I am in Glasgow, Scotland tonight (Monday) as I write this, but I wanted to draw your
attention to the fact that Beatrix Potter raised Herdwick sheep? That is one
bit of trivia I learned today was we took the tour bus through northern England
and into Scotland.
Potter who was the writer of children’s books and created
the character Peter Rabbit was born and raised in
The Lake District of Northern
England, owned some 15 farms in her lifetime (about 4000 acres) and loved
Herdwick sheep. I don’t know how
they are as a sheep breed but one claim to fame they have is that they are born
with a black fleece and gradually the fleece turns white over the years as the
sheep mature… one fact of aging I can relate to. Potter left all her land to a
conservation group known as the National Trust, with the condition that it be
maintained as farm land and wildlife habitat and always be used to produce
Herdwick sheep. And so it does.
It was raining today, this second day of our UK tour and the
wind was blowing hard— up to 75 mph, all part of the remnants of a hurricane
which swept up the east coast of North America a few days ago and now has
traveled across the north Atlantic into northern England and Scotland.
So it was cool, windy and wet as we traveled north. A couple
hour cruise on Windermere Lake had to be cancelled. We stopped for lunch in a
small town called Grasmere, which along with being the main community in an
area where Beatrix Potter lived, is also the birthplace of writer/poet William
Wordsworth. We didn’t see him but fortunately there is a museum and gift shop
in his honor in Grasmere.
Yesterday, on the first day of our tour we visited the
birthplace of William Shakespeare – Stratford on Avon (pictured above). We toured the house he
was born in, although I think the gift shop there was added sometime after his
death. We also visited the ancient city of York where the Romans (71 AD) and
Vikings created a walled
encampment for gift shops and tourists.
It has been a good couple days with tons of sights to see.
On the day-long drive through the country side today we saw thousands of heads
of sheep grazing on pastures of small farms all criss-crossed with networks of
stone-wall fences built hundreds of years ago by professional “Wallers”. And
these fences still appear to be doing their job quite effectively.
There were a few beef cattle — Simmental and
Simmental/Charolais cross, Herefords and black whiteface cattle in the fields,
but not many. And also quite a few dairy farms — most with plastic wrapped
round bales of haylage and often enough I would see fields of standing corn,
which I expect a bit later will be made into silage, as well.
As we crossed the border into Scotland, they even had a few
head of Highland cattle
grazing in the field.
Tonight we are staying at the Crowne Plaza Hotel just off
the downtown area of Glasgow, with the Clyde River just
outside the front door.
Tomorrow we are off to tour the Royal yatch Britannia and the evening plans are
for a dinner at a working sheep farm near the city where, along with the promise
of a great meal, we will learn how these producers survived both foot and mouth
disease and BSE. These folks may know where I can find that wobbly old dairy
cow that is used in all video footage during Mad Cow news broadcasts at home.
And I hope I can sleep tonight. They tell me there is haggis
on the menu for breakfast tomorrow, and so far I am the only one in our group
of four who is looking forward to that. But I have my kilt pressed and I am
ready for Scotland.
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