Donkey Crossing

Welcome to Donkey Crossing! Donkey Crossing is an on-line account of one Limey and one Yank living one Dream. From September 2006 until the end of 2007, we plan to visit friends and family on five continents and immerse ourselves into various cultures, natural phenomena and ways of life. We hope you enjoy our tales and visit often! Cheers, Jason and Rachel Napoli

Monday, November 26, 2007

Who says it's "grim up North"? We find it quite charming, actually.

The North of England, particularly the county of Yorkshire, often conjures up images of cricket, fish & chips and old men in flat caps drinking local ale. For Jason and I, Yorkshire is all about family, friends and a plethora of treasures that far surpass the stereotypes. Here's what we got up to during our recent visit to England's largest and loveliest county.

Decorating the kitchen with balloons, banners and streamers was the first of many kind "Welcome Back" gestures by my parents. Jason is pictured here moments before guests arrived for a homecoming party at the Holdsworth home in Dewsbury, Yorkshire.

A quick pre-party toast with my brother, Andrew.

The Yorkshire weather made our homecoming even more special, treating us to sunny days and gorgeous autumnal colors.

Copper Beech and Ginkgo trees adorn the garden next to my parents' home.

We took advantage of the cool, crisp October days to explore some of Yorkshire's most scenic spots. This picture was taking during a family hike close to Longley Farm, producer of fine dairy products. Longley Farm products are so good they can even be purchased in the ever-so-posh Food Hall at Harrods. With lush green grass like this to eat, no wonder the Longley Farm cows produce such tasty goods!

We spotted this impressive mushroom during the same hike.

We even stumbled upon Jason's own personal wooded trail.

I have been harping on to Jason about Yorkshire's beautiful coastline for years. Finally, he got to experience it for himself during a fabulous outing with Helen & Oz to Robin Hood's Bay and Whitby.

Helen and Oz guide us along the path from Boggle Hole to Robin Hood's Bay. Once a renowned smugglers' haunt, this stretch of coastline is now best known for the rich array of wildlife breeding in rock pools along the beach, as well as breathtaking views from the cliff path.

After our bracing coastal walk, we ventured a few miles further north to Whitby. We visited historic Whitby Abbey, then strolled around the town's pretty cobbled streets, working up an appetite for a feast of fish and chips at the famous Magpie Cafe.

Pretty cottages like these line the narrow streets of Yorkshire's coastal villages.

Whitby was chosen by author Bram Stoker as the scene for parts of his celebrated work, 'Dracula'. To this day, curious visitors and fans of the famous horror novel come to Whitby in search of the source of Stoker's stories. The legend of Dracula might even sell a few ice creams too.

No visit to Yorkshire would be complete without some quality time with old friends. In fact, you might recognize some of these faces, featured on last December's Donkey Crossing postings from England. Our first reunion was with Cheryl, a good friend Jason and I met in Ecuador when we lived there in 1999. We had a great time with Cheryl, her husband Ed and two year old daughter Lola.

Cheryl and I in the grounds of Kirkstall Abbey.

Next stop was Sheffield, home of rock band the Arctic Monkeys, and our mates Louise and Matt. We happened to arrive on Guy Fawkes Night, which made for a fun evening watching fireworks and drinking hot chocolate with Louise, Matt and their sons Barney and Eli.

Barney (right) and Eli with Shiny, their pet hen. Shiny didn't lay many fresh eggs during our visit. Perhaps the noisy fireworks distracted her from producing our breakfast!

'The men' pose in Matt's half built shed at his allotment. Matt plans to grow all kinds of organic produce here, while Eli will get down to the serious business of digging for worms.

Some Donkey Crossing readers will remember last year's narrow boat adventure on the Leeds/Liverpool canal. Once again, Captain Tracy and her boat Baby D welcomed me aboard for a few days of bliss on the canal, while Jason took off on an adventure of his own in London. In between cruises, Tracy and I strolled along the canal path, ate sausages with fellow boaters and disco danced on the moonlit jetty. However, my most vivid memory of Baby D will be our frenzied attempts to prevent her from sinking when she sprang a serious leak in the engine room. Armed with buckets and bilge pumps, we managed to bail her out, before resuming our disco party on the jetty.

Tracy, staying fairly dry aboard Baby D with her daughter Rosie.

Aside from missing the excitement aboard Baby D, Jason also missed out on an exquisite performance of Romeo and Juliet by Northern Ballet Theatre. I was honored to attend this stellar performance with my parents, and the members of Oz's music appreciation class. Dare I say that Northern Ballet might even have done a better job than the dancers we saw at the Alexandrinsky Theatre in St Petersburg?

After a few days in London, Jason came back "up North" with our good friend Adam Farber from Chicago. Adam spent a few days getting to know the Holdsworth family and exploring Yorkshire with us.

Oz, Helen, Jason, Adam & I hiking near Haworth.

Here are Adam and Jason, tucking into fish & chips in Dewsbury town center.

So, there are plenty of special things about Yorkshire that keep us coming back, not least the warm welcomes. A big thank you to everyone who hosted us, particularly Helen & Oz.

Over fourteen months have passed since our initial departure for South America last September, and we now find ourselves Stateside once again. We've been busy polishing up the resumes and applying for employment. It is certainly an exciting time and we look forward to reporting back about our wonderful homecoming to the US.

Next on Donkey Crossing: You'll read about our final two weeks abroad, visiting more friends, family and pubs in England's thriving capital city of London.


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