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Photoblog – England Part 1

June 18, 2008

The first ten days or so of my European adventure were spent in Lancaster, England. My boyfriend had spent a year there studying abroad, and the plan was to explore a little of England via daytrips while getting to know some of his friends. One of the first days that I was there, we walked from the University of Lancaster, which is known in England as a “Unie” (not sure about the spelling, but that’s how it is pronounced), into the town of Lancaster along a beautiful canal. This was my first real experience with the English countryside or with English towns, as I had been exhausted and overwhelmed with alternating bouts of joy and nervousness on the first mad rush through Manchester. On our way to the canal, I saw a road sign, which I still don’t understand the meaning of, which described perfectly my whole relationship with my boyfriend. The picture is not great, but you get the idea.

The walk along the canal was exactly what I would have wanted it to be. I saw cows, sheep, some horses, pigs, swans, and more kinds of flowers than I can relate. There were also a lot of canal boats, which I was informed were actually lived in. I was in stereotype-induced bliss.

Canal and canal boats

Friendly swan

The path along the way was pretty muddy, but I was enticed on by the new sights around every corner, along with occassional glimpses of the town of Lancaster, such as in the photo below. To my surprise, my boyfriend was completely unable to put a name or description to the building in the background of the photo below. We eventually asked someone who said that the building was in Williamson Park and was near the Butterfly House. At the words Butterfly House, my eyes lit up, and of course we had to go. Pictures of that further down.

Baby swans!

We saw some baby swans from across the canal at one point (thank god they were on the other side of the canal, as I have heard that swans are very aggressive), and I made friends with a passing cow. This was a new experience, despite having spent a good portion of my life surrounded by cows. Something about this particular cow just screamed “friendly!”

By the time we finally made it to town, it was starting to sprinkle (pretty common in England, even in the summer) and my feet were getting tired. We wandered through an indoor market and Josef pointed out the castle looming on the hill, and then we caught a bus back to the University. It was my first double-decker bus, so of course we rode in the front seat on the upper level. This made for some great pictures, and I wasn’t nearly as scared as Josef claimed that he was the first time he rode in the front. About four inches in front of you is a panel of glass covering the entire front of the bus, and it looks like you’re in danger of constantly crashing into things.

From the top of double decker bus

A couple of days later, we finally made it to Williamson Park and the Butterfly House. It was quite a walk, and the first time we went, we got there 10 minutes before the Butterfly House closed,  so we had to walk right back the next day. I kept Josef up most of the night, acting like a little girl and asking him about every ten minutes if the butterflies were awake yet. I learned that night that the sun rises in England at about 4am in the summer, and the birds start singing at about 3am. This is not a good system for us night owls. In any case, we set off bright and early (and on foot!) for the Butterfly House, which we knew was a good distance away. The mysterious building, usually visible in the distance, was our compass. On the way, I encountered what I had always pictured as a stereotypical “English Street.” I was inexplicably reminded of 101 Dalmations.

We finally made it back to Williamson Park, and since it was earlier in the day we explored a bit. We found a nice hilltop from which you can see our mysterious building. I’m including two pictures, one which strikes me as being “arty” and the other which finally gives you a good close-up look.

 

It turns out that the building is called the Ashton Memorial, and was built in 1908 by the son of the man who founded Williamson Park. The memorial was built as a tribute to Lord Ashton’s wife, who had passed away, and the memorial was restored in the 1980’s. It is a beautiful building and a beautiful tribute. The lower floors are mostly empty and are used as a viewing area and for banquets. On an upper floor there is a small local art exhibit. The views from the windows throughout the building are amazing. In the picture below, the town of Lancaster is visible (everything on the near side of the River Lune) and Moorecambe Bay (the subject of my next photoblog) is also visible, and across it the Lakeland Hills. You can reportedly see the Isle of Man and Blackpool Tower, but I didn’t know that at the time, so I can’t vouch for it. In the picture below, most of the part of town that I frequented is not visible, but it is just on the near side of the bridge across the River Lune.

View from Ashton Memorial

While we were in Williamson Park, we spent a little bit of time on the playground and the enormous sundial.

Josef and his new friend

Girls enjoying the view

We did finally go to the Butterfly House, which was every bit as wonderful as I had imagined. I’m going to include a separate blog post just for it, but here’s a teaser. I believe it’s actually a moth, and not a butterfly, but in any case it was the biggest one in the Butterfly House, about as big as my face. I was actually a little nervous that it might fly at me, even though I’m not afraid of insects.

We also visited the Mini-Beasts House, which contained not tiny versions of bears and dragons as I had hoped, but scorpions, lizards, spiders, and snakes. The below sign gave me a bit of a fright, as I saw only the first half, “look out for baby scorpions”. I was looking about in concern when Josef read aloud the second half, “on the mothers’ backs”, and I calmed down.

 I’ll be posting Part 2 of this photoblog sometime today. It should be much shorter, so breathe easy.  

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. yesbuts permalink
    June 18, 2008 2:28 pm

    The “Changed Priorities” sign has three purposes:

    1. to confuse tourists.
    2. to give something for philosophers to think about
    3. to inform locals that there has been a change of priorities on who has right of way on the road.

    There is also a 4th purpose – to give great photo opportunities.

    Hope you enjoy your stay, and don’t get too confused by the signs

  2. June 26, 2008 9:27 am

    Nice Site!
    http://google.com

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