Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The Old Homeplace

As most of our readers understand, this blog is a daily journal of Ocracoke Island life and history. In most years I suspend publication during the Christmas holidays. This gives me an opportunity to relax a bit more, and to enjoy my own family and community without the pressure of writing a daily column.

This past holiday season I had another incentive to suspend publication. I wasn't on the island. Lou Ann and I enjoyed three weeks in Europe. We left December 15 and flew to Prague. From there we drove to the small village of Nepomuk where we had a cottage for a week. We returned to Prague for a few days to attend symphonies, explore the old town, amble through the Krist Kindl Markt, gape at the Astronomical Clock, stroll across Charles Bridge, listen to gypsy music while enjoying a traditional Czech dinner, and even travel to the town of Kutna Hora to visit the remarkable "Bone Church."

When the week was over we boarded the train to Budapest where we had rented a small flat for a second week. It was Christmastime, and  we still had a chance to visit the Christmas Markets, climb Gellert Hill, walk across the Chain Bridge, gawk at the plethora of produce, sausage, fresh meats, and paprika in the open air markets, and tour the Hungarian National Museum. We rented a car once more and drove to the small village of Pusztavam where my mother's father was born. My cousins greeted us, fed us, showed us around the village, and made us feel welcome. 

From Budapest we flew to London where Lou Ann's mother Phyllis, and soon-to-be-husband Dick, picked us up and whisked us away to Dick's village of Tupton by Chesterfield, in Derbyshire. We attended their wedding on New Year's Eve, and celebrated in an historic English inn and restaurant. Dick and Phyllis were gracious hosts, and the next few days they spirited us away, down narrow, winding lanes lined with rock walls, past hundreds of grazing sheep, and into old villages with historic churches (one dating from 1160) and picturesque cottages. We even had a chance to peer into the window of Thimble Hall (at 11' 10" X 10' 3" and 12' 2" high it is considered the smallest detached house in the world...and once housed a family with 8 children!).

On January 3 we drove to York for a visit to the home of the Honorable Simon & Rebecca Howard. Although we didn't meet Mr. and Mrs. Howard we did tour their grounds and gardens. It is a property I have long wanted to visit...a place I refer to as "the old homeplace." Lou Ann took several photos, and even made a video. I hope you enjoy them. (By the way, I may look a tad dour in the video. I wasn't. I think I was just in awe of the building and the surroundings.)

Pointing the Way

The Estate's Pond

Philip at the Old Homeplace

Philip & Lou Ann

Castle Howard's Temple of the Four Winds

Click on Photo to View Lou Ann's Castle Howard Video

We had a wonderful time! Look for a few more photos and links to Lou Ann's posts about our trip in the next few days.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the day Charles Lindbergh landed on Ocracoke. You can read it here:


  1. It is amazing how you can put it all together in one blog...wish we were still there.

  2. Anonymous11:24 AM

    I went to my magic answer box AKA my laptop computer and with the help of a search engine discovered an entry for Castle Howard. I am sure many readers no doubt will do the same and be enthralled. It appears grander than The star of Downton Abbey!!

  3. Anonymous4:04 PM

    Castle Howard is where the PBS Masterpiece Theater series "Brideshead Revisited" was filmed. It's grand, indeed. :-)

  4. debbie s.1:13 PM

    I saw Lou Ann's photos on facebook, but didn't look at them closely, nor realize you were with her! Hope you had a wonderful time and I need to catch up on your blog as well!