Our last days in England have been so full I can’t write about everything. At least I’ll tell you about the visit of Nick and Sharyn, though, and one or two other highlights.
We kept Nick and Sharyn up until normal bedtime in England on their first day here, and we walked around outside a lot. Those two things are supposed to be the best treatment for jet lag.
The first thing Nick said the next morning was, we had to break up our staying all together in the tiny flat; we must go for two overnight trips in the hired car.
So we gauged ourselves according to the weather. The first trip, Wednesday morning, we went north to the Lakes District. The scenery there is gorgeous, with mountains and glacial lakes and green hills covered with sheep, enclosed by stone fences made without mortar, hundreds of miles of them. The houses and shops are all what the English call “chocolate box”, very picturesque, very old, all of the same gray stone as the fences.
We spent the night with Arthur and Helen at the Anchorage, a small bed and breakfast in Ambleside. The other guests were from Australia, Israel, and Italy, so breakfast the next morning was interesting. Elishavet (Elizabeth), from Israel, is a sculptress. She gave us a brochure showing some of her work, and it’s quite good. Some of her statues have her husband, Avraam, as the model, and they do look just like him.
Next morning we wandered around Ambleside for a while, the rain having cleared away leaving a bright, perfect day. Then we headed up to the Scottish border for Hadrian’s Wall. The stretch we came to is the one near Carlisle. We walked along a bit of it. Only afterward did we see the sign asking us not to, and saying walking upon the wall might cause it to collapse! I don’t believe that for a moment, but I’d hate to be responsible if it did.
The Wall is only half its original height of 15 feet, so not all that impressive; in fact, it doesn’t look so very different from all the other stone walls about, except for being thicker. And, of course, longer, stretching 73 miles across the narrowest part of the neck of England.
We were reminded of our host’s quip (Arthur, the proprietor of the bed and breakfast). When we mentioned we were on our way to Hadrian’s Wall, he was so unimpressed Nick asked him whether going there was worth it. “It depends on what you expect,” said Arthur.
Nick shrugged. “A stone wall.”
Arthur laughed, nodding. “You will not be disappointed!”
We came home very late, and quite exhausted.
Our second trip, Saturday and Sunday, was south, to Oxford and to Blenheim Palace, the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough and the birthplace of Winston Spencer Churchill. He was a cousin of the then Duke, sharing the same last names.
Oxford has a good many medieval buildings, including the various colleges. We saw a few, but time was short and we didn’t see as much as I would have liked to.
At Blenheim Palace, our admittance charge bought us a pass good for an entire year, so we went twice. The second time, the Duke and Duchess were away, so there were tours of the private apartments. Sharyn and I took one. Moderately interesting. You didn’t, of course, see anything more private than the family living room and the Duchess’ sitting room.
The state rooms were obviously the most ornate, most impressive ones, filled with valuable paintings and containing fancy, gilded plasterwork in the cornices and ceilings.
The gardens are considered fabulous, and as much of them as we saw really were, full of fountains and pools and precisely laid-out, labyrinthine hedges and flower gardens. We only saw a small fraction of all the fabled gardens, however. It wasn’t just that we ran out of time; what we ran out of was stamina. We just keep forgetting we aren’t as young as we feel, and need to allot more time to everything than we used to.
Again we came home very late (11:00) and exhausted. We slept very well every night all week.
I will say that we have become much better drivers by now, and Nick also had enough practice to have become adept, so we awarded him official bragging rights, which presumably he is by now exercising back in the U.S. We did, however, spend a lot of time, as in a total of two or three hours, lost.
Hints from Jane:
A map is utterly useless unless
you read it accurately
you are willing to follow it
you take the time, each and every time, before you actually begin driving, to orient yourself. It’s too late to figure out where on the map you are after you’re lost.
Nick drove us halfway home while I navigated; then I drove the rest of the way while he navigated. And the good news is, that was a winning team! We never got lost once, never even made a single wrong turn.
Monday, September 5, 2011
Posted by Anastasia Theodoridis at 6:04 AM