Spending a lengthy period of time away from home will always make you miss certain things – to the point where you start thinking about that place with rose tinted glasses and conveniently forget all of the reasons you wanted to leave in the first place! The return home for us was as predictable as it comes – we were overjoyed to have familiar comforts and our own bed every night and marvelled at how beautiful this part of the world we live in is. Then a few months later, as tends to happen with every traveller who comes home, we started to get itchy feet again and went on a real downer about being back in the UK.
Luckily for us we snapped out of it, determined what our long term goals are and started to get back to appreciating what we have on our doorstep. We spent the rest of 2014 really utilising our weekends and learning to love Yorkshire again. We got to see the county looking stunning from the air during the tv coverage of the Tour de France Grand Depart in the summer and my father-in-law sent Paul and I this fantastic list which both inspired new adventures and made us grateful for the ones we’d already had.
One local wonder that we’ve really started to appreciate is the beautiful Fountains Abbey. We live 15 minutes away from this UNESCO World Heritage Site that encompasses a 12th Century Abbey, a stately home, one of the most beautiful water parks in the country and a historic deer park. I remember walking around the Abbey last year and relishing in how clean, well preserved and most importantly, protected this beautiful place is. We are privileged to have seen some of the most stunning natural wonders and historic sites in the world and yet with so many of them we left feeling concerned that without proper management they won’t be there for future generations to enjoy. In the UK I’m very grateful that we have organisations such as the National Trust and English Heritage who are dedicated to protecting our absolutely stellar history.
We’ve enjoyed Fountains Abbey in the middle of Summer and whilst it’s been covered in a blanket of snow in the Winter, as National Trust members it’s somewhere we’ll keep going back to explore a few times a year and where we always take first time visitors to Harrogate. A true highlight was visiting after hours last Christmas, the Abbey was floodlit in all the colours of the rainbow with twinkling fairy lights dangling in the trees and they had carol singers in the old Cellarium which provides this wonderful atmosphere. It was a truly special experience.
It can be easy as travel fanatics to get fixated with seeing the places that are as far away from home as you can get. The beauty of our extended trip is that it allowed us to appreciate these places close to home that we’d taken for granted for so many years and truly start to view them with fresh eyes. I’d encourage any part-time traveller to become weekend warriors and go in search of those gems in your own backyard – it’s why our #Take12Trips challenge was so successful last year. You need to make the time to step away from the laundry, gardening, DIY and for want of a better word, the stuff that takes over your precious time off. Get outside and enjoy!