26.04.2013 - 26.04.2013
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.
We left Blackpool in the sun, eager to move on to new haunts. We had some time before we needed to check into our first Scottish accommodation so we decided to take the scenic route through Britain’s Lakes District National Park. The route didn’t add much distance but it sure added a lot of great scenery. The park is the largest in Britain, contains sixteen lakes within a 30 kilometer section and hosts a number of small, quaint villages, some quite touristed and others, not so. We enjoyed seeing the hills and dales of the area, scattered profusely with – what else – sheep. The grass is really starting to green up so the carpets of jade divided by the low stone walls caused us to make more of those exclamations which our children think are a tad overused.
We stopped for an hour in a small town called Bowness-on-Windermere, a small collection of shops and lake-front promenades. They seem big on ice cream there but the still-cold weather convinced us otherwise. When we went into a candy shop, Hannah did try Britain’s ‘rock candy,’ choosing the ice cream flavour. (What on earth is ‘ice cream’ flavour when there are hundreds of flavours of ice cream?! This just appeared to taste sweet.) The candy comes in sticks of hard boiled confectionary and is sold in a multitude of colours and flavours; one try was enough for me. Abby was happy to find mementos of her two favourite British entertainers, Ant and Dec, which helped her recover somewhat from missing seeing their wax figures in Blackpool. Along the promenade, we saw numerous swans, about two dozen, many out of the water. I don’t think I have ever seen a swan out of water before - their feet are really ugly so it’s no wonder they generally make sure they’re seen in the water. The two Canada Geese walking amongst them almost brought tears to our eyes.
The area has museums, stores and other attractions devoted to Beatrix Potter. This was the place that inspired her to write about Peter, Flopsy, Mopsy and the rest of her critters. We walked through a store of overpriced rabbit figurines and children's clothes and that seemed to be enough cottontail exposure for us. (Even though I thought the kids liked all things Potter, it doesn't seem to include Beatrix's world.)
The drive through the remainder of the park and then on to Scotland was punctuated by varied landscapes of green, surprising autumn colours and barren hills. We stopped at Kirkstone Pass for lunch, eschewing the pub there in favour of our picnic food. A few walkers and cyclists were out and about; other tourists elected to take a cruise on one of the beautiful lakes close by. It was all beautiful and I wish my eyes hadn’t kept closing so I could keep Ben company and see the great scenery as well. However, sleep overtook the three of us so Ben was alone with his thoughts and his coffee until we approached Clarkston, just outside of Glasgow.
Our place for the next three days is a comfy apartment with two bedrooms and an overabundance of TVs (three), although we don’t use those very much this trip. The girls had fun using the play station in the last place; they were to play cooperatively against the system but, once in a while, I would see their true competitive natures come out and their characters would attack each other despite their alliance. You see, the Koning family has a hard time playing games cooperatively instead of competitively. Remember those cheesy ‘cooperative games’ that were a bit of the rage about ten years back? Well, in our house, when Grandma bought the girls one, after we played it correctly a few times, we felt the urge to change the rules so that it became competitive. I mean, what’s the point otherwise? No doubt, as we tromp about Scotland, we’ll each align ourselves with one of the Campbell and MacDonald clans and see what occurs.