Apple Harvest


Nothing welcomes in Autumn more than the falling of the leaves and apple harvesting!  For two Wednesdays after school we have gathered the children from Cora’s & Titus’s school, along with a neighbour of ours whom organises local foraging walks, to pick apples and press them into juice.

Ryan even learned how to build an apple press using a car jack!  He has worked with his friend to further perfect this press into efficiency!

The first week we harvested we cored and cut the apples, placed them in a plastic bucket, and then used a rolling pin to crush them!

This week we borrowed another neighbour’s mangler, which does just what it says in the name!


Then Ryan takes the crushed apples and places them in the press in order to squeeze the juice out.  This may be his favourite part, but mine and the children’s is picking the apples!

The children all climb the trees and then pass the apples down to those standing on the ground.  We cannot spend all our time harvesting because we need to form our “factory” (as Titus & Cora call it) assembly line for coring, slicing, and mashing the apples for pressing.  Fortunately, the children do enjoy participating in those activities as well!   And I love harvesting apples and bringing them home to make apple sauce, apple crisp, apple cake, and more!

Ballet Class 


Cora has been asking us for ballet lessons since she first took them in Colorado (before we moved here) when she was only three years old!  Therefore, I finally gave in but unfortunately not without first having to die to some of my selfishness.  For the past eight years (basically all of Cora’s life) I have resisted the kids having any activities on Saturdays.  This was because of our busy evenings with ministry but also because I selfishly wanted to keep Saturdays for hanging about home, which is most relaxing for me.  Yet I have had to ask myself if this is best for the children?  True, Cora and Titus each need extra weekend rest because going to school daily 8:50am – 3:15pm and having homework most evenings and weekends is quite tiring for a seven and eight year old.  But it is time for each to enter another stage of life…hobbies which create discipline.  Therefore, Titus is beginning Rugby and Cora ballet and both of these activities are on a Saturday.  

Despite my dragging my feet and not leaving quite earlier enough to allow for horrendous traffic, the Lord answered Cora’s prayer (which she prayed aloud as we were struggling to locate Armley Dance Studios) and her class had been delayed just enough that she had not missed out at all!  That is definitely the Lord’s grace!  Even though I was sinful in not wanting to go, He blessed us and thankfully we both enjoyed it!  Perhaps also my hesitation was a bit fearful of Cora being disappointed if we cannot continue lessons for whatever the reason or if she cannot perform to expected standards.  Yet, I shall not hold her back due to these unfounded fears.  

Cora looked the beautiful ballerina still adorning ballet clothes Nana had given her years prior!  And she was not shy, she joined right in, and tried all the moves…most of which she performed well!  Now she says she wants to do extra practice with me when I do ballet Pilates on a morning before school!  And I quite look forward to that as well as watching her graceful moves at upcoming lessons!  

Castle Howard…a first look


The Howard family are descended from Lord William Howard the youngest son of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk.  The 1st Earl of Carlisle, Charles Howard was the great grandson of Lord William Howard, the youngest son of Thomas Howard.  Created Earl of Carlisle in 1661 it was Charles’ grandson, Charles Howard the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, who is famed as the creator of Castle Howard.

This morning we drove through magnificent ornate gates to Castle Howard…and then rode in a Kelly car to the large manor home!  

Titus found the Emporer whom has his namesake!  

The Great Hall (above) unfortunately had a fireplace which caught on fire in 1940 causing the magnificent dome to fall.  Fortunately some girls whom were staying there (due to the war) from a nearby girls school helped to save some valuables. However, it was near 20 years before much of the damage was repaired.  

This ornate home made us often look up!  Grandpa loved the antiques and wanted to take some back to Texas!  

The Chapel (pictured below) was one of he most ornate I have seen!

At the end of the tour, Cora and Titus were rewarded with free face Painting!  And since they saw peacocks when we entered the castle grounds, they just had to have peacocks painted on their faces!

As we were searching for lunch, we came across falconry!  Cora and Titus and even Ryan lived the dream of holding owls!

View of Castle Howard, which is still lived in today:

Family pictures by the garden fountain…

After a rather small and expensive lunch, we walked through the idyllic rose gardens and vegetable patch.

Kids were fascinated with the quite large goldfish!

And, of course, our last full day with Grandpa just had to include ice cream!  

We are so very blessed to have had Grandpa with us for the first time in five years!  Yet, we are sad to see him go tomorrow morning!  Titus and Cora have been hoping to persuade Grandpa to Skype with us when he returns home.  And we look forward to seeing him and many more family members next summer!

Ripley Castle with Grandpa


This fine morning, we headed out to Ripley Castle and made it there for the 11am house tour.  Still owned and lived in by the Inglisby family, part of the house is Georgian and the castle is Tudor.  

Love the ivy changing colours!
The history of the family is very interesting in parts as some were involved in the infamous gunpowder plot!  

Family crest window.

Views from lake and waterfall.

For lunch, we tasted the cuisine at the local Boar’s Head Pub where the kids loved playing outdoor Jenga and climbing trees in the garden! 

We also enjoyed making some unique purchases at the annual antique fayre.

And it was the time of year again…when the pig scarecrows are out awaiting to be found and awarded the best names!  This brought back memories of Nana’s first visit with us.  ☺️

Of course, we just had to try Ripley’s delicious ice cream before moving on to see Pately Bridge for the first time!  In beautifully idyllic Pately Bridge, Grandpa found some more antiques…

including the oldest sweet shop in Britian, located in a building dated 1661!

And Titus appropriately found this Tardis when he was wearing his Doctor Who shirt!  What a find!  All this before the major rain came in on our drive home!  

Harewood House with Grandpa


A beautifully sunny Yorkshire day is just perfect for a day out at Harewood House (for some history of Harewood, see my previous blog)! Therefore today we decided to show Grandpa the magnificent gardens, aviary, petting zoo, Gathorpe Hall, and the gorgeous Georgian manor home above and below stairs! We began the morning in the Himalyan Gardens…

and Ryan and Grandpa helped Titus and Cora cross the waterfall stepping stones…

and garden trees beckoned to be climbed…

before entering the walled garden.

The kids saw croquet so we paused for a lesson…

We walked around the garden lake to the bird aviary where Cora was over the moon at the flamingos!  Grandpa said he thinks this may be his first time viewing flamingos!  

We enjoyed feeding the cheeky goats!

Penguins were exciting to see!

Cora and Titus enjoyed playing on the adventure playground whilst Daddy took Grandpa inside Harewood House to enjoy the Chippendale furniture.  

After lunch, Cora enjoyed dressing up below stairs as a maid…

 and then as head housekeeper.  
We surfaced on the ornate terrace gardens…

with obligatory family photo in nearly the same place as we have photographs with our other visitors (with my Mom, with Ryan’s Mom, with my bestie Julie)!  

Some of my favourite flowers…

The historic church on the grounds just had to be viewed…

Cora prayed…

Titus preached…

and I just happened to locate a bat attached to a lower wall!  We love bats!

Since Grandpa greatly enjoys Chipoendale, we thought we should show Grandpa the nearby town of Otley.  This was Chipoendale’s birthplace!

And of course more rich history can be found in Otley, which is one of our favourite towns to explore!

So thankful for more treasured memories with Grandpa!  

Bolsover Castle with Grandpa


Another beautifully sunny English summer day beckoned for us to enjoy another day out!  Therefore today, since seeing a decorated castle was on Grandpa’s bucket list, we took him to Bolsover to see the English Heritage castle we love!  

Upon arrival, the kids played traditional games such as shuffleboard and crossbow.  

We took a turn in the stables…

viewing a mezzanine level which we had not seen previously.  

The garden was stunning in the summer light!

Grandpa was amazed by some details within the Little Castle; this was the summer home for this wealthy family.  

The kids and Grandpa found dress-up to play in!

Of course, we had to take a turn on the castle wall!

For some castle history…

see our previous castle visit blog post.  

After lunch, we were blessed to locate some antiques to see and buy.  Grandpa treated us to ice cream once again and Cora was crying when Titus’s tasting caused hers to fall to the floor!  Thankfully the ice cream shop owner took pity on Cora and gave her another lemon sorbet waffle cone!  

This brightened her day enough to help us all make it through the terrible traffic on the drive back to Leeds.  We were delayed of an hour due to a traffic accident.  Unfortunately this is par for the course when traveling the limited routes in England.   Yet we are very thankful for the sunny day which we enjoyed together at beautiful Bolsover Castle!  

York with Grandpa


York is one of the cities in England which we love the most!  Therefore we were all excited to show Ryan’s Dad The City of York.  York is full of an abundance of rich history and so we began our tour with the Victorian York train station.  

We then walked under the Roman city wall across the gorgeous Victorian bridge and made our way to York Minster.  

And of course we just had to have a peek inside Europe’s largest Gothic cathedral…breathtaking!

We popped in and out of shops, showing Grandpa some antiques but unfortunately two antique shops were shut (despite one having shown online to be open).  Nevertheless, we enjoyed walking through Holy Trinity church which began in the 12th century and has been in its current state for 500 years!  Original pew boxes are still used! The kids loved playing amongst the trees outside.  

We had a tasty lunch at an old pub where we like to take guests for a stroll on their wonky floor.  😉

Grandpa treated us to a self-guided tour of the gorgeous Fairfax Georgian home.  Furniture inside was stunning and it was educating for the children as well as adults as they searched each room for a mouse (part of the children’s tour).  This house was home in winter to Viscount Fairfax and his only surviving daughter Anne whom he hoped would find a husband by seasoning here.  

Next we toured Clifford’s Tower since it is on our English Heritage membership and offers amazing history and views!  

We stopped by the infamous Thortons chocolate…

And we paused at the Roman Bath…

and Barley Hall…

before stopped for a much needed ice cream and rest at the Teddy Bear Tea Room!

We stopped by other historic buildings as well…

Finally, we walked the York Roman wall beginning at Micklegate.  One of our favourite coffee shops, built just under Micklegate,  has a glass floor where one can stand to gaze down into the Roman barracks which were uncovered during building!

Lovely view of York Minster from the York wall…

We are very thankful for this beautiful English summer day, which we could share with Ryan’s Dad in York!