[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms . He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

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Welcome to the UK

I can't help but feel that the UK, nay, the entire Old World, is making a real effort to welcome us. Allow me to elucidate ...

Some years ago, pre-scandal, Lance Armstrong was the darling of the Tour de France. Furthermore, he was the very public face of "Livestrong," the cancer-fighting charity that featured prominently in the psychological war waged by my wife in her battle with cancer. So, not simply because of that, (but I would be lying to say it wasn't a factor) we became Tour de France fans.

DVR/Tivo is, as it happens, the best thing to happen to the Tour since the discovery of inflatable tires. We can watch four hours of live coverage in around 45 minutes because we fast forward through watching for the three Cs - catches, crashes and castles. Which is actually beside the main point. That point being that we made something of a pact that while living on the right-hand side of the Atlantic, we would watch a stage or two of the Tour at some point.

What a delight it was for us to learn, therefore, as we were in Yorkshire looking for lodging, that the Tour de France next year would start in (yes, say it with me), Yorkshire. It is as if the entire EU, or at least France, said, "Welcome Jeff and Lorree! We would like to make it as convenient as possible for you to see some stages of this great race." Now, as of this writing, the actual route has not yet been announced ... but the worst case is that it will run thirty miles or so from our new lodgings. The best case is that it will run through York, past the Minster. Which means it will run perhaps thirty meters or so from my new school in the King's Manor. Thank you, Tour organizers.

England itself welcomed us by delaying the arrival into this world of the Prince of Cambridge until my birthday. We were in our holiday cottage in the lovely village of Spofforth when the announcement of the royal baby's birth was made. Since the name would not be made public for a few days, we speculated on possibilities. I favored Geoffery, of course, and given that we share a birthday it only seemed right. Alas, though, it was not meant to be - but George Alexander Louis is not bad. (And for those who know me through Medieval re-enactment, it's almost as good as Geoff would have been.)

Spofforth, by the way, is a village between York and Harrogate and a bit south. We found a very nice holiday cottage there, Manorcroft Cottage, where we stayed for pretty much the entire house-hunting trip. (We stayed with friends in Lymington the first and last nights, and were at a festivals a couple of other nights.) We highly recommend the cottage for those who might be visiting the area.

This being England, there was a castle which our local sources said wasn't much, a ruin and really just a fortified manor and not a proper castle. They said we'd be done with it in ten minutes. They underestimated our interest in castle, err manorial, architecture. We spent an hour or so walking the ruin, getting clear in our minds which bits were from which bit of building or rebuilding, and so on. It actually has quite an interesting history.

The lordship of Spofforth was granted to William de Percy by William the Conqueror (de Percy got eighty-five others in Yorkshire as well), and parts of the castle date to the early 13th century. Later a tower building was added to the north end. There was an extensive rebuild in the 15th century as well, widening the hall and adding a new fireplace. The original hall was built against a rock outcropping with the stairs simply carved into the rock.

Certainly Spofforth Castle is not an enormous ruin or well-preserved fortresses but it certainly rewarded the time we spent there, and was a pleasant spot for a picnic to boot. Further, it epitomizes one of the things we are looking forward to doing - visiting the small, local bits of history. This castle wouldn't be on the itinerary of any one with a limited time to view castles, but that doesn't mean it is without charm or interest. And we will, hopefully, have the time to see many of this sort of thing.

Luddite'sLog, Around 4 August, 2013
© 2013 Jeff Berry

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