and I went for a two-mile walk along Ennerdale Water (as everyone keeps telling me, "there's only one lake in the Lake District"), along the lakeside (waterside) and up on a trail that led us through the forest and over a couple of small footbridges across a stream. It was really good weather for a walk early in the day. There was sun, a reasonable temperature, if slightly cool, and a little bit of a breeze. I got some really cool photos of the landscape, of the trail and the waterfall, and of a number of variety of mushrooms along the trail, as well as a butterfly, and some sheep that we encountered being herded along the lakeside road by a couple of shepherds and a dog. I think I get to fill in one of my Rural England Bingo squares or something.
Upon encountering one of the bridges, Fi and I realized that we must, perforce, play Poohsticks. I mean, what else to do you do on a footbridge over a rural English stream? Really? (I won. Her stick was too small to see it emerging from under the bridge. She insists that she didn't see either of the sticks.) We also found some lovely ripe blueberries along the trailside, which we nibbled upon. We spotted a tiny frog under the foliage as well, but it got away too quickly to get a photo. It was a brownish one, and about an inch or so long, very small. There were quite a few cars in the car park, but we didn't encounter nearly as many people as the number of vehicles suggested. We did see a fair few people out in the wonderful weather, but there was a lot of peaceful walking without crowds of tourists today.
The walk was about two miles, which was right on the edge of what my hips were able to take today. She'd suggested a couple of options, one of which was this and the other would have been a considerably more strenuous bit that involved a hill and closer to five miles. I knew that I really would not be up to it, as I'm all crampy at the moment, and this would have aggraveted it considerably. As it was, I needed a fair bit of rest once we were finished.
We drove out to another nearby stone circle after our walk. This one was right next to the road -- closer to the road than Castlerigg was, in fact -- but out in a much more deserted area. Fi tells me it was on Cold Fell, and it rather did live up to its name. The landscape was quite bleak and there was a brisk bit of wind blowing. We had originally thought we might have lunch at the circle, but it was too chilly, so we ate lunch in the car. I did get quite a few photos of the circle, though, as we were the only people around. This circle, known as both Blakely Rise and as Kinniside, is a circle that was "restored" in about 1925, with the stones once again set upright, and kept in position by being cemented. These days the cement is covered in moss, but you can still see bits of it around the bases of the stones.
From the circle, we could see the Irish Sea in the distance, and mountains north of us, which she said were in Scotland. I waved to Scotland, as it was about as close as I'm likely to get on this trip. I don't know if I'll ever get closer. She also said that from the top of the hill across the road from us, on a clear day, one might theoretically be able to see the Isle of Man. She's never seen it herself from there, as she's never been on a sufficiently clear day, but from the Isle of Man one is supposed to be able to see Ireland, Scotland, and England, at least, and possibly Wales, if I remember correctly. it's situated ideally for that, at any rate.
After spending some time at the circle, we headed down into a small town nearby, where we stopped at the Shepherd's Arms hotel and pub, and had half a pint before proceeding back to Cockermouth to do a little shopping for necessary bits and bobs. We picked up a few kinds of cider to try for dinner tonight and tomorrow. There were a couple of pear ciders, and one that was just spectacular, in my opinion. It was from a Swedish brewery called Kopparberg, and it was elderflower and lime flavored. Really amazingly good. I have been told by the lazywebs that it can in fact be acquired online in the US, so I'm going to have to order some to share with friends of mine who appreciate St Germaine elderflower liqueur, which has a similar but much heavier and sweeter taste. This is light and perhaps very slightly acidic (the influence of the lime, most likely) and really quite extraordinarily good. The cider was had with a dinner of pasta and salmon, with a spinach-ricotta sauce for the pasta, and a little spinach on the side. Quite lovely.
After dinner, Fi showed me chunks of the olympics opening ceremony (we fast-forwarded through the parade of atheletes). I don't recall ever having seen an olympics opening ceremony before, but some of this was pretty hilarious. Parachuting Queen Elizabeth with James Bond was pretty much drop dead funny, imo. It was all wildly British, so (as an American) there were occasional moments of WTF for me, but I did follow most of it. The various Interpretive Dance bits rather lost me, but reminded me of the days of my Lone Gunmen fandom, when we would threaten to do interpretive dances for one another on fic themes. "I shall now do an interpertive dance..." was a fairly common IRC comment.
Neil was watching a lot of the weight lifting stuff today, but he used to do that when he was younger, so he has a rather up close and personal appreciation for it. There was a little gymnastics and some synchronized diving as well, though some of that was the result of channel-surfing. They have 20 channels, all showing nothing but olympic events. I don't think you can actually watch anything non-olympic-related in the UK at the moment. I suspect it would be high treason. Unlike the reports I've been hearing from the US, however, they're giving really broad coverage of a lot of events and nations, so it's not All UK All the Time, as NBC has been holding the coverage hostage for Americans only.
In the midst of all of this, I was told that my ballot arrived early last week for the primary elections on August 7th, and I won't be home to vote. There's no way I could get the ballot shipped to me and sent back in time to be counted. I have only rarely missed an election of any sort since I started voting back in 1980, so this is rather a painful point for me. I would never exactly consider myself traditionally "patriotic," but I do care about what happens in the US and I tend to think that not voting is abdicating at least some of one's responsibility as a citizen, even when the options are not terribly good ones. There have been moments when it might as well have been "Cthulhu or Darth Vader, you choose!" Sometimes I think all I can really do is vote to minimize harm on a national level, but in local elections and ballot issues, I do think some difference can be made. I tend to always support school and library levies just on general principle, unless I know there's something bad/fishy going on with a particular one. Of course, anything at all with Tim Eyman's name on it gets jettisoned due to absolute loathing of the man and everything he appears to stand for. That bastard is personally responsible for a lot of the infrastructure problems in the state right now, and I am unlikely to ever forgive him for it.
Plans for tomorrow have yet to be discussed, but on the 2nd I'll be off to Penrith to check out Potfest and meet Stephen, a gent I met over twitter, who will be showing his work there. I'm quite looking forward to this.
And now I shall attempt to get something vaguely resembling sleep, as it's abouto 11:30pm here at the moment and my body is not necessarily thrilled with me. I'm doing my best to both do interesting things and get enough rest to be meaningful. It's a difficult balance when I want to do ALL THE THINGS. We'll see what tomorrow brings, eh?