Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud/ The Daffodils

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

~William Wordsworth (1804)~

Summer Tales ~ Edinburgh - Lake District - Birmingham


Today we bade farewell to Scotland and continued our journey back to London. Like our journey up north where we spent a night in Manchester, we spent a night in Birmingham for our journey down south.

We left Edinburgh at about 9.00 a.m. and took pictures of other tourists attractions around Edinburgh. There's so many that I wanted to go to but realistically, travelling with children, we were short of time so I guess it was suffice that we got to take pictures. Overall, I was just mesmerized with the ancient building facades amidst a city.

Palace of Holyrood House

Souvenir shop

Our next destination was Lake District. I wanted to go to Lake District because of Beatrix Potter and because many famous English writers/poets like Wordsworth and Coleridge  actually stayed there and was inspired. Everyone we asked said that we HAVE to go to Lake District to experience the beauty of nature. On our way to Lake District, I requested that we stopped by Rosslyn Chapel, which gained its popularity in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code.

"Rosslyn Chapel - often called the Cathedral of Codes - stands seven miles south of Edinburgh, Scotland, on the site of an ancient Mithraic temple. Built by the Knights Templar in 1446, the chapel is engraved with mind-boggling array of symbols from the Jewish, Christian, Egyptian, Masonic and pagan traditions.
The chapel's geographic coordinates fall precisely on the north-south meridian that runs through Glastonbury. This longitudinal Rose Line is the traditional marker of King Arthur's Isle of Avalon and is considered the central pillar of Britain's sacred geometry. It is from this hallowed Rose Line than Rosslyn - originally spelled Roslin - takes its name." ~from Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code

Renovations at Rosslyn Chapel

I must have felt the same excitement as Robert Langdon upon reaching it. Unfortunately, it was undergoing massive renovations so I only get to take picture from afar. Throughout the journey, we saw some magnificent landscape and we as usual take pictures of fields with cows, horses and sheeps *jakun*. We reached Lake District National Park at about 1 p.m. and dark clouds were visible. We were praying for a rain-less day as most of the activity around Lake District are outdoor activities. With regards to the place, I think no words nor any of the pictures will do justice to the beauty of Lake District. It's just so beautiful..Rafiq said that he'd never imagined such place existed. No wonder all the writers and poets lived there!  

Cows and sheep melepak

Since I cannot put in words how the magnificent beauty of Lake District took my breath away, I shall make reference to Wordsworth famous poem "I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud", which I will post in my next entry. As a background, the inspiration for the poem came from a walk Wordsworth took with his sister Dorothy, around Glencoyne Bay, Ullswater, in the Lake District.

"When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow Park, we saw a few daffodils close to the water side. We fancied that the lake had floated the seed ashore and that the little colony had so sprung up. But as we went along there were more and more and at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road.

I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about and about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness and the rest tossed and reeled and danced and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the lake, they looked so gay ever dancing ever changing.

This wind blew directly over the lake to them. There was here and there a little knot and a few stragglers a few yards higher up but they were so few as not to disturb the simplicity and unity and life of that one busy highway. We rested again and again. The Bays were stormy, and we heard the waves at different distances and in the middle of the water like the sea."  Dorothy Wordsworth, The Grasmere Journal , Thursday, 15 April 1802

Our first stop at Lake District was the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction. It is the only official Peter Rabbit attraction in Lake District which showcased the life and work of Beatrix Potter. What was funny was the fact that Rafiq thought that there was a connection between Beatrix Potter and Harry Potter. When I mentioned that she wrote Peter Rabbit stories, he went, "Ahhhh.." I also told him that one of the reasons I wanted to name our daughter Jemima was because of Beatrix Potter's character, Jemima Puddle-duck. Although there were six parts of the attraction, we had to do a 'touch & go' visit because we were running out of time. After taking some photographs, we had lunch at the Beatrix Potter Tea Room. We had sandwiches and a lovely pumpkin soup surrounded by Beatrix Potter's drawings painted on the furniture.

With Miss Potter and her characters

Next on the agenda was the lake cruise. Since there are many beautiful lakes around lake district, the cruises ranges from 45 minutes to 2 hours covering famous lakes like Windermere, Ullswater and Grasmere. On our way there, we saw a signboard leading to one of the waterfalls in Lake District called Aira Force Waterfall. We had to take the 45 minutes cruise as time wasn't on our side. We truly enjoyed the scenery and natural landscape and thought how lucky it was for those people residing around lake District. It was surreal!! Agung sungguh ciptaan Allah!

Best nyer kalau tu rumah kita..hehe

After the cruise, we let the kids run around the park while we sat on the grass admiring the beauty of the place. We bumped into other visitors who told us how lucky we were to have such a beautiful weather when it has been raining non-stop 3 days earlier. Alhamdulillah.

This is life!

We wished we could stay in Lake District forever but we had to make our way to Birmingham as we had promised my friend Ayu that we would stop by for dinner. Ayu is my SMDU friend whom I haven't seen since she got married in 2005. Actually I totally forgot that she was studying in Birmingham until another friend, Cheq, mentioned it. If not, it would be lovely to spend the night at her house and catch up. But I found out on Ayu's whereabouts after I booked a hotel in Birmingham. Anyways, we arrived at Ayu's house in Selly Oak at about 8.00 p.m. Ayu served us with a lovely beriyani meal and a tiramisu dessert. It was nice to see her because when we were in school, we were so close. She used to lepak a lot at my house while waiting for her father to pick her up. It was then that I realised how I truly missed her. We filled in the gaps about what's happening in our lives whilst our kids played. We left her house at about 10 p.m. and upon reaching Travelodge, there was nothing else to do but sleep.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Summer Tales ~ Edinburgh - Stirling - Edinburgh


After a long journey the day before, we were expecting a late start to Stirling but luckily the kids woke up at 7.30 a.m. We got ready and left for Stirling at 9 a.m. The only reason I wanted to go to Stirling was because of the National Wallace Monument - thanks to my English History lessons during A-Levels and the power of Hollywood by portraying this legendary man in the movie Braveheart starring Mel Gibson.

A little bit of history: Over 700 years ago, Scotland was ruled by England whereby tyranny and terror dominated. Occupied and oppressed, the Scots sought a hero to challenge the cruelty of King Edward I. When the two countries faced each other in the Battle of Stirling in 1297, Scotland was led to victory by William Wallace, one of Scotland's greatest national heroes. William Wallace fought for Scotland's independence up till his death. During his fight for independence, Wallace was betrayed by a Scottish knight in service to the English king, and arrested near Glasgow. He was taken to London and denied the status of a captured soldier. He was tried for the wartime murder of civilians (he allegedly spared "neither age nor sex, monk nor nun"). He was condemned as a traitor to the king even though, as he correctly maintained, he had never sworn allegiance to Edward and was executed. During his time, the punishment for the crime of treason was that the convicted traitor was dragged to the place of execution, hanged by the neck (but not until he was dead), and disembowelled (or drawn) while still alive. His entrails were burned before his eyes, he was decapitated and his body was divided into four parts (or quartered). Accordingly, this was Wallace's fate. His head was impaled on a spike and displayed at London Bridge, his right arm on the bridge at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, his left arm at Berwick, his right leg at Perth, and the left leg at Aberdeen. Several hundred years later in the 19th century, statues commemorating Sir William Wallace were erected overlooking the River Tweed and in Lanark. In 1869, the 220-foot high National Wallace Monument was completed on a hill near Stirling. This huge tower now dominates the area where the Scots fought their most decisive battles against the English in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries at Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn.

When we reached Stirling, the Monument was already visible as it was on top of a hill. It reminded me of Mordor in Lord of the Rings trilogy. We parked our car at the designated carpark, thinking that we couldn't drive up. There was actually a coaster service which we didn't know about so it was a good exercise climbing up the woodpath pushing two strollers. When we arrived on top of Abbey Craig, the view was simply breathtaking. All I could utter was, "Subhanallah". The fact that the Monument was still standing after 700 years was also surreal!

The National Wallace Monument greeting us from afar

Semput weyyy!

The National Wallace Monument

Running around while waiting for Babah

As we couldn't all go at the same time, Rafiq went up the tower first. He spent about 1/2 hour up there and was gushing about how amazing it was. When I wanted to go up, Faiq wanted to follow me. At first I was reluctant as I obviously wouldn't have the energy to carry him up so I just prayed that he would walk up and down all the way.

There were about 4 sections to the monument. The first floor was dedicated to Sir William Wallace, where his remarkable story to free Scotland was told. The sword he used in the Battle of Stirling was also on exhibit. On the second floor, there was a tribute to all the other Scottish National Heroes from Robert the Bruce to Adam Smith. The third floor was dedicated to the history behind the construction of the Monument ~ when it was commissioned, the controversies surrounding it until its completion in 1869. After 246 narrow, spiraled steps, you'll reach the top of the Monument with a 360 degrees panoramic view of Stirling town.

The walk up and down

The sword used in the Battle of Stirling

The Hall of Heroes

Reaching the top

The Monument's Crown Rooftop

The view of Stirling Town from the Monument

I've conquered you National Wallace Monument

Initially Faiq gave up at the first floor and wanted to come down but I insisted that he climbed up till the end. It was worth it! It was truly a humbling experience to know what people did to fight for their country. When we came down, we went to the souvenir shop and bought ourselves the certificate which states that "We have climbed the 246 steps of the National Wallace Monument".

Tour guide in kilt

When we were up there, we got this brochure about an outlet factory in Stirling so we decided to go there for an unplanned shopping spree. On the way there, we took pictures of the Stirling Castle, the Church of Holyrude and the Old Town Jail. We arrived back in Edinburgh at about 6 p.m.

Stirling Castle from an old cemetery

Closer view of Stirling Castle

Stirling Old Town

Sherlock Holmes?

Old Town Jail

Rowers Club

Church of Holyrude

Stirling Mills

Layan diri sementara tunggu Babah shopping

After performing our prayers, we went sightseeing near our hotel. We walked along the Royal Mile, where we got a glimpse of the Edinburgh Castle. Walking along the Parliament Square, we passed several statues of Scotland's past rulers, St. Giles Cathedral and the Law Courts. We later went for dinner at the Holi Spice Restaurant which served Indian cuisine. It was 9 p.m. when we reached the hotel so while the kids slept, Rafiq and I packed for our journey the following day.

Edinburgh Castle

Let's go to the Royal Mile

Statue of Adam Smith in front of St. Giles Cathedral

Bagpipe players

Souvenir shop along Royal Mile

Street performer

Finally at the hotel and tired