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Harrogate Travel Blog› entry 622 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here, who contributed to and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)
After three years and two months, i was finally setting foot back on English soil. A lot of things had passed during this period, for better and worse, but there was certainly no going back mentally, only physically. Whilst my first trip between June 2003 and December 2004 had shown me what the World had to offer, this trip was somehow different. It had shaped my character, my beliefs and my future. I'd left a boy and returned a man.
For some, it may seem somewhat hard to believe that a 26 year old would have considered himself a boy, as this was my age when i left England. And if you had asked me at the time, i would probably have taken offense to this comment. But in hindsight, i know it to be true.
Back in Saint Petersburg in September 2006, fate had played its cards, as i met Julia and developed Pancreatitis within a few days of each other. This would result in our lives becoming intertwined and lead to a harsh realisation that i couldn't continue the lifestyle that i had become accustomed to. Hence, the growing up!
I arrived into Manchester airport via London, whilst Julia's flight was one hour later, as it had gone via Copenhagen. My Mum and Dad had kindly offered to come and pick us up, I'm sure more so to get their first glimpse of Julia, than catch up with me. It was great to see them again, and somewhat surreal. My Mum was as talkative as ever, whilst my Dad was trying his best to calm her down!
In some respects it felt like i had never been away, England is England after all, the place i grew up, my spiritual home.
Our drive home lasted a little over an hour and we passed through some pretty stone villages and lush countryside. As dusk set in, we made a brief stop at Bolton Abbey, a wonderful relic from yesteryear. As we meandered through the ruins, bats swooped above us, feeding on midges, whilst a small hedgehog scurried across the path in front of us.
During our visit, we had arranged to stay with my brother Paul and his girlfriend Maddie, who live 20 minutes walk away from my parents.
The following morning we were greeted by traditional gloomy English weather, something i certainly hadn't missed! My Dad would be acting as chauffeur and guide for the day, a field that he has a wealth of experience in, having driven my brother and I the length and breadth of the country to watch football games throughout our childhood.
After a quick stop at St John's, which is our local church, our first major destination was to be Nidd Hall, a grade II listed stately home, which now serves as an upmarket hotel.
Nidd Hall has a stunning ivy clad exterior and is surrounded by pristine manicured gardens and a whopping 45 acres of Victorian and Edwardian landscaped parkland. It was a little chilly to sit outside and drink tea, so we wandered inside to look at some of the impressive rooms. With a busy schedule lined up, we didn't dally for too long, and soon headed on to our next destination, Knaresborough.