Hadrian’s Wall Walk

I have no flower paintings to show you this week, my Dear Readers — because Dear Reader Felicia (in her Comment, last week) has provided me with a perfect excuse to digress from this blog’s usual thrills of watching paint dry to discuss what I did on my Summer vacation. It all came down to a cup of tea. In fact, it came down to this month’s Most Important Cup of Tea:

And here it is:

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Every cup of tea is a journey, or is the beginning of a journey, or maybe it’s the end of a journey, I forget what the philosophy about tea and journeys is.

Today I want to tell you about this cup of tea (see above) and the story of the journey that brought me and this fateful beverage together on the afternoon of Wednesday, September 9th. It’s a spiritually uplifting story of struggle, hardship, determination, victory, wine, and the life-changing magic of the Japanese art of tidying up, or at least one of those things.

This epic life-changing journey began on a cloudy and cold day in the city of Newcastle, a dreary, truly morose city in Northumbria, the northern-most county in England. This is not a photo of Newcastle:

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That was a photo of our first experience of Northumbrian countryside, west of Newcastle.

This is a photo of the Bed and Breakfast where Top Cat, my beloved husband and traveling companion, stayed, our first night out in the Northumbrian countryside:

P1030057North Houghton Farm is where I met Scamp, Rascal, Sally, and Biscuit, who live to mooch treats from the kitchen (a room they are not, strictly speaking, allowed to enter):

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This is also where we (Top Cat, my dearly beloved husband, and I) came across a portent of things to come:

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In this two-pub village in Northumbria is where we found the beginning bits of stone wall that would be, for the next six days, the raison d’être of Top Cat and I’s reason for being in England:

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And that is how we, Top Cat and I, began the journey of twelve-forty-billion steps, a once-in-a-life journey to fulfill a life-long dream we’d had for the past, oh, four or five months, of Walking Across England Along Hadrian’s Wall.

We walked along this wall, built by a Roman fellow named Hadrian (hence its name), or along non-continuous bits and pieces of it, or in its ditch (see below)  for 97 miles, through low-lying pastures and fields …

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… and atop mighty mountains (see below).

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It  was whereupon in such alpine climes we moseyed alongside Hadrian’s mightiest gathering of stones, the true “wall” part of the wall, and also where we climbed up even loftier mountains …

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… which we climbed down upon in order to climb up upon other truly bothersome peaks …

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… from whence we saw nothing but miles and miles and miles of pain-in-the-ass upping and downing …

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It was basically one damn hill after another …

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Luckily, along the way, there were plenty of fine farmhouse B&Bs to rest our weary feets:

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And we were never in danger of going thirsty:

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So we were still in fine fettle when we reached Cumbria (see below), the western land of gentle rolling hills and a Roman wall that could only be surmised by the topography of the land…

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… until we reached the North Atlantic coast whereupon the wall became, for all intents and purposes, purely imaginary:

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At last we came upon the village a the sea …

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…where we verily mourned that there was no more Roman wall to conquer, and wept like that Grecian chap in that poem, and took souvenir photos of ourselves at The End:

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And then we tramped past the churchyard…

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…and smote the fierce hound savagely guarding the inner sanctum of the Wallsend Inn…

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…to enter the teaarium…

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…where we celebrated our journey and vanquished our thirst with the beverages of our choice:

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Mine was tea:

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I should add that our English journey actually began in Edinburgh …

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that’s Edinburgh Castle, on that hill in the center

… and ended with a 143-mile cab ride from Glasgow to a small village in the western highlands of Scotland:

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Long story. But take it from me, when your Virgin Train from Carlisle runs too late for you to catch your ScotRail connection in Glasgow, Richard Branson will put you IN A CAB and drive you the rest of the way.

 

Where I had this month’s Second – Most Important Cup of Tea:

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The western highlands is where you go if you want to watch the sun set over the Inner Hebrides (we saw three sun sets over the Inner Hebrides):

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It was on the train ride back to Edinburgh that I had this month’s Third – Most Important Cup of Tea:

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Not because it was all that great…

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…but because of the miles and hours of scenery that passed us by. All you have to do is point the camera out the window and shoot:

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And that is the Story of Tea for September, 2015.

 

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