England has nice places too!

25 Oct

We have seen the English countryside before, but it’s always very beautiful to look at no matter how many times we’ve laid eyes on it. It’s always something of an interesting patchwork of different coloured fields with dry wall or hedge fences making the division between green fields for the cows or sheep and neatly planted rows of wheat in the block next door clear. On our most recent trip we drove around England with a plan to see more of our temporary home country and where we could see plenty of this landscape. We soaked it all up as if it was the last time we may be immersed in pure, beautiful Englishness.

Up until this point, a lot of people have told us to “see England, not just Europe” or “England has nice places too!”. Lectures heeded, we planned an itinerary and set off to see what we could while we still had the chance. We planned a trip that took us to the small village of Summerseat; the beautiful (and very wet) Lakes; and the towns of Newcastle; Durham; York and Cambridge.

We loved something different about each place we visited. We loved Summerseat, just north of Manchester, for its ‘quiet homely village’ feel (and for our family friends Joe and Jennie who welcomed us into their home for a night). We loved the Lakes for its resolute natural beauty and romantic poetic history (think Beatrix Potter and numerous other writers who called the Lakes home). We loved the Lakes for being true to itself as one of the wettest places in the UK by raining 99 per cent of our time there – walking in the pouring rain can be fun if you keep telling yourself it is! We loved Newcastle for its utter urban edge and bridges galore for trains, traffic and people. It’s beautiful in a very raw and urban kind of way. We loved Durham for its European feel (and Harry Potter cathedral). We loved York for its freaky, medieval-ness – walking around the historic centre at night and you can feel the hairs stand on the back of your neck as you think about the 504 ghosts that call York home. It’s true – the ghosts have all been ticked off and accounted for, making York the most haunted city in the world! It’s also the home of the notorious Guy Fawkes (who plotted to blow up London parliament, who failed and was hung, drawn and quartered as punishment. England celebrates every year with fireworks on November 5th). And we loved Cambridge for its students who we learnt are not allowed to work during term. We loved the town for it’s very laid back and chilled-out attitude.

We also came across a couple of other pleasant surprises along the way, including the scary Hardknott Pass in the Lakes (maybe not so much for Matt). I had no faith in our car’s brakes as we came scarily close to the edge of the road, with another car coming in the other direction in the rain, wind and fog with nothing but a cliff to my left! The views were great though. We also came across the Irish Sea at the town of Maryport in the north as our gps took us on an unexpected trip to the coastline. We could see Scotland in the distance. We stopped by Hadrian’s Wall close to Newcastle, a Roman wall that extended across the north of England. Parts of the wall still exist today. And we saw the Angel of the North – a giant, 200 tonne angel statue with a wingspan of 54 metres that is one of the most viewed pieces of artwork in the world. We also found ourselves driving through Nottinghamshire, aka Robin Hood country, so we stopped off at Sherwood Forest which was allegedly once the home of the man who wore green leggings and his merry men. And of course, we drove past that endless beauty, the English countryside and the patchwork quilt of fields. I just wonder how many more times we can sneak a peek before we leave this country?

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One Response to “England has nice places too!”

  1. Carol Edwards October 25, 2011 at 11:54 PM #

    Dear Matt and Mel – so pleased you enjoyed your road trip. Not to mention the special time with Joe and Jennie. Mel, a pleasure as always to read your story.

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