29 September 2007

Fell Walking

To commemorate four years of being an item, and one year of marriage, Mac and I returned to the Lake District, the scene of our first encounter. The place is of a beauty best experienced in person, but I’ll give description a go.
It’s not just in the physical geography of the place itself that dazzles, as I am sure others would argue there are more beautiful places. But unlike other exceptionally good-looking places, there is nothing that spoils the Lake District. A day at the beach is ruined by mere clouds, but in the Lake District the rain and mist, the fog and wind compound the bewitching presence of the Fells. Warning: Walking in the Lake District may cause reflection on the fragility of the human race, it may cause you to think about your spirituality- definitive evidence of a god, or the opposite- evidence there is only time and the elements. More than likely it causes supreme satisfaction due to the purchase of an exceptional raincoat and Gore-tex boots. It is exhilarating that in the span of an hour or two you can go from feeling protected and comforted in the valley, to the top of a peak, keenly aware of your exposure and mercy to the wind and rain, should it choose to descend upon you.
After seven hours of climbing and contemplation, the descent into the valley below welcomes you back with poofy black sheep, hand laid dry stone fences and grass that is so green it looks as though someone plugged it in for a modern art installment. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the Old Dungeon Ghyll Walkers Pub has Old Peculiar on cask.

17 September 2007

Better than Castle Danger

If you find yourself driving through Duluth, MN and along the coastline on Hwy 61, you may notice a sign for “Castle Danger”. The first time I saw this, I thought, ‘oh cool! A castle, I can’t wait to visit some gloomy fall day…’ only to embarrassingly learn later on that it is some dinky little town, with no hint of a castle. Fortunately for me, I have moved to Great Britain, where there are castles in abundance. In fact there is a ruined one approximately 5 miles from my doorstep. So Mac and I set out for a walk with our newly purchased Ordinance Survey Map to footpath-it there this past Saturday afternoon. We had a sunny day with ‘Simpson’s clouds’ (the perfect ones from the TV show) and walked through woodlands, fields, cow pastures, and the charming city of Kenilworth to arrive at the castle. Lucky for us, we found another public footpath that loops around the castle, which we took, as we have already been inside the castle. In walking on this path, we passed 3 different people who all seemed to have named their dog "Millie", and one family who named their child the very same. But besides the unusual quantity of "Millies", there was a lack of gothic chill about the place, bathed in sunshine and laughing children (unless they, too, were named Millie), so we just took a nap in grass.

To my benefit, I took some lovely pictures (so did Mac) and photoshopped the castle into a more gloom and doom-did you just see that-I am sure someone is breathing heavily just behind me-kind of castle. I can hardly wait for Halloween.

11 September 2007

A walk in the woods

There is this footpath that runs past No 78 I like to take walks on. It runs for at least 6K, and more at parts because it hooks up with Warwickshire Public Footpaths. These paths wander over the river and through the woods and have little side paths that take you lots of little sometimes creepy places covered in holly and ivy and blackberries and swans swimming in wee nestled ponds, and I love it. At points I can see old crusty farms with sagging roofs amidst fat oak trees and hedgerows plopped all over the countryside. And it is quiet. Quiet is something I took for granted growing up, as we always lived in the suburbs (after I was born, anyway) and had big backyards with trees and creeks and things like that. Living in Duluth just off 4th Street (an ambulance line) I wondered how so many people could require an ambulance, I mean it can’t be that bad, can’t you drive yourself anyway? The point is, it was noisy and constant and the only consolation was that if ever I was in want of a hospital, I need only roll down the hill to St. Luke’s on 3rd street. So now I have learned to appreciate the peacefulness of the place where I live, and the walks that Mac and I take. Before we left Duluth, we used to walk Chester Creek and hash things out, and sometimes we would talk about things we looked forward to in England, and things we would miss in Duluth. I ‘knew’ I would miss the Chester Creek walk. But now I take a different walk, with different bits of nature to appreciate as I amble to and fro. The goal is not so much to find better or worse, but to find different, and be happy with it.