Jottings: Gullible's travels
(Carlisle, Lake District, Chester)
Orders of the day are breakfast and bags out by 7:30 a.m. We enjoy the usual dry cereal, OJ, toast, ham, eggs and bangers, and share our table with the same partners as last night at dinner.
The add-on today is a trip to Hadrian's Wall. We pass this one up. This gives us a couple of extra hours to get organized, but it cuts short our stops for the balance of the day. We do miss Nautilus and our three days a week workouts.
At 8:30 a.m. it is overcast and we welcome the cooler air after the closeness of our room last night.
The details of the plane crash are in the paper this morning. What a tragedy. We know that our family is concerned when they first hear of the crash. Also, we are sure they will have read by now about the bus load of senior citizens on tour in Scotland that went off the road and many were seriously injured. Always something to worry about!
At 10:30 a.m. the tour begins traveling down narrow winding roads that follow the hedgerows. We meander through the Cumbrian countryside, through villages with names like High Hesket, Keswick, Ambleside, and pass through endless fields of soft grain.
Driving these narrow, wavy roads across this great green tapestry, we view the scattered sheep dotting the countryside grazing, as sheep have been doing here since there were sheep. It is easy to accept the claim that more poetry and prose have been lavished on the Lake District than any other corner of England.
Wordsworth had this to say about the Lake District, sometimes referred to as the Scottish Highlands in England: "Like a fair sister of the sky, unruffled doth the blue lake lie, the mountains looking on."
We arrived at the village of Grassmere in the Lake Country of Northern England. Wordsworth lived there for nine years following a life of plain living and high thinking. He is buried in the village Church yard. It is easy to see why he "wandered lonely as a cloud" to this peaceful place.
Our lunch consists of meat and sausage pie, a shared pastry and Pepsi. It is purchased and eaten in a combination nursery, gift, and coffee shop. We stroll around the town.
Grassmere is what one might envision as a typical small English country village. It has a road running between its small stores, and it bends a little as it passes over a stone bridge and the crystal clear stream beneath it. The shops are old and quaint.
According to our guide, there are two magnificent items to buy in the Lake District — Ginger Shortcake and Kendal Mint Cake. The Ginger Shortcake is very good. The Kendal Mint is pure sugar with a little bit of mint — too sweet for even our sweet tooth's, but very tasty.
The Lake District consists of sixteen lakes scattered into thirty-five square miles of mountainous and rocky land. The wheat and barley fields are being harvested. Most of the straw is rolled up like carpets four to five feet in diameter, and left in the fields to dry.
Eventually the harvested hay will be placed in large black bags and taken to the barn area and kept all year long. The hay remains fresh and is protected from the weather by the bag. The need for barns to protect the hay has diminished. To understand the area one must know the local terms: Small lakes are tarns; mountains are fells; streams are known as becks; spotted black-faced sheep are Herdwicks, white-faced sheep are Swaledales, and force means waterfall.
Our route continues through Windermere, a village of eight thousand, which is located on the tree-lined shores of the lake by the same name. Windermere is the largest lake in England.
We again pass multitudes of sheep, corralled within innumerable stonewalls that lace this luxuriant landscape. It is easy to become intoxicated by the peaceful and tranquil highland hills, deep green valleys and sparkling jewel - like lakes. Psalm 23 reaches out: "The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need. He gives me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams."
D. Fred Benton is a member of the Jottings Group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.
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