UK, week 2

Before leaving Bristol last Friday, we had to try making “cream teas.” This ill-named treat is not tea at all, but rather jam and clotted cream on scones. The order of jam and cream differs according to locale: the enlighten Cornwall-ians first spread on the jam and then add the creme, while the troglodytes over in Dover go with cream first, then jam. Here Emily demonstrates both methods:

Regardless of assembly, they are delicious and were an instant favorite of mine (Amy was indifferent). Cream tea and I shall meet again.

A brief stop in the Cotswolds for a picnic lunch:

We reached our farm destination in Clun Valley on Friday afternoon and were ready to begin our “wwoofing” experience. That’s not a typo; it stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (google it for more info).

We were far away from any main roads; this was very, very rural England.

The farmer (Trevor) was away until morning, but had provided instructions on where we’d be staying. Our “room” was a building typically used for farming workshops held on the property throughout the year. It felt like we were at summer camp. I liked it.

Once the girls found the farm cats and kittens, they liked it too.

With neither internet nor work assignments, we had nothing to do except sit on our front steps and listen to the bleating sheep dotting the rolling country side. The girls played with the cats. Occasionally we’d talk about something unimportant. It was one of my favorite moments of this trip.

The next day we got to work. My main project of our stay was replacing the brakes and taillights of the farmer’s trailer. It felt good to get my delicate computer hands dirty.

Amy and the girls kept the chickens and pigs fed, but their main project was sanding, staining and polyurethaning the railings of the building we were staying in. They did a great job, even with the uncommonly hot daytime temperatures.

There was a constant presence of near-lethal amounts of cuteness:

These cats were thin and hungry, so feeding them became a common occurrence:

As was seeing a hopeful, furry face camped outside our door:

I walked by these cows dozens of times over the course of our 4-day stay, and each time they’d stop chewing and we’d look deeply into one another’s eyes:

And then there was this guy. He rides along with farmer Trevor in the mornings while checking on the field animals, but spends the rest of most days cooped up in the barn.

But at 5:00 am on Wednesday morning, we got to see him go to work. This dog is pretty excitable, so Trevor puts a muzzle on him and binds one front leg before letting him round up the sheep. It was unexpected how fast a 3-legged dog could run.

The plan was simple: Trevor and the dog would drive the sheep herd out of one field while we would divert them into another. Neither the sheep nor Natalie were comfortable with this plan:

It worked!

With the sheep successfully re-fielded, we were ready to hang up our rubber wellies and move on to our next destination. We are grateful to farmers Trevor (right) and his son Paul for having us at their farm.

Our destination for the day was the Lake District. On the way, we strayed into Wales a couple times. The mashed-keyboard looking language is Welsh:

We made a mid-day stop in Liverpool:

We didn’t do much there; just walked around a little bit and visited one stretch of sorta-touristy shops:

It’s a big city, so there is quite a lot to do in Liverpool especially if you’re a Beatles fan. We did the bare (free) minimum and continued on:

Our Airbnb was located in an obscure rural town called Wigton.

Our place was a mid-19th century workshop that had been nicely converted into a lovely guesthouse.

Carrie made a friend:

The next morning we did some “car hiking” — that is, we mostly drove from place to place and stopped to take short walks. We spent the first part of the day in Newlands Valley and the surrounding areas:

Even a short walk in the grass soaked my feet. I was wishing I hadn’t left my wellies at the farm.

This was very much the England we were expecting: overcast, damp,…

…windy and chilly.

More great scenery:

Settle a bet: I feel like this roadside sheep was thinking a friendly “Hello,” but Carrie feels it was more of a “Really?”

I’m fascinated by all of the stone walls in England. The amount of work that surely went into them is staggering.

After lunch we made our way to the town of Keswick and walked around the local shops:

Stopping for afternoon tea and coffee. (I tried a cream tea but was disappointed.)

Turns out England is littered with ancient stone formations, such as the nearby Castlerigg Stone Circle. It offers all of the mystical powers of Stonehenge but at a more convenient location:

Natalie soaking up the woowoo:

Over yonder:

That evening I completed a special screening of the 1975 British cinematic masterpiece Monty Python and the Holy Grail for my familyOnly Natalie made it to the end.


On Friday morning, we did cream teas properly:

Our first stop on Friday was Carlisle Castle, a 900-year-old castle that has had a pretty rough go of it for most of those years:

The interior had a vaguely foul smell that didn’t bother me. It added an anxiousness to the experience that I imagine being part of every day medieval life.

After lunch was a visit to Lanercost Priory in Cumbria:

These are the ruins obviously, but attached is a fully roofed section still in use by an Anglican church. There have been regular church services here for the last 850 years.

The main draw of this area however is Hadrian’s Wall, a 73 mile long stone wall built by the Romans in 122AD as a defensive fortification:

My favorite movie in 1991 was the critically panned Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and this scene with Kevin Coster and Morgan Freeman was filmed at Hadrian’s Wall:

Natalie and I braved the rain and made the 1-mile hike to Sycamore Gap, the location where that scene was filmed. It made me want to see the movie again.

By mid afternoon, we had crossed over into Scotland:

Back in Indy, we live in a neighborhood called Lockerbie, so we thought it would be fun to see the original:

By Friday night we had arrived at our latest Airbnb, this time an apartment. It doesn’t look like much on the outside, but it is surprisingly nice inside:

We grabbed a traditional UK dinner:

…and settled in for a movie: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Amy, Carrie and Emily took a train to Glasgow Saturday afternoon while Natalie and I stayed back at the apartment (I needed to catch up on some work stuffs). I’ve requested a mini blog post covering their day in Glasgow.

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