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Travelogue I25

October 19, 2016

The morning brought with it, if not clarity, a renewed sense of adventure. Over coffee and toast, G. and I broke our fast and lumbered through the murder tunnel a last time en route to the car. My travel companion settled in the right seat, myself the left, and we were soon underway. G. had seen fit to assemble a binder with hotel bookings, maps and directions, on which I did not fail to compliment him. Reading from the directions contained therein, I served as navigator, as I have for most of my life, my task consisting largely in checking blindspots and comparing roadmap with roadsigns. On occasion, I found myself called upon to issue verdicts, snap judgments or other observations, as to the passing drivers and signs, hoardings or landmarks left behind.

The time required to leave Steel City behind proved greater than we had expected. Our way led us over potholed roads before scrapyards and landfills, unsure of the motorway entry point. At length, my companion and I broke out from dilapidated structures and new and old steel mills to the motorway where we turned north. That morning saw us pass the failed social experiment that is Leeds, at least as G. described it, as well as turnoffs for towns the names of which I knew only from British period pieces.

Towards midday, the color drained from the surrounds, and the land grew decidedly steeper around us. This transition from the North to northern Yorkshire had not escaped our notice and the approaches to the Lake District. We spent no little time commenting on the barren, rocky stretches to either side of the road, as though their very emptiness accounted for the great interest that we showed them. Still, my travel companion and I could agree on the good that it did the soul to see ridge and sheep.

Inwardly, I observed that the farmsteads and sheep-pens were unlike anything which I had previously seen. My face plastered against the pane, I showed the keen interest that I always have for the uneven contours of rocky landscapes and watched for traces, left upon the land, by the maker who had folded England into higher and narrower shapes the farther north one advanced. Everywhere my eyes met no longer brick but cut grey stone in squat arrangements, house and fold alike.

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