32. Some London Sights

@London, Greater London, England.

The city of London, the Old Smoke, once upon a time called Londinium by the Romans before being abandoned in the fifth century, is the city name which I heard more times than all the other cities combined, from the early days of childhood. All that time, London had the image of something special, a place so huge beyond common man’s reach, a wonderful place of beauty, modernisation, art and literature which combined at such a way that it is far superior to anything. It was that time at early school when the known big cities to me outside were London, New York, Washington, Paris and Rome. But a long time has passed since then and priorities changed; most of the favourite cities of mine were shifted to Spain, Italy and Greece by a mind which had undergone transformation. But still, London stayed there at a high position with Canterbury, as they were quite close to each other and there was the need for London in that study of British Literature and it’s long history. Situated on the banks of the largest river flowing completely through England, London with the Thames river had to be part of the journey. From ‘Three Men in a Boat’ by Jerome K. Jerome to ‘On Westminster Bridge’ by William Wordsworth, with mention in T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Wasteland’, along with it’s presence in ‘Our Mutual Friend’, ‘Sherlock Holmes’ stories and ‘Oliver Twist’, the river and it’s precious city continues to live another life in books.

The River Thames is the waterbody we knew the most; it is not like I recognized it from the moment I first saw it, but it had it’s moments in the literature and the movies along with the city of London. The river adds beauty to the London Eye or the Millennium Wheel, the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe, and the most popular paid tourist attraction in the whole United Kingdom. It was the tallest operating Ferris wheel until being outdone by the Chinese Star of Nanchang and the Singapore Flyer. It is the successor to the Great Wheel which used to stand on the banks of the river before the Eye was constructed. The Tower Bridge which crosses the river and leads to the Tower of London is a wonderful scene, especially in the night; it makes everything else pale in comparison and makes one stand there and take photos from so many angles forgetting that there is a river to fall into and drown. For me, it looked like a Gothic church tower from a distance; if there is a real historic bridge, this is the one; people can make bloody imitations with cash, but this Tower Bridge is the one real bridge which is an architectural beauty beyond all comparisons. People can go on building the largest, tallest and longest bridges of the world with money power, but this bridge is the superior one.

On the north bank of Thames, lies the Palace of Westminster, another beautiful structure which looks even better when combined with the River Thames for a picture. It’s Clock Tower, the Big Ben stands tall separating time zones. Currently, the largest four-faced chiming clock and the third tallest free-standing clock tower in the world, the symbol of both London and England, and always my favourite clock not to be overtaken by any imitations around the world. For me, any imitation would be just as cheap as the small Big Ben model which I have bought and kept in my book shelf. The Tower of London, the historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames also deserved a souvenior, but I had to adjust with that Big Ben for then. Supposed to be built by William the Conquerer, the last person to conquer the island from outside, most of it constructed during the years of Norman Conquest of England and what followed, it combines with the Tower Bridge to give that fantastic historic look to the city of London. Just like they said in the movie ‘Night at the Museum’ and what happened to me during a long train journey with tea and history books, there history came alive again; with no support from books or thoughts, but directly in front of my own eyes; might have inspired a book if there was enough time to be spent on that side of the river Thames.

The largest Catholic church in England and Wales, the Westminster Cathedral in London is the mother church of the Catholic community in England and Wales and the Metropolitan Church and Cathedral of the Archbishop of Westminster and is dedicated to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ. It is of Neo-Byzantine architecture and it reminded me of Hagia Sofia or the Church of Holy Wisdom of God of Turkey which I have seen in a thousand photos. But Westminster Abbey was always going to be the high priority place considering the presence of the Poets’ Corner. From Geoffrey Chaucer, the first person to be buried there, it had most of my favourite poets including Alfred Lord Tennyson, Edmund Spenser, Robert Browning, John Dryden and the others for whom there were memorials and the rest who are going to be my favourite poets as long as I read their works in the future. It is still mainly a Gothic church located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster quite close to the parliament. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for the monarchs of the Commonwealth realms. Since the coronations in 1066 of both King Harold and William of Normandy or William the Conqueror, coronations of English and British monarchs were held in the Abbey by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Since 1100, there have been at about sixteen royal weddings at Westminster Abbey, the last one in this year itself, that of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and the grandson of Elizabeth II to Catherine Middleton.

St Paul’s Cathedral sits at the top of Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the City of London, and is the seat of the Bishop of London. It used to be the tallest building in London and is the largest church building in the United Kingdom after the Liverpool cathedral. The current cathedral is an architectural marvel, built after the Great Fire of London of 1666 which destroyed most of the church building. The construction has gone through various stages of difficulty, as it was a clear challenge considering the weight of the huge dome which challenged a number of big domed church structures of the christian world. For the first time, there were three layers of domes instead of the one big dome on the top, and the middle structure is less curved and is hidden, but built to hold the weight of the huge dome. The big dome inspired by St. Peter’s Basillica in Rome, forms a thing of beauty in the skyline of London. It has stood it ground as a powerful creation, surviving the strategic bombing of Britain by Nazi Germany mostly due to the right intervention of the Royal Engineers and also by luck. The cathedral has a number of statues, carvings, tombs and memorials and with it’s huge pillars and clock towers, remains one of the best examples of the English architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries. It always reminded me of John Donne, the metaphysical poet who served as the dean of St. Paul’s for ten years till his death in 1631.

Buckingham Palace, the primary residence of the British monarch and 30 St Mary Axe are the two buildings which I wanted to have a closer look, but I couldn’t. Missing Madame Tussauds was a big dissappointment, but not as much as missing the Lord’s cricket ground, the Wembley Stadium and the All England Lawn Tennis Club or the home of Wimbledon. Missing the home grounds of Chelsea and Arsenal was considered an extreme act of cruelity towards to wonderful football clubs by some supporters of these clubs and I am extremely glad that they didn’t start a strike in front of my place. There were also a few skyscrapers to be noticed, but the distant view was to be considered satisfactory due to the lack of time. All these proves that London was not to be left for the last day or even week; there is always more to London than it meets the eye and to find them all, there is the need for many days and even weeks. But it was Leeds which took London’s place being the most visited city and Celtic Football Club being the most time-spent club. Still, this is not the end; London will come alive before my eyes another day and at that time, it would be a day of exploration in those black cabs of London as well as those double decker buses with open top. There would be London as a whole, and myself at the centre.

Diving out —>

TeNy

31. Old Trafford Twice

@Manchester, Greater Manchester, England.

Manchester is the city, I always knew about; it is the English city name which I heard the second most after London, and most of the time it was related to sports. It also had a wonderful Gothic cathedral dedicated to St. Mary, tallest all-steel residential building in the United Kingdom called No. 1 Deansgate, a great tram system, the tallest skyscraper outside London known as Beetham Tower as well as a bigger structure which is being built. We had the opportunity to travel from Cochin to Dubai and then to Manchester thus starting the journey from this historic city. But the procedure of wandering around Manchester didn’t happen on the same day, as it happened later in a few days. Manchester always was a top priority not considering the historic landmarks; as they would be Canterbury, York and London the other way. But considering Manchester as a city, being there was needed; not only for myself, but for some of my friends who are heavy supporters of the most successful club in English football Manchester United; I don’t really have many Manchester City fans as friends, or there is not any to boast about, but that club also had to be in the list to visit, along with the cricket ground there.

The journey had to start at Old Trafford, the home ground of the most popular soccer team in the world, and without any doubt, the most successful. I rarely followed the English Premier League as my interest was more into the national teams when there was the World Cup, Euro or Copa America, but I always knew the team which has won the most titles in English football. The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about them is that bar scene in the movie Euro Trip and what followed, and also my friends, the Manchester United supporters who makes fun of Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool most of the time. Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal was also something which brought the team into my mind, but from that moment at Manchester, none of them were needed to remember the club. Theatre of Dreams, the second largest soccer stadium in all England, with wonderful looks and the proximity to the cricket stadium. But finding the cricket stadium was going to be a difficult task as not many knew much about it. There existed not much clues about where to go; it was not going to be like finding the home of the Red Devils, it was like finding El Dorado, Atlantis, the Holy Grail, the Fountain of Youth or the Golden Fleece; but somehow it was found in the end.

I would dedicate my visit to one Old Trafford related to soccer to so many people, my friends who want to be called mancunians than anything else, but who would I dedicate my journey to the other Old Trafford to? I wonder if anybody would want that to be in their name. While the soccer stadium had so many visitors, the cricket stadium was deserted and people seemed unaware of it. Even the security personnel there seemed quite happy that we wanted to see the cricket stadium and not the soccer extravaganza on the other side. I felt that it was so unbelievable for him, but the fact that we were Indians would have cleared his doubts about us being at the wrong stadium. It was good to be at that stadium, as it was good looking and so well maintained. I did wonder how they managed to maintain it so well considering the very low number of visitors and cricket seeming to be of very less importance out there. If there was such a stadium instead of Jawaharlal Nehru stadium at Kaloor, Cochin, people would have been crowding to come in and have a look around it. Everything about it looked so perfect, with a modern and historic touch added to it without losing it’s sporting essence. But I do wonder what role would cricket have, with soccer already risen above the limits and tennis always there as the new game for gentlemen. The chances for the former gentleman’s game is surely bleak at that part of the world.

Manchester City, the other soccer club of Manchester had a stylish looking stadium and as a club which is rising by a big margin these days, was worth a visit too, even as it wasn’t really listed in the first schedule of journey. The fifth largest stadium in the English Premier League and the twelfth-largest in the whole United Kingdom, has kind of a cable system which seemed to hold the roof of the stadium and these gave it a special look from the outside. It has an advantage over the other clubs by stadium architecture for sure, but I am no fan of this type of modern artificial type of building and would like to stick to a more ancient style even if outdated and not suited for a stadium. Even a Colosseum or any amphitheatre would have been further more satisfactory for me. I would have chosen something of the ancient Greek style surrounded by hills on most of the sides and steps carved into the sides; that would have been a fantastic scene and the best place to watch a soccer match from. That would be an instant when one would be close to the nature as well as to the sports; there would be even poems as a side-effect of watching these soccer matches and there would be some new English literary movement in relation to these Premier league matches; but that would be too far gone an idea.

Manchester could not be all about sports even as it was all that filled the mind at that time. There was going to be something special, a Hidden Gem as they called it, St Mary’s Church, a Roman Catholic Church which has been serving the people of Manchester since 1794. It would be no match for the usual cathedrals of the United Kingdom in size, and all those structures would make this look unimportant due to it’s simplicity and small size. The importance of the structure is that I could find it between thousands of similar looking buildings. It’s doorway has a Medallion of the Lamb of God held by two beautiful angels from both sides. This door along with the small cross on the top and the small statue of Mother Mary might be the only thing which differentiates the church structure from the buildings surrounding it. As it was closed, we spent more time in front of the city town hall which looked like a cathedral at first sight. The Manchester Town Hall is a Victorian-era, Neo-gothic structure which attracts you even from a long distance away and it is as if it has the ability to attract tourists from a long distance away. A little distance from there, stood a statue of Abraham Lincoln which was kind of surprising for me. There came the American feeling out of nowhere.

As much of Manchester’s history is concerned with textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution, I could trace it’s stories back to what I saw in the medical museum in Leeds. As the most productive centre of cotton processing and the biggest marketplace for cotton goods, Manchester was the land of textiles, a Cottonopolis and a Warehouse City for the island. As one of the first industrialised cities of the world, Manchester is the symbol of modernisation and urbanisation even as it was not free from workers’ rebellions and riots. Affected by the Great Depression in the United Kingdom of the 1930s and the Second World War, Manchester has changed and now we know the city for sports and not industries. Now it has it’s two teams at the top of the English Premier League this year set apart only by the goal difference. But Manchester’s legacy will live on in it’s museums from it’s Roman history to it’s heavy role in the Industrial Revolution, from the textile industry to it’s Trade Union movement closely following the women’s suffrage and even football which is always growing in strength with a history of the past and the present. One can see the effect of the Industrial Revolution from the city’s Coat of arms itself; it is different as it has an antelope and a lion both wearing red roses and holding a shield; there is a globe covered by flying bees and also a ship along with a knight’s helmet. It is surely about industries, trade and navigation.

Diving out —>

TeNy

29. My English Favourite

@Leeds, West Yorkshire, England.

Leeds is my favourite city in England; before I had that opportunity to visit the land, my guess would have been London, Manchester or Liverpool to be my favourites. But for some reasons, or many of them, this was that city which would spend most time in front of my camera, and this was to be that city which I was to prefer the most. The reasons might have been endless, but not all of them what one would expect. I liked the Coat of arms of the city, even if it was quite strange for me after seeing all those emblems with dragons, wyverns, lions, eagles and falcons; I found crowned owls, a hat and a sheep which seemed to be hanging; I failed to make any meaning out of it, but I found the emblem to be a beautiful creation. It was something I could relate with John Donne, George Herbert and the Metaphysical poetry as a whole, an opportunity for the more complicated understanding of objects which are kind of far-fetched images. Those owls with crowns, that hat which looked magical and that sheep; something was there which I could make of it; there was something so hidden in it that I could write a poem out of it in case of the brain working at the right moment.

So many people I knew lived near the city by the end of the tour. My cousin brother already lived nearby and the number of people I knew was raised by a good figure later. Another person whom I knew for a long time, also lived in that area, from the King of the World game in Facebook, a big fan of Leeds United Football Club and Leeds Rhinos Rugby Club; one of the first people I knew through a game application on that social networking site. That was one of the best gaming days online, with the best people from all over the world and this person did play that important role of keeping me glued to the game, as he made an entrance into my side of gaming at the right moment. That was the time when everyone took the game seriously and did wake up late night to start an invasion on the other; it was the time when everybody used to be so determined to have the advantage over the other so that all alliances were broken. As I was making things so complicated, his presence made it more clear and kept me playing the game until I quit it about four or five times, one of them being a mandatory deletion from a cruel Facebook in 2009 with not much of a reason other than an overdose of gaming. But the fact remains that I didn’t really go and see him there; so that episode is left with the game.

I wouldn’t talk about Leeds Rhinos for now; as Rugby is not my thing; if I get into it, that would be like a crocodile talking about Jurassic Park or a dinosaur talking about Lake Placid, both not aware of the other habitat. I wouldn’t talk about the topics which are not mine, which brings me back to cricket, to the Yorkshire County Cricket Club, the home of the most successful team in English cricketing history. Headingley Stadium surely has it’s moments, but Leeds United Football Club was the place to go, as I had to see the first real football stadium which was to bless my eyes. Elland Road, the twelfth largest football stadium in England was my first real football stadium sight even as I never got in and all the view was from the outside only. My only visit inside a football stadium would remain confined to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at Cochin even if that was for watching a cricket match. But I guess it would still count as a soccer stadium as Kochi Tuskers Kerala is a team which is no longer valid and the Ranji matches get less attention than the football matches there; cricket has gone back further in Kerala with that incident and now the only thing which remains is to ask the game not to come back again.

From what I understand from visiting the stadium and it’s store, Leeds United is a rising team which is fighting to gain back it’s glory; therefore I am glad to have visited the stadium and some day they will succeed in their aim and I will then proudly say that I visited Elland Road and I knew this was going to happen; I was there, in front of the stadium, near the Centenary Pavilion and the statue. The road to the stadium had wonderful fly-overs and bridges which gave a powerful effect to the road and a gift to the camera. It was a change at a time when every place looked the same for me; the houses with same colour and style and trees which looked a little yellow and mostly green, it was difficult to find the change; it was a big change from home, but once at the place everything was same, but beautiful. It scored by having that beauty everywhere though. By taking photos almost everywhere, I was becoming a Mr.Bean or something close to it; there was no distinction to be made between the modern and the ancient world there; the beauty existed without exceptions. The newer world was just easier to identify, but the older ones had stories to tell; or may be to figure them out.

The Leeds City Museum gives us the history of Leeds, as the museums of the land seemed to impress in quality compared to what we had at home, as the history and literature had a less important role and is still considered inferior. But what still remains like a burning candle in the mind is undoubtedly the Thackray Museum, which is actually a museum of the history of medicine near St James’s Hospital at Leeds. It was such a wonderful beginning to the journey through England. It mostly had much valued information about medicine, but it also took that long look into the history with it. There were questions like “How did bad French wine help start a scientific revolution in medicine?”, “How did foul smells make cities healthier?” with interesting explanations, sometimes written and sometimes shown, followed by more; there were bottles of medicines and the machines used by earlier doctors. But what would hit us the most are the stories; the way in which life in Leeds moved during the early ages, as it was kind of a huge experience for me as it was exactly like being there during those ages when life was different and there was not much good for the common people of the age. No country was always about glory and richness and that fact was lit there in front of me.

It took us through the life of a few characters of that time, just ordinary people who lived in Leeds at a time of pollution and lack of cleanliness, that life in Victorian Leeds: as we walked through a genuine recreation of the slum streets with authentic sights and sounds and that feeling of being gone some place in the past, as if there was a time machine. There were the big rats, fleas and bugs; there was surgery without anaesthesia as we watch an eleven year old Hannah undergoing amputation of her leg after it was crushed in an accident in a mill at a time children were also working in dangerous conditions. Only the Royal Armouries came close to this experience, but it was still just about weapons and not about people. The Leeds Town Hall was an impressive structure too. The Leeds Anglican Parish Church and the Roman Catholic Cathedral were interesting structures, but nothing could recreate the feeling of the Thackray Museum; as it showed that human misery was almost the same everywhere and there is always the chance for improvement of human life, no matter how bad a situation it is. We are indeed lucky to live in this world of luxury and we are to thank the people who are part of our history, as without them, we are nothing near what we are now; because of them we exist and live a good life with less suffering.

Diving out —>

TeNy

28. Wyverns With Shields

@Carlisle, Cumbria, England.

During the journey from Leeds to Glasgow, there stood the city of Carlisle on an exit. It has a long history, most of it related to a first-century Roman outpost associated with Hadrian’s Wall, the first and more physically evident of the two fortifications built across Great Britain by the Roman Empire as ordered by Emperor Hadrin to keep the non-Romans, the northern tribes of the island out of the Roman occupied part of the island. The wall with no doubt, was the most heavily fortified border in the whole Empire as Rome had major setbacks in that area including the disappearance of Legio Nona Hispana or the Ninth Spanish Legion, which remains a mystery as there was no evidence found. The last clear information was about them helping to rebuild the legionary fortress at York and their disappearance has provided us with Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth which became a movie ‘The Eagle’ in 2011 and also ‘Centurion’ which tells the story from another perspective. Valerio Massimo Manfredi’s novel L’ultima legione was also made into the movie ‘The Last Legion’, and all these added to my viewpoint towards Carlisle as a city of history and mystery blended in a right pattern to invoke curiousity among the people who visit these places with a heart for knowledge.

Hadrian’s Wall might be the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain during their military occupation of the island. As it was not much of a settling down and more fiery invasions like the Anglo-Saxon conquest followed, there was not much of Roman tradition to be left. Even the Antonine Wall was not much to be seen. Rome’s movement towards being a global empire had already started before the Christian era and the eyes were set on the island during the times of Julius Caesar. From the times of Emperor Claudius, when Britain became a Roman province, the need for this wall was there, with so many tribes giving trouble to the disciplined Roman Legions in the north. This was to become worse when Rome faced barbarian attacks in Europe at many frontiers and had to retreat from the island. They left Britain Hadrian’s Wall, not much of a wall considering the development of technology which followed, but a wonderful remnant of the lagacy of the Roman Empire. It did not mark the end or the beginning of any empire, but it kept the Roman area south from the skirmishes from the north which were becoming too frequent to handle.

This World Heritage Site can be seen from many parts of the land, even as one travels through the area. It looks more like a part of nature, something which is built by the forces of nature, as it seemed to combine with the terrain at such a point as if it was grown from the Earth one day. With a few sheeps around, it makes a wonderful scene of nature, something which might inspire a nature poet from within. There are also what remains of the lookout towers and forts which were attached to the wall. The stories relating to the wall never ended; it was also shown in the movie ‘King Arthur’, when Artorius Castus and his cavalry men defend the wall against the Picts, another move towards the Arthurian legend. That movie stood with lot of historic inaccuracies, but Hadrian Wall remained the same in history, no matter how much it changed in physical structure due to the various factors of nature and man. Even after the withdrawal of the imperial Roman Legions and later after so much modernization, the wall still stands with the story of how magnificient it used to be; the saviour of Romans from the northern tribes as well as the helper of trade and commerce.

The 900 year old Carlisle Castle is also situated near the ruins of Hadrian’s Wall in the city. As it lies in the border city of Carlisle and it was such an important point between England and Scotland, it is supposed to have seen lots of wars and had been part of many important events in history. It has been part of England and Scotland until they became the same nation later. Carlisle Castle was first built during the reign of William II of England, the son of th Duke of Normandy, William the Conqueror who invaded and completely conquered England in 1066 starting the Norman rule and the influence of French on English literature. Mary, Queen of Scots who tried to claim for the throne of Queen Elizabeth I was also imprisoned in this castle before being tried and executed for treason. The castle was besieged by the Parliamentary forces for eight months during the English Civil War and later during the Jacobite revolutions to bring back James VII of Scotland and James II of England, and later his descendants of the House of Stuart, to the throne after he was deposed by the Parliament during the Glorious Revolution. The castle looks quite simple from a distance, but is a magnificient and well-maintained structure.

Carlisle Cathedral or The Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Carlisle is a beautiful church located quite close to the castle of Carlisle. It seemed to match with the castle in terms of colour and age, and also that beauty in simplicity. The church which was built during the reign of King Henry I as an Augustinian Priory, and is one of only four Augustinian churches in England to become a Cathedral. From the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the following ages, the church had a less glorious period until it was restored. It had ruined structures around it and also the fallen leaves, those yellow and a little brown ones seeming to give the feeling of some autumn and an upcoming winter. The Carlisle Cathedral described itself as ‘A place of discovery, celebration and beauty’ in the colourful leaflet they gave us; it also contained details of all the prayers which were to take place during Sundays and weekdays; there was some program going to happen, when we reached there too. The map in the leaflet was only slightly helpful as some renovation work was going on in the church. I did feel that the best view was from the outside with the fallen leaves and the stone paved road on the side.

There is the River Eden which runs through the city, but I could not take any more rivers after my visit to Lake District; enough of the water bodies were covered for the day. Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery was located between the Carlisle Cathedral and the castle. Even as I didn’t visit it at all, I was caught by the Coat of arms of Carlisle City Council which was outside the museum. It had the motto “Be Just and Fear Not”. It inspired me and gave me some courage which I lost in the cold there as the temperature had hit a lower point for me then and wind only got stronger with clouds wandering around. There was some time for me to stare at the emblem and it had two dragons or the legendary creatures of wyverns with golden roses on their wings, and a golden shield with a red cross surrounded by red roses and a golden rose inside it. Everything is placed on a gree mount with some small white cross signs on it and shield had a crown which looked like a fortified city; or more of a mural crown of Tyche, the Greek goddess deity that governed the fortune and prosperity of a city as well as it’s destiny. I was more interested in the dragons and the cross as well as the motto. As I had to wait a lot at that point between the castle and the cathedral with that emblem behind me, I was able to create an image of it not only in the camera, but also in the mind which has lasted even now.

Diving out —>

TeNy

24. The Lake Poet Dream

@Lake District, Cumbria, England.

This was the place, the land of William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Robert Southey as well as many more who followed. It has also been the inspiration for many poets who came there as just visitors and were motivated by it’s beauty. Those poems still floated around the air; what inspired them still lived, and I knew it all the way. But I never knew that it was Lake District until I was half the way through. But what I knew was that it could have been the place where those poets wrote, especially William Wordsworth; it was the place which could inspire the common man, and Wordsworth was far beyond that. It was the beauty of nature which truly deserved to be called so; blessed should be the people who lived there, especially in those years when there was no modern technology around; it would have been a place which would stretch my imaginations beyond all capabilties and even then, it had given my imagination the wings which I had missed; it gave me calmness; it provided me with serenity beyond my usual comprehension, and it lived; it still comes to mind, but those memories are rather painful considering how quickly it was over and how much more time I could have spent there.

Even a few sheep on the roadside seemed to tell me the same thing. They looked at me when I went to them with the camera, along with walking away from the scene; they seemed to tell me that they lived there forever and I have to go back; that beauty will stay for them and will be lost for me forever. Those photos and memories will be less valuable compared to what they will get to enjoy every day. They were the lucky ones, but still they could write no poem; only I could, if I wanted to. But is there anything in the Lake District which is not covered by the Lake Poets? What is there which hasn’t been their bliss of solitude? I seriously doubt that; writing a new poem out there would be that difficult for me considering the fact that the place has been utilized for poetic purposes to it’s maximum. There would surely be unexplored territories and there is no certainty as to what would be the inspiration, those lakes themselves, a group of yellow flowers, a beautiful maiden or a solitary reaper, but still there is a limit to what modern men can do as their minds are affected by their technology in such a way that their creativity and imagination are infected by science.

There was no choice of being at Lake District or not be there, as it was a quick turn on the way to Glasgow from Leeds. It is not to be confused with the turns at home, as it was that perfect an exit as it could get. Thus the journey to Scotland was a little twisted, but truly wonderful, it was what came closest to travelling with nature or through it, that journey which awakens the aesthetic sense from the inside. That sense was surely affected by the desire of some history loving part of the brain to move on and reach the old city of Edinburgh, after a quick look at Glasgow. But literature is still something that wouldn’t give up, as it lived with nature in Lake District; it had no wars, lady love or divine intervention there, it lived with what existed there for a long time and still survives. It was to be my perfect moment with nature, but due to that suddent attack of that history side, it became just one of my moments; it was still a strong one and it’s power was enough to conquer a territory of my mind. It still failed to win it’s battle with history at that moment, but even as it kept losing all those wars in Britain, it still had that advantage in the great course of war which continued, with rather peaceful methods of persuasion.

The lakes were of astonishing magnificience and they formed a force which could not be neglected by the human eyes or the camera. Those mountains, those trees and those lovely flowers which surrounded the lakes gave that feeling of being at paradise. If you ask me if I had made some random visit to Eden, the answer would be no. But I do have my concepts of paradise and this was one of them, or what came the closest to it. I was not of the intention to regain that lost paradise, but what would anyone do when there is an amount of beauty of nature which leaves him senseless? I am not good at interpreting random people, but I would be stunned. But I had less time for that too. I wanted to be in tears, but I was so frozen when that stun effect was combined with nature’s freezing effect and I took whatever photos with my shivering hands. I was lost; I knew my desire to stay there as well as my need to leave; I had a bigger ‘mouth open’ feeling at the York and Liverpool cathedral earlier, but this one was different. It was less for the camera and more for the mind; it was less for history and more for the soul; that part of the body which desired for literature, poetry to be exact. It was that writer’s side which shot up out of nowhere, and it happened in Lake District.

There were boats around for a journey through the lakes, but as Robert Frost already told us through his poems, there were miles to go before I slept; not just kilometers as they counted in miles; that journey was not just about the journey of life, but also about the distance we were to cover on our way to Glasgow. But the nature was as if it was more concerned about the journey of life; it did see so many humans live and die like the mortals which they are, and it might be remembering them all as it is that silent witness which has not much job to do. It has to keep an eye on humans all the time as they are the creatures who destroy it; they are the people of greed and lust; they are the people who invented new scientific methods to destroy nature. As the cruel humans are all set to destroy mother nature, Lake District watches on, with all it’s beauty. But it is there only as long as the nature stays alive, and this is a place which should live forever. But against the beauty of nature, there is always some random human beings; they are the bane on Earth and they are the ambitious ones; the ones who don’t learn history or learn from it; the ones who see beauty as a medium to satisfy their greed and selfishness.

As I hope for the modern satanic monsters to stay away from mother nature, I would once again bring that picture of Lake District into my mind. Those mountains, lakes and trees; those fallen leaves and those rocks; those yellow leaves and colourful flowers; they are the reason there is happiness; they are the reason for the belief in the Garden of Eden; there is paradise and some part of it exists on this Earth. Lake District is one of them. It is a world of nature and it is the cause of joy for many. What a nature poet and a nature poem is; that should be what the soul of this place should be. I had found another world, the best and the true face of nature in Lake District, kind of my parallel universe away from this madness, nonsense and hatred. There was nothing more I could wish for, other than more time there which was not be. It left me with the option of being what William Wordsworth had been; with a heart which fills with pleasure and dances with flowers, leaves and those trees when sitting idle on a couch with a free mind. However it is done and whenever it is done, Lake District lives on, encased in a soul.

Diving out —>

TeNy

3. My Canterbury Tales

@Canterbury, Kent, England.

If you take Italy out of the list, this has always been the first thing on my long list of places to visit; to go to Canterbury, visit the Grand Cathedral which is not only the most important cathedral of the whole Anglican communion, but also the place of great historical importance, a destination for every History and English Literature student. It is the holy place which witnessed the brutal murder of Saint Thomas Becket of Canterbury, the Arch Bishop of that time. It is like, I had a dream; it was to visit the Canterbury cathedral; now my dreams have lost it’s soul as the dream came true last year even if it was not a perfect visit.

I have been waiting for this moment ever since I had a look at the greatest work of Geoffrey Chaucer, the father of English Literature himself. Even as the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket was destroyed by Henry VIII, we can see that position clearly marked by a candle; that thing of wax which brings to us the memory of that theme of a wonderful work which we would never see as it is gone forever. There is still the Canterbury Cathedral; staying with it’s head held high even as bigger cathedrals have been built in England and all over the world. Whatever may happen, this is the place which will never fade.

Canterbury had everything for the historic city I imagined; it had those small roads which passed right under the medieval towers, the river Stour and the houses on it’s banks which looked dazzling in those rains and the Marlowe Theatre which was being renovated at that time; the last one reminded me of where I stood. It was where the man who wrote Dr. Faustus, The Jew of Malta and The Massacre of Paris was born. It was a hallowed place for every English Literature enthusiast. No, I didn’t really remove my shoes in reverence; I am just mentioning that this was that place.

It was the land of the contemporary of William Shakespeare, the man who might have been even a better known person if he lived longer. But for some reason, I was so lost in my sight of the Canterbury cathedral, the river side and my desire to get to London as soon as possible. The schedule had suddenly gone busy and my time at the historic city was limited. I bought a small souvenir, but it was never enough to remember the wonderful city or it’s Grand cathedral. The many photos still bring those memories back to me; what I should have visited taking many days, instead lasted only a few hours.

There was small welcome note, which was smaller than that of Carlisle and York cathedrals and a post card which didn’t look that big enough, but I have to say that the cover was good. They gave it in a stylish cover which had the symbol of the cathedral and it’s address. May be I should have bought more covers; may be the cover was not to be sold alone; who knows, but it was a missed opportunity; I should have done better than that there. It was the time they called the Canterbury festival and it was just before Halloween, but I never really halted my eyes on the festival, but my camera reminded me about it later to bring some pain. The great city of Canterbury deserved more attention from me.

To be honest, no city in the island nation other than Leeds got the deserved justice from me. My camera got most of what it wanted, even the history lover; but not the Literature enthusiast. Canterbury was just the city which deserved it the most. It is not that the soul of Thomas Beckett, Christopher Marlowe or Geoffrey Chaucer are going to come down and question me about it, but still there is a wound which hurts; it won’t heal by itself; there is no wolverine power which can heal it and there is no vampire which can suck everything out of it; the thing is forever. Canterbury is a city I visited and it is both my gain and my loss. It is a memory which makes me happy and sad at the same time. As I shall get into Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in detail, it is my source of inspiration which will lead me through. It is the cathedral which will power me, those memories shall guide me. It will remind me that I am the captain of my soul and the master of my fate.

Diving out —>

TeNy