As Chelle put it, â€œThe bacon this morning was much piggier than at previous establishments.â€
Over all, I would say that the very high price of our B&B on Skye was not worth the expense. Still, you live and learn, right? The biggest problem I had was from a very loud, very PHLEGMY table of Canadians that were breakfasting at the same time as we were. My gag reflex was working overtime as the table hacked, grunted and perpetually sounded like they were hacking up and swallowing logies for about 15 straight minutes.
It was a pretty long drive. Eight hours in all, plus we had to drive through Glasgow, the capital of the whole damn country. I say â€œWeâ€ as if I had anything to do with it. Chelle is doing all the driving. I just fail my arms around and point uselessly at the map while grunting while our needed exit passes by. She is doing an amazing job trying to navigate everything.
On our way to England, we drove through a very special place to me: Glencoe. Glencoe was the sight of a massacre that occurred in the 1600′s involving the British, the Clan Campbell and the MacDonald’s of Glencoe. Because of several reasons, the admittedly notorious cattle-thieving MacDonald clan were to be completely exterminated down to the last woman and child. (They weren’t, again due to many reasons but you can read more about it here) but lets say that one of the reasons that this particular massacre remains in the forefront of history is because of its particular cruelly and official sanction by the British King and government.
That, and the soldiers that were supposed to carry out the massacre were housed by the MacDonald’s due to the hospitality rules of the Highlands. For them to turn on their hosts after almost 2 weeks of quarter was particuarly nauseating.
I researched it heavily for about 2 years and can’t believe that I actually stood and saw the setting of it. Unbelievable.Â It’s a beautiful patch of land. I can see why the MacDonald’s prized it so greatly.
Loch Lomand (You know, “Ye’ll take the high road and I’ll take the low…”)was our last stop in Scotland, and we were off to England!
You canâ€™t imagine the scenery in The Lake District. I couldnâ€™t imagine it until I was actually here. The amazing thing is the absolutely massive number of stone wall fences. They are everywhereâ€¦THOUSANDS of them. It makes the countryside look like a patchwork quilt. It is breathtaking and postcard worthy in just about every direction. I was so busy looking at everything, I neglected to take photos of it. By the time I pulled out my camera the scenery changed somewhat and we weren’t around so many stone fences. Still beautiful, though…
We stayed in the Northern Lake District in a charming little town called, Keswick. We checked in to Ellergill House which is run by Clare and her husband, Robin. They are both very outdoorsy and younger for B&B proprietors. When Robin offered to take my bag I told him I would be far too embarrassed to have him lift up my very heavy bag and he gallantly stated â€œWell, I guess youâ€™ll just have to be embarrassed, then.â€ Cute, no?
Ellergill was very comfy and rather clean and modern, which was a lovely change from the overly â€œCutesyâ€ dÃ©cor we had in the highlands. The beds were very soft and covered with lovely, fluffy feather comforters. We went and did our laundry at the local Launderette right when we got in. It was so worth it to have clean clothes. The attendant was very helpful about eating places and British laundry machines (Different from ours.)
We ate at a pub called The Pack Horse Inn Pub. It was tremendous amounts of fun and a jolly old Englishman complete with tweed jacket, cane and cap was very helpful about how we order food in a pub. You seat yourself, order from the counter and give your table number and pay and they bring it out. Simple enough.
We sat next to two ladies from Portland that gave us a lot of insight into sightseeing around the town and when they left a whole gaggle of local men came down to the pub for a pint. They were so jolly. They talked to us about skiing once it was determined I was American and from Utah (Their first guess was Canadian followed by South American. ???? I know. )
We had green olives and feta, hummus and bread as a starter and I ordered the Cumbrian lamb, braised for four hours in local ale. It was almost the size of a hole freaking pot roast. I canâ€™t believe how much of it I ate, but it was so yummy. Again, I marvel at lack of gaminess of the meats that I have eaten here. It has been something I have done with purposeâ€¦Eating local fresh food as much as possible. It has paid off.
We bid the fun group of locals adieu and headed back to the hotel for a much needed rest.
The weather was not so rainy, but it was very cold. The shower was also quite the cold/hot/cold/hot experience as well. We didnâ€™t go hiking like we planned, but went to see the place where graphite and pencils were first invented. There is still a huge pencil factory there and the museum was rather fascinating. We watched a video on the history entitled â€œThe Humble Pencilâ€. I also picked up a drawing pad and colored pencils for James, as he is absolutely enamored with drawing.
Next we went to Casterly Stone Circle. It is one of the larger stone circles in England and is situated in a pretty field surrounded by an amazing view. This structure has been around since about 1500 BC and it as most likely used to determine seasons, and as a gathering place to celebrate equinoxes and May Day (Party!). I loved the circle, but I confess that I liked the Cairns by Cawdor Castle in Scotland far more.
After the cold got the best of us at the circle, we headed off in the car to Hawkshead and to Beatrix Potter country. I cannot even begin to tell you what it is like to drive in these TINY, FREAKISHLY CURVED ROADS LINED ON BOTH SIDES WITH CRAGGY STONE WALLS CRAMMED WITH BAD, ROAD-HOGGING DRIVERS COMING AT YOU AT A BILLION MILES PER HOUR!!!!
Seriously, we were inches from the wall so much of the time or inches from getting hit on the other side. It was an extremely harrowing hour. When we finally got to Hawkshead, it was partially a disappointment because of the crowds. We decided to skip seeing her farm and opted to go to the gallery that is in her husbandâ€™s old law office in the heart of Hawkshead village. We saw about 50 original Potter paintings and sketches. They were adorable. It is always interesting to me to see original works of art that I have seen in print so many times. There are so many details that just do not come across in prints. Nobody drew cute, fluffy, fuzzies like Miss Potter.
We wanted to get something from the Potter Shop for our friend Karen, but the shop was closed for lunch. We were starving and so it was decided that we would eat and come back once it was open. It turned out that lunch was a very bright spot to the day. We ended up at Kings Cross Pub. Most other places were crammed full and we were starving and didnâ€™t want to wait, so we wandered a bit farther down the road and found this delightful pub with great seating right on the front window. The food, oh my! Chelle finally got to try Cumberland Sausage and homemade mashed potatoes, and I had crusty wholegrain bread with sharp Cumbrian white cheddar cheese and sweet red onion chutney. YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY. In fact, we meant to go to The Relish Company to buy some, but it was forgotten in the staggering disappointment of the Beatrix Potter shop. There were like, three Potter things because they donâ€™t own the copyright to her images. L
We had to take the horrific, tiny, winding road back, but that option was better than taking a ferry across the lake. That just wasnâ€™t an option.
We had about a three hour drive to York and it was pretty much hell. One thing that contributed to this was that there was really only one radio station that wasnâ€™t talk radio or broadcast in Gaelic. Oddly enough, it was called Radio 1. I think that they pretty much have 5 songs in their repertoire.
1. Hey there, Delilah-Plain White Tâ€™s
2. What I am: I got it from my momma (LOVELY song. Bleck)
3. Stronger-Kanye West and the Stronger â€œCoverâ€ by some British guy
4. Some song by The White Stripes
5. Peter Bjorn and John- Young Folk
Itâ€™s enough to drive you mad, really. Considering that we were in car well over 20 hours for the time we rented it, we were pretty much ready to re-enact the scene from â€œBetter Off Deadâ€ where John Cusack rips the radio out of the car and flings it out the window.
Our map was pretty useless, as was the directions from the B&B (When you get to the wide part of the road, there we are.) UH???? York has streets that are like one big roundabout. It was hell trying to find anything. Driving today was an experiment in terror and frustration.
We were supposed to turn in our car by 5, but it was 6:00 when we reached the B&B. We made a fine introduction to Pete, the laid back, 40â€™ish Birkenstock-wearing yuppie that owns Alcuin Lodge with his wife, Izzy. He was met by two frantic, wild-eyed, mussed haired, rumpled Americans blathering on about needed to call the rental agency asap!! (Ok, that was really just me; Chelle looked fantastic, as usual.) The agent said that the agency was closed, but that there was a drop box available. I confirmed that she was at the train station and she said â€œOh dear, no!â€ So, I handed the phone to Pete, and he deciphered the directions for us and gave us a map with the route penciled in.
We found it ok and had a great stroll back through town. We looked at the MASSIVE Minster Cathedral (Biggest Gothic cathedral west of the Alps) and wandered around until we stopped to eat at an ok Italian restaurant. The quarters were close, though, and the woman next to us almost got a fork in the head from Chelle because she.would.not.stop.hacking.loudly. Seriously, it was really grody. It reminded me of the hacking phlegm family on the Isle of Skye.
We decided that we needed to touch base with our families, so we found internet service at â€œThe Evil Eye Loungeâ€. WOW, it was creepy and I think itâ€™s possible I picked up a couple of STDâ€™S just from walking through the door. We only had a few minutes, so we only emailed our families, but it was really nice to hear from them.
The wind finally stopped blowing and made the walk less hellious and before I knew it we were back at home base. Iâ€™m off to bed. Tomorrow, the castle and Yorkshire museum.