How to Abbey Chase in Yorkshire

We had an amazing trip to the US in August where our families planned so many celebrations for us so that our beloved friends and family could meet James in our home states of Pennsylvania and Connecticut. It was such a joy to introduce him to the people we adore so much and also have him christened in Bobby’s home church – we won’t soon forget how treasured everyone made our little family feel! 

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Immediately after we got back to Geneva (with a baby who slept the entire transatlantic flight each way 🙏), B had to fly to Japan and India for a week. Knowing that receiving so much love at home, followed immediately by instant solo parenting in Geneva would be a recipe for a mental health disaster, James and I fled to visit our dear friends L, P (who took James’ adorable one month photos  and whose business you should absolutely check out) and their sweet baby R, who was born in Geneva a few months before James! Flying alone with a baby (particularly one still in a sleep regression and adjusting to time zones) was a challenge, but one I’m really glad I took on.  It was a great confidence boost when we made it home safely! 😅 

our first solo flight!

Our dear friends were house sitting in Yorkshire, England for their own friends who kindly allowed James and I to stay in their little country oasis along with them. I wish I could show you how truly gorgeous this home was, but you know, privacy. Picture a Restoration Hardware model home where everything felt pristine but yet very cozy and comfortable. When I grow up, this is the sort of place I’d love to live. 

More than 15 years ago now I went to the UK for the first time to play soccer and went to York and Manchester briefly. At the time, I was the sort of Princess Di/Spice Girls/Parent Trap/Richard Curtis/Peter Pan Anglophile who only had eyes for London …. 

I am still a sucker for a red phone booth – these are now used for AED machines!

that I didn’t remember enough about how stunning Yorkshire is- as those who live there lovingly call it, “God’s Own Country.” If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you might know that the series is draws many themes from The War of the Roses between Lancaster and York, with York being “Stark Country.” We walked around the sweet town of Harrogate, had pints and pie at the adorable Punch Bowl Inn …

and invented a new sport we are calling “abbey-chasing.” As a Catholic school grad, I was generally familiar with Henry VIII’s split from the Church in Rome to establish the Church of England (also duh I read “The Other Boleyn Girl”) but I had never considered the physical and institutional ramifications the schism had.

Following the break in the 1530s, abbeys and monasteries all over England were dissolved and sacked, leaving ruins from buildings as old as the 7th century.  Many of those enormously grand abbeys, once home to monks who had secured financial stability by milling grain, rearing sheep and selling wool, etc. have been beautifully preserved and are now essentially national parks and tourist attractions where families enjoy tea at beautiful cafes, bring their own picnics, and play all year long on the expansive lawns. 

On our “chase” we visited Fountains Abbey and the Studley Royal Gardens…

At Christmas it’s a true treat when fully aglow in twinkly lights –  it all sort of reminded me of Ross and Emily’s (failed) wedding.  🤣 

It was also the prettiest place to walk with the babes!

You can see just where the stain glass looks like it was just poked out of the window frame… 

We also hit Rievaulx Abbey … (ok we only had lunch here and didn’t pay to go in)

and Whitby Abbey overlooking North Sea on the East Cliff above Whitby in North Yorkshire, England (the inspiration for Dracula’s Castle!)

Throughout our visits (and during nap times) …we had our Wuthering Heights moment and drove through the  purple heather-filled North York Moors …

as well as Yorkshire Dales National Parks. It was all truly a feast for the eyes enjoyed alongside truly wonderful friends. James is a newly minted Anglophile now too and we loved our time together. He was a real trooper and I’m so happy he could see the place where my love of travel all began, with people we adore so much. 

That said, when we walked in the door we both fully collapsed in exhaustion. I’ll be very relieved to have his dad alongside us for our next flight to Prague, next weekend! Right afterwards, we visit Vienna with my mom!

But before all that, we can’t wait for my beloved aunts to arrive tomorrow and show them James’ “hometown” of Geneva! 


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