectedly experienced Ginny Skilbeck  has opened a new level of relaxation and enjoyment to my holidaying adventures. Not only did she provide me with a detailed map of the North York Moors area which completely saved me when not only did my phone die but it was useless with the lack of signal out here anyways, but she also planned a superb route for me to ride and visit a series of ancient Abbey’s, and she also timed the distance perfectly so that I was able ride down red mushroom lined trails to view a sunset matching the fiery red hair of a little Welsh girl and her family I met at Boltby Scar, a peak ridge with exceptional views and grasses so soft I almost fell completely asleep (much to the dismay and worry of my hosts back at the farm!!)

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My endless energy encouraged me to see as many sites as possible but the beauty of the Moors themselves overtook my desire to do anything other than wander outside the farm’s front door.  It was surely difficult to get up those hills, so why stay all the way up there if not to enjoy where I was?  Yet the opportunity to see 12th century Abbey ruins was too much to pass up.  Visit I did, not only one, but three.

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I have found Utopia.  After watching the show recently I had scoured the internet and asked various people if anyone knew where some of the scenes were filmed, particularly the one in which the characters are standing at a crossroads bordering endless fields of purple flowers.  I never found the answer, but I am pretty sure they filmed many scenes here including that one of the heather on the Moors.  While on my way back up, I turned a bend, looked up, and saw this 228 foot high carved White Horse.

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As I reluctantly descended from the clouds on the rainy Monday morning, by the side of the road, I actually found £10!!! Like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! Naturally, I interpreted it as a sign and hopped a train north, searching for hostels with open beds for the night.  I found one in a lovely little YHA in yet another reinvented granary in the walled sea town Berwick-upon-Tweed, just on the border with Scotland. A lass served me some haggis, neeps, and tatties.

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The trip home was just as I had hoped.  Though Virgin East Coast trains failed again to secure a promised seat at a table, I was still able to procure one for the distance of the sunrise over the sea.

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