So today I thought, after a couple of days of walking and visiting Lake District sites near Ambleside that I wanted to get out and see something a bit different. Lowther Castle & Gardens sounded like just the ticket. It’s a genuine old English castle that until recently was falling into ruin. In the last few years, however, restoration work has begun. It’s far from complete, and some parts of the 130-acre site may never be restored to their former glory. Visitors thus get to see some bits that are in great shape, some that are getting there, and some that are still looking a bit ruinous. The castle is situated atop a ridge that provides an amazing view of the valley below.
Getting to the castle, however, provided an automotive adventure. Some of the roads between Ambleside and Lowther are curvy and a bit on the narrow side. Going around one turn I moved over just a wee bit too far to my left to accommodate an oncoming car and banged the left front tire on the curb. Oops. Yeah, I blew the tire. Got the temporary tire on easily enough, but then had to replace the tire as it was beyond repair. I think my traveler’s insurance will help with this sort of thing, but thought it would easier just to pay for a new tire and sort out the insurance later. All I needed to do was pull out my . . . . Oh, really? I had no wallet. Just an empty pocket where my wallet always lives. I NEVER leave without my wallet! But I did today, and the 30 pounds or so in my money clip was not enough to cover the bill.
Fortunately I have my credit card info securely stored in the 1Password app on my iPhone. (Don’t have it? This app keeps my passwords secure yet available across all my electronic devices. Fabulous app!) Bottom line: I got the tire replaced and was on my way in less than five minutes. I am grateful to the two very helpful gentlemen from AA (it’s the British version of AAA without what would be, for them at least, the unnecessary and inaccurate first “A”) who helped me sort out my best options for dealing with the flat and even led me the five miles or so to the tire shop they found for me.
On my way back from the castle (and driving perhaps a smidge more cautiously) I spied a sign that read “Ice Cream Farm.” Well, if you know me you know my love of ice cream. And a whole farm all about ice cream? How could I NOT stop? I got a scoop of “Banoffee,” a mix of banana and toffee. Sounded quaintly British and tasted sweet, creamy, and delicious.
Tomorrow I bid farewell to the Lake District and head south towards the Oxford area to meet up with my parents at the home of two of their dear friends who live in Britain.
And now for the daily LUGGAGE UPDATE: As a reminder, I left Dyersburg a week ago with a camera bag, a carry-on bag, and two pieces of luggage to be checked. As of today I have just the first two. Without boring you with all the gory details and emails and time spent on hold with couriers, I finally had a conversation with a British Airways representative who confirmed that both of my bags, while in England, were not making to Ambleside. We agreed that I could pick them up at Heathrow Airport on Thursday before checking in for my flight to South Africa. Yeah, that’ll work, won’t it? We shall see!
In the meantime, the lack of luggage has NOT affected my trip in any significant way other than to remind me (1) that I always pack too much anyway and (2) that it’s only stuff and has no intrinsic value. For example, what mattered today was not the luggage or even the blown tire but the amazing opportunity I had to wander the grounds of an extraordinary castle on a perfect sunny day in England. I am so blessed!
Below is a “bonus” photo that shows a view of the actual castle: