Terror at a Distance
Writing this a week after the fact -- Thursday July 7 as we headed north to Ingleborough Cave we heard the BBC News report of multiple bomb blasts across London, including King's Cross train station, Russell Square tube station, and a bus in Tavistock Square, all near our hotel-to-be. By now they seem to have identified the bombers: one from Luton (we drove through it yesterday due to an error in navigation by Nick) -- because of roadworks were forced to detour through the Muslim part of town, which had been featured on the news the night before; one from Leeds, near where our friends' architectural office and former home are located; and one from Dewsbury, through which we'd driven only days before en route to Haworth -- I recall seeing several Muslim women walking about veiled and black-robed. One of the bombers was a primary-school teacher with a young family. The brain reels.
Anyway, we kept on driving through the dales to what we thought was the town of Clapham, which turned out to be just a small collection of shops and a cafe or two. From there we walked an easy half a mile uphill through the woods to "England's greatest show cave." A hardhatted young woman led us diffidently down the tunnel past a colorful collection of stalactites, stalagmites, and other bizarre formations, all given names such as Queen Victoria's Bloomers, Grandpa's Teeth, The Elephant's Legs and Tail, etc., based on their appearance. We had to duckwalk in a couple of places to avoid cracking our noggins on the ceiling. All along the path there ran a stream, which reportedly contained cave shrimp, but we didn't see any; at one point the water poured down a "gill," or hole, in the floor of the cave, only to reappear somewhere down the mountain. The air temperature was about 50 degrees, the water colder, which was refreshing since the weather was pretty warm.
Upon returning topside, we walked a ways up a sheep-prowled trail to Trow Gill, through a narrow passage between the limestone cliffs. The kids blazed a trail up the hillside and thistles; from the top we got a stunning view of the hilltops and valleys, dotted with sheep and chunks of broken limestone. No sound except for baas and a few bird calls. Then we walked, thankfully downhill, to the car and a lunch at a homey cafe in town (hot rhubard 'pud' for dessert), chatted with a woman in the local wool shop, and drove home listening to BBC updates.
Not content with wearing the kids' legs off in the afternoon, I persuaded them to walk after dinner to Damems Station, across the Worth River, and up the other side of the valley, at dusk. This exposure to nature was to counter the effects of Friday's daylong excursion to decidely unnatural...
at which we arrived after a not-too-long drive through Lancashire. Thanks to Mrs Brunskill we had a 2-for-1 coupon for the Pleasure Beach, so a mere $60 bought a whole day's worth of rides for Nick and Bentley. I left them to it in two-hour chunks while I explored the town, from the goofy to the seedy, plus needless to say, the beachy. I lunched in a very simple little cafe with a charming gran-type for a waitress, and a view of the street, where colorful daytrippers and not any less colorful native Blackpoolers walked. At one point there was an awful racket and a large tank clattered up the road. This had nothing to do with bombings, just the army putting on a jolly show for the tourists. The promenade was lined with hotels, as were all the side streets -- an amazing amount of lodging available -- as well as fortune tellers and pubs.
There were three piers filled with arcades and kiddie rides, as well as more adult entertainment, if you know what I mean, and scarier rides such as 90-foot-tall bungree jumps. I refrained from paying 12 pounds to ascend the Blackpool Tower, but I did break down and take one very tame ride with the boys and visit the ever grimly fascinating Ripley's. We dined in a large, clean and rather Americanized fish-and-chips restaurant. Upon return to our cottage we were exhausted but packed up for our imminent departure for Suffolk.