Places visited today: Eden Camp Museum, Rievoulx Abbey, and Helmsley Castle.
Hello to family and friends suffering in the snow in Iowa! Today was very nice with partial clouds and around 50 degrees farenheit. This morning was spent in the York hostle for a typical breakfast of bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, and yogurt, but this time we were accompanied by about fourty French school kids apparently staying at the hostel. After breakfast,we packed up our backpacks for a night's stay in Helmsley. We hopped on a large charter bus and as we rode to our first stop, we viewed very beautiful landscapes, complete with sheep!!! During this time, some of us hung wet clothing over the back seats of the bus to continue drying after being washed in the sinks of the hostel. Fortunately all the clothing was dry when we stopped at our first location: Eden Camp.
This camp was originally a WWII prisoner of war location complete with barracks, old military weapons, and watch towers. Each barrack was filled with information, pictures, and dummies representing different aspects of WWII. My favorite barrack was one dedicated to women and civilian heroes of the war. They even had a picture of a messenger pigeon recieving a medal! We all could have spent much more time here, but we needed to move on to our second location: Rievaulx
We rode the bus from Eden Camp to Rievaulx Abbey along a very windy and hilly rode before finally reaching our destination. We all enjoyed a quick lunch at a small cafe while admiring the abbey through the window. After lunch we had only 20 minutes to explore the rubble of the first Cistercian abbey in England that inspired Fountains Abbey that we went to previously. When I visit these sorts of run down places I always try to imagine nuns or monks walking where we are standing. The landscape of Rievaulx was absolutely breathtaking!! It was set in a valley that allowed me to understand why people wanted to live a secluded life as a monk or nun. Even though we were sort of rushed through this site, I think everyone truly enjoyed this site, especially because of the grazing sheep just feet away from the abbey.
The last stop of the day was at Helmsley Castle. The striking East tower was visible from just about anywhere and damage from cannon balls was very evident. We all took an audio that guided us through what was left of the Castle. It was so cool to be standing where real lords and ladies lived during the 12th century.
After the castle we all decided to explore the quaint city of Helmsley. We walked to the small grocery store, through the city square, and, my favorite, a grave yard!!!! The crookedness of the markers ang the mass and lichens growing on them was totally picturesque with a small church behind them.
We checked into our older, but quieter hotel around 5:00. Then, most of us left to try genuine fish and chips. While I waited for the rest of our group to get theirfood, I sat outside conversing with a cute English woman and her little puppy named Pumpkin about her cat that can shake, sit and rollover (she was a little crazy!). We carried our fish and chips back to the hostel and snarfed them down. After dinner, some of us watched TV, played board games, or went to bed.
Tomorrow we head back to York for a Richard III tour. I think many of us are ready for a free day to relax, but we are definitely enjoying exploring and learning about the history of England. Until next time!!