Me in Whiteley Woods on the way to breakfast on Day 1.


The extraordinary Shepherd’s Wheel in motion.


I hadn’t heard anything about Sheffield, England, when the opportunity arose to visit. Mainly, I looked forward to meeting my husband’s friends.

I worried that we’d be a big burden. I’d been taught that Americans, compared to just about everyone else, used more of everything you could think of as far as utilities and daily necessities like paper towels and toilet paper and shampoo. I’d read that a family staying in Italy used so much water and electricity that the person running the bed and breakfast had to confront them with a choice: an increase in room fees, or they had to cut back immediately on the usage. (I have no idea how that turned out. I wish I did. I’m so nosy!!)

The message here in the Pacific Northwest is to recycle and conserve. I hoped that because I’d been indoctrinated with this ethic, I wouldn’t be as bad as most.

I was especially worried about being a pest because our hosts were at a big family wedding when we arrived! They arranged to have a key to their house waiting for us at a local business. We went for a walk and then, jet-lagged, we collapsed in a lovely bed. Garry and Karen had thought of everything and I felt very comfortable in their gorgeous home. We had the freedom of our own schedules (outside of Rory’s work) plus the choice of going on a number of outings that the couple (mostly Karen, I think) had planned in case I wanted to explore.


First thing in the morning we walked into Sheffield for breakfast. The best way in was through Whiteley Woods I thought it was part of Sherwood Forest, but on further research I found that it was a


Mneighboring forest to the one famed for Robin Hood’s exploits.

It’s a fantastic trail with a beautiful park at the lower end. We walked it almost every single day.

Our first breakfast in England: two bacon, two sausage, egg over easy, and a slice of tomato. We had that English breakfast several places, but my favorite breakfast was the quiche from the butcher across the road from the house we stayed at, warmed for a few minutes in a side compartment in Karen’s lovely oven.


Sheffield is world famous for Sheffield knives. I wanted to see the Kelham Island Museum, but after a very long walk we discovered that it was closed. But I did get to go inside the extremely beautiful (to my eyes) Shepherd Wheel. What can I call it? A museum? More like a step back in time. In the dim lighting, the belts moved the grinding stones in a mesmerizing, sinuous way that looked deceptively artful. In actuality this workshop, which was in operation clear back to the 1500s, was a dark, dusty, dangerous place to work and workmen could expect short lives. If the dust from the grinding didn’t kill them, an exploding grindstone would do the job. Before the advent of worker safety regulations and modern medicine, people simply expected to work until they died of something work related, or a dreadful illness.

The people who work and volunteer there have a lot of knowledge. I picked their brains for details that I can include in my 18th century fantasy books.

I’ll write more on England when I get the chance!