Monday, October 20, 2014

The UK Part III: England, ho!!

Tuesday 1 July 2014
We had another BIG breakfast and then hit the road. The weather is perfection.
We drove south out of Edinburgh through the rolling hills until we passed a roadside boulder that said ENGLAND!! Horray!!

We continued along the narrow roadways through the beautiful countryside in search of Hadrian’s Wall.

The Romans built this wall in AD 122 under the rule of Emperor Hadrian. No one is really sure why the wall was built, but Historians surmise that it was built to keep those unruly Scotsmen at bay. Preston and I are pretty sure it was built to keep out the WHITE WALKERS. :P

The wall runs from coast to coast and used to stand 20ft tall and 3ft wide. Most of the cut stones of the wall were later removed to aid in the construction of the surrounding villages. Remnants of the wall still remain-albeit at only about 2ft tall and 1 ft wide.

Being the big Game of Thrones fans that we are-the wall intrigued us and we had to see it.

It was easy enough to find by following the road signs. It was not, however, easy to get up next to it.

We drove along the wall for some time, but every parking lot for it required payment and sometimes an expensive ticket, to boot. After driving for a while, we found an out of the way lot and admired the wall from a distance to avoid paying to park. We are being ESPECIALLY cheap this late into the trip!! It definitely stinks to be on such a budget.

We traveled on some back roads and stopped at an adorable corner inn for a lunch of meat pies with veggies and potatoes.  The ‘traditional’ meals here are all SO heavy.

We met back up with the main thoroughfare and continued SW into the famous ‘Lake District’.

The hills all around us increased in size to the point of being downright mountain-like :P It was stunning.

We chose a long route starting in the little town of Keswick and weaving through to the teeny village of Bouth.

It was a perfect summer paradise. Quaint little villages were full of activities. We passed sprawling lawns set up for music in the park, boat races, people flying kites, kids on bikes…it was idyllic. I felt like a Jane Austen character ;)

Each town we came upon was as adorable as the last. Hundreds of stone cottages with perfect gardens and stone fences passed by through the car window.

We drove through the much busier town of  Windermere, which is near the homes (now museums) of William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter.

Curving around another lake, we followed our GPS through what was a basically a field until we magically came upon a teeny crossroads with our next B&B-‘The White Hart Inn’. It was delightful with white washed walls and a thatched roof.

The bottom level housed a cozy pub and the barkeep showed us to our little room. It was like an attic with slanted windows and open sunlights.

We kicked off our shoes and relaxed a bit after our long drive. I got up to get going and a BIRD flew in through the skylight. Haha!! I hit the ground in an army crawl FREAKING out. Preston calmly stood up and closed the bird in the bathroom where it promptly flew back out the window. He then turned to look at me like I was crazy :P

We decided to take one of the hotel’s recommended hikes. I snapped some pics on my phone to avoid bringing the whole booklet and off we went.

We walked just up the road to a little farm and down the farm lane. The farm had an adorable little egg box with the honor system in place to pay for the eggs. We passed horses, miniature horses, and a donkey. One of the little horses and the donkey appeared to be best friends-they ran along the fence together to greet us. :)


We followed the lane into the woods and up a hill to a path. We reached a wooden gate described on the map, but then the directions completely stopped making sense. We wandered out of the woods along the path into a pasture and up to the top of a hill with incredible views. I guess it’s a thing here to take these country walks through ACTUAL farmland, but we felt confused and uncomfortable and the cows looked confused too, so we turned back. We could see a little church down the one side of the hill that was maybe (?) the one our map indicated, but who knows!! The map certainly never said ‘walk through a pasture full of cows’.

Mr. Darcy? Are you there?

We made it back to the busy little B&B and had a pint on the porch with some dogs before ordering some dinner.

They let us eat (me-a salmon salad, Pres-AMAZING lasagna that was better than anything we had in Italy) in the lounge to watch the World Cup. America was playing. Woot woot!! I think it was the night they lost. Womp wa.
We retreated to our little nook room to read and soundly sleep. I spent as much time as I could leaning out the skylight to gaze at the moonlit and star-filled sky residing over the most amazingly picturesque countryside. Goodnight Mini-horse. Goodnight Donkey. :)

Wednesday 2 July 2014
After another enormous breakfast, we checked out of the B&B and decided to take a hike somewhere around town.

Fresh Milk!
All the hikes I found online and in our hotel booklet had incredibly vague instructions, so we just set out hoping to find a parking lot or a path.

NO SUCH LUCK. We drove around for nearly an hour. The closest thing to a hike we found was a narrow country lane that had cars parked along its side.
Again, I think that hikes here are more just pasture walks-Elizabeth Bennet style.

We gave up :-/ on hiking and started on our long drive to York.

Long Preston :P

Along the way, we found ourselves on the route for the Tour de France. Apparently, the first leg this year is here in England.

We stopped at a roadside cafĂ© for some ‘egg mayo’ (egg salad) sandwiches and followed the colorful flags and yellow bicycles into the busy city of York.

We located our new B&B-which was one in a line of row houses, but no one was home. Lacking a cell phone with which to call the suggested number, we decided to explore some of the town and come back later.

My Rick Steves’ guidebook recommended the York Castle Museum. Let me just take a moment to say how much BETTER this book is than the lousy Lonely Planet ones I’ve been using until now. It is SO much more interesting, user friendly as an e-book, fun to read, and accurate. I LOVE Rick Steves!!

The museum sounded really cool, so we decided to splurge and check it out. Crossing the bridge into the city center, we parked in a lot alongside a small castle and near the museum.

The museum was just OK-but not great and not really worth the high ticket price.

There were rooms set up as typical English houses from different periods, an exhibit on old farm equipment, another on WWI, and one on the 60s and flower power.

The coolest part was the replica of a night time Victorian street-through which, we were able to stroll. The last part of the museum told of its long history serving as a jail. We ventured through the cramped and damp cells. The walls served as screens for a projection playing reenactments of the most infamous prisoners.

A Prisoner!!
Back in the car, we returned to the B&B to be greeted by the friendly owner. Most of the house was still privately used by her family, but we were shown upstairs to our spacious and bright room.

We put our feet up and I sifted through the pamphlets of information provided in our room.

I’m obsessed with English History and have always had a fascination with the War of the Roses, the Plantagenet Family, and the later Tudor Family. I’m definitely a York Loyalist and I thought York was SURELY (I mean, Edward OF York??) a town of the York family, but was disappointed to learn York had supported the Lancasters. BOO!! HISS!! #nerdalert

One of the pamphlets recommended a walk on the perimeter wall of the city, so off we went to explore.

The top of the wall was reached by a staircase and we were soon walking along the ancient stone wall. It was SO cool and the views were incredible. :)

Feeling like medieval soldiers, we followed the wall for some time and came down near the river into the city center.

We walked along the streets loaded with restaurants, pubs, and a brewery. We passed York’s magnificent and famous cathedral (The Minster) and wandered down The Shambles-the charming, old butcher’s district. Walking down this street was like stepping back in time.

I toyed with the idea of doing a ghost tour, but we didn’t. In retrospect, I wish we had…or at least caught the nightly free city tour. We crossed back over the river and returned to near our B&B to have some cider in a pub. I don’t remember the name of this cider, but it was TERRIBLE and warm.

These were all over. What do they mean??
We got what was touted to be the BEST (a lofty exclamation) fish & chips in England. It was served with mushy peas and was delicious.

We returned to the room…ready for what the next day would bring. :)

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