November 28-29 (traveling days 27, 30)I just returned from a weekend in northern England with my flatmate's family. She invited my friend, Christina and I up to her house a few weeks ago but she was unable to come with us. It was a funny situation at first, being at my friend's house without her, but it turned out just wonderful. We became daughters instantly. Her mom took care of us as if we were Amy. She fed us, gave us a warm bed, and constantly tried to give/buy us stuff. She was so good to us! We could not possibly have asked for more. The small little town that they live in is called Maryport and it is right on the coast. If you walk down the street you can look over the Irish Sea and see Scotland. It is amazing! They are less than an hour from Scotland and less than an hour from the Lake District. It was so nice seeing a different part of England. Northern England is much different from Southern England... not just the appearance of it, but also the way people speak. When we first arrived early in the morning, 6:45am to be exact, it was dark and cold. Our bus dropped us off in the smallest town of all of England, Carlisle. In this small, itty bitty town, nothing opened until after 8... and most places did not open until 9 or 9:30. After walking around for awhile, we decided to sit in the waiting room at the Railway station that we stumbled upon. And we just waited for something to open. Finally a little cafe opened at 8 and then the pub next to it opened at 9. We got some hot drinks and then a nice English meal. We decided to get the Traditional English Breakfast. I mean why not right? We are in England! Might as well :) The breakfast came with fried eggs, sausage, hashbrowns, ham, and a choice of either a flat mushroom or black pudding. I got the black pudding and she got the mushroom, so we could try both :) I like them both! Christina did not really like either... but she did try them both. The black pudding tasted like something had just been burnt really badly, it was a peculiar taste and I did not find out what it was until we met up with Jeanne ( Amy's mom). I am not going to say what it was for those who want to try it first, but let's just say I will not be eating it again...
We took the train to Maryport which took only about 30 minutes and then we walked to their house. All the houses are connected. They did not have backyards and they are really tall. I think there were probably 4 or 5 different floors but they are not very wide. It was a good sized house and there were little laced curtains and paintings around the walls. There was a small little fire in the common room and we all huddled around there to keep ourselves warm. After Christina and I settled into Amy's room, we got a nice little tour of Maryport. We walked down the streets and went to the little coastline. It was a beautiful view.
The sky shone bright blue with a few decorative clouds. The perfect day. We decided to "pop up" to Scotland for the day, to a place called Gretna Green. A town where young lovers used to go to get married when England changed the marriage age to 21. Although many things have changed, people still go there to get married in the notorious blacksmith's shop. We had a great time there, it was a short visit but it was lovely.
As the months begin to get colder, it is harder to see scenary in northern England because the sun does not come up until after 8am and then it starts going down before 4pm.
But we made great use of the little time we had.
After Gretna Green, we went back to Amy's home and had a real traditional Scottish dinner. Haggus, Neeps, and Tatties. :)
More fun stuff to explain hehe.
Haggus is kind of like meatloaf... Scottish style.
Needs is this vegetable that the English call Sweed.... maybe like a turnip?
And tatties are potatoes!
It was a very interesting meal, I loved it! Oh and theeeeen we had a Clohty Dumpling ( which means a dumpling in a cloth... it is a dessert). It was all delicious!
Jeanne gave it to me to bring back to share with my flatmates and friends, but I left it on the bus when I was getting off in London :/ Sad. I guess I will just have to learn how to make it :D
After we had a very filling meal, we made mincemeat pies!! Contrary to what many people think, they are not made with meat. They are made with a mosh posh of different dried fruits. And they are absolutely delicious! Those I did bring back.
Jeanne let Christina and I pretty much make the entire pies with her instructions. They are very easy to make and I am excited to hopefully be able to make them for others. They are really good with cream or custard or by themselves. Mmmmmm.
We enjoyed the fire for quite sometime before heading up to bed with our wheaties ( hot packs).
It was so nice to be in a home with a family that was so welcoming we felt as if we were at home. Made me realize how much I miss my own family and how blessed I am.
The next day, Sunday was the day we decided to go around the lakes in the Lake District. We had our beautiful day the day before, so it was time for some rain. And there was no holding out on this one. We got buckets of rain and wind and the whole lot. Luckily we were inside the car and Jeanne was nice enough to drive us around to see the lakes without us needing to get out of the car much at all. It was so much fun. One of my favorite things about the Lake District and Scotland was all the sheep. EVERYONE seems to have sheep. They are so cute! Black ones and grey ones and white ones and multi-colored ones. They just walked around eating their little grass. It was precious. We drove up windy mountain roads around and through the Fells ( which is what they call the mountains in that area). The lakes were beautiful and the mountains came right down to the water. It was lovely. Beacuse there has been so much rainfall lately there has been a lot of flooding and the rivers and lakes were very very high.
The first time we got out of the car was when we toured William Wordsworth's cottage and museum. We also got some gingerbread from a little shop that has been making it for years with their secret recipe. It is nothing I have ever had before. It is not really like bread at all, it is more like a biscuit. It is good though... very ginergy.
We drove around the lakes for hours and it was really quite nice. Even though we were in the car, we were still able to see everything and experience the vastness of the nature around. The area reminded me of Vermont and Maine, the narrow roads with all the trees and mountains.
Our last stop before heading home was at a little small church. Jeanne wanted us to get a chance to have our own little Sunday service since we were missing our regular church service. We went to the smallest church in all of England. And it was this little room a little ways off the main mountain road, surrounded by big green trees. It was a treck getting to the church because the wind was pressing against us so badly we could hardly walk. I was so glad I wore my wellies because then I could just stomp around without getting my feet wet. Hehe.
The small little church was so serene. No one was there and it was dark with a few benches, but you could still tell there was good news being spread there. The few moments we spent in there was really nice, even though it was cold and dark, I knew God was there.
After leaving the church, we walked over to the pub to get a nice warm meal. We started with some warm drinks and then we all got a traditional Sunday roast. It was so good!
We had a nice time at the small little pub. Two guys came in with their dogs and the dogs stared at us as we at our roast beef. They kept giving me those big sad brown eyes, oh it made my heart melt. When we were done, we had a few pieces of meat left on our plates and asked if we could give it to the dogs. The men agreed and the dogs licked those plates clean!
It was a really nice time, we talked with the men and played with the dogs. They were so cute. One was a black and white collie, the other was some sort of terrier that looked like a pit bull.
It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day.
In the short amount of time we were able to be there for, we saw everything we wanted to see and more. We experienced a different part of England and we were blessed with a little piece of home.