Monday, July 10, 2006

England Day 3: To the Land of the Fiber-bearers

Last time we talked, we were about to spend the night in Shrewsbury, at the lovely Prince Rupert Hotel. What was nice about this hotel was that I got my own room, with a really luxurious bathtub. As I alluded to last week, we walked around town for awhile and then ended up at another Italian restaurant (what can I say, we're big pasta eaters in my family). Now, for the purposes of this story, please recall that this was a couple of weeks ago now. Just as we sat down, we heard, very faintly, the US national anthem, followed by the Italian anthem. Turns out we were playing them in the World Cup, and the very Italian owner and cook were watching the game covertlly in the kitchen. For the sake of our food quality we hoped the Italians were playing well, and for the sake of our country we hoped they weren't, so we were very confused. It was great though, because these guys were really into the game, and whenever there was a goal there was whopping (or whinging) from the kitchen. And the food was delicious.
Shrewsbury is a very old city (hell, everything in England is old), and there are a lot of bits that still look like this:

All in all Shrewsbury was a lovely place but we didn't stay long, since we were on a mission to get to the Lake District. From Shrewsbury we drove pretty much straight north. All of a sudden we started to see many, many fiber-bearers! Now, being a knitter I was very excited about the sheep, but bonding with them had to wait. On the way we ran into this little obstacle in the road: Now we think what happened here was that the farmer was transporting these hay bales, made a turn, and oops-a-daisy, all over the road. He was making a valiant effort at hay retrieval:

We did eventually make it to Keswick (don't pronounce the 'w'), where I got to commune with some fiber-bearers. One of the neat things about England is that you're allowed to walk anywhere, including through grazing livestock, as you can see me doing on the left. You really have to mind the sheep sh*t was pretty thick.
There were also these cuties:
The paint marks come in many colors and are used by the famers to tell who is who and who has done what to whom, breeding-wise.
Keswick is a pretty nice little town. It's the gateway to the hiking in the area, of which there is plenty. The city was pretty crowded with people hiking or preparing to do so, and I've never seen such a huge collection of outdoor gear anywhere. Even in a big outdoorsy city like Seattle there are only a few stores that sell hiking gear, so this was really bizarre. Here is a shot of the Keswick town center: I'm really sorry these pictures are all so dreary, but it was dreary. It was beautiful in Bath, and again in London, but the weather was absolute crap for about the middle 6 days of our trip, starting with this one. More about that later. Stay tuned. Tomorrow I'll tell you all about the wonder that was the Lakeland Sheep and Wool Centre...

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