December 11, 2010

The Big UK Trip Back – Lord & Lady Lee

My parents are so very fortunate to live in the most beautiful place. Situated a few miles back from the main road the driveway takes a good 5 minutes to drive along before you can even see the house. Originally known this area for boasting the most magnificent castle – Streatlam Castle. From these photos here you can see what this looked like many years ago, that bridge you see in front of the castle is still the same one used today to access the park.

History shows that Streatlam Castle and the land was sold off in 1915 due to being ‘superfluous’, finally bringing its last day in 1959, where the castle itself was blown up in a training exercise for the Territorial Army leaving only the Orangery that was situated next to the Castle, and of course the grounds itself still containing the houses which were used by servants when the castle was a living and working castle.

My parents are lucky enough to be not only living on such an amazing historic park, but also in one of the servant houses which was built in 1901, the history of this and everything else is just mind blowing, a truly amazing place. Of course now because of such an area and because of it being well known in that area to hold the richest of people living there, I have officially names my parents Lord and Lady Lee!!

We had a great time catching up with my parents, in their home, it was nice to see the old house and although only somewhere they have lived for the last 9 years it still holds a special place in my heart. Being at their home was lovely and very special, we had a great time viewing all the photos in the front room, like a mini museum of the Dawes family through the ages it was certainly somewhere we felt very welcome!

We did so much together whilst there, along with just spending quality time together we took some time out to go visit the local town called Barnard Castle. Pottering around the old shops was fun, especially calling in to every antique shop was really special. Here I bought myself a serving spoon, a very odd thing to do of course, but it was very old and had lived many tales. We also had fun dressing up, Bethany dressing in some of the finery the rich people in the area would wear!

We took a walk along the river too, a really pretty place, passing old buildings along the way. We got Bethany to spot date stones on the buildings, really she had no idea what we meant by it all.

The walk was lovely and it brought us round to Barnard Castle itself, still standing the ruins proudly etched over the town. We took a tourist ticket each and went inside the grounds for a good nosey round, a truly magnificent building, well restored and cared for. An absolute English treasure for sure. Here a sneaky photo of a photo from an ariel view stand outside the castle!

Bethany enjoyed running backwards and forwards between the different parts and although enjoyed the adventure of it all she really just thought of it more as a fun place to be, again not really understanding the actual true nature of such a building. I think back to the days when I thought like that and how now I soak up and treasure every tale.

A fun day out, we had a great time and as it was my birthday it was all the extra special. Sadly for me I ended up getting flu the last week into the trip which meant I was really ill over my birthday, it is actually something that happens every year at the same time!!

Many other fun times with my parents over the weeks, mainly enjoying the time just being alone at home. We played games well into the early hours, one night we spent ages pondering the reason why nobody could win at dominoes only to work out somehow along the line the dots had been scratched off!!

Bethany enjoyed writing up check lists and heading off into the garden to search for things on her list. She had a great time exploring and we loved watching the bats come out at night and fly around so close to our heads.

Another day we decided to take a walk to somewhere we hadn’t been in years – High Force. A very beautiful place with stunning forestry, its main feature being the waterfall.

Sadly there were stories flooding the news whilst we were there of how a photographer had fallen to his death just a week before – so very sad. We extend our sympathies to his family and we thought of the tragedy and him on the day we visited.

As a child my parents used to take me here and one year I was nearly victim to the ferocious undercurrent of this waterfall when swimming when I was dragged under. Completely unexpected of course by all as we were far from he falls. Luckily I was rescued by my fully clothed parents and now live to tell the story, vivid memories of the day still play in my head. Walking around and seeing the blaring caution signs, I can see how and why they now have certain areas under lock and key.

Despite the strange tales we had a nice time telling good stories from the old days of all the trips we took there when I was younger, and this was more than amazing to share with Bethany – the next generation.

My parents live in a slice of paradise, Bethany loved the freedom of it all, getting to ride quad bikes, shoot air rifles and ‘drive’ the car down the expansive drive. We all had a fantastic time with Lord and Lady Lee and we loved so much spending every minute there with them, it was lovely to be able to replay many happy days I have had there.

My parents are my life, without them I would not be the person I today. One day we will be together again, but until that time I can be happy knowing they live somewhere more amazing than some people could ever dream.

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