Wednesday, June 14, 2006
The Northern Lake Country!
Well my friends, once again i found myself with a few days off of work, so I caught the next train I could and I was off!
On Friday morning I woke up bright and early to catch the 5:30 train (mind that my flat is a two mile walk to the train station!) to Windermere in the northern lake district to spend a few days exploring where writers like Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter (and many, many more!). And after all the train connections and fuss, at last I arrived to one of the most beautiful spots I have ever been to...it was absolutely breathtaking, and I only wish that words or pictures could even halfway capture some of the things that I saw and felt, but as that isn't possible, I'll keep it brief and to the point (or at least attempt to do so).
Once I arrived I in Windermere, the main town in the lake district for exploring the lakes, I made the 2 mile trek down to Bowness-on-Windermere where the actual lake the town is named after is found. It was breathtaking to walk up to through the old streets and buildings. After a quick lunch of fish and chips from a little vendor, I rented a rowboat for the afternoon, and took off on the lake itself for a few hours...and oh yes, my back tells the tale of a bright and sunny day (it's finally reached 80F here in England!). Eventually I pulled into a little cove and jumped in, becuase when else am I going to be able to swim in the lakes that Wordsworth wrote about and lived by? It was quite chilly, but refreshing after all that rowing!
That afternoon I hiked around as much as I could, and ended up wandering up the backside of Orrest Head (what they try to call a mountain here...). Becuase I went up the backway instead of up the trails the right way, I found myself wandering through all types of fields and climbing over drystone walls. Every time the trees would break and you would get this great panoramic view, I kept on thinking that this must be the best view on the mountain, but by the time I reached the next break in trees, I had to change my mind and once again conclude that this must be the best view...absolutely gorgeous.
But eventually as the sun set, I had to climb down once again and spend the night in this little tiny hostel where I had some more fun conversations with a Brit, a Canadian, a Malaysian, and a Japanese dude--the hostels tend to be a tad diverse here! We all watched some bbc coverage of the World Cup too...it's everywhere here, and it's been really enjoyable to catch onto the hype, and thanks to high school and Covenant, I can actually discuss football (aka soccer) with some competance (which really impresses people that an American might actually have a clue what's going on!).
The next morning I was up early again hiking around, but eventually I decided to go on a morning bus tour so that I could catch some of the further out sights that I couldn't get to on my own. Let me tell you...bus tours are the way to go...and if you ever go on one, insist on sitting in the front up by the driver--you'll get some extra facts, and usually have a good time joking around with the driver/guide. Ironically, as we started up I turned around in the bus to realize that other than the driver, I was the ONLY one who could speak a word of English...all the rest of the crew were Japanese! I found out that day that the Lake District is always packed with Japanese tourists not only becuase of it's beauty, but also because of Beatrix Potter having lived and wrote there...you see, any Japanese individual that learns English is taught using the Beatrix Potter books! In Tokyo they even have a replica built of Beatrix Potter's house and grounds so that they don't have to travel all the way to England to get the feel for this great English lady!!!
Part of the bus tour included stopping at her house for a look around (it's amazing, all the illustrations from her books like Peter Rabbit are actually scenes from around her house and garden!)Here's a picture of it.... We went to several lakes, and also went to Grasmere and Dove's Cottage.......Wordsworth's home, which was really cool. We also saw his grave (and those of his entire family!).
As we were driving, the bus driver asked me why I had only signed up for the half day tour (everyone else on the bus was doing a full day tour that was only a few pounds more), and I told him I had to watch the game! Oh yes, this was all on the day of England's first game in the World Cup...well he was actually quite jealous...here he was the only Brit. on the bus, and he had to drive around a whole bus of people who could care less about the game, and the only other person who could speak English was leaving to watch it! But after a bit (and after remembering that he'd brought along his radio tv so he wouldn't miss the whole thing) he was kind enough to drop me off at the "Best pub in town" to watch the game. It was really fun to watch it with a whole pub-full of England fans!
After this, it was time to catch my train (a short trip to the Lake district yes!) and watch the beautiful countryside slip away allong the tracks.