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Posts Tagged ‘Albion’

We went to England in late June expecting fogs and rain, but it was cool and clear most days, seldom getting above 70 degrees. We had not considered how deep into the evening the light would persist. Northern England, where we stayed in the tiny village of Newby in the beautiful Lake District, is farther north than all of the U.S. except Alaska, and the light comes early and stays late.

On a walk in the Lake District

On a walk in the Lake District

We wore long pants and layers and carried umbrellas that were seldom used. The narrow country lanes were largely empty of traffic and we walked between hedgerows and used public footpaths across neat fields of sheep and cows. Sometimes we would see a farmer far away on a red tractor or mowing his field of hay. There were wooden steps to climb over gates and we walked between villages, each one with its ancient church and historic pub. Albion, the original name for the British Isles, was all around us in the lingering daylight.

The sun rose early, well before 5 a.m., but we dithered around the cottage, making tea and English breakfast, fried eggs and sausages, thick bacon, toast, often with beans. Dairy Cottage was neat and highly efficient. Every outlet had its own breaker and the washer and dryer were in one small package. The girls slept in twin beds under a skylight and we had a larger room with a double bed. Our window looked out on the neighboring dairy farm, though we were on one of the short main streets of Newby.

Window seat at Dairy Cottage looks out on a working farm

Window seat at Dairy Cottage looks out on a working farm

One morning we took a short drive and visited the cottage where William Wordsworth lived with his wife and sister Dorothy. Dove Cottage was small and dark, though comfortable enough. He discovered the cottage, a former inn, on a walking tour with his pal and Lyrical Ballads collaborator Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It looked down on Grasmere Lake and off to the hills. He and Dorothy moved in to the cottage and planted a garden, and a few years later, Wordsworth married Mary Hutchinson and filled the cottage “edgewise” with children and notable guests, like Ivanhoe author Sir Walter Scott and the Opium Eater Thomas De Quincey. We sat on the bench on the hillside behind the cottage where Wordsworth composed some of the most beautiful poems in the English language and his sister worked at her journal that details the life of a place and the poets who lived and visited there.

Grasmere Lake

Grasmere Lake

We walked down the road to the lake and circled it on a quiet path near the shore. Grasmere is touristy, but in an old fashioned, pleasant enough way. We bought sandwiches made of local cheeses and chutney from a small shop, and ate in a park across the road. All during our trip we bought interesting sandwiches or packed them ourselves and often ate our lunch outdoors. Many afternoons we stopped in tea shops for a light meal and pots of tea, and for the first time I understood why the British are so fanatical about tea. Later, in London, we visited the original Twinings tea company store, a long, narrow shop in the old City with shelf upon shelf of boxed teas, with a sign out front that gave its founding as 1706. Maybe Samuel Johnson, whose house was a few blocks away, strolled in to buy his tea while Boswell hung at his elbow, jotting down his witticisms.

Tea shop outside the gates of Warwick Castle

Tea shop outside the gates of Warwick Castle

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea

We spent a week at Dairy Cottage, exploring the Lake District, with a daytrip north by rail to Edinburgh, Scotland, where we wandered through the old alleys near the Castle and visited the National Gallery and the Library of Scotland. Then we headed for London, with an interesting stop along the way.

The author waits for a train in Edinburgh station

The author waits for a train in Edinburgh station

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