Lake District

Just home from Sicily and Great Britain, a scatter shooting of memories replay in my mind. Hopefully the highlights won’t evaporate as quickly as the green isle disappeared in the fog as our Air Bus lifted us home.

Who could forget the morning walk along the sea in Ortygia, the sun beckoning me to explore a colorful alleyway leading to a harbor bobbing with yachts — or our last pasta dinner in the city with my cousin Gill and her husband Geoff, and the delightful owner of the restaurant, a Greek woman who gave us after-dinner drinks, placing a bottle of something sweet and syrupy we’d never had before on our table.

Also memorable was a misty day in Scotland, when Spark and I visited Pittenweem, a seaside village near St. Andrews to search for sea glass, balancing on partially submerged rocks to reach a secluded spot where we’d found the treasures before, like mushroom hunters returning to their secret spots. We stepped back to shore stone by stone, my pockets filled with ages-old glass with stories to tell, edges beaten smooth by the surf.

Rural and Mountain Views Too

In Dairsie, we stayed in a rental seven miles from the ancient links where golf got its start, our days began with views found in guide books, floor to ceiling windows in our rental offering pastoral scenes, red chickens strutting in their pen, and acres of neatly turned rolling fields where a farmer worked, clouds of sea gulls following his industrious, red tractor.

The Lake District rivaled the scenes we left behind in St. Andrews, offering spectacular heights breached by meandering stone walls, and acres of verdant, sheep-filled pastures, divided by clear rushing water rife with salmon.

We arrived in the Lakes on a road we hadn’t taken before, our car’s GPS detailing a blood-curdling route topping Kirkstone Pass, the highest pass in the area. Full attention on the narrow road, where two cars couldn’t possibly meet, Spark hovered over the wheel while I sat oohing and ahhing, watching waterfalls cascade thousands of feet, adding to the rush of clear brooks fed by recent rains.

The Lakes rewarded us with two days of sunshine, and while the scenery was breathtaking in the gray gloom, with light the land turned magical, lime moss clinging to rocks and walls, and tough, late flowers adding color, hydrangeas’ lilac blooms and the brave faces of petite pansies, lining flower beds. Shadows played upon the hills, and trees just turning for fall, added shades of red and gold.

Quite a Coincidence

In those hills on a less pretty day, a unique incident occurred. After an uphill walk to The Mortal Man, on another harrowing road, we had lunch in the pub where we welcomed the warming, roaring fire. We left in a steady rain, our hoods pulled tight around our faces, what a sight.

Around a curve we saw an obviously English couple taking photos, smartly clad in long trench coats, looking dapper despite the elements.

“So were you able to finish your hike?” the woman asked, imagining we were British hikers. The question revealed that she was American, and the four of us walked down the hill together, comparing travels, their adventures topping ours, having been away from their New Mexico home for a month, in their visits to St. Petersburg, Portugal, Spain and England.

Marsha and John were their names; she was retired and John is a lawyer, a Brit born and raised in the States. Come to find out John’s mother is still living — is 95 — and a World War II war bride, like my mom. To make matters even more coincidental, we discovered we’d both eaten at the same country pub the night before, but at slightly different times.

After exchanging email addresses, and having a photo together, a favor granted by a British couple we repaid with the same, we went one way and John and Marsha the other, ships passing in the night, familiar vessels in a wild and wonderful country that never ceases to delight.

I was sad to have our vacation end, but happy to come home. I couldn’t have eaten another bite of custard or cream — or Victoria Sponge cake. Add to my “sweets” list now gelato in Sicily — yet another destination I have to return to.