Transatlantic Antics – Part IV – Cumbrian Caramba

Thanks to H’s steely resolve,
we made it to the Lake District.

1857 (completed)

A once northern outpost
of the
 Roman Empire

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Now bustling with lakeside towns

Sheep mob

and teeming with tourists.

We were one stop closer
to Patricia and Eileen
in Yorkshire.

Glenridding Picture of the Day

Sari booked us a cottage in a
cozy corner of Windermere.

Bluebell Brook living room
Bluebell Brook Cottage

With a fireplace,
modern kitchen, and a
babbling brook below.

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It’s a cacophony!”

More like raging rapids
but who’s quibbling.

Ale aye

Not to mention a
pub next door!

Things looked pretty sweet.

Until we noticed a strange absence

The Towel of it All

of certain essentials.

Self-catering is one thing,
but this was ridick…

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Our search couldn’t even
cough up a dish towel.

*     *     *

It was time to alert the media.

Dial out anyone

But the cottage phone
couldn’t dial out!

So I tromped to the pub next door
where grizzly locals were juicing

Enjoying brewskis

and left a plaintive
voice mail for the
home office.

 *     *     *

The pub owner offered to
dry us with bar towels.

Either way, we couldn’t
afford to get soaked.

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In the meantime,
we set off for town,
a ten minute walk from
Bluebell Brook Cottage.

I confess with great contrition
we worship
British nutrition
especially the malty matter
fish ‘n chips with crispy batter.

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Resistance is futile

In Little Chippy,
the sizzling ambiance
was intoxicating.

Just as H and S
were debating the
age-old question,

cod or haddock?

a head snapped up
behind the fish counter.

“Are you taking pictures?”

“Er, no,” I lied.

Suspicious, he slapped
mushy peas directly over
my crispy fish.

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Oh the humanity!

Mushy peas are a treat
but not when used to assault
innocent fish n’ chips.

To recap:


Correct placement.

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Incorrect placement.

not here not there not anywhere
And proper foot placement

*    *    *

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Window shopping

 It was dark when we returned
to the cottage.  In time to be
startled by the doorbell.

Sari raced to the door emitting
puffs of noxious gases
in her wake.

Thanks to her tummy’s
24-7 processing of her
10-Coke a day habit.

Heedless of danger
to herself – or the visitor –
she flung the door open.

Revealing a tall shadow
lugging a ginormous trash bag.

Speedy Towel Delivery

Dispatched by the home bureau,
our hero was delivering
with a vengeance.

Seriously, he unloaded
like seventy towels!

*     *     *

Puppy in a towel

That night, while H and S slept
soundly through the noisy rapids,

Image converted using ifftoany

others couldn’t help
suffer an odd re-play
of the day…

*     *     *

For over 500 years,
ferries have criss-crossed
Lake Windermere’s ten
and a half-mile stretch.

Lake Windermere

To take advantage of
this fine transport,
H drove to the dock
at Ambleside one day.

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Our mission:

Visit the historic farmhouse
of one phenomenal lady.

Beatrix with Bunny

The plan:

Take the ferry to Far Sawrey,
then hike to Near Sawrey.

The trick:

Keep those dyslexic
directions straight.

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And dodge a criminal element
patrolling the shorelines.

WEB Euro 1851Who’d declared open
season on snackers.

The bait

H barely escaped
with her ice cream
and 99 flake.

Windermere Car Ferry

On board, passengers buzzed

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with curiosity,

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Comforting Mum

and post-traumatic stress.

Windermere looking north

The crossing was lovely.

Later that week, Patricia would
tell us we’d technically been on the
butt end of the Lake District.

Cumbrian winding road

Because UK insiders holiday on a
more stunning side of Windermere.

Sacre bleu !

In any case,
our ferry dumped us onto
this inferior landscape

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where the footpath gradually
veered from the lake.

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Past multitasking sheep

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looming castles,

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and cryptic sculptures.

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A half hour later,

we hopped on a mini bus
to speed the journey.

It shuttled up a steep ascent…

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climbing and curving
before depositing us
atop a pretty hill.

In Near Sawrey!

Gate at Hill Top Farm

The gate
was framed by


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The famous garden path
lead us to the house.

*     *     *

Dubbed a Victorian genius,
the lady was a naturalist and
conservationist, far ahead
of her time.

Beatrix walking Benjamin Bunny
Helen Beatrix Potter

In an era when women
were unwelcome in
male-dominated institutions,
she was a true
Renaissance woman.

Flopsy BunniesHer lifelong passion
for nature led to
self-development in many
areas of science.

3. Beatrix.jpg

No country critters
were too small or creepy
to study for illustration.

The Mice at Work: Threading the Needle circa 1902 by Helen Beatrix Potter 1866-1943

Her sketches were
renowned for their scientific

Orchid Cactus

Born in London
of well-to-do parents,
she and baby brother
enjoyed holiday visits
to the Lake District.

Beatrix and Pup

As an adult,
she reveled in country life
in her self-adopted village.

Cover of Peter Rabbit

But it was this publication,
starring a thieving
jacketed rabbit,

that propelled her
into stratospheric success
and fame.

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She bought “Castle Cottage”
across from the farmhouse.

Where she and her country
lawyer husband, William,
lived for the next 30 years.

In later years, she chucked the children’s
books, much to the dismay of her
bazillions of fans,


but blossomed as a botanist
and mycologist (fungi expert).

She gave lectures at London’s School
of Economics, but when she submitted
scientific papers, she had to publish
them under her uncle’s name.

As was women’s lot in that time,
certain penis-heavy organizations
contracted the vapors
knowing a woman penned
an authoritative missive,

Herdwick Sheep

or discovered a cure for
diseased sheep,

or became a champion
sheep breeder to boot,

Peter begs your pardon

or demonstrated
a savvy business sense by
patenting a Peter Rabbit
doll in 1903.

But possibly her finest legacy
came when she…

invested in large swaths
of Cumbrian countryside,

Herdwick Sheep in Lake District

and bequeathed 4,000 acres
to the National Trust,
protecting her beloved
lake land for perpetuity.

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Josh’s lens still has that schmutz…

We couldn’t help admiring
her visionary choices.

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Nor sampling pea pods
from her garden.

Earning a triple
stink eye from beyond.

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With bro Walter, shep Kep and fur-faced Papa

*    *    *

When Sari chose not to join us on the farmhouse tour, we suspected she may have been a  bit spooked…  Since Hill Top House dates from the 17th Century, and S had shown a distinct sensitivity to history-soaked real estate !

*    *    *

In any case, it was fitting we were in the village of Sawrey.  Because no one was more sawrey than H for what happened next.

Halfway into the tour, H realized her ticket price was off.  The ticket taker explained, “Oh, we thought you had your child with you.”

Quietly, adjustments were made and H returned to the tour…

Beatrix on path

The farmhouse appears
as if Beatrix just stepped out.

Her straw hat hangs by the fireplace,
and tools, coat, and garden boots
await her return.

Her legion of fans
balloon with each

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After the tour, we found Sari
by the doorway, leafing through the
essential Squirrel Nutkin.

whereupon H leaned down to hiss,

 “They thought you were a child – a child!”


Later, out of public earshot,
S asked,

“Mom!  Why didn’t you just
come and get me??”

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H was temporarily stymied,
having unintentionally tossed
the child-ticket opportunity
out the rabbit hutch.

WEB Euro 1281And as is the sacrificial
nature of mothers, had
to resign herself to
periodic ribbing:

“A Child!  A Child!!
They thought you were
a Child!!”

Secret Smiling Beatrix
Tee hee

*    *    *

Sari’s efforts to shoot
her Mum and Auntie
in Beatrix’s doorway
is foiled again and again,

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by a tenacious family
of photo bombers

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who orbited in and around
the viewfinder.

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Domo arigato!

*    *    *

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We wandered a literary map
highlighting all the locales
in BP’s little tales.

Privileged to walk in
the great lady’s footsteps.

Beatrix and hub

Thank you for coming.

Now shove off.

*     *     *

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A five-minute walk brought us to
neighboring Hawkshead,

where more of Beatrix’s
water colours and sketches
are dimly displayed.

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Seriously, leave already.

*    *    *

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Ambleside huddle

*     *     *

Another day
we faced a dilemma on
Windermere’s high street.

Whether to invest in some
serious English gear

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…in this quaint little shop.

Where patterned
wellies had Sari transfixed
and an elbow-patched riding
jacket whinnied at me.

We were awful close
to hitting the streets garbed
somewhere between…

Sherlock the fashionista

a tweedy Sherlock Holmes


and a Dickensian flash mob.

Luckily, the prices were over-blown.

Much like the spectacle
we’d have created
had we succumbed.

But we weren’t
through drooling over
English fashion…

Little Pig Robinson
Wistful window shopper

Oh no,
not by a long shot.

*     *     *

Inspired by Eileen’s goal to crash
a hundred English gardens
that summer, H lobbied
for a visit to nearby
Holehird Garden.

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Naturally the child
wandered off…

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We were privy to
Holehird’s autumnal splendor.

Holehird by Herb RiddleQuieter than its summer radiance.

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Volunteers keep
the place spruced
and camera ready.

*      *      *

With another garden
under her belt, H was
temporarily sated.

*      *      *

Passing Windermere Library,
we spotted a poster one day.

A special exhibit
of children’s artwork
on display.

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In August 1945,
300 Jewish children were
flown to the Lake District.

Holocaust survivors, and almost
all orphans, they were whisked from
a ravaged homeland to an area
they described as “Paradise.”

For the transition
to their post-war lives,
they were housed in hostels
near Windermere.

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In a world where everything
had been taken away from them,
their artwork and poignant
testimonials slapped life
into perspective.

*    *    *

We were one day away from
P and E’s sanctuary in
Midgley, West Yorkshire…

if we could avoid being creamed
by traffic as we exited the cottage,

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since the front door basically
spits you onto the main road.

We had some close calls
is what I’m sayin’.

*   *   *

Since the start of our UK trip,
we’d been tormented by a peculiar
English appliance.

I’m talking the
dual washer-dryer found in
every self-catering cottage
we’d booked so far.


From Cornwall to the Cotswolds
from the Midlands to the Lake District.

The device was impossible to figure out!!

Meaning our laundry was often
held captive for hours in either a
hellish heating or manic washing cycle.

Until suddenly,
for no rhyme or reason,
the door latch would release.

Not unlike the doorway to H-E-
Double Hockey sticks.

*     *      *

That night,
P successfully rang us
on our one-way cottage phone.

Dial out anyone

We’d been in touch with our
Yorkshire pal all along,
but finding wi fi hot spots
was a challenge in the UK.

As P calmly listened to our
whinging on towel-less cottages,
mushy pea slingers, and
demonic washer-dryers,

Lake District Fall

she mused thoughtfully,

“Ah, they’ve gone downhill,
haven’t they?”

And more candidly:

“Don’t feel bad!
We can’t figure out those
washer-dryers either!”

*     *     *

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Lazy Daisy Breakfast

H and S ordered an English breakfast
our last morning in Windermere,
Lazy-Daisy style.

While I opted for oatmeal with
English cream and berries.


But the veggie sausage nipped
from S’s plate was delicious.

*    *    *

On our last night,
my threat to pen a scathing
cottage review was roundly

But clearly no one
discouraged my insistence
on spray tanning.

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Gaahh !!

*    *    *

Our bellies full,
off we set for Yorkshire.

But not before H had
one of her zany impulses
to squeeze in a trip to
Carlyle Castle, the total
opposite direction,

Which would create a
serious challenge to
arriving in Yorkshire
before nightfall.

Since driving at night
was something
H dreaded !

But S and I
weren’t complaining,

Our GPS navigator,
Sir Richard, was back
in the saddle, so to speak…

Cumberland's finest

Stay tuned,

Would we make it to Yorkshire
before nightfall?  Or would P’s
specific directions to Midgley
be wantonly disregarded
by Sir Richard and
Sir Helen…

*     *     *

leading us into some, er,
tight spots to say
the least.

PS   Helen Beatrix Potter Heelis

PPS:  Elementary, Dr. Watson.


One thought on “Transatlantic Antics – Part IV – Cumbrian Caramba

  1. I am so glad that the Lakes did their best to enchant you all and judging by those lovely photos you managed to entice the sun out, no mean feat as that was one very wet summer.
    So sorry about our washer/dryers, at least they eventually let your clothes out, not like the one in Cyprus which just kept on cycling !

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