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(>Pictures at the bottom!)
After about two weeks criss-crossing Scotland we returned to England. Our son was waiting for us and after more than 2 years we too were looking forward to seeing him again soon. But there were still countless kilometres of wonderful landscapes ahead of us as far as Central England, so we took our time again.
The Hadrian’s Wall, which ran across the English island during the Roman Empire and marked the border between the civilised and barbaric world, was a must see. Actually crazy, what was already built 2000 years ago to protect itself from something that perhaps did not even exist.
Of course a visit to the Lake District, one of the oldest nature reserves in Britain, was also on our wish list. Soon we left the west coast at Sellafield, where half of Europe has its nuclear waste processed, and climbed up countless little roads into the countryside. Not only we, but also many other nature lovers had the same experience; the landscape is stunning and inviting for further exploration. We tortured our jeep over the countless narrow roads, paused again and again and enjoyed the landscape of grass-covered mountains with deep abysses and wonderful lakes. We skipped the visit of Keswick (we visited this beautiful town 2 years ago), because we didn’t want all the hustle and bustle in the centre and again we looked for the silence of the mountains.
We were lucky and were allowed to experience a day with warmth and sunshine. The next day it started to rain again soon and the temperatures sank sensitively. We drove through the almost endless mountain world in our heated jeep, while the English unbuckled their rucksack and set off on the planned hike. It was not the first time that we were amazed by this behaviour. We were equipped with a mackintosh and umbrella; the English in light clothing and with a smile on their face in good humour on the hike in stormy and wet surroundings.
Towards Kendal, we left the Lake District and passed through vast areas of sheep and cattle farming before we drove up the plateaus of Yorkshire National Park. The cold and wet weather dampened the view, but could hardly detract from the whole natural spectacle. What we experienced behind the protective windscreen must have been extreme for the many bicycle tourists in drizzle and cold weather.
We circumnavigated Manchester to the east through the Peak District National Park and were once again amazed at what landscapes are to be found here in the immediate vicinity of large cities. No sooner had we left the main connections in the valley, which connect the respective economic centres, than we found ourselves standing outside of any civilisation in a wild landscape. The sheep were grazing on all sorts of slopes, but there was nothing else for miles; simply impressive, even in the rain and low-hanging shreds of fog.
After leaving the mountains behind – if one may call these elevations that – we reached the wide plains of Central England and the sun was smiling at us. Agriculture and dairy farming dominate the landscape, followed by pretty little towns and villages, often suffocating in local private transport. Although we are also a part of this traffic, we were always amazed at what is squeezed through the narrow streets. Parking is right in front of the front door, no matter if the through traffic almost comes to a standstill and leads to tricky evasive manoeuvres. We also thought for a long time that the local road users would be able to cope with the narrow road conditions. But there is no such thing: they drive their extra-wide luxury limousines in the middle of the road and are very reluctant to take evasive action in oncoming traffic. We experienced all sorts of strange encounters of this kind!
One time we stood in Shrewsbury, where our oldest lives with his girlfriend. Although we found his home only after several attempts and rang the wrong doorbell, the reunion after more than two years was warm and it was nice to look into each other’s shining eyes again after such a long time.
In retrospect, this time passed far too quickly and we could have exchanged many more things. We also experienced an English city in a different way, were allowed to look behind the scenes that only the locals know and also met very nice people we probably would never have met. We also practised the English national sport of golf and were surprised that it is not so easy to catapult the small ball over 250 metres into the right field. In any case, more training is needed before we can reach the top of the world 😉
After a few days – it was not easy – we had to say goodbye again and continue our way. We would have liked to stay a little longer, but someday it would come; the farewell and the continuation. The first hours after our departure there was a calm and almost devotional atmosphere in the car. Our conversations were limited to the essentials, and the wonderful villages and landscapes passing our windshield were almost lost in insignificance. For Chantal it was clear: she wanted to go back to England soon to visit her son, friend and their family
Wales was still on our wish list and with lots of insider tips from Shrewsbury we set off for the western part of the British Isles.
The contrast to middle England could not have been bigger. The coastline is wonderful, the almost deserted hinterland with its wide open spaces, or the many farms made the whole exploration a pure feast for the eyes. The small towns along the coast were again handled with caution; for us, the alleys and pavements, shops and tourist hotspots were simply too crowded. It’s a pity; “Fish and Chips” in a pub with a local beer would have been another highlight.
In Wales we were increasingly accompanied by fresh to cool weather. There was always rain and the autumn was already making itself felt with various signs. Some of the leaves were already withered and the morning dew on the meadows were signs that we should travel a bit more south again. While the geese were already circling and gathering in the sky, we were planning our onward journey to our wintering grounds. The destination would actually be clear and if “Corona” won’t force us to make a short-term change again, it should work. But the way to there will still be long and we had to struggle through the southern part of Wales and southern England to the next ferry port. Yes, that’s right, it was rather a tedious driving through this area and there were less possibilities to take evasive routes in the southern parts. Sometimes we had to drive a long diversion around deep river mouths and the side roads often ended in “nowhere”. Also the drive through the heavily populated area was very exhausting and the traffic often suffocated itself.
Yes, even our somewhat unusual idea to visit “Stonehenge” on a Sunday was a bit strange and we steered towards this miracle a bit unprepared. After a slow journey and the traffic jam in front of the parking lot we quickly turned back. This glorious idea must have had half of England and we set off for it. If we would have seen the stones was also very questionable with this big march of people.
In Portsmouth we reached the point of departure, where our ferry will leave soon and allowed us a quiet end of our time on the British island. There was a lot going on in the city and on the beach and the people enjoyed the warm day with lots of sunshine. They also wanted to recharge their batteries, but probably forgot about the scary little beetles, which made life a bit difficult not only for us. Although all possible places where we could have spent our last night were closed. But there was a lot of “Ramba-Zamba” everywhere and “bread and games” was sufficiently provided for.
So we spent our last night on the car park of the ferry port, where the nightly loading noise gave us little sleep and the first heavy trucks thundered past our “RuGa-li” at the crack of dawn. After an extensive safety check – we had never experienced such thoroughness during a ferry crossing – the ferry left prematurely and headed out into the English Channel. And, even the English travellers wore protective masks on this ship and kept the appropriate “social distances”. The leaflet that was handed in and the reference to French law were probably more impressive than the appeals of the own government.
We are curious to see what else we will experience and whether we will or can reach our winter quarters in North Africa (Morocco).
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