We've been blessed with some very beautiful autumnal sunshine these last two weekends. It has rained during the week but stayed obediently dry and warm at the weekend - which is when it counts - and it makes me want to be outside. On the Sunday before last we spent the day at Kirkstall Abbey, a little corner of Leeds I am extremely fond of as you can forget you're in the middle of a huge city and pretend you're in the countryside, something I like to do. The kids enjoy it there - in fact Bella often requests we go, she loves it so much - as they are allowed to climb freely all over the ruins (not the high parts though!) and they can run and jump and clamber to their hearts' content while I wander around happily, tuning out the sound of the nearby airport and main roads and look at the trees. It was so bright, the glare made my eyes ache, but I loved every outdoorsy moment of it.
My parents have been staying with us over the weekend and they left today. We enjoyed a long, leisurely few days with them; the kids' school was closed on Friday as they had a training day, so we had three whole days to potter and it felt a bit like a bank holiday weekend. They live on the South coast, where I grew up, and come up every couple of months to see us, and I treasure those visits. On Saturday we visited Bolton Abbey, a ruined Priory set right on the River Wharfe, about an hour away from Leeds and very close to Skipton, where Yarndale was hosted.
I think it's pretty spectacular, both the Priory and the surrounding countryside.
We've made an effort this year to get out of Leeds as much as possible and make the most of the Yorkshire countryside. I know everyone feels this about their local area, but I think the Yorkshire Dales are one of the most beautiful parts of the UK and when we ever move away from here it will be the Dales I miss, not Leeds. I really do have a place in my heart for this part of Yorkshire.
There are many different walks that set off from the priory, labelled "easy" to "strenuous" and we went with the shortest, easiest walk, a circuitous two miles around the river, through woodland and over bridges, stopping at a well placed cafe for lunch. Angus is not a great walker. He'd rather paddle and throw stones in the river.
Bella is usually to be found holding my mum's hand or running on ahead.
The woods are especially full of interest and excitement at this time of year, what with conkers and acorns to collect, mushrooms to admire, and fords to paddle through, which is helpful when little legs gets tired and need distracting.
I was fascinated by the money tree. A fallen tree from a storm in the 1980's, it was pushed to one side out of the way of the path. I thought at first it must be some kind of sculpture, but I think the coins have been added gradually by people passing by over the last three decades.
I think it looks quite reptilian.
You are treated to views of Bolton Abbey from different angles as you follow the walk, and each one seems more beautiful than the one before.
On Sunday we gardened. My mum raked, cut back, and pruned while I planted bulbs and pulled up the long-dead sweet peas.
My Dad climbed our apple tree to reach the highest fruit (making me exceedingly nervous) and threw down the apples for us to catch, much to the hilarity of Bella and Angus. I don't think they realised trees could be climbed, city children that they are. The rest of the day passed in a gentle blur of a visit to the park, steak and Stilton pie followed by marmalade bread and butter pudding, then ended with knitting, television and a slight food-induced sleepiness.
Don't forget to enter my giveaway, if you haven't already - it closes tomorrow at midnight!