Thursday, June 14, 2012

Going Our Separate Ways

It wasn't too much togetherness that drove us apart; it was irreconcilable differences: Greg and Wyatt wanted to see The Beatles' Liverpool, and the girls and I wanted to see Beatrix Potter's home in the Lake District.  We made a good go of it, but with differences in taste like this we were bound to split up sooner or later.

Starting on the same train for the long day's journey, the girls disembarked at Lancaster to change trains for Windermere while the boys continued onward, to change trains at the next station for Liverpool.  (The National Rail service is amazing and extremely convenient for traveling.  I wish we had rail service like this in America.)  The trip for boys and the girls took around 3.5 hours each way.  We would have loved to share our separate interests with one another, but we only have 9 days of travel on our Brit-rail passes, so we divided and conquered to please all parties.

The girl party arrived in Windermere, England around noon and went directly to hire bikes for the day.  I thought we would have plenty of time to leisurely cycle around town, cross the lake and head up to Beatrix Potter's farm, but discovered that we must have the bikes back by five (so much for leisure.)  I also learned that much of the bike route was uphill and on main roads.  Yikes!  Greg wasn't there to help me decide.  Were the girls up for such a strenuous endeavor?  More unlikely, was I?  What won out was the argument that has guided me all year: when would we have this opportunity again?  On new bikes, we headed out of the train station.

The boy party arrived in Liverpool around one o'clock and headed straight for lunch.  Priorities, you know.  Next, they walked to the famous Cavern, where The Beatles got their start in Liverpool.  Greg felt as though he were on hallowed ground.

Meanwhile, the girls trekked through fields and pastures to the sound of sheep and cows happily grazing.  The UK has a fantastic public trail system that allows anyone the freedom to walk or bike through open pastures and lanes.  Our route took us through private lands that were open for public passage.  Most of the first leg of our journey was downhill and off road so I wasn't worried about Emma biking.  Just before the ferry, we entered the main road and chose to get off our bikes and walk as the cars whizzed by us.  Paying £1 each, we crossed England's largest lake, Windermere, by ferry.  Gorgeous!

After touring the Cavern Club, the boys climbed aboard the Magical Mystery Tour through Liverpool.  The bus ride took them past each Beatle's childhood home and the locations of many of their musical inspirations: Strawberry Fields, Eleanor Rigby's grave, and Penny Lane- complete with its roundabout, bank, and barber shop.  The National Trust now owns Sir Paul McCartney's and John Lennon's childhood homes where the first classic songs were written.

The girls via bikes made their way COMPLETELY UP HILL toward Hill Top Farm in Far Sawrey.  Honestly, I admit I hoped the name of the farm was a clever ruse to confuse tourists from visiting and thereby, preserving the beautiful, untouched countryside.  But alas, it was not.  As we climbed in first gear, only to finally get off and push our bikes up the hill, Anabel said, "She should have named the farm Mountain Top!"  We arrived at Miss Potter's next door pub, Tower Bank Arms, and refueled with an English lunch of soup, ham, and roast beef sandwiches with hot mustard.  Then, it was on to tour Hill Top.

I admit my eyes misted over (or was that more sweat?) when I spotted a rabbit nibbling on grass in the tiny meadow in front of her home.  Anabel was over the moon. She has been a fan since she was tiny and began writing her own Potteresque tales.  Anabel's story called Mrs. Miggins endeared me more to Beatrix Potter than any of Miss Potter's original works.  Any author that inspires a child to write is brilliant in my book!

When we entered the farmhouse, a curator handed each girl her own petite copy of The Tale of Samuel Whiskers and pointed out locations in the home Beatrix Potter had illustrated in the book.  The girls carried their books like they were treasure maps as we strolled from room to room, walking in Miss Potter's footsteps.

Speaking of footsteps, Greg and Wyatt completed their tour back at the Cavern Club where they imagined John, Paul, George and Ringo, young and full of excitement and dreams, playing their way into immortality.  Wyatt summed it up simply, "It was awesome!"

Even the camera was misty over the moving day in Miss Potter's world.
Funny, though we had separate days, that's exactly what the girls said about their outing.  When we compared notes, no one could out do the other to call a clear winner.  The boys felt their inspiring day of being in the birthplace of the greatest rock-n-roll band of all time was the best day any musician could dream.  The girls believed their day biking (over 15 miles!) and sauntering through the land of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck was the best day writers could imagine.  Personally, I think we all won.

1 comment:

  1. The picture of the girls in front of the cottage is picture postcard perfect!!!!!


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