March 27th, 2005

little review

Dove Cottages, Castles and Castlerigg

This morning I was awoken for the first time in my life by sheep bleating. When we arrived last night in the fog, we did not realize that the farm run by the people who own the Dove Cottage where we're staying is literally our backyard; we have chickens, sheep, two donkeys and an unseen yet heard cow in close proximity. The owners had said that it was fine to feed the hens, who will eat anything, so after breakfast we brought them the burnt toast ends and the kids had a wonderful time feeding them and petting the sheep, who have several lambs. The hillsides all around here are covered with sheep and their babies; we saw thousands as we traveled, plus geese, rabbits, dozens of other birds and some horses, donkeys and cows.

We drove this morning to the Lake District visitor's center, where we went through the exhibits, walked a bit around Lake Windermere, watched an Easter Egg roll, let the kids play on the playground and ate a picnic lunch. Then we went to Wordsworth's Dove Cottage in Grasmere on the River Rothay, where we toured the museum and the cottage where Wordsworth lived in his young married life. It has a number of wonderful paintings of the area by people associated with the Romantic poets and some of their artifacts, including some of Wordsworth's drafts and an original painting of William Godwin -- Mary Wollstonecraft's husband, Mary Shelley's father. The day had been cloudy with intermittent drizzle and some fog, and it was easy to look at the hillsides and see what the poets had seen in them. We walked into the town to the church where Wordsworth is buried, for famous (and excellent) gingerbread baked in the building that was once his school. We had expected a lot to be closed today for Easter, but several of the towns we drove through were having street fairs and most of the dining establishments seemed to be doing good business.

In the mist high in the moors, we drove to the stone circle at Castlerigg -- a much more scenic locale than the Rollright Stones, with taller and wider standing stones that look more like the ones at Avebury. I would have liked to stay longer, as we had the place all to ourselves and got the same kind of chills from it as I did at Avebury and Stonehenge, but the kids were cold in the rain and I managed to slip on the hillside and slide flat on my back until I was covered in mud. We stopped on the way back to the cottage at two decaying castles, Brougham and Brough, before coming back to the cottage for a late dinner and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves which happened to be lying around on video and which the kids requested.

Tomorrow I am meeting liars_dance at Rievaulx Abbey! Then we are going to Castle Howard of Brideshead Revisited fame, and the train station that stands in for the one at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies.


The Castlerigg Stone Circle in Keswick