June 8 - June 11:  Cheers from Lakes District & Wales

We had two more nights in the Lakes District of England on our way to two nights in Wales. The Lakes District is gorgeous. It’s the land of Beatrix Potter and Wm. Wordsworth. There are many lakes and low mountains in the area. It’s another one of those countryside scenes that looks unreal. Keswick was geared up for summer, with lots of flower pots all over town. The first day, I took Robert to their Leisure Pool, with a big water slide and wave pool. Keswick is very family friendly.

The next day was a relaxing one. I finally sat down in a nice tea room and had a scone with cream and jam. Excellent. David and Robert went back to the Leisure Pool and had a great time. Rob and the boys also went to the Pencil Museum. They enjoyed seeing the largest pencil in the world. The Lakes District is a big graphite mining area, thus they invented the pencil. Later, we rented a rowboat and went out on Lake Derwentwater. It was very windy, but Rob was able to row us to an island out of the wind. The lake is surrounded by hills with grazing sheep and footpaths. Beautiful.

The next day we drove to Alberbury, near Wales to do some more genealogy for Rob and his Mom. We were on a mission to photograph the tomb of Basil Wood and his wife Abigail (Leighton) inside a church in the tiny town. We found the church, but it was locked. Rob talked to a local who said that Lord Leighton or his sister probably had the key. They pointed us in the direction of the house, which turned out to be a huge manor house with walls. It was obviously the main house in town. Since there happened to be a tour coach out front, we decided to go ahead and knock on the door. We met Sir Michael Leighton, briefly, since he was busy with the touring historical society. He was friendly enough, but also said something like, ”Another one of you,” in reference to a very distant relative interested in the Leightons. His sister showed us the inside of the church, and we saw the marker for the couple who died in the early 1700’s. There was a side chapel full of Leightons, as well, called Loton Chapel, the same name as the manor house. Turns out, Sir Michael is feudal Lord of the Manors of Alberbury, Wattlesborough, and Cardeston.

Conwy is a neat walled town in northern Wales. It’s a very picturesque small port. The 13th century castle is very impressive with eight round towers. Edward I built seventeen castles all around Wales to keep the Welsh in line. They were walled villages full of English people, like islands, surrounded by Welsh people living outside the walls. I bet that made for good relations.

Conwy Castle had a small exhibit on the Books of Hours that the nobles used in the middle ages, that was interesting. The other castle we visited was Caernarfon Castle, which looked very similar, but had more tourist info inside. It’s the castle where the Princes of Wales, at least the last two, were crowned. Of course there was an exhibit on the crowning of Prince Charles by his mother.

Conwy had other fun sights to see in the small town. We saw the tiniest house in Britain, built by a fisherman next to the port. There was a Mussels Center and a nicely restored house from the 16th century, Plas Mawr. The Welsh language is a kick. Lots of consonants and not enough vowels. All the road signs were in two languages, as they are in Ireland. The four Celtic languages that are alive and well are Scottish, Welsh, Irish, and Breton (an area in France).

We have 8 nights in Ireland, then we travel back home on Sunday, June 20.

Hope all is well, Pat