Hiking and Hacking


I’m currently 30k into my memoir, so all my creative energy is either going toward that or into watercolor painting. It leaves little time/focus to update the blog, so forgive the sparsity of posts.

Every week, I go for a hike (or as they say in England: walk) in the Lake District. It’s magnificent. I don’t have the talent to describe such beauty, but I try to in my book anyway. I’m mostly following a small book I got called Walks to Waterfalls, part of the Lake District’s Top 10 Walks series. It’s a handy little book, sturdy and compact to take along on the walks. The directions are pretty accurate, and if I can follow them, anyone can. 

Since my riding skill has increased, my instructor says I’m progressing faster than anyone else at the school, I went on my first “hack” in Cumbria two weeks ago. It was the realization of a dream. Below is me with Ula, the pony I rode during the two-hour hack.

We walked, trotted, and even cantered across the fields of “this seat of majesty.” It is another “eden” to be sure. The joy England brings me wells up in my soul and escapes through my eyes in the form of tears. Rolling hills, sheep scattered across the fields, crags and fells in the distance, and a perfectly cool spring day made my first hack perfect. The woman who went on the same hack said, “It makes you glad to be alive.”

It really does.

Last week, I went for a “walk” up Helm Crag, pictured left. It was supposed to be a 4.5-hr hike (not in my waterfall book) “crag-hopping” from Helm Crag to others around it before descending back down to Grasmere. Sadly, I misunderstood that heading up, thinking Helm Crag was the solitary destination, so I wasn’t prepared on many levels.

At the top of Helm Crag, I sat overlooking Grasmere, both the village and the lake (below), had lunch, and attempted a watercolor painting, just like Beatrix Potter (without the skill). Attempted because it was shit. Still learning how to do it. For those who know my art, I normally work in acrylic. Watercolor is a different medium all together.

I’ll post some of my watercolor postcards soon, where I try different techniques and develop my skill/find my style. Much like my acrylics, I tend to get too detailed.

Working on it.


Although I was rather hard on myself for turning around for the most direct route back to town (utterly exhausted), I did find enough energy to visit Allan Bank, one of Wordsworth’s homes in Grasmere. It’s just a few miles from Dove Cottage, another of his homes. There I had a bowl of soup while reading his poetry. Quite a nice rest.

A month ago daffodils were everywhere, but they’ve all faded now, giving way to carpets of bluebells (below) between the trees and in the fields. England does wildflowers right, especially in Cumbria.


Afterward I treated myself to some of the amazing, world-famous Grasmere Gingerbread.

Best. Ever. In the entire history of gingerbread. I thought I had done so well with the soup, instead of something heavier, but I ended up eating SIX PIECES of gingerbread before I got home. My body was screaming for calories after my exertion, and I obliged.



6 Comments Add yours

  1. Patrick Perry says:

    I have a few more comments, questions, and/or observations that may or may not be useful perspective for your book, then I’ll probably go back to my other special interests like differential diagnosis in psychiatry;becoming an expert in several very, very narrow topics; or over-analyzing Stanley Kubrick’s Shining again…

    Anyway, I have questions about your travels, as I’ve only toured the U.S., and 38 states only at that.What does the air there smell like? What are the sounds at night? What volume and tempo do people speak when you are conversing with them? Are pets as of a central role as in the states, and what types? This “housesitting” of which you speak, are these just empty houses, and how does one get the gig? Basically anything you may take for granted, there are probably pieces within that which could be explored and would be pleasurable reading for those of us who enjoy your style.

    You mention on various occasions your c-PTSD, but also your anxiety in general. I think it is truly astounding all you can do even now, re: travel. I consider myself fairly sharp, but having grown up in such a small town and having lived the bulk of my life in Western Kentucky, I get nervous traveling alone to new areas, especially any towns of size. I would love one day to travel to other parts of the world, but I can’t possibly imagine doing it alone. I guess what I mean to emphasize is that even with all your tribulations, faults, and failures, I still greatly admire you. I knew you were worth admiring over ten years ago when I saw you at a screening of your first film…and I’m sure there are many more that feel the same way as I. So don’t be too hard on yourself, you have done a lifetime already. I like your idea of just “coasting” for a while.

    You mentioned you “lost your faith” in one of your blog’s. Perhaps you’d care to elaborate.

    Also I admit I actually am curious about Ethan, though I understand that is a difficult subject. Maybe there is some solace in knowing anyone would care to read about your experiences relative to married life, I don’t know. A decade ago I recall you had pictures of a gutted house somewhere (Nova Scotia?), then I remember a couple years later I checked you two online and saw your birthday pictures in Texas. I get hooked on these intense narrow interests, and although they eventually fade away, they always seem to come back around full circle, and so I find myself here again.

    I agree with you that politics in general is draining. I was very active in the quasi patriot & conspiracy movement, and even very active in the militia movement. I just don’t see things black and white anymore, or maybe I never did. I ultimately believe the real enemy looks ourselves in the mirror every day.

    Well, it is late, and a rambling. Good luck with your book.

    1. In Lancaster and Cumbria the air smells fresh and clean. In city centre, it smells like fresh baked bread and coffee. In the heart of London it smells like bus exhaust, cigarette smoke, and a mixture of ethnic foods.

      You hear foxes crying at night.

      The English generally don’t speak as fast as the French or as loud as Americans.

      No some people’s lives pets are an important, cherished part of their family. Other people abuse and discard pets. Same as in every country I’ve visited.

      Usually empathy homes while they’re on vacation. I use trustedhousesitters.com, but there are several. I started through word of mouth and friends.

      I’ve watched dogs, cats, chickens, parrots, rabbits, and horses.

      1. Patrick Perry says:

        Thank you. That is all, very, very interesting. Here, out in the moonless county night, it is pitch black, except for the occassional porch lamp. You forget just how dark it is after you have lived away in the city, as we do, but I tell you, at night there, you can barely see your footing. After a good hard rain that leaves the leaves and soil thoroughly drenched with a thick air of wetness, you can hear the pond frogs croaking in unison. During our exceptionally humid and dry summers, many fireflies abound in the early eve (there is a neat piece on NPR about their communication via transluminescence). In our fields and forests; the crickets and other things that creep in the weeds and thickets compete for their communication in their own narrow bands of sound. There are many things one forgets they have observed, or takes for granted, and we should remember that everything old can be made anew in the recounting of details, and manner of sharing.

        I will study the house sitting link you shared. Have you seen much of the tiny-house movement during your travels? With the increasing cost of utilities I envision large homes becoming multi-family tenements, and others becoming contemporary castles that are too unsustainable to occupy.

        A teacher once said that the greatest quality of a good reader is to ask the right questions. I hope I asked one, maybe two, or that it inspires you to remember that we all do not know, but care.

      2. Thank you for caring. 🙂

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