A jolly good time with jolly good mates in Yorkshire, England
You know how at Disneyland, the roads are windy and cobblestone, lined with cute wall to wall stone buildings and castles and everyone is so cheery and friendly that it seems fake? Well, England is exactly like that…but it’s all real! Saying things like “I will meet you at the entrance to the castle” is commonplace and every person we encountered from cashiers to pub regulars to fellow flight passengers greeted us with the biggest smile and often a “cheers mates!” I’d venture to say it is one of the most magical places on earth!
We spent the past 2 weeks in a part of England called Yorkshire. You may not find it on the various Top 10 Places to Visit Before You Die lists since it isn’t too well known, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up on the Top 10 Hidden Local Gems Surrounded By Beautiful Green Pastures and Lovely People lists! Yorkshire really embodies everything that you might imagine when you think of England- A mix of gloomy, rainy, and some sunny days, rolling green hills dotted with fuzzy sheep and cute cottages, lots of pubs and pints of all sorts of creamy ales, milky black tea multiple times per day, castles and walled cities, kids running to school in ties and pleated skirts, tandem bicycles, immaculate gardens, charming accents with a touch of friendly dry humor that Jon and I adore, and the best part are the cheery people who say cheerio, jolly good and Would you like a spot of tea, love? Let us introduce you to some of these wonderful people:
On weekends, we toured the pubs of Leeds, wandered the seaside towns of the Northeast coast, and camped in the gloriously green and serene Lakes District with a charming chap named Paul. Paul is Jon’s good friend who he met during an exchange program in York 15 years ago and was one of the main reasons we came to England. He is full of British wit and the best tour guide around! Early on he explained how much he couldn’t stand when Americans spoke in British accents, so fittingly, we spoke in British accents…all bloody day.
During the week while Paul was teaching, we lived with the loveliest of English families, the Burgesses. This was our fourth help exchange through helpx.com and it was just terrific. We helped with gardening in the allotment (community garden) and enjoyed lots of comforting cups of tea, delicious family meals filled with fresh produce from the garden, and mouth watering fruity fun deserts made with love by our hostess with the mostest, Bridget. It wasn’t rare to catch her on an afternoon, when everyone was sleepy and resting, whirling about the kitchen making not just one cake, but possibly two, and dinner, and ice cream, and fresh bread. During her breaks we’d find her trimming the beautiful backyard garden, feeding the hens, or making cards out of old wrapping paper. She reminded us a bit of the lovely Marry Poppins! Married to Mrs Poppins is Peter- thespian, tennis player, swimmer, biker, glider, and retired doctor. When he isn’t smashing me on the tennis court, he might be found slamming his fist on the table under a spotlight in the local play, “In Fog and Falling Snow”, the absolutely marvelous play we attended about the creation, challenges, and corruption of the York railways. And then there is Tim, son of Bridget and Peter. When he isn’t creaming grown men on the cricket pitch, he can be caught on the sidelines at Wimbledon (he won tickets through his school!), creaming us at cards, playing the flute, or watching Harry Potter. You’ll be surprised to find out this mature and well mannered young lad is just 13 which might make you pause and remember just how immature and sometimes ill-mannered you were at his age.
Overall, England has been one of our top destinations on World Tour because of all of the special and fun local experiences that we had with our special and fun local friends. And this reaffirms in our minds the value of traveling to places where we know people and/or finding opportunities to live with local people, such as through helpx.com. Because of Paul and the Burgesses, we got a taste of real life in England and were able to explore all of the hidden treasures it has to offer with great company. In fact, go ahead and add it to your top 10 Places to Visit before you Die list. Just make sure to book a tour with Paul and do your help exchange at the Burgesses. 😀
Here are some more of our favorite English moments:
Thank you Paul for being such a spectacular tour guide and waking up at 5:00am on a school day and taking us to the train station. You’re a gentleman and a scholar sir! And thank you Burgesses for sharing your home and town with us. We had a wonderful time.
Next Stop: We’re back in Mexico at the moment! That’s right, we’re getting closer to home! We plan to stay in Mexico for 1 month touring some of the spots we missed during the first part of our travels and checking out the beautiful crafts and markets before returning home exactly 1 year after leaving. So many emotions going through out heads. We’ll save that for a future post…