Going to the lakes was definitely the best impromptu decision I have made so far. It felt so good just to be outdoors and camping. I was really fortunate to get a camping spot, as it was Bank Holiday weekend in England (meaning everyone and their dog were on holiday/vacation). If the campground I went to had not been two miles uphill from the city center, I would not have had a campsite. The farm I camped at was full, but they saw me walk up the drive and felt bad for me, so as I am just one person with a tiny tent, they allowed me to camp. It was so very nice of them. I was really worried I would have no where to stay... but it worked out perfectly. The campground I stayed at was beautiful. The mountainous hills of the lake district were my surroundings. Perched up on the hill side, I could see such beauty on every horizon. It was very nice and relaxing.
The day after I arrived, I did a long 10-12 mile walk. It felt so good! I hiked up a mountain and looked over the lake and the valleys in the distance. I met some lovely people on my hike up too. I met a very nice couple working in England from New Zealand and I met an older gentleman who is a professor at Oxford University. They were all very friendly. It was a really swell walk. For the second half of my walk, I went down into a valley that use to be filled with graphite (I think...) mines. It is now a field full of sheep. Mines and factories always make me think of the hardship people face. It is such gruelling and deadly labor- to inhale the dust of the earth all day and be covered in the filth of the minerals, it would be a hard life. The sheep did not know this though. They went on eating the grass where men once tore at the flesh of the earth. It was really interesting to think of as I walked. It was perfect conditions for just thinking. The sun was shining but it was cool enough to where I still wanted to wear a jacket- simply beautiful. After my long hike, I went back to camp and ate cold soup with bread. It felt so good to fill my body with bad camp food. Something about camping just allows me to slow down and makes me feel the joy and beauty all around me. Not that it would be hard to do in an area like the Lake District. After I ate it started to rain, so I crawled in my sleeping bag and read until I was drowned with sleep. The rain fell all night leaving the next day pretty muddy. I had to leave in the evening to get to Manchester so I could catch my flight the next day to Amsterdam, so I decided to lay low and catch up on my writing. I opened up the tent to let everything dry out and opened my books - enjoying the sunshine and my sore legs.
A truly spectacular time, indeed.
That evening I caught a series of trains that led me to Manchester and the great hospitality of Rodders (a school mate of Dave's who I met in San Francisco last year). I got to try a real Turkish kebab and watch half of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly - a movie I must see all of soon... Clint Eastwood is wonderful in the old western! The next morning I woke early to catch a train to the airport. Rodders was so great to wake up early on his Bank Holiday to take me to the train station. It seems like every place I have gone, people have stepped out of their way to show such great kindness.
Once on the trains, I travelled for a few hours to the airport, flew to Amsterdam, caught another train to Den Haag, and made it to Stuart's flat (the other walker I met last year along with Dave, walking across America).
Now I am here in The Hague, doing a little of this and a little of that (meaning catching up on e-mails and my blog and figuring out where I am staying in Sweden and Norway-my next stops).
So, all is well and I am once again in Mainland Europe. More adventures to come soon, and to all of you who have started school once again - best of luck. My thoughts are with you guys.
Also, a special shout out to Stef, my cousin. Today is his birthday and he is another year older... hehe.
Happy birthday Stef!!! I love you and hope you are not working too hard today!