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June 22 – Fairytales Can Come True
Return to York: All Roads Lead to Pateley Bridge

We take the scenic route back to York – unintentionally. Somehow we manage to get turned around, and it seems that every road we find ourselves on, there is a sign pointing the way to Pateley Bridge. We aren't really lost, we tell ourselves, we're just taking the alternate route. And of course, we have the atlas. If the roads were marked we'd find our way back to York much, much sooner.

We are in no hurry though. This is something we'd agreed upon in our weekly online chat; we didn't ever want to feel rushed. Sure, we have plans for dinner at Plunketts in York, a pub where Robin has been before and highly recommends – especially the Sticky Toffee Pudding – but we've stocked up on "pick me up" snacks at the little shop at Fountains. We munch on shortbread and Cadbury Dairy Milk Bars, washing them down with spring water as we drive along. The days are very long in England in the summertime, and it isn't yet 6:00PM. We have plenty of time to get back to York.

Up and down twisty hilly roads we travel. Past long private drives with quaint names etched on decorative signposts. Past wildflowers and sheep, past patchwork fields of every shade of green bordered by stone walls, past Bolton Abbey, and around every bend, it seems, is another sign to Pateley Bridge. One village we pass through is called Hovingham. It's the perfect Yorkshire village with proper English cottage gardens and row houses with multihued doors. In fact, it is so lovely that we turn around and drive through it again, having missed our turn.

I study the atlas, being navigator for the day. We are definitely on the "clear roads" at this point and I silently decide that the best way to navigate is the oldest way to navigate – by using the sun. Unfortunately by the time I figure out where we are on the map, we aren't there any more. The roads aren't marked and the sun has disappeared behind thick clouds, so it's anyone's guess in which direction we are traveling.

We get the giggles as I locate a horseshoe loop on the map that rejoins the main road less than half a mile further on. On this tiny loop are located two villages – Lower Thirkleby and Greater Thirkleby. We dub the looped half-mile section of road "the Thirkleby bypass". "Shave 35 seconds off your travel time!" Robin says as we drive past the junction, and we roar with laughter.

By 7:30 we are keeping an eye on the road for a different reason. There is a lot to be said for a full cooked English breakfast, but I don't think it's meant to be the only meal of the day. We would abandon our plans to eat at Plunketts and stop at a pub for a meal, if we could find one. Somehow though, we find ourselves suddenly in familiar territory; familiar to Robin, that is, and before we know it we are back in a very misty, quiet York.

We park in a pay-and-display car park not far from the city walls and head toward the labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets. We all need cash before going to the pub, having purchased guidebooks and other things throughout the day with the minimal amount of British currency we've brought with us.

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