I learned many things today. 1) Beatrix Potter's draconian mother allowed her daughter to visit her for only an hour a week, on Sundays. 2)Windermere, Bowness on Windermere and all the other lakeland villages and hamlets we visited that are the core of the Lake District are part of a national park, but not such as in America and other countries, where there is evidence of a restraining presence. 3) Many place and geographic names in these parts come from the Norse. My favorite: tarn. It comes from the Norse word tjorn and means teardrop. Tarn is used in place of the word lake when the body of water is small and nestled high in the fells. Teardrop. Wonderful, no?
We did not get into Mr. McGregor's garden today but we certainly got into Beatrix Potter's. Our day was an exploration of her life and world among the lakes. From Hilltop House to Mr. Heelis' (aka Mr. Beatrix) office in Hawkshead to a huge farm she owned outside Coniston to Lindeth Howe, the house she bought for her mother (neatly placed a ferry ride away from Hilltop) and now a hotel where we are staying. Our guide spoke very seriously of Peter and Jemima Puddleduck and Timmy Tiptoes and the like, pointing out the spots that inspired their creation as if they were historic monuments. En route we visited the grammar school attended by Wordsworth, where he is said to have carved his name (it's there, but who/when it was carved is a matter of conjecture), met (from across the fence) indigenous Herdwick sheep (sweet-faced creatures with rasta fleece), motored up and back Coniston lake, walked past Ruskin's gigantic fellside house midway above it, visited Wray Castle (a conceit built by a conceited doctor in the mid-1800's), saw thriving California redwoods on the grounds and drove on to hidden Tarn Hows, one of those up-fell small lakes so beautiful it might rightfully inspire poetry.
I confess to being surprisingly taken with Miss Potter. She escaped her mother though it took most of her life and her health to do so; she apparently was a superb land manager (the National Trust asked her to manage a farm she had donated to them); she was a gifted illustrator with a lovely sense of color and wrote stories both tender and mischeivous, which seem to be synonimous with her own character. This Beatrix Potter business started out as something that would appeal to Liza as a preschool teacher. Imagine the shock to my cynical self to be touched by a rabbit drunk on stolen carrots?
Truffle: The final scone and clotted cream (with strawberry jam, of course) of this visit to England
Quote of the day: "It is said that the effect of eating too much lettuce is 'soporific'." (Beatrix Potter, from The Tales of the Flopsy Bunnies)