Waterskiing at 10 mph…and walking through the Plague

Mastercrafts on display...but not used for waterskiing

Mastercrafts on display…but not used for waterskiing


Sailing in Lake Windemere

One thing I know is that it is pretty tough to ski behind a boat going only 10 mph. If you’re 50 lbs, it works out okay. For everyone else, it’s difficult. So, Stan and I were fairly amused to pull into the water sports centre in the Lake District to see a parking lot full of Mastercraft motorboats only to be told that a new law had gone into effect stating that boats could not operate over 10 mph.

The boat rental shop was full of wakeboards, skis, and all the coolest gear. The walls were plastered with skiers doing tricks (I did actually see a wakeboard pyramid, which was something I had never even fathomed was possible). Yet all of this seemed silly in light of the fact that the only people that were going to be skiing were 9 year olds.

Lake Windermere on an overcast day

Lake Windermere on an overcast day

Fortunately, Stan and I were there to rent a sailboat. After Stan completed a sailing questionnaire proving he really did know how to operate a sailboat, we were on our way. It was rainy, which in England means very misty. Ten minutes in, and I was soaked. It was at that point that we had made it close enough to the other side of the lake for us to discover there was a castle right in front of us. Wow! I know castles become a common sighting after awhile, but seeing one while sailing on Lake Windermere on a misty day was quite captivating. We tacked back and forth trying to get close enough to take a picture, but the rain and the fog prevented us from getting a great one. We sailed for about two hours; Stan found enough wind to hike out, and I sat trying to keep the camera from getting soaked while keeping the jib sheet trimmed.

Anxious to dry off, we return to our B&B in Ambleside. The Riverside B&B was named one of the top 10 places *in the world* to stay. I found it while perusing Trip Advisor in February making our plans. It doesn’t cost like it’s one of the 10 best places in the world to stay, but it is very nice. The only problem is that the wifi is tricky. Lucky for me I have my dongle, but it’s not terribly fast.

Wifi in a B&B can be an Exercise in Frustration

A funny sign that reflects my philosophy -- changing priorities can mean making decisions that profoundly affect our lives

A funny sign that reflects my philosophy — changing priorities can mean making decisions that profoundly affect our lives

Working on my online classes takes hours. Stan goes to ask the owner about the wifi. Apparently having to reset the wifi is a frequent issue in B&Bs. It’s incredibly inconvenient, but the price one pays for working virtually I suppose. The inconvenience, to me, is far worth it over not traveling at all. I’ve had numerous friends and acquaintances say to me, “Leave your computer at home!” or, “This is a trip of a lifetime! Don’t take your textbooks!” Yet, I find that working online and getting my PhD online affords me the opportunity to travel that I otherwise would not have. My response to well-meaning friends is that I would rather be frustrated over wifi access in a B&B in the Lake District than I would sitting in my office at home. I think life (for me, anyway) rarely involves those kind of all-or-nothing choices or experiences. When I travel, the laptop (and dongle!) goes with me. When I take a break from my studies or my students to go visit an ancient stone circle (see below) it all becomes worth it.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle


Castlerigg Stone Circle

We headed twenty minutes up the road to the Castlerigg Stone Circle. This is not as big as Stonehenge but is also not behind barbed wire with throngs of tourists arriving in tour buses, either. It is in field overlooking the hills and there are sheep roaming in the next pasture over. Archeologists estimate that it was built about 4500 years ago and served as a meeting place and perhaps a ceremonial grounds of some kind. We can touch the stones and walk through the circle. I think Stan and I might have had a bit too much fun with this as I snap pictures of him trying to lift the stones out of the ground. We didn’t seem to be taking it seriously enough for the local hiker who was trying to meditate.

Sunday morning we enjoyed our last breakfast at Riverside B&B. This is a lovely, lovely place. Perhaps too lovely. I’m afraid of talking loud or bumping into something. There aren’t any stories about the English killing the Scottish, either. I kind of miss that. But the Lake District is beautiful, and as we leave we drive by the sailing centre. It is sunny and the castle is easily visible. But we don’t stop for a picture, far preferring the misty one from the day before as it will be in our memories.

We drive about 3 hours south and arrive in the Peak District. This is the home of Chatsworth House; the estate used by Jane Austen in her novel, “Pride and Prejudice”, as the inspiration for Pemberley. But that’s for tomorrow. Tonight, we have to learn about the plague.

The Plague Village

The medieval village of Eyam in the Peak District

The medieval village of Eyam in the Peak District

The village of Eyam, where we are staying, is the known for its sacrifice in 1665 during the time of the bubonic plague. As the story goes, the plague was raging in London. A bolt of fabric arrived from London to the tailor’s house in Eyam. In it contained the rat fleas that carried the plague. As the tailor dried the damp fabric by the fire, the fleas came to life and spread to the village population. Within a year, a third of the village was dead. What is remarkable about this story, though, is the choice that the villagers made to sequester themselves from the outside world so they would not spread the disease. This effectively meant their death – either by plague or starvation. There was a rock just out of town that was used as the marker by which villagers could not pass. Each day, people from other villages would bring food and water and leave them at the rock. As the plague eventually passed, the village returned to life, and was thriving during the industrial revolution. Today it is a quaint town of stone buildings built as early as the 1600s.

The Plague Museum...note the weather vane

The Plague Museum…note the weather vane

We visited the Eyam Museum, notable for its weather vane on top that instead of a rooster on it, there is a rat. Charming. We pay the 2 pounds to visit the little museum and learn more than we ever wanted to know about the plague. The sacrifice, though, really was amazing. We walked through the village and found the Miner’s Pub, notable for its lack of food on a Sunday night, and its presence of ghosts (as the legend goes…)

Stan surveying the Hope Valley on Froggart's Ledge

Stan surveying the Hope Valley on Froggatt’s Edge

We return to check into our B&B – the Crown Cottage in Eyam— built in the mid 1700s. We get directions to Froggatt Edge – a long, geological ridge in the middle of the Peaks that has incredible vistas of all of Derbyshire. If you’ve seen the movie, Pride and Prejudice, this is where Elizabeth Bennet stands overlooking the valley below. You can see the little villages dotted below and the farms in neat squares divided by stone walls.

Tomorrow, on to Chatsworth House! This is me getting back at Stan for all of those warships and battleships I’ve had to visit over the years.



2 thoughts on “Waterskiing at 10 mph…and walking through the Plague

  1. Hi Tara. I really like your blog. This guy that you travel with sound like a real champ. Anyway, your blog is very well done and offers great advice to the would be wireless traveler. Keep up the good work!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *