Sunday 10 August 2014

Sunday Summary: My Great British Summer Holiday

Hello all. Today's post is a rather late one as I've just been spending the afternoon and evening celebrating my friend's birthday, an age-appropriate event for someone in her late twenties, with board and card games and pizza. Lots of pizza. Gotta love Domino's!

So last week was the week of the great Lake District camping trip, which Judith and I have been planning probably for the last two years or so. I grew up having the Swallows and Amazons books read to me for bedtime stories, and these are among the stories that formed the framework of my childhood. I play-acted Swallows and Amazons, even tried writing Swallows and Amazons fanfiction (with myself as a character with my very own boat.) I think I got about two pages of A5 paper and a drawing! Judith didn't read these books as a kid, although she enjoyed the first book when she read it recently, and was quite happy to go along with my dream of re-enacting these stories - though without the sailing. I wouldn't trust myself in charge of a yacht.

We had a gorgeous campsite, a pitch in a woodland clearing with just two or three other tents around us, and it was just a very short scramble down to the lake. Of course we went swimming - we couldn't exactly not! Lake swimming is very different from sea swimming - no waves, and some weird squidgey plant life underfoot, so it's better just to stay afloat. It was bliss.

The day after we arrived we attempted to climb "Kanchenjunga," or the Old Man of Coniston as it is called in muggle terminology, one of the highest hills in the UK. In Arthur Ransome's Swallowdale, six children between the ages of eight and about fourteen climb this mountain without even using the path, and then the youngest walk back to their camp across the moors afterwards (getting lost in the fog, but that's another story.) Sadly, we had to conclude that this story must have had its basis in fantasy, and had to turn back long before reaching the summit, having run out of drinking water. Still, it was a jolly good climb, with some beautiful scenery!

After last week's not-grumble about the summer being too much, in traditional British fashion the weather decided to turn on us while we were under canvas, and on Tuesday night we got very little sleep as the rain beat down incessantly onto our tent. I was afraid I would wake up to find myself lying in a puddle, and at its heaviest we did get some spray dripping onto us through the tent. We spent most of the next morning sulking in our soggy tent, but when the sun came out again we discovered things were not as bleak as they had seemed, and were able to bale out the puddles with a paper cup, dry the tent with the cloth and leave our sleeping bags to air in the sun. We walked along the lake shore to Wray Castle, a monstrosity built by a Victorian couple with more money than taste, wanting to give the impression of having inherited a medieval palace instead of being "new money." This was quite newly open to the public, and was an odd experience, not being furnished with original or period furniture but instead giving an impression of the work that goes into conserving other historic buildings. The rooms were almost bare, but I did love the library, with pictures of blank books painted on the walls for visitors to write their favourite titles onto them. Anne of Green Gables and The Lord of the Rings had helpfully been filled in already, so I made Neverwhere my contribution.

We came home on Thursday, and Friday marked the end of Cowes Week, the huge annual Isle of Wight sailing regatta, which finished with a Red Arrows display and fireworks. (Here, if you talk about "fireworks night" chances are you're referring to this first week in August rather than November 5th. Half the Island seems to migrate to Cowes. I'm surprised it doesn't capsize!) Again, the rain pelted down and we got soaked, but made up our minds to enjoy the evening nonetheless.

I've got one more day of holiday tomorrow, during which I intend to do very little (although I think my parents are planning to take me and my sister, who is visiting, out for lunch) and then, alas, back to work on Tuesday. It feels impossible that my holiday is already near its end!


  1. I'm very jealous of your mountain climbing, lake swimming adventures, although soggy tents are definitely not fun! Glad you've had an awesome holiday :-)

  2. This sounds soooo beautiful, despite the soggy tent, and your campsite pitch sounds perfect! And what an interesting idea for the Wray Castle library - that's the kind of thing I wish I'd thought of appropriating while we were still at the shop. Sometimes it's interesting seeing a building like that in the PROCESS of renovation or conservation, more empty, because you can sort of PROJECT onto it in a way you can't when it's all lavishly decorated and furnished inside.

    On a less whimsical note, YES DOMINO'S PIZZA. I'm having one for Bout of Books next week, all being well. :P

    1. I think we actually had a nicer pitch than those right on the lakeshore - although the five-minute walk to the toilet block wasn't fun, especially at 4AM on the rainy night! I agree about seeing Wray Castle as a work in progress. We were told on the door that it was like no other historic building, but was a very interesting visit.

      YAY PIZZA! I think it's a bit tragic that a major selling point of Domino's is that you can get pizza without even speaking to anyone (except the delivery person) but it's probably done them a lot of good business with shy and unsociable types who hate using the phone. (Also YUM.)

    2. Also also... the little pots of garlic and herb dip that come with every pizza help to ensure my loyalty.

  3. ARGH. Dominos seems to be the subject of everybody's posts today and it's driving me up the wall. I WANT DOMINOS but they don't deliver here! *sulks*

    Oh, we went on our annual school camping trip there every year, I know those hills well! And yes, it usually did rain. I don't remember ever seeing the interesting castle before though.


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