After spending a few days in our almost empty flat outside London, we had almost recovered from the disappointment of not being allowed to go home to Kentucky, yet.
My daughter Judy, who is always there for us, retrieved the forms the immigration folk had sent back there and added the new info we needed and sent it off express mail. So now time to wait for them to do their thing, again. As i said before we are going to make the most of our time we spend waiting by exploring together. Since we are both disabled our explorations have to necessarily be tailored to our abilities, but this does not mean we can’t enjoy ourselves.
Our first journey is to The Lake District of England. We set off about 9:30 AM, I think both of us are a little daunted about all of this and being basically displaced is not fun, but we have each other and a very supportive family waiting for us. So we will be just fine. The drive around London is typically a nightmare, but since it is Saturday and not a rush hour, it wasn’t as bad as normal. So we are on our way north. I have been in and out of England for very nearly a year now and this is first time we have traveled north. As we left the city I once again became enthralled with the English countryside and tried associating things i had read, pictures,and historical events with the places I saw.
I have a tendency to scan the landscape for whatever is different to me or unique and there is a lot of things to see. We have hills and we have forests but they look so different here. Most of the hillsides are clear and the forests that I am told were once dense and plentiful are now only found in certain areas. As we drove along I spotted old towers and stately homes, they always fascinate me. I think of how much effort and time went into each one so many many years ago. When you look at the materials you can almost see which ones are older or newer. The really old ones are mostly rock\stone. I think of how many hours spent to build these by hand, one rock at a time, I am also amazed at how well preserved a lot of these places are. I did see one that was a ruin but many are still very much intact.
Another thing i notice is the farms are so well laid out, and start to see the hedges used to divide each portion of land. I have seen pics of this from the air and it is beautiful. But seeing this with the fields of green, a lot of them filled with sheep, cattle, and a few horses is a very beautiful. I am a country girl through and through and my heart is in the country so I start to relax and enjoy the similarities to home and still love and admire the difference. The further north we get we see larger hills, especially to the west. Jim tells me this is where we are headed north/west. I love the sea, i like valleys, but I also love the mountains so I am looking forward to being in them again. England has a very large number of people in an area much smaller than America, so I am a bit surprised just how much open land i see, but then not far from that you will see another town that is just jam packed with homes and businesses. It surprises me that there are not more homes on the hillsides. You do see the wonderful thatched homes, brick or mortar is still the primary building material except for the ancient buildings which as i’ve said see to be primarily stone. For the most part, even the newest ones are older than anything you see in Ky. I love it.
We drive through places with names I have heard of all of my life. Sherwood forest, Nottingham, Buckinghamshire, Leeds, Birmingham, York. So many places I would like to see more of and maybe look up a little info on, but right now i am just trying to enjoy being here and trying to soak it all in. Jim went to university in York and sometime i would like to see more of it, but today we head north. So much history within a few hundred miles, to say it makes me feel humble is an understatement. The people that have walked, ridden, lived and died in these places. I am traveling along the same routes as Kings, outlaws, soldiers, pilgrims, and many many ordinary citizens throughout centuries of recorded time and before.
England has a very bloody past in that they have been invaded from so many different people. Vikings, Romans, Normans, the bloody french (lol, this is how I hear them referred to quite often ) and many more. I joke with Jim and tell him everyone wanted their little piece of the UK. And they have all left their influences in the areas they came to. My exact knowledge is so very inadequate but my respect for the history is not. I can see the result of some of the influences as I pass a Viking history museum, as I see the intricate road systems, the abbeys, castles, farms. It all comes together in a very charming way.
I can almost feel the fear, resentment, and determination to survive and prosper against everything from invaders, plagues, evil Kings and Lords who literally had the power to run every aspect of the ordinary citizens life. Passing Nottingham I think of Evil Prince John and remember reading how he misused the people and resources. I think of the stories of Robin Hood and his merry men as we go through Sherwood Forest. I envision the county fairs, tournaments, the farmers, pilgrims, peasants, lords and ladies who have all walked or rode through this same area. I think of all the battles that have been fought over who ruled this land, not only invaders but power struggles from within. All of this goes through my head as we drive through this part of the country. But, nothing prepared me for the awe I felt as we came into the hills and mountains of North/Western England.
At home the mountains are huge, usually very wooded and very beautiful. But these are so different, very few tress or bushes they are so many different shapes. Some are rounded, some craggy looking, so many different tints of green and brown. I start to see the rock fences. There are miles and miles of them. They divide the country side into sections and are so precise. Small rocks laid one on top of the other for many miles and the rocks that form the tops of the fences are laid on their ends , close together and make it look fringed. We pass everything from the many sheep grazing the fields and hills to a two humped camel. I see the camel, and then shortly onward there is a llama both very peacefully watching the traffic go by. At one point there is a huge white/gray bull grazing peacefully just beside the road. Old rock farmhouses, barns, and the occasional castle or stately home all within a few miles of each other. I see the similarities to the farms of home in the large round hay bales, the cattle in the fields, the sense of the everyday people who keep us fed and who spend their lives caring for the animals and land sometimes even before themselves. When I see a large tractor it makes me realize i haven’t seen so many large farm vehicles as i am used to seeing at home. I don’t know if they are in barns or if there just aren’t as many in use. Jim says the fields and hills used to be covered with forests but have been cleared for sheep grazing and there are many of them. He says there is very little original forest left in England and I know there are areas now that are protected to keep them from disappearing. It is a shame because sometimes when we visit parks I see very old trees, knotted and twisted. You can almost sense the struggle they have had to survive and wonder at all the things they could tell us if they could talk.
As we start west the hills and mountains become more a part of the landscape, also the beautiful valleys. I am now trying to take pictures and will post them on facebook for those of you who wish to see them, just as soon as i find the gadget that lets me transfer them onto the computer, lol. As i said before , just about everything we have is in transit to Kentucky. So literally everything we own here is inside this car. As we get closer to our destination which is just a little southwest of a place called Penrith you can see the area around here is more what i think of as country, fewer cars, narrower road, fewer homes , that are less ornate or showy and more working farms, more animals and woods.
As we near the farm where we have rented a cottage we see a beautiful lake, it’s setting is very peaceful and there are a few homes on the banks and some boats on the surface. We pass a rippling river, I can almost feel the fishing pole in my hands. I hope we can spend some time just sitting beside the water. We turn off the road to a road that gets narrower till it is almost a track up and around a mountain and find the farm on the right. The site is awe inspiring. We look out over the mountains, forests , and space.
People come here to rest, relax, and explore the nature in this area and we have passed several people just walking the many trails. We won’t be walking a lot of trails because of our disabilities but we can still enjoy the beauty. Diane the owner of the farm met us at the barn where she has been cleaning and feeding. She is dressed in work clothes, boots, and a big smile. Our cottage is the last one on the left, It has a green door which opens on the top or as a whole door with a big window to look out into the barnyard it charms me immediately. The inside is adorable, the walls are a couple feet thick and textured mortar painted a dusky rose color. She has a comfortable fire going in the rock fireplace , a package of crumpets waiting to be toasted on the open fire, small multi colored roses in a clear vase on the oak table, the lights on and welcoming. Two loveseats facing each other give the feeling of closeness and comfort. A big oak table between them waiting to hold our tea for us as we settle in. The floor is tiled in a rust tone the kind of tile that has been around for centuries solid and a bit cool as i kick off my shoes. I am a country girl and i don’t like shoes lol. We enter the bedroom area of the house by going through a door behind the loveseat. Up 2 sections of a few stairs each, the bathroom is welcoming and very very clean on the first landing and at the top of the next landing i find 2 very nice bedrooms. Each one has a four poster bed, a closet space, welcoming towels, and i love the windows in each one where you can clearly see how thick the walls are. Again, i will take pics and post asap.
We are settling in to enjoy the peaceful, beautiful place and each other. I will attempt to bring you all with me through this blog and the pics that i love to take and share.
Love to all, Jim and Nan