Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Glorious Day in the Country

On Saturday, we went with David and Julia to the Lake District. Julia had been given a gift card voucher entitling her to tea for two, so we had tea for four and split the difference.

The tea was at the Samling, one of the posh hotels in Windermere, on the banks of the Lake.

The hotel sits on 67 acres, a number of which were done up in formal gardens, fun to explore, with all the little niches and pools and gazebos. I finally learned the name of that dark purple flowering plant; it has long clusters of tiny blossoms, like lilacs, but darker and longer. It’s Buddleia or buddleja, the Buttefly Bush.

Another plant we saw there had leaves bigger than I ever thought could exist. The leaves, as nearly as I could estimate, were at least four feet in diameter, and many were six feet! We had no idea what these plants were, but the undersides of the leaves were full of thorns, arranged along each vein. They were truly like some Disneyworld fantasy!

Tea Table

Samling Hotel

View from our Table


Demetrios, Anastasia, Julia in Garden

Tea was high tea, an entire meal of sandwiches (ham, cucumber, egg mayo, salmon), scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, and an assortment of other sweets, more than any of us could eat. As it was a perfect day, bright and warm, no humidity, we ate outside on the terrace. The sky was a different blue than I could ever remember having seen before, a sweet, tender color; and the pastures and hedgerows –English greenery has the same hues we have in America, and indeed the same shades and tints, but what’s different is the saturation. The English greens are more vivid than ours, as if God, when He came to the making of England, had used double-strength dye. The sheep were grazing peacefully in the meadows, a dozen small sailboats were crossing the sparkling water, and the whole effect was of living inside a picture postcard.

To add icing to the already-iced caked, an air show was in progress over Lake Windermere. It was fun to watch the acrobatics, the designs left by the trails of smoke in the sky, and the World War II vintage planes passing over, fighters and bombers. Spitfires, David said, and Lancasters.

I’ve now been to quite a few places, from the tropics to the far north, from as far west as Hawaii and as far east as eastern Greece, and I have to tell you that absolutely nowhere I’ve seen is more beautiful than the English countryside on a glorious day.

It’s of course the “glorious day” bit that’s the kicker. Last week I was in the post office when the clerk there asked did I live in Ormskirk, and I said yes, but seasonally, only for the summer. He looked around, peered out the window at the dark clouds and sharp breeze, shrugged his shoulders, spread out his hands and said, “Welcome to our ‘summer!’”

And last Sunday, when I told a Liverpool taxi driver the same thing, I added (to forestall a remark similar to the man’s in the post office), “We’re lucky this year. The summer has been drier than last year.” His immediate come-back was, “It in’t over yet!”

It’s still like early Spring here. The sunshine, when we have it, is warm (not hot) and the breeze, which we always have, is downright cold.

Why do the English so like discussing the weather? Because they have so much of it!

But truly Saturday was one of those heavenly days that makes all the gray ones worth it. Even more satisfying is that we took full advantage of it, with good company, good food, and being outdoors.


Anam Cara said...

Next time you go, post pics of your giant mystery leaf. I'd love to see it!

Nina said...

Oh, what a wonderful day you had...wish I could have been there!

James the Thickheaded said...

Love to make that stop, too! Good for you,