Greetings friends, from afar… sorry for the long silence, but we were out of radio contact (i.e. internet) while we were in the Lake District for a few days. It was actually quite refreshing to not have a connection to the outer world, to actually have to make an effort to check my email instead of always being on my computer at any spare moment.

We left Oxfordshire last Monday, and drove for 3 hours or so to reach our lovely destination near Windermere Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Britain. We didn’t realize how lovely our destination was until Wednesday though, because typical to the British summer, it rained all day on Tuesday. We did our best to explore, but mostly spent the day in the car and inside the house.

Wednesday dawned clear and cold, and turned into a fantastic day, the kind that sells real estate in places like San Francisco, or Windermere. We drove over to a castle directly opposite us on the lake, only discover that it was A) closed, and B) not a real castle. Some Victorian built it in the 1840s as a gift for his wife, who decided she didn’t really like it, thank you, and made him sell it at a loss. Poor guy. The castle (or folly) was beautiful though, and occupied a most scenic point on the Lake. At one point the two fighter jets that were playing tag through the valley all week flew directly over our heads, nearly deafening us and causing Gabe to grin and whoop with glee.

From the folly, we walked down a long footpath along the Lake, seeing many dogs, well kitted-out hikers, fishermen, and boats. We even saw a woman putting on her wetsuit and get into the Lake in preparation for this weekend’s incredible, bone chilling, Great Northern Swim — a mile-long stint in the 15 degree centigrade Lake water, during which they have to actually get a medical check half-way through to ensure they can physically complete the swim on the way back. Good Lord. 5000 people were descending on Windermere for this event — glad we cleared out before that!

Thursday we celebrated our final day as a family before we all went our separate directions. My mom took us to an amazing pub perched on one of the passes going out of the valley, which boasted that it has had an establishment there since before Columbus discovered America. Couldn’t speak to that, but the food was good, and the view incredible.

We finished our final day with a ferry trip out on the Lake and a truly sumptuous, delicious meal at a local restaurant renowned (with good reason) for its food. It was a wonderful way to finish a great trip together, and we left the Lakes the next morning, feeling sad to say goodbye to my aunt and uncle (who are both going home in the next few days) but also like we had a good ending to a great trip together.

Gabe and I then set off on our own on Friday, heading down to north Wales via a picnic lunch near the Roman wall in Chester. We’re now staying with my niece, her husband, and their two lovely children on the coast of Wales, about ten minutes’ walk from the ocean. Feels like home, literally and emotionally — I have spent some much-treasured time with this same family during my visits to England over the past few years, and coming here always provides a sense of homecoming during the uncertainty and craziness of traveling.

Today we started with a bike ride by the ocean, then a nap and a long run in the afternoon, wrapping up with a big barbecue (eaten outside! I love Britain’s three days of summer) and now a taste of TV in Welsh. Can’t forget the cultural experience during our day of relaxation…

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