Sunday, June 3, 2012

Week 21 - Happy in England

I know, I'm still way behind. I am still stuck on my trip weeks so am hoping to get the posts done tonight.

Monday was a slow day, which we all needed after such a long day Sunday. I started the day with my first English sausage. Yum! Then the morning was spent in our first class - design your own shawlette. I was totally into it and even found a skein of yarn from the last trip's classes that I'd liked so much that I took a pic of it. After three attempts, I had a good design and knitted away. I was still full from breakfast so didn't order lunch. We were scheduled for a tour of the gardens with the head gardener at 3:00 but just as we gathered outside, the skies opened up so we skipped it. Most of us just headed back to our shawlettes, having some nice tea and biscuits. The afternoon flew by and we had another wonderful dinner from the Cragwood kitchen. I had yet more fish. Yum again!

As is the usual on Jean's tours, a leisurely class day is followed by a day out so we were on the bus first thing Tuesday headed for Rydal Mount - William Wordsworth's house. The house was just a house but the gardens were amazing. Now I know next to nothing about the Romantic poets but they said he was inspired by nature and I could see why. When our guided tour was over, I went back outside while the others explored the house. I roamed every corner of the landscape, enjoying every minute. When we left, we headed to  Grassmere, a cute village with fun shops. Sue and I got lunch at The Potting Shed and shopped until it was time to be at the bus. From there we went to The Woolclip, a wonderful yarn shop and artist's coop. I found lots of pins and yarn, including the softest yarn I've ever touched. I got lots of presents and then it was back to Cragwood for another wonderful meal. I could get used to this life!

Wednesday was another full day. We had a different bus driver who drove like a bat out of hell and we were all nauseous by the time we got to our first stop, Crookabeck Angora Farm. We had to walk half a mile to the farm, which was a little piece of heaven. I had fun feeding the goats and, of course, buying more yarn and pins. Then it was off to Conniston Water (one of the lakes) for a gondola ride. It was another chilly, rainy day so I stayed inside knitting for most of the time. Fatigue was setting in big time so when we got to Brantwood, some famous British dude's house and gardens, I was spent. After seeing the house and their cheesy video, I made a bee line for the tea shop and enjoyed a cuppa until it was time to move on. We were having dinner in a pub in a nearby town but we got there just as the shops were closing and still had an hour to kill so ended up in the pub having cider and knitting. It was another fabulous meal with a super yummy smoked mackerel pâté for a starter. I was enjoying my culinary foray into every kind of fish on the menus. When we got back to the hotel, a few of us stayed up late chatting with the staff. We promised to teach our favorite waiter how to knit and went to bed happy.

After two days out, Thursday was a class in the morning and a free afternoon. After a morning of knitting, we all got together and hired a boat for a tour of Lake Windermere. The captain dropped a couple of people in the other side so they could hike, gave us a tour and then dropped us in the local town. I wanted to go to the Lakeland (a fun home store) flagship store and we decided to walk, which ended up being a mile and a half all up hill. It was tiring but worth the walk. I found all kinds of stocking stuffers and such. I bought very little besides yarn to take home but most of it came from Lakeland. We took a taxi back to Cragwood to pack. Our last dinner was the much anticipated monk fish. It's a good thing I hadn't googled it first cuz it's dead ugly but so delicious. I was sad to be leaving Cragwood. It had been a wonderful time and I enjoyed every minute there.

I tasted kippers (not bad) at my last Cragwood breakfast then we were on the road to York. We stopped at Farfield Mill, an old textile mill that was converted to an artists' coop and museum. It was a fun place and I found, you guessed it, more yarn. I did restrain myself some, believe it or not. Then it was on to the Wensleydale cheese visitor center. I'm not kidding. A cheese visitor center. I tasted about twenty kinds of cheese and had a piece of pie with more cheese. Then we went to a rope factory and a museum before getting back on the road. I was dismayed to find on getting to York that the hotel had no elevator and I was on the third floor. Sheesh! By now I was also getting a cold. Figures. Then we had a bizarre meal at the hotel, featuring gnocchi that was deep fat fried and had no sauce. Then the mint chocolate chip ice cream for dessert was spearmint flavored so tasted like tooth paste. The food here was not going to be anywhere near as good as at Cragwood. Bummer.

Saturday started with a walking tour of York, lead by Philip. Then we had a behinds the scenes tour of the Minster with one of the broderers. We got to go behind the velvet ropes for close up views of the embroidery, which was gorgeous. Then it was on to the quilt museum, after stopping at a pub, where I didn't eat. I was feeling crappy by then and my knee was starting to bother me. So I shared a cab back to the hotel, stopping at the market for a sandwich for dinner. While the rest of the group was shopping and eating out, I was in my room, watching bad movies and eating my supermarket sandwich. It was a much needed rest and I felt better for it.

Our morning speaker had cancelled for Sunday so  we had a nice, late start. We went to Harlow Carr, a Royal Horticultural Society garden that was gorgeous. We had hours there to roam around and there was a Betty's tea room so we sat outside and enjoyed tea and scones in the sun. When we got back, Martin Storey (a knitting god) had arrived and gave us a lecture on his life in knitting. Then it was another disappointing meal, which lasted forever because Madelaine took an hour to eat her main course so we all had to wait. I ate my chocolate mouse at 10:00 (also disappointing) and went to bed feeling too full. Not a good way to end the week but the next day was Rowan so all was good in my world.

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