After a busy Bank Holiday weekend last weekend (blog post on some of what we got up to is coming!) we took it fairly easy this weekend. I started commuting to work on my bike this week, well to the train station at both ends. Lots of work to do before I'm able to manage all four of the bikeable bits I have each day, but I'll get there!
That's not to say we did nothing! We took it fairly easy yesterday but decided to go for a ride today that we've wanted to try since we got the bikes. We decided we'd attempt a journey up to Harewood House – which is about 7-8 miles away, if you follow the main road. The plan was to have a wander around the gardens with the bikes and enjoy what was meant to be a nice day, weather-wise.
Well for starters, the weather lied. Almost as soon as we left the house it started drizzling and didn't really stop! It was pretty cold and miserable, but that's probably preferable to it being too warm with some of the hills we were about to tackle.
We've recently discovered an app called Strava, great for if you bike or run – as it allows you to map your activities via your GPS unit or smartphone and you can then compare specific segments online against others or use it to monitor your own performance. I find it really interesting to map my own route and then look back at the climbs we've done, or identify areas where I've struggled and what to try and do better next time.
Soooo, below you can see the route that we mostly took to Harewood! We had planned our route beforehand, so we only stopped a couple of times when we needed to check direction and at the end of one mean hill, fairly early on. You'll notice that we stopped tracking before we got to the house, as we got a teeny bit lost and we got off and walked for a bit up another brutal hill, which I don't doubt some crazy people have attempted on Strava 🙂
Eventually though, and without much in the way of getting lost, we made it to this:
Instantly, you'll be able to notice how gloriously overcast today was! We carried on to the Information Centre where we hoped to be able to find somewhere to stash the bikes. We were met at the door by a lovely lady who had seen us fold up the bikes outside, who used to own a folding bike of her own and kindly let us stash them in a safe little back room.
She also asked us if we had got our discounted admission price for coming into the park, which we hadn't. Apparently, if you cycle to the park or use public transport to get there, you get money off the entry! She promptly upgraded our tickets, meaning we paid less for full access to the house and gardens than we had done for the ticket which excluded the main house.
Win! It is funny how the bikes are a real talking point for people and in this case managed to save us money! The money saved instantly went on this:
Amazing fish and chips! Just what you want post-ride when it's cold and miserable outside.
We'd timed our arrival at the park well and were told that at 2pm there would be feeding of the penguins. Penguins? I didn't know Harewood had any! We'd already seen lot of red kites which have settled wonderfully in the local area, but no penguins!
Finding the penguins took us on a nice little walk through the courtyard…
Love that bunting! Just pass through one of those doors and then BOOM! Penguins!
The penguins were great for comedy value and as soon as the people came out to feed them, promptly went nuts. You had a couple that only liked to be fed by picking up their fish while swimming, whereas others were happy to eat directly from the hand.
Feeding time was soon over and then it was off to explore the house. No pictures unfortunately, as rules don't permit that, but I can highly recommend a visit to the house. The Long Gallery in particular, which was used as a ward for injured soldiers during WWII in absolutely stunning. The ceiling alone took 18 months to complete.
After touring the main house, we got to visit below stairs – which is always good fun. The 1930s range in the kitchen which was installed when Princess Mary came to live at the house is particularly impressive! After wandering round there and seeing several other exhibitions which are taking place in what used to be the servants quarters, we came across a cafe. Perfect timing!
While Trev opted for Darjeeling and Victoria Sponge, for me it was all about the hot chocolate and the scone with clotted cream and jam. Mmmmmm.
This cafe then opens out onto the terrace – the view from which you should recognise if you've watched Lost in Austen – where Harewood House plays Pemberley. It certainly has some impressive views out over the grounds and I defy any woman not to have an Elizabeth Bennet moment when you look out of one of the windows, down towards the lake 🙂
The gardens were designed by Capability Brown and unfortunately we didn't get to see all of them as Trev was feeling a bit poorly, plus it was super cold so we decided to head home. But not before I'd taken the money shot of the back of the house!
A real shame that it was such an overcast, miserable day! We will definitely come back on a warmer day when there is sun and have a proper wander around the whole of the grounds – as there is so much more I'd love to see if time and weather permits.
I now intend to torture Trev with Lost In Austen so he can see Harewood House some more in all its technicolour glory!
What did you get up to this weekend?