Most people I have met have a dream to travel. They say given a chance they would just keep traveling and exploring the world. I am not that type. I would prefer to stay in one place. My dream always has been about this one place, choose everything that goes in that room, to build my own world (and imagine the rest). Whenever I say I am not into traveling, people give me this weird vibe. So, I never say it out really. Honestly, it’s just a choice.
When I do travel, I don’t do it for the same reason as most people do. I don’t care much about seeing the place or experiencing a culture, as much as I care about understanding me or exploring a different side of me while on the trip and also the feeling of togetherness with others involved. Perhaps, you would see me staring out but not really seeing anything; I am lost in my thoughts. Sometimes I just sleep off.
Anyway we (me, husband and baby T) recently went for a short vacation to Wales and Lake District. You should have seen him plan the trip. I don’t know how much time he spent on choosing places to visit, planning driving routes and itineraries. All I know is that for weeks on end, that’s all he was doing after work and, I was asked to check out reviews of places and sites as well. I was excited, but not as much as him. He is the kinda guy who given a chance would choose traveling for a living (but could not as it does not pay obviously). Like always, I was more excited about packing our bag and getting stuff ready (it’s my specialty). T was oblivious of what’s happening. He never bothered about his mom and dad’s hush-hush planning after we finally made him sleep.
That was a lot of intro. Now to cut the long story short, I am going to write what went through our heads during the travel. You know what I am talking about: this same thing, different perspective kinda thing. So, this is how the trip was for the three of us.
Fast forward half hour: alarm, snooze, wake, coffee, bath, dressed, multiple trips to car, all packed and set to go.
He: This will be the best trip of our life so far. Yay, I get to drive all I want.
Me: Did I pack everything, mentally checking and re-checking!
T: Why am I so dressed up early morning? Are they taking me to the docs for another shot. But they seem happier than usual. What’s happening to us??
And, he enters something into GPS. We try to put T in the car seat. He is not pleased and is on my lap already. Music is on (a mix of English, Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam songs on shuffle mode; also some nursery rhymes thrown in for fair measure).
First lap is usual highway drive. Nice cars and camping vans; all loaded with cycles, hiking equipment and lots of dogs.
Stop 1: Service Station
He: where is the parking ticket machine.
Me: spots a Punjabi wedding party (may be on way to Birmingham to get married). All uncles and aunties dressed in Indian couture taking a break. But who would have thought the bride in an orange lehenga and temple jewellery would take a leak at a public service station.
T: I am finally going to get a taste of the apple custard mom bought.
Trip continues. We have some thought-provoking discussion on something I don’t remember. And, Birmingham is here.
Quick stop: Birmingham Balaji Temple
After a brief struggle to get to the temple sharing one umbrella in the rain that came out of nowhere. And, no, we are not doing a pilgrimage. But we were supposed to come to this temple for T’s choroonu aka annaprashnam. But could not then, so we are here to make up for it.
He: I should have so seen the weather report. Hope it does not affect the trip.
Me: So many Indians. They wear sarees in rain, wow. Should I have packed two umbrellas?
T: (loves the bell that Pandit is ringing) howls!!
He and Me: shhhh baby
He: Does Pandit have on-site too!
Me: Is this not the Punjabi granny who acted in Queen and Shandaar (yeah, I actually saw the movie)
Pandit rings bell multiple times and door is opened.
He and Me: pray T
T: smiles at the attention.
Jokes apart. We did pray.
Birmingham is an endearing place. We didn’t see anything else basically, but it seemed like a quaint little place. Full of Indians of course.
Then we head to Snowdonia national park. The landscape changes gradually. Lush green trees, hills and meadows dotted with sheep, up and down road.
Stop 3: a by-lane, very beautiful location at the base of a hill, a farm on the road glistening with rains.
He: we are falling behind on the itinerary. We are supposed to reach Snowdonia at 3 pm
Me: this place is beautiful like a Karan Johar song location (while making cerelac for T)
T: it’s my first lunch in a car.
And, we enter Snowdonia finally. It’s the most breathtakingly beautiful road that we have ever traveled. Everywhere we turned, it looked like a picture or a wallpaper. It’s surreal and I really cannot put it into words. I can just tell you that it was one drive we are not going to forget ever and perhaps may even tell our grand kids about. Sadly enough he was driving and we were in the back (T kept me occupied), so we didn’t take much pictures. I think now that it’s probably for best because we soaked in as much as we can of the place and enjoyed it to the fullest.
Stop 4 : Llanfair Caereinion Station
We stopped at the railway station and they were celebrating 120 years of steam engines. What a marvelous sight it was to see the train emitting smoke clouds and making “puff” sounds. We felt we were in a different era as we were mostly surrounded by enthusiastic senior people with their tweed coats, pipes and walking sticks. As we bit into sandwiches and T nibbled a lemon cake, many old folks stopped by to say hello to the baby. A baby was not quite so common in this vintage village. As we were about to return to the car we found this amazing stream on our right, and what a beautiful wooden bridge it was.
He: inserting Dolgoch falls into GPS
Me: will we be late to check in to the hotel
T: presses the button in his new toy and it says right
He: mistakes it for the GPS
Me: it’s the toy. Not the GPS
T: I did nothing face
Stop 5: Dolgoch falls
It was late evening by the time we reached Dolgoch falls. Like a waterfall that seems to be abandoned really.
He: looks up at the mountain railway and feels we should have taken the mountain railway ride
Me: we would not have made it on time. Good we didn’t book tickets
T: squeals at the sound of water
We spend some time one with nature. Water flowing without restraints is a sight to see, definitely.
Back in the car.
He: disappointed that we didn’t cover as much we wanted to
Me: it’s okay. We will see what we can. Enjoy it to fullest instead of place hopping.
So, we decide to wind up for the day and go to the hotel. But, drive slowly and soak as much as we can of this beautiful land.
Me: tells story of Heidi to T
He: listens though Heidi is based in Alps. But, accepts as the sheep and meadows can give the feel. Exclaims “sooooooper”, when great views pass by
T: giggles through out as Mom is talking to him. Nothing like some undivided attention.
And, it was a good night sleep that day.
After a sumptuous breakfast all three of us head to Caernarfon. On the way are beautiful landscapes, and as T slept in the car seat, I finally sneak to the front seat and we drive like old times. Took some pics as well.
Stop 6: Caernarfon Castle
It’s a castle town and the largest castle in the UK which was built by King Edward I. The very place where Prince Phillip was given the title of Prince of Wales. (Thanks to YouTube video: Rick Steve’s Europe). The town itself is quaint. If you have seen the 2016 movie “me before you”, you will know what I mean. We had a great time checking out views of the pier from the castle and there was a video show on the history which was delightfully short, but surprisingly sweet.
This place looked like a perfect place to have some Welsh cuisine. So, we took the advice of few locals and after a walk around the pier, went to black boys inn, which is a restaurant that is around since 15th century. Ambience was wonderful, but the portions of Welsh pie and lobscows we ordered was a bit overwhelming, we didn’t have room for desert. Thankfully T slept peacefully and we could spent some time to eat slowly.
He: upset that we are not able to see all the places as time is limited
Me: let’s chuck the plan and go freestyle. Stop wherever we please.
And we stumble upon this lovely beach shortly after
Stop 7: Penmaenmawr
We gaze at the coastline. We walk on the pebbles. I pick up one absolutely flat purple slate rock with such smooth surface. I take it as a souvenir. We meet these elderly uncles on wheel chairs on a beach stroll with these curious service dogs. And, we were really happy with their company. And hopeful too that in old age we can be as independent.
And, it was already getting late and we decided to take the scenic drive to Lake District. More green grass, pastures, cows, horses, sheep, windmills, meadows, hills and lakes.
He: the trip gets better everyday
Me: the place seems more beautiful everyday. Know what I do not miss not being connected and get messages all day.
And, we reach our sweet little b and b very close to Windermere. The thing about staying in b and b is it feels very homely, yet so true to the local culture.
So we take a night stroll around the lake and the town centre. It’s a cold night and T in his giraffe jacket is all excited with all the attention he is getting.
He: and, someone told me she’s not excited about the trip
Me: he has not looked so happy and relaxed in a long time
T: ba ba ba..little peels of laughter
After a quick English breakfast with T happily enjoying bites of our food seated in a high chair, we embark on final day of our vacation.
Stop 8: Lake Windermere.
It’s raining and this is easily not the best view.
He: it was so sunny the last time I visited. I wish weather was better.
Me: it’s not that bad. You cannot help it.
We look around and see so many dogs with their doting owners. They seem so happy to be outdoors in rain. We walk around the pier, watch some geese, ducks and swans. Chuck the plan to hope on a cruise. Just, enjoy the lake and the rain. It has a beauty of its own. Like a water-color picture hung out to dry. Different shades of blue as if sky and water is uniting at some point.
Stop 9: Ambleside Lake
Rain had weakened and we got a good view here. And, as we walked towards the parking lot, we saw the beauty of the trees gearing up for autumn.
After feeding T parked near the Ambleside cricket club ground, we head to Wordsworth county. This is one part of trip I have so been looking forward to. He knows it too.
Stop 10: Dove Cottage
This is where the great poet William Wordsworth wrote his poetry. The first poem I read of him was “Daffodils”. He was inspired after finding some Daffodils near the lake on a walk with his sister Dorothy on a bitterly cold winter morning. Though I write, I can never honestly call myself a writer. A poet is out of question, though I have scribbled some lame poems myself. But, the feeling when I visit such places (prior to this I have visited Shakespeare’s museum and got goosebumps looking at his manuscripts) cannot be explained.
So here I was breathing the same air as someof the great poets.
He took T and made him sleep.
I roamed around reading the information boards, looking at manuscripts and trying to imagine how life would have felt back then. I even tried writing using a quill.
If you see the view from the cottage, you will be surprised that Wordsworth would not have been a poet. We went to the garden created by Wordsworth, his sister and wife. It was a short climb with stone paving to a wooden shed something like a tree house and when we looked down it was a sight to behold. Mist and sun-kissed trees through a veil of rain.
As I stood lost in a trance, we saw that the cyclists from the Tour of Britain was passing through. We stood on the side of road and cheered for the cyclists who was pedalling in tandem. And the infrastructure provided for the race and the seamless planning behind it was quite remarkable.
And, our stomach was grumbling. We head to a local pub for some fish and chips. I don’t know if it is the hunger or the lake breeze, it tasted so good.
Final lap: Road to Keswick
Mist and more mist. We stopped near a hiking trail and enjoyed the view. I felt that this place is too good to be true. Perhaps this is what a slice of heaven might look like. And, we went past the Ullswater lake with crystal clear water as well.
By this time, we decided to start back home and I was scared that a late night drive will have a toll on him ( did I mention that I don’t drive?)
He: three days over and we did not see much
Me: looks like this place needs us to stay here for a while and then explore a thing a day
On way back we stopped at a random service station and it was sheer serendipity that lead us there
Stop 11: Killington lake.
It was beautiful to say the least. And we sipped our coffee and dug into a carrot cake, looking at three rabbits playing on the grass. Also the murmuration of birds.
Rest of journey was a blur to me as I started nodding off in exhaustion. T was dozing off in the car seat too. I asked him if he wants to pull over and sleep for a bit. He said he is fine. Next thing I know is we are in the parking lot of our residential complex.
He: We drove 900 miles. That was a great trip.
Me: It sure was. That’s a lot of clothes to wash in coming days.
T: sleeping without a care about the world, wondering where he will wake up the next day.
Usually in movies or books, people go on these trips and something life changing happens; like garnering a new perspective or getting a new drive to live. Well, we just went back to our old routine. But those three days we made some lasting memories. Sometimes that is all we need to keep moving.
P.S: the pics where taken and edited by him 😉