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(Old) Magical Mystery Tour: Days Five and Six (Lake District)

(Originally posted on June 2, 2012)

What’s this? I’m actually attempting to update and catch people up on stuff?? Madness!

Day Five we checked out of the hostel and caught a cheap bus to Carisle. The drive was lovely, and I finished Mrs. Mike, which was great and made me cry a little. I might pick up the companion book[s?] if I get the time. Anyway, so we got to Carisle and hopped on a 15 minute train into Penrith. We hung around McDonald’s for about an hour waiting for our next bus. In my defense, this is only the second time I have entered a McDonald’s in my entire time abroad. Plus they had cheap drinks with ice. So.

We caught the appropriate bus, but got off a stop too soon (in the right town, though–yay us!). Fortunately for us, the town of Keswick is pretty tiny, and we were able to find our way fairly easily to the B&B. The B&B itself was a beautiful Victorian house, up on a hill overlooking a golf course, mountains and lake. We were on the top floor facing the back. I blogged about this room and the view and how much I loved it in my entry Everything Out the Window.

After taking a rest, we decided we’d hike three miles up a mountain to see a stone circle at sunset. About twenty minutes into the walk, my camera battery died. This was heartbreaking, but perhaps to be expected. I hadn’t charged my battery since before my travels with Mary Cate, so… (Yes, yes, I know, that was stupid. But I have to charge my battery so rarely that I forget.) At that point, even if we had walked back to the B&B I would have had to charge my battery for a good hour, so we elected to keep going on the hike and perhaps go again the next night to get pictures.

At first, it was sort of torture. Without my camera working, I felt like I was without one of my senses. It’s weird, but whenever I have my camera I always view the world as a photographer. I look for pictures, angles, light, etc. I like this acquired skill because it’s taught me to see in a different way. But it’s also hard to actually take in the scenery when I have my camera. As I walked, I tried to capture everything I could in memory and in words, like a proper writer should. After a little adjustment, this was actually quite relaxing (though it still hurt not to be able to take pictures of the walk–which was amazing).

Anyway, the journey began through pathways by a farm. We then entered a forest beside a loud stream. The forest was all green with a path of roots and stones. There were beautiful old stone walls, covered in moss and grass. We then emerged at the edge of the wood by fields of cows. We could see down into the valley, where the lake was bright blue and the mountains were growing dark in the evening sun. For a while it was a steep climb up the fridge of the wood. Then we crossed a creek on a tiny bridge and made our way through fields (full of sheep). One of the fields was particularly steep downhill, which was a relief after all the hiking. Mom suggested a race. I won. She almost fell.

Then it was up a country lane (with walls and flowers on both sides). We were at the top of a small mountain now, with views of our neighboring peaks.

I was looking all around. I told Mom, “Isn’t this amazing? Isn’t this like something out of a book?”

Mom said, “Well, that’s because it’s qu… qu… quizzessential England.”
Me: “… Do you mean quintessential?”
Mom: “Right! That one!”
Me: “What is quiz essential, anyway? Is that like, there’s going to be a quiz on this later?”
Mom: [almost chokes and dies. Happily she did not die or else I would have felt really bad]

Eventually, we climbed one of the stone walls and came to the stone circle.

There were a few other tourists around, and a ton of sheep (including lambs). It was still quite peaceful and magical, though. I liked feeling how hot the stones were on the side toward the sun, and how cold they were in the shadow. We walked around slowly (clockwise). Mom was determined to figure out what the circle was for, and kept making guesses. But we left the rocks as we found them: Mysterious and silent sentinels on the peak of the mountain.

We then had the luxurious walk down the steep mountain, passing several travels going the opposite way. It was quite beautiful, and I sang hymns to myself. When we got to town, we stopped for a drink and a snack. The sun still hadn’t set by the time we got to our room. It sets really, really late here.

Oh, and I made a riddle while I was walking! Mom couldn’t figure it out (even after several tries) but Laura got it right away. So I’m not sure if it’s clever or not. But here ’tis:

Yellow in youth I am
My kin and I rule the land
But with age my head turns grey
A thousand wishes my crown array
My young will through cold wind sail
My lineage will never fail
What am I?

(Answer’s at the bottom of the post.)

Day Six we had a lovely breakfast, then set out to enjoy the lake. We meandered slowly, stopping often for pictures. After walking to one of the famous view points, we turned back and stopped in a tea house overlooking the lake. It was beautiful and peaceful. But by the time we moved on (about 10:30) the tourists were waking up and it was beginning to be crowded.

We went through town to the Pencil Museum. This may sound boring, but it really wasn’t. It was an old pencil making factory, with a lot of interesting stuff about how to make colored pencils. There was even an exhibit about an awesome WWII pencil soldiers used to carry, which had a laser, compass and map hidden where the lead should be. Mom and I sat down to test the colored pencils on some coloring sheets. I wish my artistic sister, Laura, had been there. She probably would have enjoyed it (though she likely wouldn’t have appreciated our mad coloring skills). However, this museum was also the worst example of graphic design I have seen in a museum… possible in my entire life. Think serif font, all caps, justified so that there were sometimes gaps so big between letters I could have placed three fingers in them. Whoever did the design for them probably deserves a pencil in his/her eye. It was bad.

After the pencil museum, we got a cheap lunch. I think the rest of the day we spent wandering in and out of various shops and sipping tea.

That night, instead of going back to the stone circle, we went to see Ladies of Cranford at the Theatre on the Lake. It was a two-woman act that was surprisingly fantastic. I was the youngest person in the audience by several decades. There were two old men in front of us who were basically walking British stereotypes–including the snooty accent and a monocle!

The walk back was just lovely (see Rambling Through the Avenues of Time). Then it was time for bed.

Answer: A dandelion.

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