I am writing this blog from Lake Grasmere, specifically a lavender coloured, double-skinned fibreglass row boat called Annie. (I would have preferred Theodonia or even Norma, but this didn’t seem like the kind of whim the 18-year old who took our money and prepped the boat would cater to, so I didn’t bother to ask. Plus I was too busy avoiding an aggressive signet intent on my shins).
I have the most network bars on my BlackBerry since arriving in The Lake District yesterday. This fact along with the Wordsworth association makes it seem an ideal spot from which to blog while my husband rows me ’round. The mix of high-tech and nature is echoed around us. Low clouds draw shapes on the hillsides. A ram scratches his rump on a fallen branch whose shape seems custom designed for the task. A cobalt blue firefly dances on the rim of our boat. And all the while fighter jets in training sear the sky above us.
Despite spending most of yesterday comparing the Lakes unfavourably to the Cotswolds, the rugged beauty of the North has now worked her charm on me. It started at about 2am when I got up to use the loo and stopped, startled at the sight of the moonlit lake out of the bedroom window. Elterwater, where we are staying, is a Norse term for swan lake. Staring out the window that’s exactly what I thought of: the last scene in the ballet Swan Lake, specifically the Kirov Ballet production I saw years ago in Covent Garden.
This is a phenomenon I’ve experienced before, and I shall christen it “facsimile first.” It’s when you experience the replica before the real thing resulting in an eerie sense of dejavu when you finally do encounter the authentic article. It happened to me in many an English country church graveyard having been raised on the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland. It happened to my husband in Venice where much to my dismay he kept feeling like he was alternately visiting Las Vegas and a Baz Luhrman set.
My protests to explore the outer edges of lake Grasmere are going unheeded. Risk adverse husband has been scared off by the 18-year old’s mention of a were (I think that’s a miniature waterfall but husband is envisioning Niagra Falls) and we are heading back to the dock. I shall post this now and focus my remaining minutes on this most definite not-facsimile experience.