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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Windermere

Ambleside scenery

My wife can confirm that I have an annoying habit when traveling of proclaiming a place I'm visiting or have just visited as the ideal place to settle down in after retirement. Over the years I've designated Miyako-jima 宮古島 (Japan), Takachiho 高千穂 (Japan), Ko Samui (Thailand), Missoula (Montana) and Giethoorn (the Netherlands), among other places, as possibilities in which to spend my sunset years. I've now added to the list Windermere, the center of tourism in England's stunning Lake District. We rolled into town on an early Friday evening, checking into our lodgings (Holly Lodge Guest House) and then heading into the small town center to get something to eat (Indian food at the aptly-named Prince of India):



The next morning, while Shu-E and Amber were doing some much-needed clothes washing at the local launderette, I had a look around the neighborhood. The Lake District was an inspiration to Beatrix Potter (among many others), but my daughter has never read Peter Rabbit (and has no interest in starting now), so no regret was felt over missing any theater shows:


Local beer for sale:


With the washing finished, my wife went back to the B&B to relax a bit, so I forced Amber to accompany me on the short amble to Orrest Head, 784 feet (239 meters) above sea level:


It was a gentle walk up, taking around the 20 minutes indicated on the sign:





It was atop the summit of Orrest Head, while taking in the views of the lake below and the surrounding fells, that I began to entertain thoughts of becoming an English country gentleman in my later years:










Back in town, we pried Shu-E from the comfy confines of Holly Lodge to join us for lunch at Fodder Bar & Kitchen, then drove down to Bowness Pier to take a cruise to Ambleside, at the northern edge of the lake:







A period-piece cruise ship dating back to the 1930's:


The girls ashore at Ambleside:


We spent our time there admiring the views and visiting the remains of a Roman fortification dating back to the 2nd century CE, all the while making sure to watch we stepped:





Back to Bowness:



Clear evidence of the glacial origins of Windermere:




My daughter is an avid fowl photographer:


Relaxing at the guest house. Like most of the places where we stayed in the U.K., the pleasant mustiness of Holly Lodge brought back fond recollections of my grandmother's house in Essex:



Dinner on Saturday evening was at Queens, a former coaching inn that now functions as a downstairs pub and upstairs restaurant. My meal included two childhood favorites, Yorkshire pudding and custard:



As mentioned earlier, the Lake District has served as inspiration for many literary figures. The most well-known is the great English poet William Wordsworth. On Sunday we checked out of our accommodations and drove to Grasmere, where we first visited the Wordsworth Museum & Art Gallery:





The highlight, however, is Dove Cottage, Wordsworth's home from 1799 to 1808. The cramped, dark former pub is full of items associated with the Romantic poet (such as his spectacles) and his family, which included his wife, three children and sister Dorothy:



The small garden in the park is laid out on a slope. In Wordsworth's time he would've had an unimpeded view of the water:





Leaving the cottage, we walked to the center of Grasmere, taking in views similar to those Wordsworth must've seen each day he lived there:


The great poet and his family are buried in the graveyard of St. Oswald's Church:




I was very surprised (not to mention pleased and impressed) that Amber recognized the opening to I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud:




Shepherd's Pie for lunch at Greens Cafe & Bistro:


Making the mandatory stop and worthwhile purchase at Sarah Nelson's Gingerbread Shop:


With much great reluctance, it was time to leave the Lake District (and England) for the drive north to Scotland, a Sunday excursion made longer by all the stops necessary to record for posterity some of the scenery along the route:








Our time in the Lake District was too short, of course, meaning I'd like to come back, perhaps on a semi-permanent basis. It's easy to see why the likes of Potter, Wordsworth, Arthur Ransome and John Ruskin made their homes there. It goes without saying that the scenery is magnificent. Windermere's compact town center would easily take care of most daily needs, while the walking trails would provide seemingly endless opportunities to remain healthy both mentally and physically as I channeled my inner Wordsworth. Shu-E, however, doesn't share my enthusiasm, so it's likely the search for the perfect retirement spot will continue.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark have no connection to the Lake District that I'm aware of, but this song perfectly encapsulates for me the atmosphere and mood of the region:





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