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The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. - Jane Austen

Finally Free!

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If you’re family, or if you’re friends with me on Facebook, you’ll know that I’ve been in hospital for the last 3 and a bit weeks. I’d had stomach pains for a couple of weeks when it got so bad that I went to A&E.

I was convinced they were going to send me home with indigestion tablets and tell me off for wasting their time, but it turns out I had acute pancreatitis! After two weeks in hospital attached to numerous drips and doped up on morphine, I was well enough to have my gall bladder removed, and I then had to stay in hospital for another week for further tests.

I was so happy to be free, that I managed to get out of the house at the weekend to spend a couple of hours with Cameron’s Auntie Julie and Uncle David on Saturday, and a couple of hours with my Aunty Ann today. Definitely in need of the painkillers that I’m currently relying on, I can’t believe how tired and in pain I am right now!

We’re Engaged!!

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So I have exciting news for you, Cameron took me away for a few days at the beach in Scarborough, and while we were there, HE PROPOSED!

It was such a great weekend, obviously, and I still can’t stop smiling and looking at the gorgeous ring!!

I took absolutely loads of photos, but here’s a small selection for you 🙂

Day out at The Tetley

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As we had half a day off work to go and see Chicago at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford, since Cameron bought me tickets for Christmas, we decided to take Cameron’s mum and Auntie Julie out for a nice lunch at The Tetley in Leeds. And delicious it was too, just as good as last time we went there!

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Confirmation and First Communion

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Today was my confirmation at Church. Since coming back into my faith last year and starting attending Pudsey Parish Church, I’ve done lots of things that have made my life so much better, I’ve started going to a weekly Cell group, I’ve been through the Alpha Course, and I’ve met loads of wonderful people.

So at the end of the Alpha Course when the Vicar said he’d be running weekly sessions at the Vicarage to prepare for Confirmation, I knew this was the right time. Since the beginning of January, I’ve been going to these classes with a small group of people, and tonight the Bishop of Richmond, Paul Slater, came to conduct the service, which started with our confirmation and then we all took Communion together, which was absolutely great.

I can still say that my decision to go to see Archbishop Sentamu at the Civic Hall last year was one of the best I’ve made, my life is so much better now!

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal

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It’s very very late, but today my sister and I took my mum out for a belated birthday/mother’s day out. The weather has been really sunny and warm all week, so it’s bloomin’ typical that today it would decide to be cloudy and miserable. When we walked down to the Abbey and sat down to start our picnic and it started raining, I wanted to scream!

Thankfully the rain didn’t last too long, but the clouds did stay around all day, until we got in the car to go home that is! But we did have patches of sunshine and we did manage to sit and eat a windy but dry picnic, so it wasn’t too bad!

In the end, I walked just over 10,000 steps as we walked the loop from the Abbey to the tearooms at Studley Royal and back again, stopping on the way for a cuppa and a nice (huge) slice of flapjack of course, a visit to a NT property wouldn’t be complete without tea and cake!

Packwood House

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After visiting Croome and driving a bit further up the motorway, the plan was to visit Hardwick Hall, south of Sheffield. But we spent so long looking around the lovely Croome that we realised we’d get there about 15 minutes before it closed so we had to change our minds!

After a quick search on the National Trust app on my iPad (which works wonderfully offline), we settled on Packwood House instead. Very closed to Baddesley Clinton which we visited on our last holiday, it was quite lovely. Smaller than the other houses we’ve visited this week, but still large! When I was walking around, I was imagining it as somewhere Elizabeth Bennet would have lived in P&P, whereas the houses we’ve been visiting were more like Darcy’s Pemberley.

The house had a lovely lake in the garden which gave us a nice walk and some fresh air before the final leg of our journey home. A wonderful end to a wonderful holiday!

Croome

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Today was our drive back to Leeds from Bristol, and rather than break up the journey with service stations, we decided to break up the journey with a couple of National Trust properties instead. The first was Croome.

We didn’t realise until we turned up that the property was undergoing major restoration so was completely enclosed in scaffolding. But they’d put some interesting artwork on the scaffolding unlike when we visited Castle Drogo, and they still had a lot of interest inside the house, including an exhibition about shoes!

It was an absolutely beautiful sunny day, perfect for a walk along the new trail through the woods from the visitor centre and church at the top of the hill to the house at the bottom. Much better than stopping at Tamworth Services as we usually do!

Chedworth Roman Villa

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This was a slightly longer drive away from Bristol than I had anticipated, and a lot of small narrow country roads, my idea of driving hell. But it was interesting to be walking around a place that was built about 1,700 years ago, it’s baffling to even consider how old that is. Especially when you consider that they had underfloor heating! If only! And the tiled mosaics that they’ve preserved are fantastic.

I have to admit that I didn’t enjoy this as much as walking around a lovely period house, but it was a good day out all the same. There were coach-loads of primary school children while we were there, I imagine they would love it if their history lessons are anything like ours were in Primary school.

Tyntesfield

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For the next trip of our holiday we decided to go to Tyntesfield. Alan had been there a few times before and loved it, but we’d never been. It was a beautiful house inside and out, and the gardens were lovely. But by far my favourite part about the entire day was the chapel. Never consecrated due to arguments with the local church, but absolutely stunning. So so beautiful and unbelievable that it was built as a family chapel, so ornate!

Once we’d walked around the house and down to the cafe and gardens at the bottom (along with a lovely cuppa and slice of cake in the cafe), Alan and Vicky took the minibus back to the car park at the top of the hill, while Cameron and I spent the next half hour with a leisurely walk back up, soaking up the sunshine, which was bright and beautiful, just like Tyntesfield.

I’d highly recommend a visit to this stunning property!

Tredegar House and Dyffryn Gardens

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As we’re on holiday at my Uncle’s house in Bristol at the moment, we’ve renewed our National Trust membership and spent yesterday on a day trip across to Wales to see some places that Alan has never seen before.

A random flip through the National Trust handbook got us Tredegar House, a lovely restoration house which was only brought into Trust ownership in 2013. They’ve got a 50 year lease on it so they are at the start of their journey to restore the house to its former glory, but it was really lovely. The woman who gave us our tour was very knowledgeable and she was happy to talk to us after the tour to answer our questions.

The house itself has had an interesting history, even being used as a Catholic girls school. There was one room with a magnificent mural on the ceiling, which was apparently almost destroyed when an air display by the Vulcan flew a little low and shook the house so much it almost cracked the plaster.

After we’d been to the house, we asked at the information centre if they had any other properties in the area, and they recommended Dyffryn Gardens, about half an hour away. They warned us that the house wasn’t as grand as Tredegar, but the gardens were lovely. And while they may have been correct about the lovely gardens, the house was still as spectacular, just in a very different style.

The only downer on the day was the fact that the weather was quite grey and miserable, but we mostly managed to avoid getting wet. We did over 7000 steps during the day though, so we all slept well last night after all the fresh air!