All right, people. No time for witty banter. We have one day to explore the Lake District, so let's get a move on.
Get your exploring hats on, eat a good high-protein breakfast (sans mushrooms because, bleh!), and be thankful that you have someone who can navigate not only driving on the left side of the road, but also driving a stick-shift with her left hand.
No, that would not be me you are thankful for. That would be Andrea. The uber-traveler.
First stop, The World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness-on-Windermere.
(Not a picture of the exhibit; just a picture of a cute building in Windermere)
The first time I was in Scotland, I visited a Beatrix Potter exhibit in the area where her family used to vacation when she was a child. But when she was a teenager, they couldn't vacation in Scotland, so instead they vacationed in the Lake District.
Beatrix fell in love with the Lake District--so much so that she purchased a farm not too far from the attraction we visited.
The attraction we visited?
I mean, seriously. Can you stand the cuteness?
The attraction had an inside part with elements of the stories, and an outside garden that packed a ridiculous amount of awesomeness into a tiny space. And, okay, maybe it was all really set up more as an educational center for kids, but you know that I loved it to pieces.
Just for fun, we picked up the guide book that kids are suppose to fill out as they go through the exhibit--questions about the stories and displays. I grabbed three books, and Andrea and I photographed all the clues so the girls will be able to fill out the book. Made the whole experience even more fun.
Inside the building were several models of images from the books and an interactive video about Beatrix Potter's life, and we sailed through that before spending a small sum in the gift shop.
Even though it was quite rainy, we walked down to Lake Windermere, which is probably quite a popular spot in the summertime.
The swans were very friendly. Good luck trying to get a photo without a swan in it. They were persistent. And very well fed.
We grabbed a latte, and got back on the road. From Windermere, we headed north to Grasmere to visit Dove Cottage, once the home of William Wordsworth. It's where he wrote all his best poems.
Daffodils and wandering clouds were out in full force, much to our delight.
(That big stone building isn't Dove Cottage; it's the little white one in the near left. Wordsworth designed the garden terraces out the back of the cottage, and his sister liked gardening.)
We happened to be there on Wordsworth's birthday, which we noticed because on a tiny little pedestal in the corner of the cottage they had displayed the text from his sister's diary that coincided with events that had happened that week. We were quite surprised that no one mentioned it during any part of the tour. I said as much to someone there, and they said, "Well, he's been dead for 164 years."
Yes. But it's the WILLIAM WORDSWORTH attraction. I think a balloon wouldn't have been too much to ask.
The absence of cupcakes and candles didn't dampen our enthusiasm, though. It was a really interesting exhibit. And so pretty.
From Grasmere, we drove farther north with Keswick (pronounced Kezzick) in our sights. There's a motorway that will take you along at a reasonable speed, but motorways don't allow for much picture taking. So we detoured towards a lake, took a barely paved road, stopped for a brief hike, and took lots of pictures that we would have missed had we been on A591.
Which goes to show that sometimes those itty bitty roads are the real hidden gems of traveling.
We eventually arrive in Keswick, and like all the towns in the Lake District, it is bursting with charm. We get the absolute BEST hot chocolate ever at Java Coffee, do a little bit of shopping for the girls at a cute toy store that stayed open just for us, and then walk to the lake, Derwent Water.
People spend their whole summer vacation in the Lake District, and it's easy to see why. It's just beautiful, there's lots to do, and everyone we met was super nice.
After we walked around the lake a bit, we passed by the Theatre by the Lake and I noticed that they were playing Dancing at Lughnasa, a famous Irish play. Since we were going to be in Ireland the next day, and since our evening plans were flexible, we thought, "Why not?" After inquiring about tickets, we ended up purchasing them, which meant we wouldn't be back at our B&B for dinner. We asked the lady at the ticket counter if she had any recommendations, and she pointed us towards The Old Keswickian with advice to get the fish and chips.
We did. So between the amazing hot chocolate and seriously delicious fish and chips, Keswick did not disappoint in the food area.
Those are mushy peas alongside my fish and chips. I rather like mushy peas, which I take as a sign that I could live quite happily in the UK. We didn't have time for dessert--always a bummer--but we had a show to catch.
The production was very well done. The set design was clever, the costumes spot on, and the acting was quite fine. All in all, two thumbs up. If someone wasn't into Irish drama or even dramatic theatre in general, it might feel slow paced. But we're two English majors. We love that sort of thing.
Of course, by the time the show was done, it was dark outside, so we took the motorway back to our B&B and quietly climbed the stairs to our room. Although the night before we had a caught of bit of British television--including a disaster of show called Party Wright Around the World--tonight we call it a day.
There are two places on this trip that I would love to go back and spend more time at, and the Lake District is at the top of that list. It was so lovely, and the only reason why we ended up going there in the first place was because months ago Andrea was feeling optimistic that I might actually be able to visit her in the spring, so when she saw this Groupon deal for a two-night stay at the Uplands Hotel she got it.
Hooray for optimism, for detours, for on-a-whim decisions to see shows. And tomorrow we leave the Lake District behind and ferry off to Northern Ireland.