Peter's Pages Peter's Pages
Sunday, 11th May 2014
The cats got delivered on the Saturday to Grange Cattery in Waterbeach, to be looked after by the reliable Phyllis. There's at least a pond with fish in it for them to look at. The road there is so uneven it's like driving over the sea if the sea were frozen in a split-second of time! Saturday evening saw packing, I only took the iPad for reading currently I'm reading my way through the works of Edgar Wallace, a prolific writer of thrillers. He also did the screenplay for "King Kong". This time among other books I read his minor novelette "Planetoid 127", a rare excursion into Science Fiction for him. This had in it the idea there's a second Earth on the opposite side of the sun to us so we can't see it - an idea used later on.

A long drive on the Sunday up to the Lake District, made more miserable by the cloudbursts, seeing dead foxes along the road, seeing sheep crammed like sardines into a lorry, by miles and miles of roadworks, by being ripped off for diesel at a service station. The markup is extortionate. We reached Abbot Hall Hotel safely, after some confusion thanks to the Satnav. I would have to describe the hotel as pleasantly run-down, it has character due to its haphazard history, the staff were friendly, we shared meals with the other residents (though we did lower the average age somewhat!) It made a good base. Rooms have been recently renovated there so run-down is a little unfair. The food was pretty good though Virginia is on a dairy-free diet and felt the choice was limited to non-existent at times.
On the Monday we went to see Holker Hall, owned by the Cavendish family who are connected to the famous scientist of that ilk. Homely formal gardens, stately home crammed with antique stuff including a lignum vitae chest which the guide said some visitors couldn't resist opening after being told such chests were used to carry treasure because they don't float.

Tuesday and we ventured to see Hill Top, a house belonging to Beatrix Potter. A place of pilgrimage for Japanese as much as for English, I don't know why. The Satnav wasn't entirely to blame when it led us on a route which culminated in it telling us to take the ferry across Lake Windermere - sadly the ferry wasn't running! Beatrix Potter brings to mind children's stories like Peter Rabbit but she was an important figure in preserving the Lake District as it is for us to see now. She also went round sales buying old samplers and the like. Car parking is very restricted at Hill Top, I was glad we were there out of high season!
Wednesday was the best day. We took in the Lakeside Aquarium, not the size of other aquariums I've been to true but there were things to see and learn there. Such as ants crawling along a rope to transport food, or the mention of sex changing fish (examples of both ways). Virginia and I then took the Windermere Cruiser from Lakeside to Bowness and back, with enough time for a toasted cheese sandwich at Bowness for me. Very pleasant very tranquil cruising on the water on a lightly loaded ship, seeing scenery out of "Swallows and Amazons". Something archetypal in the landscape that matched complemented the unconscious.

On the way back we patronised the Lakeland Motor Museum, which has a lot of exhibits to see. A good range of cycles to see showing the history of development, a lot of small steps. The hosts for the week at Abbot Hall Hotel put on a quiz in the evening (we didn't go to most of what they put on which was naughty) but Virginia did well at the quiz. I failed totally to recognise songs from the 1960s based on the first few seconds.
Our last full day was the Thursday, we visited the South Lakes Safari Zoo and saw the backside of a tiger sheltering from the English weather, mangy deer, lions at least braving the day, rhinos. I found the place rather depressing as a reminder of how Man has trashed the planet. On the plus side homo sapiens is well on the way to making itself extinct.

More rewarding was going to Swarthmoor Hall, a key place in Quaker history. The hospitable staff looked after us well. The hall was interesting, an ornate newel post now 4 foot short as the roof had been raised. George Fox's travelling bed out of lignum vitae strung with ropes (the saying about sleep tight supposedly refers to tightening the ropes beds had once for supporting the bolsters people slept on. There was a table with a reversible top, one side rough one side smooth (hence take the rough with the smooth supposedly). George Fox preached about the importance of personal faith as opposed to Church establishment and was very unpopular with the Church of his day.

Friday and we wended our weary way home. Crawling along at times. We had an early lunch, getting something in a brown bag from a Burger King. To my concern a member of staff came up afterwards and asked if we were OK - I don't really want to know why! I've survived long enough to write about it anyway.