hallejulah, the sun doth shine!
After two weeks with daily rain we had concluded all the photographs taken of English Country Life were in fact taken on the one day a year the sun did shine. But we've taken that back. Mostly.
We made it to the Lakes District, and had a fine time, in spite of the weather. As ardent Swallows and Amazons fans we had some places we needed to pay our respects to. We didn't manage to climb the mountain, mostly because the weather would not lift enough to make the view worth the effort, however we managed to see some of Ransome's various houses, spend several nights in Holly Howe (called Bank Ground Farm in real life), cruise Coniston Water in an electric launch as tourists and finally (a real coup) sail to the island called Wildcat in the books, beach ourselves in the Secret Harbor and picnic on the island.
The weather ranged from gloomy to vile to pelting rain. I lie - we had some patchy sun on a day we managed a small hike into the hills, but aside from that the weather was uniformly damp. People kept telling us it was atypical weather. Sure. We acquired waterproof pants in order to undertake our sailing expedition. We did get rained on, but it was deeply gratifying to be out, and to be sailing in Swallows territory. Alice and Aerin both wanted to call ourselves Swallows, but I demurred and allowed as how we were real, unlike the Swallows, and required our own name to have adventures with. We have tentatively agreed on the Elephant's Children, for reasons I will explain the next time I get tagged for baring personal oddities on the web.
We also paid our respects to Beatrix Potter, a writer who makes me think of both my grandmothers. It is odd to have two such dissimilar people in my backgound, but they both read all the little books to me when I was young, and so I have simultaneous voices in my head, one from South Carolina and one profoundly from Boston, when I read the stories to my kids. They are less captivated than I was as a child, possibly because there are more different things they can read when they visit their grandmother. I clearly remember having a choice of Beatrix Potter, again, or fistfuls of abridged Reader's Digest Collections. Ms. Potter won routinely. I was pleased to see pictures of her aging well. She got such a slow start on life, it was important to me to see her buying farms with the money from her books, and taking pride in her land, farming and livestock. My favorite picture of her was with her shepherd and a prizewinning sheep at a local fair. She looked as pleased as punch with everyone involved, and I thought anyone could do worse than work to grow up so cheerful and sturdy.
Following the Lakes District we headed for York. Our favorite parts were the Wall and the undercroft of the cathedral. Lacking religion, the Minster was large and imposing but not worth paying to get into. If you really need to see inside and a few minutes will hold you, go use the bathrooms. They'll let you in, and you get to peek into things without guides droning on and on at you.
The Viking museum was a funny combo of really bad animitronics (with smells!) with a well researched and carefully written museum tacked on the back. They hyped the tech, when they should have hyped the stuff they'd found.
From there we tore down to the south of London, and found Poohsticks bridge (and played Pooh Sticks, of course), Stonehenge, Avebury, West Kennet Long Barrow and (in a nice turn of events) a crop circle. I have to admit that I believe these guys here, when they say they've made the crop circles, so I associate no particular energy or spirituality to them, it's just fun to see. And it fit in nicely with the day's theme of "Mysteries, Ancient and Modern". Aerin was hugely amused, and she and Al stomped off to admire it while Alice and I minded the kite and worried the swallows nesting in the Long Barrow.
Moving our focus forward in time, we toured the Roman Baths at Bath yesterday, and then started towards London. I write now from the Edward Lear Hotel, where we are sleeping on the 4th floor and require to go up to the toilet on the landing. I am wavering between thinking it is hysterical, and feeling like a nice souless chain motel would be just fine thankyouverymuch.
I haven't made a postcard. I have knitted about two rows on the sock I brought. I have managed to finish off 3 or 4 or 5 of the New Yorkers I brought as disposable reading matter. I think I am having a vacation. It feels pretty good.