The old adage about travelling, bring half the clothes and twice the money, doesn’t hold true with a baby. Bring as many baby clothes as you can stuff in the bag! Because they’ll use them all.
We started the trip at 6am, leaving Aberdeen with a sleepy but fed baby. He slept all the way past Glasgow, which was good as we hadn’t realized that nothing would be open for such a long part of our trip. After our last driving vacation, we were worried about travelling too far in the car, but things went very smoothly and we actually had to kill time before arriving at the apartment just after lunch. Seeing my parents again after three months was a huge treat, and watching Duncan take to them was fantastic.
The week was mostly spent just sucking up the atmosphere and unwinding, with our big touristy activity being a visit to Blackwell House, which was stunning. Taking turns to tour the house (because touring anything with a wriggling worm in your arms is less than ideal) meant we could all take the time to let the house soak in.
I still have a hard time with the concept of class. It seems unreal that some people could have enough money to build homes like Blackwell. I ‘get’ how different salaries lead to different buying power, but I just can’t fathom the upper end of the scale, where inherited money (or huge city bonuses in the financial sector) propel some into lifestyles that seem like fantasy. Most of the castles and mansions you see support my confusion. The scales and styles are so unreal that it’s impossible to imagine yourself living there. But this house (which as my mother said “was a house she’d love to visit”, as she, like me, could never fathom being wealthy enough to own it) seemed very livable. And many of the gorgeous features, especially the tiled fireplaces, were so perfect that they would be scale-downable. Papa’s planning to redo the fireplace in my parent’s living room and I know he took some careful mental notes.
Other holiday highlights included walking, eating well deserved pub lunches, and having lazy mornings (that still started at 5:30 am – Duncan’s internal clock is cruel sometimes). Saying too much about the walking seems superfluous after the pictures – we realize we were extremely lucky with the weather. Cory did catch a strange flu bug while we were away, so our plans to leave Duncan with Nana and Papa for a day to do a real hike never materialized, but even our little walks were inspiring.
My only disappointment with the Lakes, which is really just a quibble, was the shopping. Endless outdoor equipment stores are fine, if a tad boring and repetitive, but it was the lack of shops selling original things, whether pottery, art, crafts, or just random oddities that disappointed. Surely there’s got to be a market there for more than Peter Rabbit tourist tat and fleece jumpers? Cory and I had a lovely ‘date’ exploring Grasmere by ourselves without me buying more than a couple of books, which was not my plan. (As we were eating lunch, I realized I felt like we were incognito – no one in the restaurant knew that I was Duncan’s mother. So much of my off-work identity is tied up in motherhood that to be without D felt almost sneaky.)
Our last day of the trip was in Carlisle, where I (once again, Cory rolls his eyes whenever this happens) fell in love with the medieval city centre. The guildhouse museum and cathedral are enhanting places and the pedestrian areas were completely charming. I’m very bad at falling in love with wherever I am at the moment and wanting to move there – and since we’d low expectations of Carlisle, it hit me hard. It was Nana’s 49th birthday, or something like that, so we celebrated with a pizza lunch and then spent the rest of the time trying not to be sad – the only bad part of the whole trip was saying goodbye at the end.
(photos: Buttermere Lake & packing for the trip).
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