British escape, part III: Grasmere and the Lake District

This is my third post featuring a spring trip abroad.
For previous travel posts, visit here.

Ever been somewhere you stopped and thought, Wow. This is living. And then the world you normally inhabit — “home,” wherever that place might be — just colors in comparison to this crazy, awesome neck of the woods you had the pleasure to visit?

Well, that’s how I felt about Grasmere, England. Our third day on a travel tour in April brought us to this gorgeous spot in the Lake District, which I’ve read about in Jane Austen novels for years but never researched. Um, the Lake District? Incredible. Really heart-stoppingly gorgeous, and a place I can’t wait to return to someday.

But I’ll have to wait. Because I have zero idea how we got there.

I was so zonked out on this trip, friends, I can’t even tell you. Jet lag has long been an issue for me, but I was still struggling to stay awake days after arriving in England. It was a challenge to keep my eyes open anytime we straggled onto our tour bus, and what a shame — because I know I missed some of the most breathtaking views as we drove from Leeds to the Lake District and up to Scotland. I’ve teased you with photos from this region before, but nothing does it justice.

We arrived in Grasmere around lunchtime, which was perfect — just in time for my first round of fish and chips! An old-fashioned steam train picked us up in the countryside and deposited us near a ferry, which took us across Lake Windemere. Our bus was waiting on the other side. It was brisk, like much of the trip, but the air was so clean and fresh! It felt like your lungs got a good scrubbing. Mom and I got hot chocolate and coffee drinks aboard the ferry, and our steaming beverages were served in real porcelain cups. Aboard a moving, swaying boat.

Oh, those fancy Brits!

The view from the ferry was incredible. Sailboats were framed by giant, rising hills, and we were close enough to the shore to see folks out for a leisurely stroll. It was one of those moments where you actually stop and think, “Someone lives here.” It seemed too lovely to be real — a vacation spot for foreigners, like us, and not somewhere you could actually establish roots. But, like many of the gorgeous spots I’ve seen, folks do live there — and they’re happy to see you.

It was just that way in Grasmere. Our tour guide, Steve, took us first to see the grave of William Wordsworth, famous poet, and discuss the time in which he lived in the village. One of the Lake Poets, Wordsworth lived and worked at Dove Cottage in Grasmere for many years, and the town’s famous resident is still present everywhere. On our ride away from Grasmere, Steve recited Wordsworth’s “Daffodils” — a great close to our afternoon there.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze . . .

Like everywhere we traveled, we didn’t have nearly as much time in the village as I would have liked. A quick lunch of fish, chips and mushy peas was washed down with Diet Pepsi — the first time I’d seen that particular drink on our trip. We could occasionally find a Diet Coke, sure, but Pepsi products seemed non-existent in England! I’m not big on the whole Pepsi/Coke debate, but it was strange not to have options. Also, they had iced tea in a case at the restaurant — something else that got us over-the-top pumped. Because, you know, you can’t ask for iced tea in England . . . they think you’re crazy. Or sacrilegious.

Just don’t do it.

Awesome beverage selection included, we had a wonderful time in the Lake District. I was too taken in by the scenery to snap many photos, but I did document the homemade gingerbread my sister snagged. Unlike our death march through Italy, we were well-fed on this vacation . . . and I’m still fantasizing about some of the meals we enjoyed abroad. Especially when, you know, I’m reminiscing about this following a measly lunch of salad with a fat-free dressing in the office.


If you ever find yourself in the Lake District, don’t miss out on Grasmere and its incredible surroundings; I’ll be thinking about this leg of our journey for a long time. And from there, it was on to Scotland . . .

Tune in next time!