The hills are alive with the sound of baas and oinks
27.07.2007 - 31.07.2007 16 °C
Driving south from Scotland, we were able to get a real feel for the English countyside. As we swept past open fields and wound down narrow lanes (often right behind a tractor who was conveniently going exactly the same way), the sun came out and we were able to see England in all her summer glory. First stop was the epic Hadrian’s Wall and Housesteads roman fort, apparently built to keep the Scottish Barbarians at safe distance. Still (sort of) standing after all this time (close to 2000 years), they could show Multiplex a thing or two. Next, it was off to the Yorkshire Moors for a Bronte moment. And we were just in time to see the heather blooming, creating a deep purple carpet for miles around, and only adding to the brooding, windswept landscape the moors offer. We saw grouse scuttling through the scrub, pheasants fluttering out of our way, and literally hundreds of sheep with a death wish. Well, to be fair, it was kind of their paddock – they are free to roam wherever they want across the moors which, unfortunately for drivers, includes the road. Things they like to do on the road include:
- walk into the middle and stop abruptly, looking the other was
- sit on the very edge to eat the grass but appear as if they may wander into said road at any given moment
- rush straight across for no apparent reason as soon as they hear a car
- variations on above that cause a) heart attacks for driver and passenger, b) a seriously decreased life expectancy for them, judging from all the carnage displayed along our route.
Having made it to a settlement without bloodshed, we decided not to push out luck by continuing the drive. Instead, we had two highly amusing and slightly odd nights in the area. The first was in an old blacksmith’s forge, so ancient that is appears in the Domesday Book (11th century), and so petite that we couldn’t stand up straight downstairs without banging our heads. We thus appeared as two young hunchbacks limping about any time we wanted to go in and out. The second said on the brochure, “a romantic farm stay in the heart of the moors”. Brilliant. We needed some romance after all that sheep-dodging. On checking in, we noticed a somewhat powerful odour but, too polite to mention, ignored it. Well, I ignored it for a few minutes until I decided to ask, “Err, what sort of farm is this exactly?” Response? “Pig”. Riiiiight. Nuff said. The smell, plus the squealing, was a little off-putting, but once we got over the initial shock, we (well, me, Mike is always well behaved) got on with it. I didn’t want to be the fly in the, um, oinkment. I mean, it was slightly unporktunate but we’d be bacon the real world soon enough. Needless to say, I took the ‘eggs only’ option at breakfast the next morning.