I’m delighted to introduce you to Sonia Strumpfer, one of our holidaymakers from South Africa enjoying an extended vacation and working holiday here in North Yorkshire. Sonia’s drawings from Newton Grange really captured my eye. We hope you’ll enjoy them too.
I am an artist from Port Elizabeth, South Africa. My husband works for two companies in the UK and occasionally has to visit them. When I heard that we would be visiting the UK for six months I became quite apprehensive about the living conditions in a city, the type of accommodation that we could afford and the need to do home schooling with my son in a confined living space.
After many hours of searching on the internet for flats to rent in the UK, a friend suggested looking for holiday accommodation. I refined my searching with keywords like 'rural, historic, countryside, Yorkshire'. We discovered that Yorkshire is a prime holiday destination.
Well, a six month holiday started sounding quite good to me!
One very hot, humid summer day in South Africa my husband forwarded the Newton Grange website to me. I opened it up and could hardly believe what I saw - Great looking accommodation on a farm, next to a canal, near (but not in) a big town, a real house with three bedrooms... We could also see what the cottage looked like on the inside – the bedrooms and the furnishings.
For the next couple of days we looked at the website over and over again, listened to a video clip by Rachael, explored the area on Google maps and read up on other websites about Yorkshire.
We arrived at Newton Grange late on a stormy Friday afternoon. The website gave us clear directions to the farm and the long drive from London was soon forgotten. Catherine and Rachael were waiting for us and showed us to our cottage - Mickleber.
The central heating was already on, the cottage warm and cosy. All we needed was there, even an extra room that my husband can use as an office on the days he works from home.
We soon settled in comfortably. The kitchen is well equipped with all we needed for an extended stay. In the mornings, the dining table turns in to a school desk.
And Wi-Fi …. !
The large windows and patio doors that we open on sunny days are great.
We can look out from our large comfy bedroom (complete with its king size bed) to see rabbits, pheasants and many other species of birds. So many that I bought a book to identify them. All this right on our doorstep.
As an artist my hands started itching for some creativity. At an art shop in Skipton I bought paper, pencils and a box of watercolours. Included here are some of my drawings.
Newton Grange house, seen from our patio at Mickleber Cottage
A horse and rider hacking out along the bridleway
The little wooden gateway to the towpath of the Leeds Liverpool Canal
This place just lends itself to creativity. Phrases like 'plein air painting', 'workshops' and 'live drawing sessions' come to mind.
We regularly venture out on hiking paths around the farm and in the local area. There is so much to discover here - walks along the canal with houseboats, swans, ducks and other water birds, just to mention a few of the wonderful sights.
The bridge over the canal at Newton Grange
Many people run, cycle, ride and walk in the area.
Horse riders riding out past Newton Grange
I have a great feeling of relief to feel perfectly safe here, carrying a camera, cellphone and enjoying the freedom to just walk on my own.
I can truly recommend Newton Grange Farm. Yorkshire people are friendly and welcoming to visitors. If possible, I would love to come back here one day.
By Sonia Strumpfer, March 2014