Today we took the train from London to Carlisle (which, for those of Kirstin's family interested, is very close to the border to Scotland) (inside joke). Then we got on another train that travelled slower down the west coast to St. Bees. It stopped at a lot of small towns as we moved south and west...and all of a sudden it reached the coast and we travelled right alongside the ocean. I have no recollection of ever seeing the coast before, although I know Mum and Dad took us to Victoria once, and this was wonderful. Water as far as we could see, with little bobbing ships and coastal towns.
The house we are staying in at St. Bees is the farmhouse that accompanies a parish Abbey. The main floor used to be the barn, I'm told, and there are still hooks in the ceiling which used to hold hay. The house was built in the 1500s (!!) and is absolutely gorgeous. It's not your traditional bed and breakfast with ensuites, but that doesn't matter to us. It's absolutely lovely. I highly recommend it.
Tonight we went for supper at the Manor House, which is now a hotel and pub. We had a pint of real English beer--NOT carbonated (which is my biggest hang-up about beer) and it was quite tasty. It was called something like Smoking Hen Ale or something like that. Guiness is on tap here...and is much cheaper than in Canada.
Tomorrow we actually begin hiking. We wondered if there would be anyone else hiking at the same time as us, and there are. Staying here at Abbey Farm House are, count them, four other Canadians all starting the hike tomorrow as well. One semi-retired couple from Vancouver and two sisters, one from Saint Albert, and the other from somewhere in Ontario. And we thought we were going to be the isolated uncommon Canadians! Someone at the pub assumed that we were American, but I quickly corrected them.
The biggest difference between here and London that became clear very quickly, is how friendly people were. Only two Londoners that we encountered were at all friendly or voluntarily helpful. Here, lots of people are. A man we met on the train, a girl waiting for her friends in Carlisle, the man who runs this B & B. It's quite a lovely change, we were getting quite sick of being the friendly Canadians who were constantly snubbed.
In addition to sixteenth century Abbey, St. Bees has an old church and a big old cemetery (which, I'm sad to say, is in rough shape now). Nevertheless, we went for a walk through it tonight, and Brent took some pictures.