Friday, October 28, 2016


One of the reasons I am writing this blog is to help me remember what I did and thought this year.  Since my memory is impaired from concussions and hemiplegic migraines, I find that I need these reminders.  I am posting this report on leaving the Lake District about seven weeks after it happened but I took notes while it was going on.  

Writing on the Train


I wake up half hour before my 7 AM alarm.  Neal is both waiter and cook.  As owner of the Rosegarth Guest House, he’s closing the place for a couple of days so he can go on a hiking holiday himself.  

I have a lovely conversation with a couple from Cambridgeshire who say I should visit York on my next trip.  And chat with Neal’s friend, who is an ecologist.   She’s been living near Keswick but hopes to return to Grange, where she’d lived for many years in a farmhouse.   Remember Grange?  That’s where Sally and I started the “Where-Are-We-Hike.” 

Anyway, back to Neal’s ecologist friend.  Now that her kids are in “Uni” she can move away from the city.  She’s a serious walker and currently wants to live near the fells trails.  But she’s thinking that in ten years or so she may have to return to a city because her knees are going bad.   I reflect on my own knees.  My right knee acts up after five miles and is terrible at bending to weed.  One of these days…

I ask Neal about paying him more than my lodging debt on the credit card because I don’t have cash for tips (no ATM in Ravenglass, remember?).  “Oh no, dear, we don’t have that here.  It’s always an adjustment when I go to the States and have to remember tip money.”  He helps me down the steps with my fairly light suitcase.  I wonder whether Neal will be successful in selling the place.  He bought it with his wife but she passed away.  It must be a burden running it by himself.

Owned by Rog and Bev

I have another chat with Rog (pronounced with a soft “g”) and Bev, as I wait for the train to Carlisle.  It’s in the 60’s, gray, and very windy so I am glad I have a turtleneck and raincoat.  They are in short-sleeved shirts.  Bev’s favorite place is Provincetown, Massachusetts.  I say my surrogate son Hoi Pang and my new son-in-law Gerry, took me to P-town a few years ago.  She says they were there on a 4th of July one year.  She ordered an outfit from e-Bay and went downtown as the Statue of Liberty, telling people it was her birthday.  They just loved that Bev was from England.  

They both give me hugs and European kisses which I never do right.  Rog advises me to sit on the left side of the train facing forward.  “After the nuclear plant, look on the left.  You’ll see little houses right next to the ocean.”  They are off the grid so must produce their own electricity. 

The rain starts ever so slightly as I board the train and stow my suitcase.  When I take my left-handed seat and look out the window, Rog is waving goodbye but he’s got a six foot tall cardboard statue of the Queen in his hands, waving it back and forth.  Sure wish I had a photo of that.  Imagine having Queen Elizabeth wave goodbye to you!

My Train Schedule
 I have mixed feelings leaving the Lake District.  It is so very beautiful and there are so many places I have not yet seen.  But I will see my beloved sister, Judy, tonight and Sally soon after.  

Houses Off the Grid Have Personal Windmills
 From Bill Bryson’s The Road to Little Dribbling, page 331:  he describes how the Lake District receives 16 million visitors per year.  “All these people are packed into an area of exceedingly modest dimension.  The Lake District National Park is only thirty-nine miles long from top to bottom and thirty-three miles across at its widest point.  Put another way, the Lake District gets four times as many visitors as Yellowstone National Park … in an area just a quarter the size.  …  And yet it handles it remarkably well on the whole.  Most of the crowds go to just a few places — Ambleside, Grasmere, and Bowness primarily.  If you walk just a couple of hundred yards up any path you can easily get a whole hillside to yourself.”  I certainly found that to be true.

It is a slow train from Ravenglass to Carlisle.  With a dirty window.  Every little stop is made.   St. Bees, which I could walk to along the Irish Sea from Drigg, looks like a pretty little town.   I see beautiful green fields with sheep but two-thirds of the journey from 10:55-12:38 is by the coast.     

People Love For Me To Photograph Their Dogs

Gray Day Through a Dirty Train Window
 The scenery is diverse between Parton and Flimby.  I take scads of photos because I know it will be a long time before I return.  If ever.
These shore birds look like penguins.

I especially enjoy the green meadows and sheep near Maryport.  A quilter could design a beautiful agricultural quilt based on the lines this farmer created.

First Sheep Line-Up I See

I check my schedule.  And then check it again.  And then again.  Probably twelve times because I cannot keep it in my head when we will get to Carlisle (12:38) vs when the next train (to London Euston) leaves (12:49).  I ask the conductor if eleven minutes is enough time and how do I get to the correct platform.  She says, “You will arrive on Platform 3; your next trail will leave from platform 4.  Walk across the tracks on a bridge.”  Surely I can do all that in eleven minutes!

I put on my raincoat and retrieve my suitcase, standing near the door with several others who are anxious to move quickly.

Announcement from the engineer:  “I apologize because we are arriving ten minutes late.  We are arriving on Platform 2 because they are putting up scaffolding on Platform 3.  My heart begins beating faster.   How can I get across all the tracks in ONE minute?!   I begin to worry.   How can I contact Judy if I miss the train and arrive late in Twickenham? 

When the doors open I look quickly left and then right, hoping that the people running with their suitcases are going to the bridge across the tracks because I don’t want to take time to ask anyone.  When they trot to the left, I do too.  Then we sort of run with our suitcases up a hill leading at right angles to yet another hill which crosses the tracks.  After I walk quickly down to the platform I am almost faint and slightly nauseous.  But I might have made it.  A mother with her little girl assures me I am standing in the correct place for the London Euston train, which shows itself one minute later.  

Is this the right track?

Intricate Roof Frame

Here comes the train!
It is a more modern train than others I am now familiar with.  I find a good place for my suitcase and then sit not far from it.  Six rowdy-sounding young men are telling apparently funny stories cause they are braying like donkeys.  I can’t understand much of what they say, not because I can’t hear it (because it’s very loud) but I can’t understand their version of English.  Only word I got reliably was the adjective “fuckin.”  Fortunately they left the train at Preston.  Before that, though I see a bit of the Lake District hillside as we drive over some of the area I had seen getting from Windermere to Ravenglass.

Hills Near Penrith from High-Speed Train
I am in Compartment F.  The “store” is in Compartment C.  They are all out of sandwiches and have no milk so I walk carefully back through swaying compartments filled with sleeping passengers.  I enjoy an apple and trail mix I brought from Ravenglass.  It is now one hour from our destination.   Now that I know how to open doors between compartments, I can use the loo.  Means I can drink the water in my thermos.

From Carlisle and then Preston, the window mostly shows cityscapes and industry.

 Two minutes before exiting, I grab my suitcase which has migrated to the top of the heap and ask, “Does anyone know how to get to the tube for Vauxhall?  A slender man with a pleasant face says, “Yes.  I’m going there also so I can take you there.”  The Universe has provided an angel.  London Euston train station is very large and busy.  This kind man enables me to walk briskly instead of reading a million signs.
Who moved my suitcase to the top?
 “Can I help you with that?” he asks about carrying my suitcase up 17 steps.  “No, I can make it, but thank you.”  But later, for the second set of 30 steps I allow him to carry it. 

“Follow those people to the left.  To the right.  Down those steps.”  Fortunately as we go deeper and deeper an escalator carries us and my suitcase.  I hope my almost-worn-out ticket will work in the tube machine.  It does.  My angel has a place here and one up in the lake district (Penrith) because of work.   He may have to decide whether to live in London with its polluted air, wonderful friends and culture or live in the beauty of the lake district.  Hmmm.

Sign in the Tube
 After riding on the tube we exit at Vauxhall and look for the train which will take him to Putney and me to Twickenham.  Thanks to this kind gentleman, I arrive early so Judy does not have to wait long in the Twickenham car park.  It is so wonderful to see her.  

A marvelous dinner, shower, and I am ready for bed.  Tomorrow I don’t have to travel anywhere!


  1. Great post, what an adventure! Just sat down and enjoyed reading the whole post. I know you have had it up for a while. I am glad you are back home.

  2. Thank you. You've been so busy lately. Glad you had the time to read this. Now I have to write the absolutely last post of my 32 hour trip back to Georgia.