England – Part 3 And Our Final Goodbyes

Hi everyone,

And to my US readers, happy 4th of July. I find it kind of ironic that I’m writing about our stay in England just before we celebrate the 240th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. This declaration, primarily written by Thomas Jefferson, announced that the 13 colonies were no longer subject to British rule and were now the United State of America. At the time of it’s adoption on July 4, 1776, the colonies had been at war with Britain for about a year even though most people at the time hoped for a resolution and reconciliation with Britain. Offers were refused by the Crown and independence became the rallying cry by the colonists. This declaration really emphasizes the “why” of the United States, while the constitution, ratified in 1789, and it’s amendments are the “how” of the United States. For more, see a recent Facebook video on this topic by Simon Sinek, facebook.com/simonsinek/?fref=nf. Over the years, Great Britain has become one of our closest friends and allies. We’ve helped them out in a couple of wars and they returned the favor during the Middle East conflicts and other humanitarian events. I sincerely hope things settle down for them with this Brexit issue. Wait, I digress, now back on topic!

This post is the third in a series of articles on our Friendship Force homestay in the Northeast of England this past May. In this post, I’ll take to our visit to the Castle Howard, the Durham Cathedral and Castle, and our Friendship Force farewell dinner.

One of our group outings was a trip to the Castle Howard located in North Yorkshire. It is a private residence and is the home for the Carlisle branch of the Howard family and the Earl of Carlisle. This country home was build on the site of a former military castle and thus has retained the title of Castle Howard. It took over 100 years to complete this home and I can see why, it’s huge! Here’s a view from the large Atlas fountain in the courtyard. IMG_0808

A view from the side, hope you get the scale of this “little” country house!England-Castle Howard Durham Final Dinner-Add-1870

And a view from the inside of the Atlas fountain and the countryside.England-Castle Howard Durham Final Dinner-Add-1846

I should mention that this Castle was used in the filming of the fictional “Brideshead” and “Brideshead Revisited” film and TV shows. This connection draws fans from all over the world. The following are a couple of interior views of the Great Hall and the music room.England-Castle Howard Durham Final Dinner-1840England-Castle Howard Durham Final Dinner-1848

While the interior and history of the Castle was interesting, especially the military service of the Howard family in the two World Wars, the huge and diverse gardens were our favorites. We spent most of our time walking from one end of the estate to the other. Donna was enthralled by the spring flowers in the Walled Garden. She took a lot of flower photos to use in her quilt designs.IMG_2740IMG_2713IMG_2703England-Castle Howard Durham Final Dinner-1876

I was more interested in the landscaping and took this photo for as an idea for Donna’s next garden!England-Castle Howard Durham Final Dinner-1783

Here’s a view of the Gardener’s House in the Walled Garden. Quite impressive for the gardener!IMG_0796

On the other end of the grounds was the Temple of the Four Winds. It was used as a place to take in the view as well as a place for reading and refreshments by the Castle residents and guests.England-Castle Howard Durham Final Dinner-1833

The New River Bridge and Mausoleum (no public access). England-Castle Howard Durham Final Dinner-1811

A very beautiful scene, the Angus cattle grazing in the pasture, I could have sat there all day and soaked in the vista. On the other side was a pasture with lots of sheep with baby lambs.England-Castle Howard Durham Final Dinner-1829

After a walk through the woods, we had some lunch at the Boathouse Cafe on the adjoining Great Lake. While eating our sandwiches, this young woman came and sat down near us. I couldn’t resist taking take her photo. She appeared to be dressed in stylish vintage clothing so her use of the iPhone was somewhat out of character.England-Castle Howard Durham Final Dinner-1835

So that’s the essence of Castle Howard, we recommend putting it on your visit list especially if you are into gardening or a fan of Brideshead.

The next day we visited Durham located about 40 minutes north of the village of Yarm. Our host, Bill drove us along with another ambassador, Nancy to see the Durham Cathedral, the Durham Castle and to walk along the River Wear. We parked on the outskirts of the city and road a bus into town since parking in Durham is very challenging. The Durham Cathedral is one of the most impressive cathedrals in all of Europe, we thought it equal to the York Minster, although not as well promoted. It sits on a rocky promontory overlooking the city, the River Wear and the surrounding countryside. It was built in 1093 and served as a home place for Benedictine monks. The Reformation saw the dissolution of the monastic community and beginning as Church of England house of worship. So it’s almost 950 years old! More recently, it has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. England-Castle Howard Durham Final Dinner-1955

Another view of the Cathedral. The stairs to the tower was not accessible due to construction, it would have been nice to see the view from high up.England-Castle Howard Durham Final Dinner-1888

An interesting walk around the cloister of the Cathedral yielded this photo.England-Castle Howard Durham Final Dinner-1899

Later we took a tour of the Durham Castle, located near the Cathedral. The tour was led by a Durham University student as the Castle is home to over 100 students who are in residence during the school year. England-Castle Howard Durham Final Dinner-1920

While not as impressive and stately as the Castle Howard, it was interesting to see and hear about the history of the building from someone connected to the Castle.England-Castle Howard Durham Final Dinner-1910England-Castle Howard Durham Final Dinner-1924

The day ended with our Friendship Force farewell dinner held at the Staincliffe Hotel in  Hartlepool. We also celebrated the 32nd anniversary of the founding of the Cleveland Friendship Force. One of their long time members baked and decorated a cake to honor the occasion. England-Castle Howard Durham Final Dinner-1975

And we took a group photo of all the Madison ambassadors and their hosts. The next morning we bid our hosts, Bill and Pam Jones a fond farewell as we headed back to Edinburgh.England-Castle Howard Durham Final Dinner-1978

We met a lot of wonderful people on our Friendship Force exchange. While we don’t remember her name, this lovely lady gave a ride back to the house of our host family, just one of the many people who became our friends.England-Castle Howard Durham Final Dinner-1880

This concludes our one week stay in the English countryside. Next up are a number of posts on our nearly two week stay in the Highlands of Scotland.

Until then, have a safe and freedom filled Independence Day!

Tom