Vanlife in York

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This was our first visit to Cherry’s ‘new’ house in York. She has been there a couple of years now. Although she makes weekly trips to Perth to visit friends and pick up grandkids for babysitting, she still finds she has plenty of time to herself, which was the aim of moving there. At first she said she wasn’t much involved in the local community, but she has been along to a couple of choirs and is presently participating in a book club as well as running Yoga classes.

When she was looking for a property she told the agent the land was more important than the house, consequently she is surprised that she has ended up with such a large house. However, it is handy for having children and grandchildren to stay and by not adding too much furniture she is able to take advantage of the generous kitchen/dining/living area. She has 4.6 acres on a sloping hillside, with an inner fenced area containing the house, large verandahs, shed and chicken run. In the cooler weather we have had for the last couple of days it was a very lovely place to be. There are a few large trees, but mostly smaller trees and shrubs. She has done a lot of work to tidy things up and plant more trees and bushes. She has pleasant view both uphill and downhill and the slope is quite gentle.

We parked on a flat space beside the house. It turned out to have quite a lot of morning shade, but I didn’t worry about the battery as we were driving home yesterday, which would give it a good charge. She invited us to an evening meal, so we left the food we had taken for our Friday evening meal and had it for lunch on Saturday.

We spent time in the morning sitting outside talking and enjoying the view down towards the river. She rarely has flow in her section of the river, but it seems to be quite moist, promoting thick undergrowth and lots of trees. She has glimpses of the grain storate beyond, but it doesn’t spoil the view, rather adding to the interest of the location.

In the late morning we drove up to Mt Brown to enjoy the views, then went to check out the new free camping area in town near the river. Cherry has invited us to come and stay at her place at any time, even if she is away. I was hoping the camping space, which is new, would have lots of trees and shaded areas, but it is rather regimented and there is only one really shady spot, which was taken. We had our lunch and a cup of tea before driving home. We had some shade, but although the temperature was pleasant, with a cool breeze most of the time, it was still better to be in shade rather than sun. Thereore, if we a going her way in future staying at her place is much the nicest option. We won’t over do it, most of the summer is likely to be very hot and it wouldn’t be much fun being in the van.

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Evening at Cherry’s
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Looking down towards the river
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Cherry showed us around her large front and rear yards.
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Mt Brown view
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Viewing point rocks with what looks like bitumen holding them together
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More bitumen holding rocks together at Mt Brown

Stephen and I took turns with the driving. We were waiting for an opportunity for Stephen to get used to driving the van away from city traffic.

 

Knole House: making the most of a rainy day

We set off at about 12.30 p.m., having waited for Eversley to sample one of the local churches. Mind you, Stephen and I were pretty slack about getting up and it worked out well for us.

The journey to Knole House was uneventful, with a taxi at the end for the last 3 miles. We booked the taxi for our return journey and he was supposed to arrive at 5.00 p.m.

As the property is a National Trust offering Stephen and I got in for free and Eversley decided to only do things that were free. The extras were a visit to the ‘showrooms’ so called because they were decorated to provide a show of wealth by the owners. I wasn’t allowed to take photos. The rooms were dark, and even darker because blinds are used on the windows to help preserve the artefacts, especially fabrics which fade and fall apart over time. There were colourful panels, paintings and rooms set up for show. The long galleries were used for getting exercise during bad weather and the wooden floors makes them ideal for the purpose as wood is much softer for legs than stone. The following photos are of the Orangery, a sort of indoor greenhouse.

View from the tower
The tower

We also visited the tower, which was set up as an apartment for the heir who ousted Vita Sackville-West, inheriting her childhood home. We could better understand her upset over this. She had set up her own tower ‘apartment’ at Sissinghurst, but it wasn’t as spacious as at Knole House. She was passed over purely because of being a woman, and since she was a rather manly woman it must have been particularly galling.

We enjoyed views from the tower and I was allowed to take photos there, of course. There was a bookshop and cafe as well for our rest and afternoon tea.

A feature of Knole House is the deer park and we went for a walk in the park, with me concentrating on deer, but also taking photos of the views.

The non-arrival of our return taxi was a bit of an anticlimax, or so we thought. Stephen had some phone numbers of taxis, but said it was only 3kms to the station. It was a fine evening and we decided to tackle the walk as it meant we could still be out in the fresh air. In our coats and hoods we were well protected from the wind.

Of course, there is quite a difference between 3kms and 3 miles, as we discovered. Sevenoaks, the little town, is quite interesting and most of the walk through the town was downhill, thank goodness.

At the station we made the fateful decision to catch the first train which would take us to London Victoria. A peaceful train ride was followed by the news that there was a planned rail closure and we had to catch a bus to East Croydon. It was a long, long ride, especially as the bus had to divert to many station on the way home. Eversley said it took about 1.5 hours, instead of a train journey of about 25 minutes. We didn’t get home until about 9.30 p.m.

Eversley said she had rested on the bus and was able to cook her promised meal of a frittata. It made a very tasty meal with some salads.

My zoom lens isn’t that long, fortunately the deer are relatively tame and only move away if you move towards them and get quite close. One of the does seemed to be looking for food when it walked towards me – it was great for getting the photo.

Sissinghurst Castle

Yesterday Stephen and I went to visit Sissinghurst, which is not a castle at all and never was, whilst Eversley was catching up a friend in London. It was owned by Vita, famous these days for having an affair with Virginia Woolf, though she was a writer and published books.

Vita’s writing room in the tower. It was very dark inside, partly to protect furniture and books from sun damage, but also because it is as she would have seen it when she came in from working in the garden to do her writing.

This shot was taken from the top of the tower. The odd white chimneys are seen all over this area and were used as part of drying hops.

I enjoyed walking around the gardens taking photos of flowers.

The property consists of a farm and some buildings which include remnants of an Elizabethan manor house. Vita and her husband set out to creat beautiful gardens and these are maintained for National Trust visitors. We were also able to see through the cottage occupied by Vita and her husband. They had an odd way of,living, Vita had a writing room in the tower, they slept at the cottage where the husband had a study and they ate in a third cottage where their sons lived when not at boarding school. They also renovated an old stable into a huge living room.

There was a National Trust shop, restaurant and cafe.

The journey there involved a train to London Bridge, then a train to Staplehurst, then a bus to Sissinghurst and a 20 minute walk. For our journey home we ordered a taxi to the station, then caught the two trains. We stayed until things closed at 5.30 and the journey home was quite easy. We are now getting home in the dark, which feels strange because when we first came to England it was light until 9.00 pm.

We arrived at about 12.30 and had a nice lunch at the restaurant before beginning to explore. We climbed the tower and had a guided walk through the cottage, checked out the shop and had coffee at the little coffee shop. I found another little gift for Matt.

We went for a walk in a field before we left and checked out the huge fungi.

We had some sunshine, but in this photo taken later in the day it’s getting a bit dark.

London: British Library and ‘Little Venice’

The British Library is a relatively modern library (1973) incorporating the old British Museum Library as well as some other collections. Red bricks are used to blend in with the other buildings in the area such as St Pancras International Station, which is across the road. Inside, it is a very interesting place, with a collection of very old books and a copy of the Magna Carta, a shop, bookshop and what appeared to be cafes on every floor. There are seating areas everywhere with tables and plug in facilities and they were just about all occupied by young people with mostly Apple laptops.

On the left, St Pancras, on the right, the British Library

After we left, we realised that we didn’t actually see the reading rooms. It is not a lending library, but a place to do research like our WA State Library. Although the building is relatively stark on the outside, the interior has enough curves to make it feel a delightful place to be.

We caught the Thameslink train which takes us straight from East Croydon Station to St Pancras and had tickets that allowed us to catch buses as well. The bus to Little Venice took about 30 minutes. The area is a bit disappointing. We have been to canal areas in other cities and they are usually picturesque, but there was something a bit neglected about the area that mean that despite the willows, bird life and beautiful surrounding townhouses, it just missed being lovely. The houses mostly appear to have been converted into flats, as evidenced by TV aerial cords snaking up the outside of buildings. They are not even confined to back of the houses.

I had hoped to get a photo of these swans, which were a sort of motley colour in stead of pure white. But you can see that they made their escape before I could, and the camera wasn’t able to keep up with the action enough to get a non blurry photo.

Stephen had read about a historic pub in the area where we hoped to have afternoon tea, but we found it not very hospitable and found a tiny cafe nearby.

It was a grey day, as you can see from the photos, but we didn’t have any rain and the temperature was pleasant for walking, cool but not cold.

Our journey home on a different bus seemed very long, but there was interest in going through different residential areas of inner London, some more posh than others. Of course, it is all very expensive, but some areas seemed run down and others very vibrant, with interesting shops and cafes.

Our train tickets also allowed us to take the tram home for the same price. We enjoyed leftovers, followed by fruit and ice cream for tea.

Visiting Monk’s House

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monk’s_House

I’ve included the Wikipedia link because it gives better information about the house than we got from visiting it. There were volunteers in each room to explain things and respond to our questions, but the sequence of why they eventually moved there full time is not something we were told.

Monk’s House

We caught the train to Lewes, and the station is familiar territory as we went there for the,opera at Glyndbourne. From Lewes there is a bus to the village of Rodmell. The bus stop is near the local pub, and there was sign posting to Monk’s House. We asked about the name and it is apparently not clear why it is called that. We noticed that other houses we passed also had names. More modern houses have been built to blend in with the style of the very old houses and even in mid autumn the gardens are free and bright with flowers.

Walking along the line

Below are some of the other houses we saw on the way.

Only the ground floor rooms are open and Virginia’s little studio, a separate room away from the house, is locked, so we could look through windows to see it set up with her desk and writing materials. We could also see the beautiful view that she enjoyed from this room. There didn’t appear to be any heating in the studio. Perhaps she didn’t use it when it was very cold.

Notice in the right hand corner that a visitor has the same lean as the statue, I didn’t realise this until I looked at the photo last night. A little unintentional humour.

The village church is visible from the garden and even back at the house.

After time at the house, mainly spent in the garden, we walked back to the pub for afternoon tea. Stephen took a short walk up the hill to see more of the South Downs. He only had half an hour before the bus, but could then rest on the bus and train ride home.

The Abergavenny Arms

We bought some essentials from the little shop near the station and walked home.

The day was a bit chilly, and we thought it might rain at one stage, but by late afternoon there were some ‘sunny spells’. Still, we were glad to get back and switch on the central heating.

Stephen and I have Australian National Trust membership, and had free entry, but public transport by train and train is quite expensive. We took a picnic lunch to save money.