Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Accidental Selfie

I have returned from Iceland.  It was a wonderful trip, and Iceland is an amazing place.  I've been back home and back to work for just about a week now.  While I thought I had gotten off scott free in terms of jet lag, the travel gods laughed in my face this weekend when all I wanted to do was sleep sleep sleep.  
In between naps, I did have a chance to go through my pictures.  The subject matter is quite photogenic so I'm not foreseeing hours of editing, but I had to chuckle at one photo in particular.  
I am NOT a selfie taker and I don't understand the obsession with selfies.  The last thing I want are pictures of ME, but this picture is like a symbol for the entire trip.  While the trip was amazing and the country is beautiful it was was freaking cold!  Let me clarify, the temperature wasn't cold like some places are cold - it was in the low 40s each day - but the windchill was something.  We had snow the entire second day, while the remaining days were clear and beautiful, but the winds blowing off that snow were bitter.  We were dressed in many many layers which mostly had to be taken off while inside so we didn't suffocate from heatstroke and put on quickly once outside.  Photos were a struggle at times because gloves have to come off for touchscreens, but if off too long frostbite was sure to set in.  I took most of the photos on my canon but also some on the iPhone.  The switching back and forth took time and made me flustered in the cold as well.  The whole process made me feel like we were on treadmill running full speed and the fact that I took a shot in selfie mode isn't surprising.  Although I'm wondering what I was taking a picture of!  What did I miss?!?!
Anyhow, I will share some photos later.  A week wasn't long enough to see the whole country but it was all I could make happen over spring break.  We went to see the Northern Lights, and we got to see them!  So now I can go back over the summer when it isn't so cold, it's light all day and night, and I have more time available.  Northern Lights in Iceland were on my bucket list, but those have now been replaced by summer in Iceland.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The End, Part 2

Our second full day in The Lake District was slightly less rainy than the day before, so we decided to brave the elements and do a walk to Near Sawrey in order to visit Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's home and inspiration for many of her stories.
After our views from the bus the previous day, I looked forward to seeing the area first hand and taking some pictures.  We did have light rain most of the day, but not enough to ruin plans.  It was just enough to be a nuisance.  The walk to Hill Top is a little over 3 miles, with a lot of gorgeous scenery and tiny villages along the way.  
Once we got down to the lake, we had to take a ferry across to the other side.   
Looking at Lake Windermere from Bowness
 It was fitting that on the way to Beatrix Potter's home we were greeted by Mama Swan and her babies as we walked off the ferry.
   Claife Heights Viewing Station, built in 1790
 Looking across the lake at Bowness.
The rest of the walk was just beautiful.  
Author Beatrix Potter visited the Lake District with her family as a child a moved there as an adult.  Hilltop was only her home for a short while as she met her husband shortly after moving and moved in with him.  However, she kept Hilltop as her writing sanctuary.  It was the inspiration for several of her stories.  The home is now a museum set up with mostly her original furniture as well as memorabilia - letters, sketches, notebooks, etc. 
It was so special to see the gardens as I could picture the little animals from the stories up to their shenanigans.  
The small village of Near Sawrey also inspired Potter.
Notice the tupperware container to leave your money.  
The rain started to come down harder after our visit to Hill Top so we took the bus to our next destination - Hawkshead.  Beatrix Potter's husband was a lawyer in Hawkshead and his offices were left to the National Trust and turned into a Beatrix Potter Gallery.  The gallery changes its exhibit regularly.  During our visit, the exhibit showed Potter's artwork from her stories and the Lake District's inspiration, then and now.  It was fun to see what some of the places we had visited looked like back in the day as well as how she portrayed them in her books.  It was a lovely little gallery.
Letters and picture of the Pottery Family in the Lake District.
 Some examples of the exhibition.
I really liked the villages with the clean white paint, black trim and ALL THOSE FLOWERS!
 The Hawkshead Grammar School where William Wordsworth once attended is now a museum.
Part of the grammar school in the front while the St. Michael and All Angels' Church in the background.
After another long, wet day we took the bus back to Bowness, had some dinner across the street from our cottage and turned in for the night.  The next day we checked out and boarded the train at noon to head back to London.  The next day I said goodbye to the UK and flew home.  The end!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The End

With just a few days before I leave for Iceland, I figured it was time to finish sharing my SUMMER trip to Scotland/England.  Where I last left off, we packed up and left Scotland behind.  But the trip wasn't quite over.  We boarded the train in Edinburgh and headed south to the Lake District of England (Cumbria), Bowness-on-Windermere to be exact.  We rented a little cottage for our time there, and it was so cute.
After being in a hotel room for the week, it was nice to have some room to spread out AND a washer and dryer to freshen our clothes.  
We arrived late afternoon and spent the evening just wandering around our new town, trying to get our bearings.  Windermere is a more well-known and populated area which was just north of us.  Bowness is a bit smaller and sits right on the lake of Windermere.  
Bowness-on-Windermere was exactly how you'd expect a little English village to be.  Quaint little shops lined narrow streets, flowers adorned most of the windows and walkways, and the architecture was all very "English". 
We had been watching the weather reports for a few days about our time in England.  The forecast looked like the ones we had seen in Scotland.  Rain showers predicted each day.  However, while in Scotland the rain was mostly during times we weren't out sight seeing, we weren't quite so lucky in England.  The day we arrived it was partly cloudy, but that was the last time we'd see the sun on our trip.  We didn't have a car because we had planned on taking advantages of the many walks and hikes the district offers, so that threw a little wrench in our plans when we woke up on day 2 to pouring rain.  
After a little research (and a lot of grumbling about the rain), we had our plan.  We boarded the bus  which stopped at the end of our street and took it to the main bus station in Windermere where we bought an all day ticket.  From there we headed northwest to Keswick to visit the Derwent Pencil Museum.  Now, most people giggle when I share this story, but I have to tell you it was FASCINATING.  What started out as the Cumberland Pencil Company in the 1800s is now the Derwent Cumberland Pencil Company who makes school and art pencils.  We use Ticonderoga pencils at school, but in the art world Derwent pencils are very well known and of very good quality.  I have a few sets of my own, both colored and water color versions.  It was fun to see how they were originally made and how they are made now.  Their history is also very interesting as they have played roles in many of the historical events that have taken place over the last two centuries, including helping the Royal Air Force in World War II by making secret map and compass pencils.  It has to be in my top 5 museum experiences.  
The James Bond of Pencils
There were numerous commemorative pencil sets on the display which were just beautiful.
This series of pencils was used primarily in schools as a reward system.  Students could earn them and wanted to collect the different colors.
 The largest colored pencil in the world!
 William and Kate commemorative set
 A portrait commissioned by Derwent to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.  Only Derwent pencils were used.
 At the end of the exhibits were a few tables set up with pencils, watercolor pencils, and art paper in case one was inspired after their visit.  We were!
 The actual factory has since moved to another town, but this is what remains of the one that was on site.
  It was midday by the time we traveled to and finished our visit.  We hopped back on the bus and headed back south, stopping in Ambleside on the way.  Ambleside sits across Lake Windermere from where we were staying.  Another cute little English village.  So charming!
 One thing that was kind of disappointing about our time in Cumbria (other than the rain) was that since it was still June, the summer tourism season in the area had not hit full speed.  That was a good thing in that the crowds (and kids) were minimal, but that also meant the summer hours weren't on yet.  Most shops and museums closed at 5.  We didn't get to Ambleside until around 4 so only had a bit of time to explore before the town shut down.  And when we got back to Bowness it was almost 7.  Other than pubs/restaurants, everything was closed for the night.  So after returning to Bowness, we wrapped up our first full day at a fun pub.
 I had one of my favorite meals of the trip there.  It was a steak and ale "pie" with all the trimmings.  Delish!
We walked our waterlogged selves back home after the pub, watched a movie, and headed to bed.  Even though a lot of it was spent on a bus, our first full day was busy.