Harlow Carr Gardens near Harrogate UK

A very happy me at Harlow Carr Gardens, one of my favourites.

Leaving York on the 4th of June, we were excited to be on our way to the beautiful Lakes District, with a stop at Harlow Carr Gardens. Our hire car from Hertz was a very comfortable Mercedes. Susanne did most of the driving while I navigated. When making the booking, back in Australia in March, I had requested a navigation system with the car, but for some inexplicable reason, none was available from the York depot. Google served the purpose, as we only needed to take a small diversion from the main route, from York to Ambleside, in order to visit one of my favourite gardens in the world.










Harlow Carr Gardens is one of the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens in the UK, situated near Harrogate in Yorkshire. This was my third visit and, as on each occasion, a breath taking delight. Having my sister, Susanne, an equally keen gardener, with me, made it even more enjoyable as we dashed from one spectacular panorama to the next, with about a thousand stops on the way to capture a vista or the details of a single flower on camera.

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Mystery Plays 2016 York UK

The 2016 production of the Mystery Plays was one of the most impressive pieces of theatre that I have ever seen. I know that for some of you, the idea of a religious performance in a religious venue conjures up images of an evening spent in the most boring possible way. Believe me, this was anything but boring.

As the director, Philip Breen said in an interview, from which I’ll quote, ‘We return to these Plays again and again because they are asking the most profound questions about who we are, where we are going and what it means to be alive.’ In the bible we have stories about love and hate, families – supportive and destructive, power struggles, sex, war, good and evil, birth, life and death, racial tensions, moments and events that changed the course of history. What more could one want for any number of highly dramatic scenes and a play that makes Shakespeare seem tame? There are also some very funny scenes.

In all, eighteen scenes were presented for us that night, beginning with the Fall of the Rebel Angels and the introduction of Lucifer as he defied God, leading his ‘devils’ down under the stage to hell.

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Characters and Theatre in York

We missed seeing the famous Jorvik village in York, because it was destroyed by the river flooding and damaging much of the lower parts of the town. I mentioned that in an earlier blog, but we still wandered along and around The Shambles where we found buildings so old, we wondered how they were still standing. The great thing about these old buildings, apart from their beauty, character and history, is the fact that, unlike many similar looking buildings and ancient towns in Europe, York’s structures are genuine originals. (Maybe with additions and renovations, but basically as they were back in the 14th – 16th centuries.)

Dogs, cats and birds were my favourite glass pets

Also, unlike so many tourist towns, York has some genuinely original interesting shops and ones that sell quality products. I wanted to buy all these cute dogs, so tiny that I could fit them into my case, but so fragile I wondered how many would arrive home unbroken. The two I bought now have a special view on my kitchen bench.

Another shop which won our custom was the Edinburgh Woolen Shop. Found all over the UK, they sell the sort of quality knitware–scarves, gloves, hats, coats etc–that lasts for years and when the temperature plummeted, I had to have those ear muffs. i still have and use a lot in winter, a cashmere shawl that I bought from one of their stores in Scotland back in the 80s. So light and warm, it’s also a blanket on my travels.

While testing out the effectiveness of those muffs, against the wind that was so biting it had given me an earache,  I ran into this jovial fellow who enlightened us about an event which would take place in the Minster that night. The Mystery Plays have been performed at various venues around York, initially traveling with mobile stages (probably horse and buggy varieties) and performing throughout the day – Feast of Corpus Christi – in different parts of the town. In 2016, for the first time since 2000, the drama took place inside the Minster and I think almost every citizen of the city played some part in the massive production.

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