Temple Newsam : I love it when a plan comes together

It so very nearly didn’t! I wanted so much to weave some magic on Christmas Eve. I love a light show, and when I saw this one advertised, on the outskirts of Leeds… well, it was worth a try! We had been to Temple Newsam a time or two. Broad, open spaces… good trees for climbing… a lake, and a petting farm. A good place for kids!

We had to run the gamut of testing, and be pronounced fit to enter the UK. Not a problem! Staying fit enough to return to Portugal, from Leeds City Centre, was more of an issue. But there was no doubt in my mind that it was worth the risk, to see our son and family this Christmas. If the effectiveness of the vaccine was to be tested, so be it! And so we arrived on 23rd December, took the PCR test, and checked into our hotel. We already had a negative lateral flow test, taken in the Algarve on 22nd. Come the evening, a phone call from our son. “Someone in the youngster’s school class has tested positive. Quarantine until the result of his PCR comes through, hopefully within 72 hours, but it’s Christmas so who knows? He’s coughing a bit, but he’s mildly asthmatic so that’s normal at this time of year. He’s tested negative on 2 lateral flows and we’ll test him again in the morning.”

Waiting with baited breath, we also had our own issues. It seemed that yet another test was needed, to enable our return to Portugal. Though valid for the 72 hours of our stay, the PCR was purely for the UK government’s statistics, and didn’t provide a certificate as evidence of the negative test, required by the Portuguese government. More money in the coffers to be misspent, it seems. But the youngster’s health was of far greater concern to us. We took a further test Christmas Eve morning, also negative, but were still waiting to hear how he was. The verdict? “A third negative test, no temperature or coughing, but no PCR result yet.” Should we risk the light show? Of one thing I was sure. I was going to see the family, whether or no I courted Covid. Call me irresponsible, if you like! And so we bundled up warm, and set out into the drizzly night, with one super-excited youngster.

I said drizzly night, but in fact it didn’t feel very wet. Perhaps it was that Christmas magic I was looking for, because if you looked up at the lights you could see the fine droplets of water dancing in the air, but our clothes didn’t appear to be getting very wet. The shimmer of the damp snowflake on the path ahead made us all smile.

Of course, we were a little anxious. The car park had been almost full and we worried about the volume of people, but we were outdoors and masked and took care to maintain space. The youngster’s obvious enjoyment, and our own, soon made any misgivings fade. We passed swiftly through the arch of lights at the entrance. I hung behind to take just one shot.

Maybe we were a little reckless, but it was so nice to be a part of Christmas celebrations. The atmosphere was warm, despite the rain!

The field of balls glowed from red into violet and shades of blue, then faded to soft pastels as we watched.

Beyond the field, shadows made ghostly patterns on the trees. Turning a corner the air was pierced by laser beams, sparkling green through a fine mist. On the path, a Celtic knot glowed. At just this moment an email arrived. His PCR test was negative.

I won’t pretend that we weren’t greatly relieved. With light hearts we carried on, around the lake with its beautifully illuminated boats. Happiness was complete when we came upon a stall selling marshmallows, for toasting over a charcoal fire.

I hope you managed to find a little Christmas magic, and that the year to come will be kind to all of us.

Wishing you all good health and happiness as we sail forward into a new year.

94 thoughts on “Temple Newsam : I love it when a plan comes together

  1. This post made me smile so much, and filled my heart. I’m so happy for you that you got to spend time with your family this Christmas. And the lights just added some extra sparkle. So lovely.
    Happy new Year Jo. May 2022 be all you could wish for.
    Big hugs
    Alison

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  2. To go or not to go, to be covid free of positive, to see family or not, to celebrate or stay by yourself…some of the choices we are faced in this world. Happy that you got to see these magnificent light show, they’re they’re just lovely!

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  3. Looks to have been a beautiful light show Jo – Temple Newsam was down the road from our house growing up in Leeds. Hadn’t been back for ages and went again on our last trip to Yorkshire (April 2019). I’m glad you got back though it sounds so stressful with all the tests etc. Coming over to the Uk is not an option for us anyway at present – I don’t think we’d be allowed back into WA (well not easily) not to mention multiple tests, manadatory quarantine, so waiting till things settle (fingers crossed!). Here’s to better times ahead! πŸ™‚

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    • Always sorry to leave, Becky, but the 3 days felt very daring. Putting my head in the Lion’s Den, or rather, Leeds City Centre! The youngsters had their own plans after Christmas, including a wedding where Lauren was bridesmaid, and there was so much uncertainty around that. Happily they made it! And we had 2 very special days of Christmastime with them. Worth more than I can say!

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  4. I’m sorry to be late to the party Jo, but I so enjoyed your post! It made me so happy that you went ahead and took the risk and everything worked out fine in the end. And even if it hadn’t, it was well worth it!! Now let’s all hope 2022 is kinder on the COVID front and that families can be together at whim as we once were. Clearly we didn’t know how lucky we were!! Happiest and healthiest of New Years to you and yours!

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    • Talking to my daughter last night, Tina- I didn’t manage to see her at Christmas, but I rarely do- and she had just posted the most magnificent set of photos from a light show at Alton Towers. It’s a seasonal amusement park but they needed to recoup some money and put the show together for the winter. She went along on New Year’s Eve and you should see the sparkle in her eyes! I was so happy to be able to share Temple Newsam with James’ little family. Not on a grand scale, but such a treat for us all. Thanks for coming along with me, Tina. You ladies work very hard at keeping the show on the road and I’m grateful for your presence, even though I don’t join in.

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  5. I can’t think of a better wish than asking for the world to be kind to us in 2022. And what a nice evening you had – I’m glad it all worked out, Jo. I love the people in silhouette under that arch. By now it’s January 1st where you are – enjoy the holiday with your family! Rejoice! πŸ˜‰

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  6. What a wonderful exhibit, Jo. I haven’t had to travel across borders in the past two years so as I read all that you went through in testing and meeting requirements I feel humbled that some of us have had an easier time. I am so hopeful that we will make a turn for the better this coming year. We need the relief. I think we are all weary with not just the restrictions, but the inability to really know how to interpret our current lives. I will say “Happy New Year,” and hope that is indeed the case.

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    • Thanks, Debbie! It’s not been an easy one and I’m sure a lot of people will be saying good riddance to ’21, but you can only work with what you have. I’m so grateful for the way in which mine ended. Determined to see good things on the horizon. Stay healthy, darlin, and enjoy life!

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  7. ​Simply stunning! Talk about snags… this whole show was definitely one to top off the year! πŸŽ‰πŸ§¨ With the good news at the end for dessert! No cake needed! πŸ˜‰β€‹
    ​Health and blessings to you and your family and friends!​

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  8. Hi Jo, I saw your photo on another blog, and thought wonder if Jo is back? Beautiful play of lights here!
    Know a little what you’re going through with all these tests if you are going to another place on the globe, since our son came to visit us for Christmas in the midst of a whole journey to the UK, Texas, California, Swiserland, and Germany before he goes back to home in the Netherlands. All these tests was his biggest worry (because of his work he is vaccinated, so no problem there). A happy New Year to you!

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    • It was fabulous to get there and see our youngsters, Emille. Worth any number of tests to enjoy Christmas with them. Wishing you good health and happiness in ’22. πŸ€—πŸ’—πŸ’—

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  9. Yeah! Jo, it’s wonderful you could come and see your son and family … and that all the tests were negative. In these days we need some light, to share some time with our nearest and I would have done just the same! Your photos are magical and such welcome relief to see light and colour in these unsettling times! Wishing you a Happy and harmonious New Year, my friend! β€οΈπŸ˜€

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      • We had fireworks galore last night, probably the most since I’ve been here. I think many of them were the illegal kind – it sounded like the Western Front at times! We don’t have a lot of restrictions currently but virus numbers are rising. Almost all visitors are vaccinated and the numbers for residents are improving, but I expect there will be a surge now. There will undoubtedly have been lots of holiday gatherings and in those settings people aren’t great about staying safe. So long as hospitals aren’t overwhelmed I think things will stay as they are. Enjoy your time in the UK. I’m sure you are!

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  10. I’m glad you took the risk, Jo, and had such a magical evening. The light show looks fantastic and you captured it beautifully in those photographs. What an experience. I’m sure the holiday was made all the better by being crushed into so short a space of time. the emotions heightened by the feeling of living each moment to the utmost. I’m must have been hard to leave the family, but what a great Christmas to have experienced and you couldn’t have given them, or yourselves, a better one. Happy New Year.

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    • We went back to theirs and drank mulled wine and plotted our way around the world with the Santa tracker for the rest of the evening, Mari. By the time James was 9 he had been on numerous trips abroad to different countries but the youngster has only managed the Algarve so far. Different times! Christmas Day we attended the service in Leeds Cathedral, just over the road from our hotel, and then to James’ for a lazy day and lovely lunch. We could not have asked for more! They had a wedding to attend on 27th and weren’t at all sure if it would go ahead, but they made it so happy, smiling faces all round! I know life is seriously quiet for you at the moment, hon, but I wish you good health and more freedom in the year to come. Sending hugs!

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  11. I’m so glad everything worked out so beautifully for you, Jo. It’s such a worry all the time and I can’t see us leaving the country for at least another year. Things are ramping up here after our state border opened but hopefully with our high vaccination rates it won’t get away from the health authorities. I wish you and Mick all the best for 2022. Sending love from Mr ET and me.

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    • Thanks so much, darlin! Unless you need to go somewhere I really don’t see a lot of point in travel in these next few months, Carol. Restrictions make it too arduous, though the effects of the virus don’t seem to be so severe, in my experience. Both James and his partner have had it and quite a few people of my aquaintance. Wishing you and Glen and the girls a healthy ’22, full of happiness in your lovely family.

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  12. I’m glad you were able to spend time with your family, especially after making the journey,

    The children seem to be picking up this strain more easily. Our numbers were down over Christmas because younger grandchildren contracted Covid. First our five-year-old and a few days later our seven-year-old, both from different households.

    They were fine, a couple of days of temperature which Calpol sorted and that was it, back to normal, though obviously they needed to stay at home and isolate. Everyone else in our Christmas celebrations took Lateral Flow tests before coming here.
    Happy New Year, Jo.

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    • Thanks, Sue! There’s no doubt that it’s going the rounds. We heard of several instances whilst we were there so we were incredibly lucky. I’m sorry if it spoilt your Christmas and hope that you have a healthy, happy new year.

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  13. What a lovely post, despite the worry about the testing results. The light show looks magical, and perfect for kiddies! The tunnel/arch of lights is amazing! What a wonderful pre-Christmas treat indeed. Wishing you all the very best for 2022!

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    • That’s the crucial part, Anabel. Family and opportunity. Impossible to say if they will combine so happily for us again. By the time things are resolved you’ll have your get up and go back. Here’s to happier times!

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  14. An expensive, disorganised mess sounds about right – I’ll throw in token gesture and profiteering for good measure. I don’t think you were breaking any rules as I understand them, but as the rules are confusing, illogical and change often, I could be wrong! I’m glad you had some precious family time and got back safely.

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    • Thanks, hon! I wouldn’t call my husband a law breaker by any stretch of the imagination, but the way things have been conducted in the UK he was quite prepared to flout a few and pay the fine if need be. My only priority was Christmas with the kids, and my wish was granted. I can’t ask for more than that. Wishing you a very happy, healthy ’22!

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  15. All’s well that ends well – hope you are still Covid free! All this testing malarkey puts me off travelling out of our shores at the moment. Not to mention the expense and the worry if found positive in another country! You did well to get over and I’m glad you had the best of times. My winter lights were thankfully indoors this year, but still a bit damp inside the tropical biomes! All will be revealed tomorrow…

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    • There’s no doubt about it. The testing is a pain, Jude, and not even very reliable, for all the expense. But yes, we were lucky, and I’m so glad we came. I had a full day croquet tournament and Christmas dinner today, which was great fun, and so far no ill effects, so hopefully we got away with it. I do know a few people who haven’t been so lucky, but they have all just been ill for a couple of days. No huge deal for all the hullabaloo. Can’t wait to see your photos.

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  16. We saw a light show just like this one (cathedral arch of lights and roasted marshmallows included) over Thanksgiving. It was wonderful, and pre-Omicron when we had several weeks of Covid-complacency! Our granddaughter and kids all enjoyed it so much. Alas, Covid caught us over Christmas … after flying north to my parents (post-negative results), my husband tested positive a few days later and we all had to jump through hoops to isolate him and protect ourselves, including the nonagenarians. So far, so good – no positives for any of us despite his long illness and continued + results. Ugh, but hope we are through the worst. Happy New Year! Glad you got to be home with family!

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    • I have to admit that I felt very vulnerable passing through Leeds City Centre to the testing centre, Lexie. I almost expected to test positive the following day, but we were very lucky. We came back early on Sunday- after having our plane de-iced due to overnight snow- and to date we are both fine. Sorry about your husband. The few people I know who’ve developed the virus have just been ill for a couple of days so hopefully he’ll be well soon. It’s all just rolling the dice, isn’t it? Here’s wishing you a healthy and happy ’22. Things can only get better?

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  17. I wouldn’t call you β€œirresponsible,” Jo…determined comes to mind. Good for you! I’m glad you were able to find Covid tests. Here in the states it’s been a big mess with mandates for test in order to resume your life, but little tests available. I thought 3 dots would be enough…ugh. I’m so happy you had a good time with your family. Happy New Year!❀️

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    • That’s really kind of you, Jill. I know your life’s no bed of roses at times. We pushed our luck and were lucky this time. Hopefully luck won’t be necessary next time. Wishing you and yours a healthy, happy year ahead.

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  18. It’s such a long time since we went to Temple Newsam, which was pretty much our back yard, years ago. Aagh PCR tests. Miquel’s never arrived for his day two test, so we had to get him to a drop-in centre. Negative too. It’s all so wearing, isn’t it? Happier times in 2022? I hope so!

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    • I looked online for a light show at Roundhay Park, Margaret, but there didn’t seem to be one this year. I wasn’t sure how good it would be at Temple Newsam, but we wanted to do something as a family on Christmas Eve… apart from Santa tracking and identifying where we’d like to travel to next! It worked out pretty well, but I really do feel very lucky. Especially at having made it off the ground at snowbound Leeds airport on Sunday morning. Are family still with you? I told my daughter that if there was a knock on her door on Sunday it would be because we couldn’t get back. Not sure whether to be sorry or not! Wishing you a healthy, happy ’22, hon!

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      • You too. It’s been a real recharge of the batteries, seeing family this Christmas. Despite Covid, we eventually managed at least to touch base with everyone. Time for a rest now though! You too? Happy 2022, and may seeing family become easier for us all.

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      • You probably gathered, I don’t do resting especially well, otherwise I’d have read more of those books, Margaret! We have a walk planned this morning, and lunch at a cheap and cheerful Indian, outdoors, for the 8 of us. Fireworks tonight have been cancelled but a few neighbours will probably get together to see in the New Year. Tomorrow will be quiet, maybe with an afternoon stroll on the beach, then it’s back to walking on Monday, croquet on Tuesday, t’ai chi on Wednesday… you’ll be sorry you asked! Sending hugs, darlin, and wishes for a very happy year to come!

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  19. That light show just looked so magical, but what a nerve wracking performance to get there. So pleased the results were negative and you had a glorious few days with your family. I hope you are able to get back to Portugal with out too much drama. After being more or less isolated from the covid woes of the rest of the world Queensland has now opened its borders and thousands of tourists have poured in bringing the virus with them.
    I wish you a safe, healthy and happy 2022 dearest Jo.

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  20. Testing is rather an organised mess, Jo, don’t you think? A bit like the vaccinations, I suppose, trying to get a slot.
    I’m pleased you made it here, were allowed in, and had a magical time! Things will be getting back to normal soon… I’m focusing on that!
    Happy New Year, Jo.

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  21. This looks like the perfect pre-Christmas treat! Together with family, beautiful light displays AND toasted marshmallows πŸ˜€ What more could you have asked for? Oh yes, negative test results – the other essential ingredient for a perfect Christmas this year πŸ€— Glad you made it to England and were able to be together!

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    • It was scary at times, Sarah, and I can’t tell you how many goes Mick had at booking our Christmas Eve test online! In the end a lad from the test centre came out and did it for him, telling us the software was hopeless! But it all was worth it in the end.

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