First Day of High School and Y6

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When Cora went to high school for her very first day this week, I went too!

Thankfully, Ryan prayed blessings over the kids the night before and so in the we had fewer nerves and Cora was very excited! We arrived a bit early, so we paused for one more photo and then walked towards school.

I walked her all the way inside since I was attending the parents coffee morning. Cora was graciously greeted by the Principal and led into the hall for Assembly. I saw a fellow Beecroft mum friend and chatted with her about the PTA (Parent Teacher Association); it was comforting to see a familiar face!

Several times I told myself to not leave, nor be on my phone, just because parents already seemed engaged in other conversations. This worked because eventually I found a mum standing by herself to chat with. We found commonalities such as both our sons are in rugby. I also visited with the Vice-Principal and a science teacher before the school Chaplain prayed over our children and for parents. Hearing her prayer was very encouraging!

Unlike Cora, Titus wasn’t quite sure about returning to school. He is not looking forward to reading and spellings in preparation for upcoming SATs exams. However, he came out of school excited to see friends and thankful for his teacher helping him with spellings. Titus is looking forward to having the same teacher Cora had last year!

Cora has been walking home and for now we are meeting her half-way. This will be a year of many “firsts” and some new changes, but we are thankful for both children having really good schools. Ryan and I are looking forward to making new parent relationships at high school through the PTA, Praying Parents, and Parent Council!

Jurassic Trail

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My son asked for time with just mummy and he thought it best to share our love of dinosaurs together! My husband and son obtained a map of Leeds Jurassic Trail in City Centre. Our walk began with triceratops, my favourite!

We walked City Centre through the ornate Victoria Quarter before finding our next dinosaur in the John Lewis Centre.

The Jurassic Trail wasn’t clearly marked, so it took us a while to locate our next dinosaurs in Kirkgate Market. This dinosaur was really unique…complete with tiny arms and horns!

T-Rex towered tall in Trinity Shopping Centre! We had glimpsed this dinosaurs last year at this location, but this year T-Rex had a baby which toddlers were queuing up to ride! Thankfully Titus elected for photos and a T-shirt instead of queuing up. 😉

Unfortunately the final stamp on Titus’s dinosaur map was unable to be collected since by now we had walked nearly five miles and we were overdue for lunch. We enjoyed meeting up with Ryan and Cora for a delicious lunch in Trinity Kitchen since they had been nearby queuing to apply for Cora’s city bus pass. For me it was a good distraction enjoying dinosaurs with Titus since it is a bit emotional for me to think of Cora riding the city bus home from high school in less than a week! Thankfully she won’t receive her bus pass for two more weeks. 😬🙏🏻

Kirkstall Abbey on Dad’s Last Day

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For my Dad’s last day in Leeds, we visited our local Kirkstall Abbey. Monthly there is a Deli Market at Kirkstall Abbey on the last weekend if the month. Therefore we expected to have a host of food and craft stalls greet us. However, this event had changed to a fiesta evening festival. Very few stalls were setup but the kids did have good pizza to eat and we all enjoyed some baby tacos. Yum!

We walked Dad around the Abbey detailing the monk life of the 13th Century. Since I have written many blogs about Kirkstall Abbey, I will refrain from doing so here again. However, it is always entertaining to show guests where Kirkstall Road in Victorian times had traffic go through the church nave. 😬Thankfully that was put to an end so the historic Abbey is still here for us to enjoy.

Since it was another hot day, Dad treated us to ice cream (this time from an ice cream truck)! ☺️

Then we drove him to Manchester to walk around the hugely ornate Trafford Centre. We had a delicious Mexican tea (dinner) before sadly checking him into his airport hotel. 😢This was the most time we have spent together in the past many years. We are extremely grateful for his visit and this blessing of time to catch up! We made many new memories and laughs together as family! I miss you already, Dad! 💕

Yorkshire Dales…a Whirlwind Tour

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We took advantage of a beautifully sunny morning in Leeds to drive through the Yorkshire Dales showing my Dad many sights. Our first stop was Settle where the weather went hazy and cool. However, we still enjoyed purchasing various homemade meat pies from Ye Naked Old Man in Settle. Settle is where part of the movie Calendar Girls was filmed.

There were some interesting flower pot animals on display. 😉 On our drive we saw the unique man made Ribblehead Viaduct.

Our next stop was Hawes where we paused to eat our fresh pies before sampling cheese at the Wensleydale Creamery. Dad enjoyed eating his first Cornish pasty!

At the creamery we all cycled through the cheese tasting twice…delicious! Wallace and Grommet love Wensleydale cheese; you may have heard them mention it in their claymation films.☺️ The kids also wanted ice cream, but we advised they wait until our next stop due to the winding Yorkshire roads.😉 We walked around Hawes and popped in and out of antique shops before retiring at a local café. There were some beautiful waterfalls from the River Ure where we paused for photos.

Then it was back to the car to drive to Bolton Castle. We wanted Grandpa to see this 600 year old castle which was once home to Mary Queen of Scotts. This castle was also under siege for six months before circuming to Oliver Cromwell’s army desiring to overthrow the Royalist family.

We paused to enjoy the birds of prey; once the owl’s wing grazed my hair and Cora’s! We enjoyed watching the owl, raven, and falcon fly and eat chicken.

After this we walked over to see the Wild Boar feed and listen to a very interesting talk. Two pheasants were also present displaying their spectacular colours!

Then we returned to the castle to climb the many stairs to see Mary Queen of Scotts bedchamber before enjoying the amazing view from the top!

Since it was getting late, we drove on for one last stop at Asgarth Falls. This is where the movie Robin Hood Prince of Thieves filmed the scene where Little John and Robin Hood fight! Unfortunately the water was higher than usual, brown in colour, and moving far too fast for us to get close. But at least Dad can say he visited two famous movie locations in one day!

Finally we returned to Leeds for a rest attempting to avoid the bank holiday weekend traffic. Thankful for another “grand day out” (as Wallace would say)!

Bolsover Castle with Dad

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Bolsover Castle is about 400 years old and was home to Lord William Cavendish who was Duke of Newcastle. He entertained a King and Queen which made his castle’s ornate decor worth viewing! Whilst he could throw a good party, he made a not so good general which led him into exile.

The outer castle holds the elaborate stables.

Next we viewed the ruined apartments which once hosted the King and Queen. Then Titus tried his hand at sword school where he became a brave warrior of dragons!

We enjoyed lunch at a nearby Weatherspoon’s pub before returning to the still in tact part of the castle where Lord Cavendish lived. These rooms have always been a favourite of mine since they contain good painted designs, ornate paintings, and deep history! One room displayed a painting of the resurrection of Christ on the ceiling!

In another room an English Heritage volunteer shined his torch 🔦 on the stones to show us witch scratchings. These circles and designs were etched by windows to keep the witches and evil spirits from entering. The people who lived at this time were very superstitious and even would bury a dead cat in the walls as the building was erected!

The castle wall is also a favourite and the countryside views from standing there are spectacular!

Looking down, the pleasure gardens are in great display…complete with an elaborate cherub fountain still in operation. The castle walls have rooms cut into them which held fireplaces where one could get warm.

Titus dressed up as a Knight’s Templar.

Finally the kids played at the replica castle playground whilst we enjoyed a cup of coffee. Then we were off to look in an antique shop where Ryan bought some bookends before returning to Leeds. So thankful for more family adventures with my Dad!

York/Jorvik

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York is a nearby city steeped in history. Vikings settled here and named the city Jorvik. Therefore, we took my Dad to the Jorvik museum to learn about the Vikings. Thankfully the queue was rather short and our children got in free with Blue Peter! Once inside we saw the remnants of the Viking dwellings remarkably well preserved and uncovered from many layers of mud.

Next we got onto the ride which took us through a reconstructed Viking Village complete with narration and moving wax figures.

After enjoying Jorvik we walked towards the Shambles to see the local market stalls. The historic English Tudor buildings are quite a sight to behold since visibly the floors are bowed! The footprint of the buildings are smaller than the upper floors in attempt to reduce taxes.

Lunch was at a favourite English half timber restaurant called Gert and Henry’s where most of us had a full English (breakfast: sausage, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, hash browns, black pudding, and toast) for our midday meals.😉. Titus made up an entertaining game of cards using his creativity and restaurant business cards with sugar packets for rewards! 😆

The York Minster towers above the skyline and is the largest Gothic Cathedral in Europe. Therefore, we just had to enjoy a walk around admiring the extraordinary efforts so many have gone to honour the Lord! It is always a pleasure to see the gargoyles and flying buttresses.

We paused to watch a busker (street performer) exciting the crowd with his loud whit and fire sticks. Once at the Roman (300 AD at the part we walked) city wall, we paused for a rest at a local coffee shop where we could see through to a historic Roman street. Then we enjoyed showing my Dad this unique view of York from atop the Roman city wall.

An English summer afternoon usually calls for ice cream and Cora spied some in a gelato restaurant; here we paused for some delicious creamy treats!

Then we popped in and out of shops before returning to our hired car space for our return to Leeds and tasty fish and chips. Another memorable day out in one of my most favourite English cities!

Royal Armouries with Dad

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Today’s adventure led us to the Royal Armouries here in Leeds. We enjoyed walking my Dad around the displays of medieval through modern weapons. Outside surprisingly there was a temporary maze on display for school holidays which we all enjoyed.

Next we viewed the ornate entry hall displaying many different types of weapons. There is a mirror below to aid in viewing above.

We watched a medieval two handed sword display which included plucky drama and lots of action!

Kids tried their hand at using a compound bow for which Grandpa graciously supplied the bolts (after paying a small fee 😉)! It was fun showing them how to use these weapons which are a bit more complicated than they look!

We enjoyed a picnic lunch outside in the amphitheatre where we watched a noon time American Wild West showdown! Although they used blanks, the revolvers were loud! How appropriate seeing as how we are from America. Afterwards Ryan and the kids enjoyed handling the revolver.

While outside we showed Dad a canal loch in city centre.

There was hunting armour on display, a brief movies about various types of hunting, and so much more! After adequately wearing ourselves out, we drove around Leeds before returning home and finally showing Grandpa a Doctor Who episode. We laughed together and greatly enjoyed this day in the city where we live.

My Dad is here!

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This morning we were blessed to greet my Dad at the Manchester Airport! This is his first time visiting Yorkshire in the seven years we have lived here and we are jumping at the chance to show him around!

Our first stop was Hebden Bridge where he took in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside en route. We paused for lunch at the Hebden Bridge Mill complete with rebuilt waterwheel (there’s been a mill on this site since 1314). We enjoyed the sunshine and walked across the bridge and popped in and out of shops.

Needing a bit of a rest, we drove to Saltaire desiring history and ice cream. Surprisingly there was a film crew filming a football movie called England’s Game. This movie is expected to be viewable on Netflix this February! It was convenient to show Dad how the film crew made this Saltaire street look even more Victorian! Due to the filming most shops were shut and ice cream wasn’t to be found. However, we enjoyed observing the actors in their period clothing!

According to Wikipedia:

Saltaire was built in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the Yorkshire woollen industry. The name of the village is a combination of the founder’s surname and the name of the river. Salt moved his business (five separate mills) from Bradford to this site near Shipley to arrange his workers and to site his large textile mill by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the railway.

Titus Salt was known for providing better living conditions inside and outside of his mills. We enjoyed walking around a bit before retiring home for my husband to treat us to toad in the hole! I think Dad enjoyed trying Yorkshire sausages baked in Yorkshire pudding! After he rests up tonight we have more enjoyable outings planned for all of us this week. 🤗

Vacation Bible School

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Last week our children had the privilege of attending VBS (Vacation Bible School) with fellow Christian friends! Whilst us grown-ups attended encouraging meetings, our children learned songs with actions, memorised Bible verses, made crafts, went swimming, joined friends for a nature walk, ate American snacks, and much more!

Cora’s favourite activities from last week are: Getting to spend times with old friends and making new ones by doing amazing crafts and other recreational things like sewing 🧵 a sock 🧦 monkey 🐵 , going swimming 🏊‍♀️ and going bowling 🎳. 😊😜😁 (Emojis are from Cora.) Cora told me this VBS helped her see the need to share Jesus around the world!

Titus’s favourite part was: Making a walrus snow globe, going swimming with his mates, bowling with friends, and creative songs with actions. Titus told me he believed God more after this VBS and visiting Corrie ten Boom to see and her about God’s miracles first hand! 🤗

The hotel where we had our meeting had friendly, caring staff which made good food and our stay most enjoyable. There were several churches visiting from America who graciously cared for our children so the adults could focus on the Lord and our meetings.

We are SO thankful for these gracious volunteers and friends who lovingly taught our children about Jesus and cared for them throughout the day and even one date night!

Haarlem Windmill

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The Dutch people are quite friendly and happy; I cannot help but wonder if that is due to the time this culture spends outside. The landscape of Holland is known for tulips, canals, and windmills. And with a picturesque landscape like that who wouldn’t want to be playing out?! Our family with friends had the privilege of touring a windmill on a recent trip to Haarlem.

There are many purposes for windmills which can range between timber cutting, grain milling, and water pumping. Water pumping is quite useful since much of Holland is several meters under water!

The windmill we toured was known for grinding grain into flour. Cora helped the tour guide run a windmill display. Titus even got his turn at lifting the ropes which helped get the sacks of grain to the grind stones.

It just so happened the day we paid for the tour was a high wind day, which made our walk outside on the windmill balcony kind of dangerous. Yet, I am proud of my husband for trying this death defying feet! 😉 After all, we were 50 meters high!

Afterwards our family and a friend tasted Holland’s famous twice fried chips topped with mayo….delicious!

Along our walk to the oldest train station in the Netherlands we saw some gorgeously ornate churches to see, canals, and idyllic houses.

We are quite thankful for touring this quaint town and windmill (even on this windy day) with our dear friends!