Bring the Noise!

My ears are ringing. No, it’s not the clanging of the tips from the recycling plant next door. No, it’s not street noise and honking cars. No, it’s not neighbours shaking the house with their late night party. What is it then? Silence. My ears aren’t used to this and they are straining to hear something!

I’ve been leading the urban life without a break for way too long. I need to ensure that I get out of it all every couple of months so I can avoid strange bodily responses like this. The closest I have come since leaving Pittsboro after my visit last December was my holiday in Turkey. However, there were still a lot of people, music, ski boats, and aeroplanes flying around. On most parts of the footpath around the lake in Keswick all you can hear is the gentle hints that wind leaves behind as it invisibly stirs up trouble, two pairs of footsteps, and occasionally other people you pass.

I couldn’t lead this life every day. I would get incredibly bored. This trip comes at just the right time however. I’ve been lounging around London by visiting museums and exhibitions and have started to lose motivation. A brief change like this should help me get back on track. I’ve proven that I have about a thirty day attention span at most. I need a trip, even just a weekend one, every thirty days or so to keep me lively.

I’m in the pub at the Bridge Hotel and I have two questions that I need answers to:

  • What is the functional purpose of a hedge row? They are too strong and cumbersome to build to simply be property dividers. Or is my modern mind just too lazy?
  • Why do these wooden fences keep going into the lake?

I hope a night at the local pub or some additional thought will give me some answers.

Update: Between the time of writing this and typing it in, I think I’ve found the answers. My modern mind is too lazy and the fence in the water accounts for varying lake depths and prevents the animals from just walking in some shallow water for a bit to get around it. Simple answers? Yes. I really feel like a city boy now. I would have instantly seen that when I was younger!

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Keswick

I can’t say this enough: Don’t judge people too quickly. The young girl I was complaining about earlier for playing her headphones too loudly turned out to be named Hannah. I found this out after I accepted a ride to Keswick from her mother, Caroline.
You should know by now that I appreciate my quiet time on trains. I broke my normal MO and chatted to the smiling, grey-haired woman sitting across the table from me. We both happened to look up at the the same time and gave each other that polite smile and “Hi” that one does when one is put in that situation. Conversation followed.

She was travelling back home after a visit to her son. We discussed where we were both from, where we had visited, and of course – the weather. When conversation turned to my destination, I replied that I was catching the bus from Penrith Station to Keswick. A new voice entered the conversation from my left with “Did you say you were going to Keswick?” We both turned to look and saw Caroline (although I didn’t know that was her name at the time) peering back at me inquisitively. I said yes and she responded by pointing out that she had a car at Penrith and drives past Keswick on her way home if I would like a ride. Maybe they are more friendly in the North!!

During my car ride, I learned that Hannah was 14. This came up as the explanation for why she was so excited about telling me that she had seen somebody that I had never heard of at the train station in London. I’m still confused and convinced more than ever that I’m actually older than I feel since I have really lost all contact with what a person is interested in at the age of fourteen these days. Not that I mind because I know of a lot more things that I didn’t know about then that I KNOW are better than what I knew about at age fourteen! And no, I’m not going into details. Caroline and Hannah were both really friendly and I made the mistake of not following my normal travelling rule of getting absolutely everyone’s photo and email address that I meet.

While waiting for Amanda, I started shopping for a coat since there were a lot of outdoors shops and they were all running sales. I was quickly accosted by a young, eager kid that tried to upsell me to a Gore-Tex coat that would have survived the gale force winds I was afraid of seeing on this trip. He managed to learn about everwhere I have lived, what I thought of London, and how long I would be visiting. The important thing about this line of questioning is I know he didn’t care what I said as long as I was trying on anything over £250. Concerned that I might provoke foul weather by purchasing a coat that could protect me from it, I stepped away and kept a firm grip on my money.

Amanda arrived, looking lovely as usual and we headed off to a pub…via a few more outdoors shops. I purchased a genuine UK produced Karrimor Hurricane Fleece to replace my tattered $10 “leather” coat. That coat served me well for over a year but it was reaching the end of its useful life. The water repellency of a fleece isn’t quite as high as the old plastic-leather but it definitely proved to be warmer, looked better, and is produced right here in the UK.

We were heading off for a walk when we wisely decided to find a place to stay the night first. It’s always easier to find a room when it’s six o’clock and your sober rather than when it is eleven thirty and you’re not! Being lazy, we took the first place we found and accepted the £22 each price tag. I probably should have negotiated since:

  • They still had vacancies
  • All of the adjacent places had vacancies
  • It wasn’t high season
  • I’m paying out of my overdraft!

They locked the place up at midnight so we had to make a fairly sensible night of it. For whatever reason we were both a little slow and were back and asleep before eleven anyway.

Amanda and the Lake District

Beep, beep, beep. It’s 0800 and I’m not working today so why am I getting up so early? Because I can’t book a Virgin Trains ticket less than 24 hours ahead via their web site and phone reservations are only open from 0800 to 2200.
I decided to visit Amanda a couple of weeks ago. She has been living in the Bridge Hotel for quite a while now and I keep putting off actually planning a trip up. So…I skipped the planning and just bought a ticket.

Have I ever mentioned how much better train travel is than air travel? I, being unfamiliar with Euston Station, arrived one hour before my train departed. This was about 40 minutes more than I needed. This happens to be just the right amount of time to purchase and casually eat breakfast – how convenient. And when do you ever get this good of a view out of a commercial plane window?

I’m back to low-tech recording methods: my digital camera and Psion Revo are both out of commission. I’m looking for a Revo replacement (any ideas?) and my camera should be fixed soon. For now, I am relying on my trusty Lomo and a pen and notepad to record my adventures.

I say that I did no planning, but it’s not entirely true – I confirmed that the “gale force winds with severe flooding” that were reported in the area were not going to be occuring where I was actually headed. I also ensured that Amanda would be there! The weather should be cold, but not extreme and Amanda will be there.

This trip brings my UK city travel count up to three (four if you count brief layovers in Dover to catch the ferry to France) – Cambridge, Bath, and now Keswick.

Virgin offered to upgrade me to first class for £20. I now wish I had taken them up on the offer. I’ts not like an airplane where I’m trying to get more legroom…I’m just a snob. Most of the people in standard class are fine but there is that 5-10% who eat smelly food, leaver their mobile ringer on its loudest setting, and play their headphones so loudly that they turn into speakers. It seems that even in the last 15 months since I’ve been in England that the traditional English code of keeping quiet on the train is being rapidly destroyed. This is great news for people travelling in groups, but sad news for the solo traveller like yours truly.

But now I must sit back and enjoy the ride.