Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spontaneous Planning

Here I sit, wistfully counting down the days to my trip (currently 28 days, 6 hours, 15 minutes and 27 seconds). So much has transpired in the short time since I last wrote.

UT Informal Classes has written me to tell me that they want to schedule a class for me to teach. Here’s the itinerary.

England and the Romantic North

Night 1: History of England with focus on the north
Night 2: History of English culture, colloquialisms, and dialects
Night 3: Travel! Where to go, what to pack, how to get there...
Night 4: English cuisine – samples from local British restaurants

I told them I’d do the class (in May), but haven’t heard anything further.

As far as trip planning… I really have to reign myself in. I find spontaneous travel much more interesting than the pre-planned stuff, but I’m too organized for my own good! Some trips (honestly) I have to *plan* my spontaneous time! How silly is that???

This time, I have blocked out four days in the Lake District. I want to do some hikes, so I figure I have to do at least *some* planning and research, right?

I’ve been following a few Lake District hikers on Facebook and have located some great information. There was a guy named Alfred Wainwright who was an avid walker. He walked all over England! In the 50s, he began selling books that helped hikers find their way around various walks. You can read more about Mr. Wainwright here:

Alfred Wainwright

I’ve just ordered two of his pictorial books for hikes in the Northwest Lakes and the Eastern Lakes.

So, I shall have books of walks to take with me.

I also dropped into REI this weekend to see if there was any hiking gear I might need. I’m new to hiking, so it was more a chance to acquaint myself with the accoutrements than it was anything else (besides, I had a 20% discount and some rewards cash to use!). I walked out with some very cool stuff!

One thing you need for a day hike is a day pack. It carries all sorts of things you might require on your hike (water, food, etc.). I looked at various varieties… most in the price range of about $60. With the assistance of a shop clerk, though, I am very pleased to have located not ONLY a lightweight pack, but one that packs into a bag the size of my hand and travels well. AND it was only $29.50!

REI Stuff Travel Pack

It can also double for a souvenir bag – and I am typically badly in need of one by the end of my trips!

My next stop was socks. You don’t want cheap socks when you’re going on a several mile hike.

Note: I also recommend blister-proofing your feet with patches. Blister Patches

One of the main causes for blisters on your feet is the friction of the shoe/sock against your skin. One way to protect your feet from this is to get sock liners so that the friction is between the sock and the liner and not the sock and your foot! You can find waterproof liners and socks as well as waterproof shoes. I had already gotten my Ebay gortex shoes (Merrell Siren Sport):

Merrell Siren Sport

And saved about 50% off the store price.

The socks I found that I loved were:

Bridgedale X-Hale TrailBlazer Socks

They were lightweight, yet just heavy enough. Padding just where you need it. And they were purple!

My final coup that day at REI was my on clearance convertible pair of pants. These are hiking pants (lightweight and waterproof) that you can unzip halfway down the leg and convert to a pair of shorts if needed!

NorthFace Women's Convertible Pants

The original price (as you can see) is $65. I picked them up for a mere $30. Yay me!

That was my shopping spree for the month.

Back to the trip planning.

A car has been rented and will be dropped off to me at Penrith train station. I’ve told my B&B landlady to warn the locals of impending doom and to stay off the roads. She tells me she has made all arrangements per my request.

The only thing that’s left now is… more spontaneous planning!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Where's the beef? Er... modified textured vegetable protein...

I guess you’ve noticed my low-keyedness lately. Yes, I’ve been out of touch – even though I am heartily excited about my next trip to England!

Let’s see, what has transpired…

I decided, after creating a very exhausting schedule covering London, Oxford, Wales, and the Isle of Wight (all in 10 days) that I just didn’t like the idea of running around everywhere. I’m looking for respite, darnit!

To that end, I scrapped said former schedule!

Yes, and I asked myself – what would a wonderfully relaxing and mentally/emotionally stimulating trip look like?

So, here it is, my dears.

I’m flying into London, but leaving the next day for Woking (a smallish town on the west side of London). There to meet up with some VERY distant relatives for a tour of the Cotswolds! They will drop me off at my B&B in Oxford, and I will spend the next day doing a tour of that city (which I’ve never seen before).

Sound relaxing and fun so far?

After that, it’s “hoppa train to the Lakes!” I know what you’re going to say. “But Joy, you ALWAYS go to the Lakes!”

It’s because there’s a reason! Gosh, how many can I give you?

It’s some of the most gorgeous landscape on the planet. From the lakes to the mountaintops and from artists to poets… everyone finds something here to stimulate the mind and body. I’ve been looking into doing some short hikes (which will be fun), and I’m renting a car (which will be scary).

If you see someone in a mini driving on the wrong side of the road near Keswick… say hi to me. 

I plan to do some conscious art in the form of photography and video. I’m barely a beginner at each, but it will be great to work on a “craft” whilst there. Poetry too, of course. I really wish I’d booked a few more days.

At any rate, that’s the plan as it stands for now! I am heartily hoping that I can see my friends somehow, some way. Say a prayer for Kim, who has lost her job. The economy is in tough times, for sure.

I am sad, in a way, because I think this really will be the last trip I can afford. I hate to be pulled from my beloved England by a gulf of dollars. However, to be more upbeat about it – I plan to make this one of the best trips EVER!

Photo by Mark LJ