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Published: June 14th 2017
Geo: 54.3568, -3.03676
Steven and the kids headed off on foot from the cottage this morning, to explore the roman fort down near the Waterside (about 10 minutes away). Apparently, there is not a lot left, but plenty of imagination and room to run and make noise made it a wonderful place, even with the rain!
Well, it wouldn't be the Lake District without Beatrix Potter, would it? So we headed off to the village of Near Sawrey (about 15 minutes from our cottage), where Beatrix had bought her beloved farm, Hill Top, and where she had written most of her books. We had read that the National Trust property was popular, and often sells out - at 20 minutes after opening time, we got the last car park available, and got a ticket which meant we only had to wait 40 minutes to be allowed entry into the house! The gardens were nice (though very wintry) and the house was wonderful - particularly when the lovely guide gave the kids a copy of The Tale of Samuel Whiskers, which had lots of illustrations where we could find the matching "real life" scene in the house. We chatted to an Australian family in
the gardens - their children are 9 and 7, and they have been away from home since 6 Jan, travelling all over Europe and Morocco - they must have hit a cracking pace, and haven't had a car for most of it!
We went to the lovely village of Hawkshead for lunch - I think that we may have been guided too quickly by our tummies (the first pub we saw, where we ate, had OK food but the rudest staff - later, we found two other real "character pubs" further into the village - something to come back to next time).
Exploring the village gave some real surprises - the oldest Methodist Church in the world (don't know how they substantiate this claim) and some lovely little delis, and then the Hawkshead Grammar school, with the original furniture from the school's opening in the 1500's! The kids found it hard to believe that the benches that they sat on had been sat on by children for 500 years! In those days, boys attended the school 6 days a week, from 6am to 5pm, and spoke only Latin and Greek whilst at school. All students drank beer (safer than the water,
and not very strong) and were encouraged to smoke tobacco as it was thought to ward off the plague. boys brought cockerels to school for fighting, and were neither encouraged nor discouraged from using their penknives to carve their names in the benches - one of the graffiti artists was William Wordsworth, who attended the school in the 1780s. We looked at quills, and how they were made from goose feathers, and the kids had a turn at writing on a slate (which they couldn't believe were in use only 2 generations earlier).
Home via Wray Castle - this was not a real castle but a private house built in in the Gothic Revival Style in 1840. It was built for Dr Dawson,using his wife's inheritance from a gin fortune. Apparently she took one look at the house when it was finished, and refused to live in it. The architect then drank himself to death - I hope it was with gin, as that would add a lovely circularity to the story! We couldn't go in, as it is only open some days a year (but will apparently soon be opened as a hotel) but had a lovely walk in the
rain to the lakeside, and the boys were very impressed with the boathouse and jetty. Georgia was just worried that a little lamb wasn't being cuddled by its mummy - I had to reinforce to her that her going over the fence would not reassure the lamb at all!
And another easy night - we've enjoyed just watching TV or playing board games with the kids, having simple pasta or soup for dinner , and generally taking it easy at lovely little Rose Cottage!
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