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09/27/2012 Archived Entry: "Homecation"

A couple of weeks ago I sent off my rewrite of “Murder at Maddleskirk Abbey” to my agent for consideration. That left me free to take a welcome break, but where could we go at such short notice? Neither Rhoda nor I relish the idea of travelling endless miles on busy motorways, nor do we want to spend hours in crowded airport terminals. So we came up with the idea of a ‘staycation’ or maybe we should call it a ‘homecation’. We would treat our house as a comfortable bed-and-breakfast base and go to some of those interesting places we’ve always wanted to see but never got around to visiting. We made a few rules. We’d have a definite schedule of destinations; we wouldn’t do any cooking; we’d not drive great distances and we’d definitely avoid motorways.

Flocks of various waders at Lower Ure Conservation Trust site

Flocks of various waders at Lower Ure Conservation Trust site, Nosterfield, North Yorkshire

So on Monday morning we set off with a flask of coffee and a sandwich and made our way to the Old Moor Nature Reserve near Barnsley. This is an RSPB site and even though it is bordered by a busy main road, it is very tranquil and peaceful in the grounds. There are several hides around the water so we had the opportunity to observe all the wildlife at close quarters..

Over the next few days we went to other nature reserves, but also visited Sledmere House and walled garden, did several walks along the east coast cliffs, including Bridlington, found a fascinating nature reserve at Nosterfield, near Masham, and even managed to fit in a theatre matinee at Scarborough.

Observing our rule not to do any cooking, we treated ourselves to dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant (expensive), followed next night by a cosy supper at a country pub at half the price. On the way home from the theatre we found a marvellous fish and chip restaurant and, on the Thursday, we had an excellent pub lunch at Sandsend. By the end of the week we were getting a bit tired of the formality of restaurants and settled for a ‘Dine In Meal’ from M & S.

I can thoroughly recommend a homecation once in a while. I’d say the advantages are: coming home to your own bed each night; not having to keep to hotel routine, where rooms have to be cleared by 11 and chambermaids always seem to turn up when you’re half-dressed.

The downsides? Well I couldn’t really think of any!

I mentioned in my last diary entry that our eldest granddaughter, Eleanor, was due to go to America on a sports scholarship. It was a wrench to see her fly off but she has settled in very well and loves it. The regime is pretty intense but she has been able to keep up, although the fierce heat was something of a problem. The college is in Louisiana and in August Hurrican Isaac was just off the east coast and threatening to engulf all before it, putting staff, parents and grandparents on high alert. All college activities were cancelled and Eleanor and her colleagues went into a secure house for their safety. When her anxious Mum emailed her to ask if she was OK, she got the reply: “We’re not allowed out and we’re bored so we’re having a ‘hurricane party’ ”. In the event, the hurricane was downgraded to tropical storm status, the danger was averted and things returned to normal.

Eleanor keeps in regular touch with her UK friends through the social media of Facebook and email. In fact when her best friend left for university this week, Eleanor emailed her: “The day you say goodbye to your parents will be the hardest day of your life”. It brought a tear or two to our eyes. However, we are able to talk face-to-face with Eleanor on Skype whenever we want and that helps reassure us she is absolutely fine.

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