I am now back from lots of traveling, and back into the swing of things (church, essays, responsibility, ect.). I have one week left of break, which will mostly be spent working up my final essays which are due in a few weeks, but as I’ll need study breaks, I’ll be catching up on my travel tales a day at a time, hopefully doing them better justice this way than if I tried to cover all ten days at once.
Day One: Brighton to Derbyshire
I met up with my travel buddies, Rachel and Jacleen, at Brighton train station to take the train to Derby. It would be a four train/five hour journey to get to Derby, but we were excited and anxiously anticipated the scenic countryside to which we were headed. First, a side note on England’s geography: Derbyshire is an area in the Northern half of England, just below the Peak District National Park. Another side note (this one on literature): Derbyshire is the place that Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy is from, and where Pemberley estate is said to be. Now, having oriented you as to the most important things about Derbyshire, I continue…
Once we were out of London and on the train toward Derbyshire, the landscape quickly changed. Gone were the busy, bustling streets of Brighton and the shabby, swollen, low-income housing structures of London which are normally visible beyond the train tracks; they had both been replaced with a much freer, much greener landscape. Tall apartment buildings flattened and widened into rolling hills, carpeted by grass kept short by grazing sheep, and buildings became much fewer, and farther in between. The towns that we passed were small and the white Tudor houses looked, from the distance, much like larger versions of the sheep at pasture nearer us. Although the train must have been going quite fast, time seemed to slow down, and as I watched ponds and woods and the occasional archaic church steeple pass by, I began to feel as though I was not only traveling through the country but through time itself.
The three of us shared a room at a charming little bed and breakfast called the Crown Inn. It was located in the village of Marston Montgomery, a village so small and rural that the inn was the only commercial business in the village that was not a farm, and as such was relatively quiet (especially considering there was a pub downstairs). I’ve been told that the further away you get from London (in general), the nicer the people get, and I have decided that I believe this. The inn was owned by two gentlemen, one Italian and one from Liverpool, and they could not seem to find enough to do to make our stay more comfortable. From arranging transportation for us from the inn to the nearest city (be it by the landlord himself or the butcher that came to bring the day’s meat each morning), to suggesting places to visit and providing the information necessary to get there, they displayed a hospitality I was unaware still existed in business. Needless to say, we enjoyed the time we spent there.
Once we were able to put down our things we went for a walk to a nearby village to find dinner and see the area, which is characterized by lots of pastures boxed in by short hedges. These pastures are broken only by the occasional farm house, and so the whole area feels very open and free. The mild, passive attitudes of the neighboring sheep that were constantly in sight must have rubbed off on me, for I felt myself become equally calm and quiet as the weight of burdens I didn’t even know I had was lifted from my shoulders.
Actually, sheep are not all that quiet. The ideal sheep, the kind we envision eating flowers and nurturing a tiny lamb, is quiet, but the real sheep is not. The real sheep is quite noisy. Much more so than a horse or a cow or even a dog. And because sheep aren’t particularly independent thinkers, when one sheep begins to bleat, they all begin to bleat, and you can hear it a good half a mile away. At one point, a little past 5:00, we were sitting outside a cemetery, having a picnic dinner (don’t judge–it was the only not-sheep-populated patch of grass we could find in two villages) when we began to hear a chorus of “Baaaaaa”s coming from the flock of sheep we had passed earlier that was kept on a field of one of the churches (I guess that congregation took the whole “feed my sheep” thing literally). It was almost alarming, the way they all just went crazy, and one of the girls asked “What are they doing over there?” I told her that they were participating in the 5:00 mass.
On the way back to the inn, we passed a house where a woman was selling loaves of lemon and orange cake she’d made that morning. They smelled delicious, so we decided to take one back to split that night. It was a good decision; the lemon cake was a little sweet, slightly tart, and all together very good. We ended the day by mapping out our next few days, and of course, by doing some journal writing, the later which will be helpful as I attempt to recount this vacation in vivid accuracy.
More tomorrow, but for now, dinner and a practice.