There are a lot of things I like about living in England. The NHS. Pimms. Blackberry picking. But one of my favourite things is that everywhere you go is steeped in history. People have been living on these green and pleasant lands for centuries, which means that everywhere has its little stories to tell and secrets to reveal. Not all of our history is good, although it is often grand, but there are so many little tales to be told on top of all of that - weird, quirky, and downright odd tales. I'm also very lucky, living in Leeds, that it's so quick and easy to get out into the surrounding towns and villages where these tales are just waiting to be discovered. Leeds has its own history, but sometimes its nice to step out of your every day and go exploring.
Which is exactly what we did when we took a little day trip to Knaresborough a few weeks ago with Joe and Cheryl. It's a lovely, quaint place with old buildings, cosy pubs and plenty of history. It's also currently decked out in all the Tour de France finery from the festivities in July - there was bunting galore which put such a smile on my face. There is something about that community spirit that you lose a little bit in the big bad city.
We spent the day wandering around, discovering the not-so-secrets of Knaresborough. The ancient, crumbling castle overlooking one of the most stunning views I've ever seen. The House in the Rock, now hidden from public view (most of the time). Antiques shops stuffed with ancient books. Mother Shipton's Caves where you can make a wish and find out more about the life of this soothsayer (it's a little creepy, I'll tell you...). Perhaps most fantastically, you can take a look at the Petrifying Well - a waterfall-like structure where the water gives objects hung there a stony exterior.
All in all, a wonderful day out - and a lesson in how much has happened before us. And how freaky nature can be...