On to Edinburgh

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We left our scenic rural settings and began the final leg of our journey to Edinburgh.  We all loved the ever-changing landscapes, winding country roads—-and sheep, sheep, sheep.  I have never seen so many sheep, or so many different varieties.  I’m told that the sheep are raised for food, and their wool is not prized.  Most sheep are not shorn at all.  If they are, the wool is often buried.

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Our first stop along the way was to view a small portion of Hadrian’s Wall, a defense fortification built in 122AD by the emperor Hadrian from the North Sea to the Irish Sea.  It stretches for 80 miles with turrets and milecastles along the way.

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This spot was probably the most memorable and poignant on the trip for me.  Those of you who remember our dear friend, Diane, may have remembered that she walked this path from end to end probably a year and a half ago.  Standing there gave me goose bumps as I thought of her and said a special prayer.  So glad we made this stop.

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We stopped at the little community of Greta Green just over the border into Scotland where the local blacksmith handled marriages.  Quickie marriages were performed and the sound of the anvil announced the new union for all to hear.  Lots of antique farm machinery was there to see, and interesting little shops to explore.

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Our last stop also brought on some emotion and left us a bit drained.  We stopped at Lockerbie, Scotland and heard a short talk from someone who lives there and experienced all of the horror that occurred that day on Dec 21, 1988.  A memorial quilt with leaves commemorating the lives lost on board, and pebbles on the ground for those killed on the ground was touching.  The outdoor memorial was done so well, and so simply.  Quite moving.

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We arrived in Edinburg and were immediately faced with mobs of people and traffic moving in all directions.  After the serene few days we had in the countryside, it felt cramped and uncomfortable.  We did warm up to Edinburg over the last 3 days of our trip, but I’ll have to finish those when I get home.  I’m 2 days behind in my travelogue and have to finish packing as Donna and I return home tomorrow.  I’ve been with lots of interesting people, seen lots of interesting places and loved my trip.

See you all soon!  Ta-Ta!

 

 

 

The Lake District

We leave the metropolitan city of York and venture west to the Lake District of England.  The topography is ever changing, and it is beautiful.  We’re passing from the Hills along the east coast through the Yorkshire Dales as we head up into the Lake District on the west coast.

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Our first stop is in the little town of Kirky Lonsdale, a very small village of less than 2000 people at the southern end of the Lake District on the west coast.

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The two notable things to view in Kirky Lonsdale is St. Mary’s Church with some lovely stained glass, and Rushkin’s View, a beautiful view of the River Lune from a crest above.  It was painted by Turner and was considered to be the most perfectly balanced scene in nature.  I’m sure my photos don’t match Turner’s view.  Our “guide” along the way was Archie, a 12 yr. old chocolate lab that didn’t want to miss a thing.

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We stopped for lunch at a farmhouse up in the hills on a windy road near Penrith, an area that has been inspirational for many writers, including Wordsworth, Keats and Beatrix Potter.  The farmhouse is was once owned by Beatrice Potter who bought several of them to save them from extinction.  They are now under the control of the National Foundation.  Tenants do not own the farms but lease them for a two year period.  If they are maintaining the property adequately, they can renew their lease. They only lease the buildings.  The adjacent land is leased to farmers who use the soil. The farmhouse dates back to the 1600’s.  We had to split up into separate rooms to have lunch.

Our group ate in the game room that once housed the animals as part of the house.  Our hosts have 7 children, from 30 to 10.  We had a delicious hearty lunch and roamed a bit before heading on to our hotel in a beautiful picturesque area without the hustle and bustle of lots of travelers.  We enjoyed a relaxing dinner and got ready to head for Edinburgh the next day.

Whitby and Castle Howard

It was a beautiful sunny day and we ventured out in the morning to visit Whitby in the North Yorkshire area of England.  The terrain keeps changing as we travel further northeast. We encounter more rolling hills filled with heather. There is some farming done, mainly to produce feed for animals and some wheat production, but England only produces about 40% of the produce it needs.

We are thrilled to get to Whitby, an old whaling community with the ruins of a Bennedictine Abbey and the key setting for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  It was so exciting to see the North Sea.  It looked pretty calm and non-threatening, but I’m sure it had lots of rough seas.  Captain James Cook trained here as a young man before he set out to explore other parts of the world.

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High above the village of Whitby are the remains of Whitby Abbey.  It was disestablished by Henry VIII when he needed to cut down on expenses.  It fell into ruin and is now owned and maintained by English Heritage as an important historical site.

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What a setting to wander around the ruins.  What amazed me most was the symmetry and detail of the original Abbey.  The rounded columns and beautiful archways.  We walked through an old cemetery with a Celtic cross and several interesting memorials as we headed back into town.

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After an excellent lunch we headed to Castle Howard, the very opulent domain of the Howard family that included the second and fourth wives of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Kathryn Howard, both executed.  Did I tell you the little ditty on Henry’s wives?  He had six wives—Divorced, beheaded, died!  Divorced, beheaded, lived!  (Henry died before his last wife.)

I had a hard time getting excited by Castle Howard.  It is still owned by the Howard family and is filled with lavish, treasure-filled rooms, including very valuable paintings by Rubens and Gainsborough.  Lovely gardens surround the palace.  Just too much wealth in too few hands and no evidence of any benefit to society as a whole.  Enjoyed the gardens the most.

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Spent the time roaming around York after our trip home, getting ready to leave York for another adventure.

Ta-Ta!

 

 

The City of York

This is a day to explore parts of the city of York.  And where do we start?  Of course, another cathedral!  This is known as York Minister, or the Church of St.Peter.  The present configuration was started in the 13th century and is the largest of its kind in Northern Europe.  The church is Gothic in design, built in the shape of a cross.  The altar arm of the cross would face east, toward Jerusalem, welcoming Christ.  The  center point where the four points of the cross meet is the nave, the gathering place, the place of greatest stability.

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The large five-paneled stained glass window is called the 5 sisters, all done in a pale green glass, except for the bottom center panel which had been damaged and was replaced by a craftsman who wanted more color.

Some of us even came back for Evensong prayers in the Anglican gem to hear the organ and choir at 5PM.  It was absolutely beautiful and we had seats right in the choir loft near the visiting men’s choir.

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In the afternoon, Donna and I explored the central area of York, found an open-air market, called the Shambles Market, walked along part of the old wall to get some views of the city, and wandered in and old of some of the interesting shops.  Several of us got together to have dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant near our hotel.  We have a great group that we are traveling with.  Everyone gets along so well!

Another adventure is coming!  Ta-Ta.

A Day of Travel

Our stay in Wales is over and we headed northeast back into England.  It is a long drive to our next destination in York, so we stopped for lunch and a few hours of roaming around in the ancient town of Chester.  The roots of this charming community date back to the Romans.  The Romans arrived around 60 AD.  The city still displays was is considered the Roman layout, extending from the Cross, where a Roman fortress stood, to four city gates.  It was a commerce center in the Middle Ages and is still prominent in English cultural history.  Chester’s race course is the oldest in the United Kingdom.

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Chester was a very pleasant village to visit.  It has the best preserved wall around dating back to Roman times than any city in Britain.  The city center, designated by a tall  cross, damaged during wars, then restored, hosts a noon event daily with a town crier.  Of course, many in our group had to be there, and participated in the discourse with the town crier.  I was singled out and even had my hand kissed by this charming gentleman!

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Of course, Chester has a magnificent cathedral which we enjoyed.

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We continued to York, checked into our hotel where we will stay for three nights, then took an inaugural walk around our area.  Lots to see and do. The city is located at the confluence of the rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England and has a population of more than 150,000 people.  It also has a significant walled area that remains on one side of the city.  In its earlier days, it was considered important for its wool trade as sheep abound in the area.  Now it is more noted for its sweets and pastries.  Our hotel is located along the River Ouse with bridges about 1/2 mile apart leading to the central business area.  We came back for dinner at the hotel to get ready for another busy day.

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More again!  Ta-Ta!

The Charm of Wales

The principality of Wales, together with Scotland and England make up Britain.  Add  Northern Ireland and you have the United Kingdom.  Each of these countries have their own flag. If you combine the flags of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, you get the flag of the United Kingdom, commonly called the Union Jack.  Wales was not formally inaugurated into the United Kingdom by Prince Charles until 1969.  The flag of Wales has a red dragon in the center.  It has yet to be incorporated into the flag of the United Kingdom, although some versions may show a red dragon in the center of the Union Jack.

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As we traveled northwest into Wales, the landscape started to change dramatically.  The lush green vegetation and rolling hills started to appear with rocky landscapes and more mountainous terrain. What stands out most is the heather growing wild in the landscape, along the road and as an accent in the rocky terrain.  The highest peak in Wales is Mount Snowden.  At 3600 feet it stands proudly as part of the impressive Cambrian Mountains.  Unfortunately, Mt. Snowden hid from us behind massive cloud layers and did chose to display its beauty.image

We did come upon a Welsh community with the longest name.  See if you can make it out.  The English translation is below the Welsh name.

Our base of operations for the time here was in Caernarfon, a very pleasant seaside community where the Welsh pride runs deep.  The Caernarfon Castle is the stands proudly along the shore.  The area depended almost totally on the mining of coal, and production of slate, mainly for roofing.  Most of the roofs in the area are slate.  Coal mining has almost totally disappeared and the steel production in the south of Wales in fading too.  Most here in Wales blame Margaret Thatcher for the loss of good jobs for laborers and and the diminished standard of living here in this area.  Unfortunately, things will not be changing as the United Kingdom is strongly moving toward other forms of energy.  Wind power is beginning to develop.  Solar power is a problem because of lack of sun, and is used for heating water primarily. We have seen very few homes with solar panels in all of Great Britain.

Our evening was spent at the home of a Welsh family.  Ours were terrific.  The lived along an inlet where the tide varied about 8 feet each day.  Boats anchored in the water were sitting in mud when we left.  The boats have a double keel so that they stand upright in the mud.  We thoroughly enjoyed hearing the Welsh side of life in England and had a terrific meal.

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Ta-Ta!