Monday, 17 October 2011

Hadrian's Wall

We took a full week to travel up to the Scottish Highlands this past week. Pedro is starting a new job and had a week of leave to burn from his previous employer, so we decided to take the outdoorsy trip we've been putting off for the last three years and head up to an area we fell in love with when Isabella was just starting to move in my tummy. To break up the very long eight-hour drive, we decided to stay one night at Hadrian's Wall, a third visit to the Wall for us.

hiking up the other side of the cliff, Steel Rigg
We drove up through the Yorkshire Dales - an area of rolling hills, grazing sheep, and crumbling fences that grid up the landscape. The further north you drive, the more out-of-time you feel; it's a place that has changed very little over the centuries. When we arrived in Corbridge (an absolutely picturesque little town;  we almost didn't want to leave), a tourist centre found us a cozy B&B to stay the night. It was right across the road from the Roman ruins themselves as well as the inn where we and some of our friends from Puerto Rico had stayed over five years ago. We squeezed in a hike before it got dark, and made it up Steel Rigg but not further.

a portion of Hadrian's Wall, right

The place retains such a feeling of being on the edge of civilization, like you're at a very distant outpost with little touch with the rest of the world. Imagine how the Roman soliders must have felt, being away from the balmy climate in Rome and instead roughing it in the cold, wet and windswept north of Britain. But being here again made me wonder if we shouldn't have just decided to stay the whole week and walk the Wall. After our walk, we headed over to the Twice Brewed pub and inn for a meal and the best sticky toffee pudding I've ever had. We may travel to a lot of different places, but there is something to be said for returning to the spots where you've felt most at home.

That night, Isabella excitedly climbed into her twin bed - just like the big girl she has become, still thrilled about all the little bits of the day. She was asleep within minutes, totally exhausted by all the wind and walking. I got to stay up late on the lodge's red velveteen couches, reading about the quirky and bizarre in English Cottage Interiors. In the morning, we breakfasted on smoked salmon and eggs and chatted with our lovely Yorkshire hostess. She let Isabella feed her chickens....and I think Isabella couldn't have been more excited had she been given a kitten to take home.

With that, we gassed up for the first time and crossed the border into Scotland. Just after leaving Carlisle, we passed under a spectacular full rainbow. It truly was a sign of good things to come...

Saturday, 8 October 2011

vegan meal one: sepia spaghetti noodles and sauce - major hit with this one

the derelict Old Mill in Elton

the "echo" bridge

clumsy dog + wagon

making her entire breakfast - scrambled eggs and nutella toast
It's just been the girls at home all this past week. Pedro took a trip to the US to renew his driver's license and we anxiously await his return so that we can begin a much put-off trip back to the Scottish highlands. With him away, it always feels like the "grown-up" is gone and we get to stay up a little later and skip school. Ha. I kept her out of playgroup one beautiful day of the Indian Summer we were having and we did a long walk with El Dogo and the wagon. We also had a couple of vegan meals, which was a challenge I wanted to see if I could pull off - being a huge milk, butter, and egg fan. But it's definitely do-able and certainly makes you more conscious of what you're eating, in terms of how many animal products we use. I think I am going to incorporate more tofu into our lives!

As for next week, we have been craving a good Scottish outing - full of remote places and beautiful scenery. Even though Scotland is directly above us, the drive there is so long and painful - as driving in England just is. All of the big cities are much closer together and roads are often choked with slow trucks, caravans and commuters. Plus, when there are problems on the road, the police typically just shut everything down, which leads to incredibly long and uncomfortable waits in a cramped car with no toilet. But! We're braving it now, in the off-season, hoping for decent weather - no gale force winds or upflowing rain, please. Castles, ruins, and vast countryside await - I hope to get a bit muddy, very tired, and fill up on piping hot pub meals before tucking into our simple cabin each night.