Travelling Companion and I went to northwest England for the weekend. Unlike at home in Brussels, almost all the trees there have now lost their leaves.
On Saturday we cleared brambles and ash saplings and rhododendrons on a National Trust estate in the Lake District. There were plenty of exotic trees including the biggest Japanese cedar in England (Britain?). I believe there were oaks and horse chestnuts too. But among the trees I am looking out for this autumn, I only saw silver birch.
On Sunday, we went to Baycliff and Rampside and Barrow-in-Furness, looking at the places that grandmothers and aunts and uncles used to live, lunching with cousins at the Fisherman’s Arms in Baycliff. We looked at the church where my siblings and I were christened – right by the sea. Crossing a bridge, we could see a submarine at the shipyard where Britain’s submarines are built. On Walney Island the street names are from the British empire – Natal Road (leading to Dominion Street), Empress Drive. Mikasa Street is named after the flagship, built in Barrow, of the Japanese navy that beat Russia in the war of 1904-05.
From the far side of the island we saw the Walney Wind Farm, the biggest offshore wind farm in the world. Travelling Companion and I like it; my cousin said apologetically that she does not.
These are places that people love; and where they stay. The Scottish detective writer Val McDermid writes about this in her book Out of Bounds:
River [a scientist] lived in Keswick in the heart of the Lake District with her partner, Detective Chief Inspector Ewan Rigston. Even if his job had been as portable as hers, he was a Cumbrian born and bred and seriously doubted whether the air outside the Lakes was actually breathable for more than a couple of days at a time.