In January I had the opportunity for this house sitting assignment set in the most beautiful part of Yorkshire; a rambler’s, walker’s and climber’s dream it was for me, to live the ‘Lady of the Manor’ lifestyle. In a remote and rural setting with only the wildlife for neighbours.
Upon my arrival I initially drove straight past this house and had to scoot to a stop, I was looking to recognise the house from the photos I had seen, but nothing quite prepared me for the spectacular view of this stunning detached farmhouse that was situated atop an inclined driveway, with a well planned and picturesque garden. An alpine styled summer house nestled to the right of the lawn and in front of the formal pond and fountain. It seemed that every species of British tree was precisely placed and the huge Sycamore tree that rose majestically in the centre of the lawn stood centre and proud, reminding me of an elaborate table centrepiece.
My first tour of the house left me bewildered and baffled at the many doors and the sheer scale of the property inside. A huge spacious hallway that was not dissimilar to a stately home and still held the memories of a bygone era, of guests arriving and wonderful times of celebrations and parties. The beautiful and ornate antique Grandfather clock that stood in the hallway at the foot of the stairs was silent and still. Adding to the sensation of a time that once was.
Every room held a plethora of treasure, from the obvious rare and collectable antiques to the very tasteful and mindful décor of ornaments, statues, rugs, silverware, pictures and paintings. I felt like I was having a private viewing and experience that I could never have imagined. Even the curtains showed a class and luxury that made me want to feel them and smile.
On my first night as I lay in the squishy and scrumptious bed, I could hardly wait for the morning. I was so excited to see the full scene that has been termed: ‘The best view in Yorkshire’. I felt like a child on Christmas Eve anticipating the excitement that first light would bring. My room was typical of a large family room with a well fitted and spacious en-suite, a well designed and professional area for dressing and a huge window that would allow me to sit up in bed, with a cup of Yorkshire Tea, and marvel at the splendour of the breath-taking panoramic view.
The first morning did not go to plan however, as due to my body clock (having just returned from overseas, I was 2 hours ahead) and the fact that this was January in the UK, my 6:15 opening of the curtains produced nothing… but the inky blackness that only living rurally can bring. With not a shadow cast from the moon, nor a lamppost’s faint glow, the spectacular view I had been excitedly been awaiting was not yet ready to show itself. Climbing back into my marshmallow of a bed, I googled when daylight would come, not until 8:23!!!!
“Humph…….2 hours further to wait!!” I cried out into the empty room.
When daylight did arrive, it was certainly worth waiting for. WOW!
It was the most amazing sight to witness, as far as the eye could see, and beyond. There were fields, and more fields with meadows and copses and lakes in the distance with a smattering of the odd farmhouse here and there. With the most majestic Sycamore tree proudly standing centre stage of the lawn. A lawn that swept across the landscape initially, filled with last year’s flower beds, empty flower pots and cut back rose trees in abundance. I would spend many hours watching that view. Watching t.v. was not an option as the ever changing and wondrous view outside was enchanting.
It was not long before I could recognise the many different varieties of birds that would come; the Red Kites, Golden Hawks, Harriers, Corvids and Red Robins, and not long before they would come at regular times for food. The garden on most days would be filled with squirrels, playing, jumping and searching for food. They would jump and splat at the window and peep through the glass most inquisitive, and I would equally inquisitive, peep back, fascinated at their antics. I’m sure that they were much fatter when I left!
During my stay in this unfamiliar place, I discovered a part of Yorkshire that has earned the term ‘a true gem’. The never-ending views of spectacular rolling english countryside, the secret nooks and crannies of the huge and imposing Crag, the climbers carefully planning their route and carrying their mattress-like bouldering mats, the horseback riders that would stop and chat whilst I nuzzled the flank of their horse, dogs of every breed, shape and size, and the busyness that a Sunday would bring as family life would trot, jog, meander, wade, collect and pass my drive. All stopping to admire the view…..and wave a greeting.
Even when Storm Eunice arrived bringing hail and snow, the walkers would still pass, slipping and sliding with determination to reach their goal.
On these snowy days, I could be mesmerised for hours watching the changing season and the power of the weather, a complete contrast in the view. And with the elevated position of the house I could see the storm breaking in the distance and watch its trail as it roared and bellowed its fury across the countryside. I had a power cut one night, so sat with only the log burner’s blazing light for company, reading by head-torch light.
A little spooky going up to bed that night, but completely safe and secure ensconced within my solid stone dwelling.
A fabulous and humbling assignment that has enriched my life and filled me with gratitude and awe for nature and simplicity.
Thank you, Dave and House and Home Sitters.
*Photos with acknowledgements to Rightmove UK