Yorkshire 8 - Roche Abbey, take that bracket out of your windscreen, it can only be Rotherham

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August 4th 2015
Published: August 4th 2015
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Day 84 out of 120. We have gone past the half way point. There are less days to go to our next adventure than there are to our last. Have we gone stir crazy? Yes we have. Books have come out, atlas has been consulted, ACSI books perused and camp sites chosen. There are only so many things you can do whilst you count down to getting in Suzy and hitting the road again. We are reading blogs until they come out of our ears. We read about destinations thought of and destinations arrived at. We find places we would like to visit and others were we say to each other " Been there" "Remember that cafe" or just in Judith Chalmers fashion say "Wish we were there". We fall over each other more in our home than we do in Suzy. We seem to bumble along in the van . In the house we yearn for the open road, for the fresh view out of the windows and for the click click of the camera as we take pictures that will be our memories until the next trip.

It isn't always easy to fill in time between trips. Work gets in the way and renovating the house but slowly and surely the inside of the house is now almost completed . There is still outdoors but that will get done eventually I guess . Summer is rumbling on. It has been a muggy one. Not the sort of sunny weather you get in Europe but more of a heavily oppressive one. Sunny in the mornings but by lunchtime threatening rain. The pretty spring and early summer colours have gone and the fields are now golden as the harvest waits to be taken in. The hedgerows are tinged with reds and oranges as the berries begin to take on their Autumnal colouring. The first signs of Autumn are in the air as the nights have reach a plateau and are now slowly but surely drawing in. The late summer flowers are pink, pink Mexican Balsam overtaking our river banks, Rose Bay Willow Herbs and Thistles all bristly and purple. Day 84 out of 120 and we are counting down slowly.

We needed some food for the soul and this can only be obtained by going somewhere quiet and out of the way. A place where there was likely to be few people . Hard to come by in the height of the school summer holidays. Picture the scene - thoughts going round our heads as we pondered where to go. Computer on lap. What is there local National Trust or English Heritage. Somewhere not too far . We didn't want to drive far just to find a place of peace and solitude away from the madding crowds. Where do you find peace in this overcrowded isle of ours? An abbey methought . That is where the monks went for a bit of solitary where they could contemplate the world and their place within it. Sion had to spoil this thought as he mumbled that he and his best friend Woolly thought about contemplating their navels. He would bring it down to smut and we told him so.

However despite being a bad sheep we decided to take him with us on our travels just up the M1 to the picturesque valley wherein lay Roche Abbey. Not a big abbey or an overvisited one. In fact, for us just perfect. Have you heard of Roche Abbey ? Well I hadn't either until I saw it on a sign and Glenn said he had been there years ago.

The scene that greeted us was a car park just outside the grounds of the abbey. A few cars but nothing to get excited about. A walk along a dirt track at the side of which ran a babbling brook or perhaps a rushing river judging by the sounds. We could'nt see it but could just hear it over the thick vegetation to our side. What would we see when we rounded the corner ? An abbey worthy of Jumieges or Whitby ? The monks knew where to build their abbey miles away from civilisation. It is truly amazing that the abbey survived in this state after it was coveted and despoiled by Henry VIII who fancied a bit on the side with Ann Boleyn. It was founded in 1147 whe the first stone building were erected on the north side of the little brook. The monks were Cistercians otherwise called the White Monks due to the colour of their habits. How long they would have remained white would be questionable at this time.

STanding in front of the main entrance it is hard not to be impressed with the building. We imagined the 14 monks and an unknown number of novices who lived their quiet and contemplative lives in the abbey at the time of dissolution in 1538. What must life have felt like to find yourself out of home, not sure where the next meal would come from and not knowing what sort of work would be available . Perhaps they prayed a lot in the hope that Henry would see sense and not render the abbey to ruin. That he would stop hankering after his lover and stand by his Spanish long suffering wife and that the Pope would put an end to the shenanigans . The monks must have been disgusted with the locals who helped to strip the abbey of its stone and its valuable artifacts. The locals pillaged the abbots lodging , the vast domitory , the cloisters and the refectory. Very little apparently was spared - just the ox houses and all the buildings around. We looked sadly on what remained and in our minds eye imagined the statuary torn off the walls , the highly coloured and decorated wall decorations covered up and painted over. The abbot and the novices thrown out to make their own ways in the world . No longer was plainchant heard drifting up the valley throughout the day and night. No longer were the villagers to have their medical needs sorted in the abbey. How sad - whilst not religious we both feel we have lost so much beauty in our churches since the Reformation and whilst Roche is atmospheric it is sad that all that is left are just a few piles of stones.

Did we enjoy the afternoon out ? Yes we did , it passed away an hour or so and cost us nothing to enter as the property is looked after by English Heritage. To finish the day we sat in the sun on the grass and didn't speak much . it is that sort of place. Walking back we found a note on our windscreen which said "please take your bracket off your car - this is an unsafe area".. We did not have Sally Sat Nav with us as Glenn had worked near Roche and many years ago and knew the way but it seemed that thieves worked the area. This was quite a shock as it seemed a lovely tranquil spot . Glenns retort was " "well it is Rotherham". This may be an unkind thing to say about Rotherham but it did me smile and said it all It reminded me of a saying " Nothing we see or hear is perfect " How true - but the remaining part of the quotation puts it all into perspective "But right here in the imperfection is perfect reality". makes sense of it all. Whilst not abroad and not in Suzy we had a lovely escape from the world of work and home decorating.

Day 84 over and a lovely day was had by all . Sion included even though he wouldn't admit it . He can be such an ungrateful sheep calling us old farts.


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