People Drink This Stuff?

The Education of a Reluctant Whisky Drinker

“The water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable, we had to add whisky. By diligent effort, I learned to like it.” ~ Winston Churchill

 

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Tasting room at Penderyn Distillery

In Latin it is aqua vitae. In Gaelic it is uisge beatha. Both have the same meaning: the water of life. Over the centuries the mispronunciation of uisge beatha  (oosh’-ge ba’) gradually morphed into the word now known the world over as whisky, specifically, Scotch whisky. Continue reading

One of Those Days

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“Some days are enchanted, as everybody knows. Every detail of the day, even the most trivial, falls into exquisite juxtaposition with the next. Commonplace things take on significance and beauty. Perhaps it’s a matter of timing. Perhaps for once one walks in sympathetic vibration with the earth, disturbing nothing as one treads. However that may be, this was one of those days.” ~ Louise Dickinson Rich, We Took to the Woods

This passage from a dearly loved book is followed by a description of a perfect day in the author’s life, a description so vivid and rich with vibrant word pictures that I am left wildly jealous and convinced it’s time for me to give up the dream of writing and leave it to those who practice the art with true craftsmanship. But beyond my feelings of inadequacy, this short passage from “We Took to the Woods” makes me think back over some of the delightful days my husband and I have shared since we began our life together. Continue reading

Lake District Medly

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Mr. H and I have just returned from another camping trip in the Lake District, and once again it was a memorable experience. At long last I fulfilled my teen-age wish and dream to walk the hills and take in the breathtaking scenery of this ruggedly beautiful part of the country. As some of you may know from my previous blogs, I was unable to go walking last year due to a bum ankle, but this year I was able to go out four days in a row, and a blog about that experience is in the works.

In the meantime, here is a visual essay of this corner of England which now holds a very special place in my heart.

I hope you enjoy it.

We Went to the Wilds – Part III

Why Do We Do It?

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“Wilderness areas are first of all a series of sanctuaries for the primitive arts of wilderness travel, especially canoeing and packing. I suppose some will wish to debate whether it is important to keep these primitive arts alive. I shall not debate it. Either you know it in your bones, or you are very, very old.” ~ Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Seasoned campers, no matter where they hail from, all have their own tales of harsh weather they have endured, tents that leaked, fires that wouldn’t start, and of course the favourite, wildlife they have encountered.

Here in the UK I have heard my share of stories. I’ve been told not to leave chocolate in my tent because the mice love chocolate and will chew a hole through the tent to get to it. One friend told of waking up in the morning with several slugs – SLUGS!on her face.  My husband relates a cute little story about a large toad crawling under one flap of his tent, clambering across the sleeping area in a business-like manner, then vanishing underneath the opposite flap without so much as a by-your-leave.

In spite of my aversion to mice and my horror at the thought of a slug facial, I have to state plainly that these tales of wildlife encounters have a rather whimsical, Beatrix Pottery air about them. They may be momentarily unpleasant, but they are hardly the stuff to hold an audience rapt with fear when retold around a campfire in the dark of night. Continue reading

Oh those magnificent period dramas!

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Highclere Castle

Shortly after I arrived to live here in the UK the fourth series of Downton Abbey began and with a hint of smugness I looked forward to watching the new season months before my American friends and family would be able to do so. It was with some lingering resentment and a great deal of curiosity that I sat down to watch that first episode on ITV, for it had been only a few months previously that I’d thrown down my knitting and stomped out of the room at the end of series three feeling seriously miffed. After they killed off two of my favourite characters, and the second one right in the last moments of the show, I declared myself to be over, done, finished. From that day forward Downton Abbey would be dead to me. Continue reading

We Went to the Wilds – Part II: A Different Approach  

 “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” ~ Alfred Wainwright, British fellwalker and author of the seven-volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells.

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Rain.

The rain drumming on the roof of our tent that first night at Coniston never stopped. Sometimes it was a gentle patter as soft as a lullaby, but more often it was a ferocious torrent, as though we had unwittingly pitched our tent beneath a waterfall. Continue reading

Lakeland Views

 

Once again I must apologize. Although the residual brain cloud left behind by my recent cold has begun to dissipate, my blogging time has been severely limited as I try to catch up with all those things which fell by the wayside while I was ill. I am hard at work on Part II of the camping trip last summer, but it isn’t anywhere near completion.

In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy a short preview of some of the incredible scenery of the Lake District. Some of these photographs were taken last summer, while others were taken by my husband on previous trips to the area.

Next week will be the blog which exposes just what it is that makes camping in the UK different from camping in the US.