Chatsworth aka Pride and Predjudice

Chatsworth is the Pride and Prejudice setting for the Keira Knightley version. To say I hate this movie is a gross understatement. I was so excited when I saw the previews, it looked so promising...the scenery, Matthew Macfadyen's steely eyes, two would be lovers caught in a rain storm.  Blah! The movie was horrible! I actually took my daughter out of school to see it the day it came out. I drove home in a blasted blizzard for pete's sake and all for an incredibly disappointing attempt at feeding the masses Jane Austin's best love story. 

I can't find fault with the house however, it is fantastic. Situated on a gorgeous plot of land it has forests, gardens and views to please anyone. The house itself is a museum with 500 years of mementos on display. 
The house was under renovation when we visited so I had to be strategic in taking photos and I wasn't able to get a shot of the back with it's fountain as there was a massive green crane in the way.

The estate has a farmyard and playground for the younger set, a gift shop, a cafe and further up the road is a restaurant which we ate at and farmers market where you can buy groceries to make a delicious picnic. If you book online you will save on parking and don't have to queue for tickets.

Lyme Park: Pemberly from Pride and Prejudice

Fans of the movie will know exactly what house this is. The whole reason we chose to head into York was so we could visit some of the movie locations where Pride and Prejudice was shot. I am obsessed with the book and movie (the BBC version with Colin Firth, that is). I remember the first time I read the book I was at a critical point in the plot when I had to go to work. It was painful to put the book down and when I finished I wanted nothing more than to discuss it.  No internet forums back then. 

Then I discovered the 6 hour BBC movie and fell in love again! It became my scrapbooking go-to movie, my need alone time movie, my "I am sick and lay on the couch movie." Even now, I will run it in the background if I am doing something else, but want the company of movie. 

Fast forward about 18 years, with a husband and daughter now indoctrinated we finally had a chance to see Pemberley. Lyme Park is the real name of the estate which claims my affections. The house and gardens are delightful though perhaps not as grand as some of the other estates in the county. I was giddy to relive movie moments as we walked the park and my husband was such a good sport to humor us.  Here's to making dreams come true! 

Making Chocolate Truffles

I can't believe I couldn't get either of my children to join me for this super fun activity--fuddy duddies! While in York we passed the Cocoa House offering a number of classes and the truffle making class was the only one that fit into our schedule, so I ditched my family for a couple of hours one afternoon to try my hand at chocolateering. 

A couple of interesting cooking notes--
First, we melted our chocolate with a hair dryer. It is a little more forgiving in a classroom setting as you can't really melt the chocolate too fast. 
Second, there isn't a whole lot that goes into truffles, it was like chocolate chips, vanilla and cream. 
Third, Those poo shapes blobs are what we rolled into balls for dipping. I've since read of a more efficient way of getting a ball, but in a classroom setting this worked fine. 
Fourth, before dipping truffles in chocolate, the melted chocolate must cool down just a bit. It is ready when you can touch your bottom lip and it doesn't burn. 

If you find yourself in York this is a fun activity and very (or should have been) family friendly. 

Silent Sunday

York Minster
Linking with Photalife

York

At last summer is here! Best birthday present ever, this year we boarded the plane heading for England where we will spend 3 weeks. First stop, York. York was settled by the Romans in 71AD, Constantine was proclaimed emperor here in 306AD, the Vikings left behind a city dating from 971 AD and the 14th century wood timbered buildings recall a time when the city had an open air slaughterhous called the Shambles. 

We mostly just walked around the city enjoying the church, Roman ruins, the ancient city walls and quirky neighborhoods. York is popular with the college crowd, so if you are there on a weekend night be prepared for lots of intoxicated youth. 

The York Minster was originally a catholic church, but during the Reformation it sustained much damage in an attempt to remove any signs of Catholicism.
Eliza and I broke from Bob and Eden one afternoon to try a proper English afternoon tea. We stopped in at Betty's Cafe Tea Room. The question I keep asking myself is, why haven't I tried afternoon tea before? The concept is so smart and given how we travel, eating late in the evening an afternoon treat is the perfect way to tide you over.  We enjoyed a selection of sweets, finger sandwiches, a Sultana scone and the best butter I've ever eaten. Honestly, I could do tea everyday.

Lastly, we visited the Jorvic Viking Center. It's a museum highlighting the Viking city found preserved in a peat bog. Inside the museum you board a ride, so to speak, and are toured around a reproduced city. You meet people along the way whose bones were actually found. You learn about their life, the kinds of foods they ate, the jobs they performed, animals they kept and tools they used. After the ride you will tour a museum of with 40,000 objects pulled from the mud. It was quite impressive. Make reservations ahead online to avoid line, no pictures allowed. 

Keukenhof--Oh My Word, AWESOME!


The whole time we lived in Germany I wanted to go to Amsterdam to see the tulip festival--it never happened. So when we booked our Spring Break trip to Amsterdam I thought, "finally!" Unfortunately, tulips arrive early or late depending on the weather and our trip ended the first week of April--about a week or 2 before the optimum bloom time. I literally checked the tulip report everyday and on the day we were returning to Saudi Bob dropped me off for a 2 hour run through the park. The fields were not in full bloom, but I got my fill and boarded the plane with my bloom bucket filled. 

The gardens are gorgeous and did you know there are over 1000 varieties of tulip--neither did I. To really take full advantage of the park you need more than 2 hours,  I'd recommend going later in the month and rent a bike to see the fields beside the park. Just know that everyone else is going to have the same idea and be patient as you share the beauty with a lot of other people. 




Ypres

Having lived in Germany, I know a lot about WW2, but know virtually nothing about WW1. We took a day trip to visit Ypres, its fantastic museum and the trenches that date to 1914. 
St. Martin's Cathedral--The first church on this site was finished in 1370.
The In Flanders Fields Museum is housed in that building with the bell tower in the picture below. The museum is first rate! With the use of technology visitors can really connect with the personal stories told here. The retelling of Christmas Eve from the perspective of the opposing sides was really touching--even high school girls were tearing up.

Personal affects such as diaries, uniforms and mess kits humanize the war effort. Artifacts from a recently excavated bunker that lay hidden for 50 years are on display--you can even watch a video of the excavation. I can't say enough about the museum, it was that good.

It is hard to believe that these peaceful fields were once the sight of much pain and destruction.