Monday, September 27, 2010
Scenes from a vaycaycay.
Pub light. Note the tips of my gorilla feet in the corner. I test-drove my Vibram FiveFingers in the Brit's hometown and in London.
I love old, wordy epitaphs.
My sister Emily called this my travel jedi outfit, though what you're supposed to be noticing is all the tiny, colorful, hundreds-of-years-old houses lining the street behind me. This is in the Brit's hometown.
His dad and stepmum's backyard and studio. Do you want to go to there? I do.
Portrait of a portrait. Painted by his dad.
In a Cambridge sidestreet.
In a Cambridge cafe, with lots of excellent bike-watching out the window.
We went up to the Lake District for 4 days and stayed in a lovely inn to which all corners of the Brit's family seem to have a connection. The weather was spotty but never miserable until the day we left, which was nice. It looked like this when we got there.
That's pretty much the view from our window in the inn. Naturally, there wasn't really time for a hike this day.
The next day, the weather had turned. We visited family in the morning while it rained. In the afternoon, we tried to do a long ascent to a peak via a bog. Here I am, standing in it.
I left all the route-picking to the Brit because he gets such an enormous kick out of it, but I later found out that Wainwright called this one of the wettest paths in the Lake District (or maybe all of England). At least we tested the mettle of our hiking boots.
We made it all the way up past a big waterfall before we decided we would probably slip and perish if we kept trying to climb up. It was still fun, though a lot of the hike was fun in that "this sucks" way.
The next day started off better. All the mountaintops were inside clouds, but the going was clear for a long time.
I seem to have one of these every trip.
As you can see in the lower right, the path is more or less a stream. We ended up having to leap across deep rushing water several times. We hiked up to a little tarn where it was windy and moody and a neat pile of cremains stood on the shore. A good resting place for somebody.
And then the top was like this, except worse. We were huddling in this cairn/windbreak thing, enveloped in cloud and whipping wind, gnawing on bread and cheese, when this chipper young fellrunner came scooting up in running shorts and a windbreaker. "Bit of fresh air?" he called out, jogging in place. "It's wild, isn't it," he said, with relish. He took a compass reading and jogged off into the mist on impossibly long legs.
Then we wandered around in the mist looking for the path, wishing we actually knew how to use our compass properly. We did finally find a path and hike across the ridge to the next few peaks. It was a bit pointless to be up so high, since we couldn't see anything, but it was fun. Later, the clouds broke.
That little white spot you see on the other side of the lake is a house. We kept referring to it (and any other nice place we saw) as Sting's estate, since he evidently owns a place up there. Maybe you had to be there, but this trope was always funny.
By the time we got down the hill, it looked like this outside. Naturally. That mountain is Fleetwith Pike, which I called Fleetwood Mac. We hiked it the next day, my 36th birthday.
Meanwhile, the in-laws stuck to sea (lake) level. We met every morning and evening in the inn for our meals. Mornings were a full-on breakfast and would you believe? They had veggie sausages! Evenings we sat in the pub with all the guests, hikers, and crazy cyclists passing through.
On my birthday, we climbed up here (and then up some more, then over, then down, then up, then way down). It involved stream-fording, rock-climbing, sheep, a slate quarry, a little rain, plenty of sun and clouds, scenic peeing, and chocolate digestive biscuits. It was awesome.
This is what 36 looks like.
This climber's hut seemed to grow organically out of all the rockfall from the slate quarry.
Up on Haystacks.
We could have stayed for ages and actually want to go back there immediately. It felt really good to put in 17 or 18 hours of hiking over 3 days. Like I'm not as much of a candy ass as I thought.
I know this is already an enormous post, but we stopped in York on the way back to Essex and I want to show you some more pictures. The Brit's dad came up to York on the train and all five of us tooled around York Minster, marveling, and wandered the streets of York, and had tea and Fat Rascals (I made some yesterday, with this recipe. Curses, and now I want one, and there are none here), and more giant hotel breakfasts.
We climbed the 275 spiral steps up the central tower. After all the fellwalking, 275 steps didn't seem like a big deal.
The view at the top was spectacular, but the pictures I took up there don't really show you. So here are some of the inside:
More England pics here (disclaimer: lots of vacation documentation pics of limited interest to anyone who wasn't there).
In conclusion, I like vacation. We need to take more of them.