My trip to Skipton last Thursday made me realise once again that I kind of like spending half my year in England. After the flat, somewhat boring, landscape of Florida (flattest state in the union), it's a joy to spend time in the beautiful rolling hills of Yorkshire and at this time of year, it really is God's own county - as the locals have been saying for centuries.
After I'd recovered from the shock of filing up at 107.9p a litre (works out at about $7.83 per US gallon) I headed first to the small market town of Otley and while almost freewheeling down a long long hill, the trip computer registered 66 mpg which, although an unnatural reading, gave me a range of 803 miles on my 12 gallon tankful. If only. After I'd leveled off and got into typical busy traffic, the mpg went down to it's usual 48-55 range which would be amazing in the US but pretty standard for a small petrol powered car here in the UK. So the price may be double, but we get twice the fuel consumption so we're pretty much paying the same for the luxury of driving a car these days.
Anyway once I'd passed Otley, I was really out in the countryside and so I'm afraid you'll have to put up with the traditional lamb photograph.
Being early May, these two were quite large and almost ready for my dinner plate. Sorry PETA members everywhere !!
No I'm not. I'm a meat eater and proud of it.
Lambs to the slaughter and all that. With mint sauce.
Anyhoo, after I'd visited the canal basin in Skipton and spent a happy 2 hrs or so wandering along the tow path taking photos (see previous post), I decided to visit the place where I'll be next month when, with 2 friends, I'll be spending my first ever weekend on a canal boat. I can't wait.
This is the place, Snaygill Boats, and what a lovely part of the world they have found for themselves.
The little building on the far right is their office and reception and you can see some of the rental boats lined up all ready for prospective customers.
All very picturesque I think you'll agree and it was hard to believe that the very busy A6131 Keighley Road was on the other side of that hedge on the left. Well I think it still is but I'm talking about last Thursday now. Then. Whenever.
I popped into the office to ask if I could see 'our' boat but was told that it was out for the day.
The guy did say that The Caraway, which sleeps 6 people, docked just next to the office (well on the water of course) was very similar to our boat, The Saffron, which sleeps 4. The Caraway is 59ft long and The Saffron, 46ft.
So I took a photo of it but of course next month, there will be plenty of photos of The Saffron once we take it out for the weekend.
If you click on the photo and look beyond the end of The Caraway, you'll see a cute little bridge which I drove across to get to the boat company car park. I walked back to it to take the following photo which gives a better overall view of the place.
Well maybe not. I guess the office is off to the left out of sight and it's not even easy to see the boats which were docked facing the canal edge - as seen in the photo after the lambs.
Never mind. The idea was to show that if you go the other way, as I did, there were dozens more boats docked along the left side of the canal, two abreast.
Some of these were a bit more, well rough and ready, so I think they were private boats that were just moored there by their owners for weeks or months at a time. I certainly wouldn't like to be the one to want access to one half way along and on the dock side. All the boats were tied up nose to tail and I really don't know how they'd get one out. Quite a task.
I went onto the last boat to get a photo looking back but couldn't get high enough.
Luckily my previous experience as a paparazzi helped me out and in classic style, I held the camera up over my head and took this photo.
First time. Honestly. Usually I need to take a few to get the horizon straight (although I can always straighten photos afterwards anyway) but this was a keeper from the get go.
It shows how the boats are neatly docked two by two for some distance back to the office and having only seen this view on Google Earth, it was cool to see it in real life.
Having seen all I needed to see, I left to go further up the steep hill behind the boatyard (Skipton Road) to try and get a good view looking back down.
I went over the brow of the hill and came upon the very pretty village of Bradley, set in the valley and between the towns of Skipton and Silsden.
It was enchanting with neat cherry blossom lined streets and avenues and in the afternoon sunshine, it seemed to be a wonderful place to call home. Returning to the boatyard, I passed a farm with a small herd of what I took to be highland cattle of some sort.
As my expertise in this field (pardon the pun) is limited to choices of steaks and roasts, I've no idea why I think they'd be highland cattle - if indeed such a genre exists. Just a gut feeling.
Anyway 3 of the more inquisitive ones approached the gate and stood looking at me in that unique cowy way. It's their trademark look.
Not very bright, not really sure what's going on but knowing that shortly they'll be satisfying the appetites of several unknown men.
I call it their Paris Hilton look !!
Back on the A6131 and then the A65, it was only a 35 minute drive back to Leeds. As if to show me that the countryside didn't have the monopoly on beauty, I went onto Alwoodley Lane near my home and was taken with the beautiful cherry blossoms all along that road.
At the risk of repeating myself, I try never to take for granted the fact that I'm lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of a beautiful county.
Over the last 2 posts I hope I've shown enough examples of that statement to back it up.
Yes I love the sunshine and friends in Florida but I have to admit there isn't much in the way of scenery. After 6 months of looking at orange groves and alligators, it was great to get back into the Yorkshire countryside which, when the weather is just right and there aren't many cars on the roads, can rival anywhere in the world for its WOW factor.
Just in my opinion of course. Oh and in the opinion of HIM upstairs too of course.