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Yorkshire, June 2001

Visited Martin's family in England. To make it seem more like a vacation, we rented a cottage in Yorkshire.

The flight from Detroit was overbooked, and we volunteered to take the compensation and fly the next day. In the end, they managed to squeeze us on to the plane in first class. Maybe squeeze isn't the right word, it wasn't possible to touch the seat in front without undoing the seatbelt.

We rented a car in Gatwick and navigated the M25 on Friday afternoon. Martin's father had suggested this might not be a good idea, and he was probably right. England's expressways are very congested, probably due to the sad state of the other highways, usually winding, narrow, and with no shortage of absolutely hellacious roundabouts.

The next day we called in on Ripon. Rain drove us into a cafe, and we watched people on the street watching a wedding further down the street. Stopped at Burned Stump Caverns, a somewhat confusing maze of underground passages.

On Sunday we had a pub lunch in Ingleton. This was more like it. Martin's father took us for a boucy ride around back roads in his camping van.

Typical damp morning
Bird of some sort

The response to the foot and mouth epidemic seemed unencumbered by the thought process. Tourism brings in a lot more money than flogging dead meat abroad, but the restrictions were clearly designed to discourage tourism. Even short paths between car parks and major attractions were closed.

On Monday we tried to go round Ingleton's waterfalls walk, which usually goes past four waterfalls. This time, the path was blocked a few feet short of a good view of the first one.

On Tuesday, we visited Hadrian's Wall. We parked and tried to walk up a road to see the wall, but were turned back. The visitor center was closed due to foot and mouth, I suppose there are usually a lot of sheep wandering through the building looking at the exhibits. As I said above, the apparently mindless restrictions were actually designed to discourage tourists, who as all farmers know, are trouble. Too bad a lot of other people try to make their living off tourism, but that's not real work like farming, and those people can go away.

Fortunately, the road followed the wall closely, and we had some good views. It wasn't really fortunate, I suppose, as it was originally a Roman road designed for wall servicing. We also were directed by a tourist office to a Roman Army museum. This was open, as no sheep visit this museum as it is too boring. We did get into the extensive remains of a Roman fort, which was interesting. If anyone from over there reads this, they'll probably take steps to close it down.

Fort of the Fourth Cohort of Gauls
Quick - take a photo while it's not raining
Sizergh Castle

One of Martin's friends was working in the nearby metropolis of Gargrave, and we had a pub dinner there. Apologies to other people in the UK, I had written about 50,000 words in the previous month, and was too wiped out to spare a few more on e-mails. Anyway, this was a visit the family trip.

On Wednesday it rained at 45 degrees all day, and it just seemed to miserable to go out.

On Thursday, we visited the Lake District and saw a lake. You have to, really. We took a boat trip up Windermere to the north end of the lake, the rainy end, and came straight back. We ended up driving back through a village called Dent. Anne's parents had ended up there a few years ago on a tour of England, and we didn't know how. We still don't. They were bored of the main road and apparently set out to find the smallest, most winding road around.

On Friday we saw the awesome majesty of Aysgarth Falls, the Niagara Falls of Wensleydale (which is admittedly better known for cheese than for waterfalls). The path to the lower falls was closed, because it might have attracted tourists and helped the local economy.

On Saturday we started walking the walls around York, but that was too cold and ended up in an interminable museum. It was expensive, but in terms of thousands of things to look at per pound, was great value.

And so back to Gatwick again on Sunday. I ended the day fetching take out Thai food from a restaurant in a nearby Quality Inn, the first spicy food we'd eaten since leaving for the UK.

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