On Holiday

I’m writing this a week in advance, because on the Saturday it will post I will be returning from a week in Florida, where we are visiting family during my children’s spring break.

Frankly, I must say that Florida is not my favorite vacation spot. There are fun things to do, of course, and it’s good to see relatives. But the Orlando area is Too Crowded and Too Hot. I am hardened by our upstate NY winters, I guess!

I did enjoy my visit to the Florida Keys, because I went scuba diving and saw a shark, just the right kind: about four feet long and swimming the other way! Tropical vacations for me have to include some sort of snorkeling or diving.

Otherwise, I prefer temperate climates, lakes and mountains. I love Maine, especially Acadia National Park, and I’ve had many wonderful vacations in Canada. I think I’d enjoy going out to the Rockies sometime.

During the Regency, the trend for seeking out the picturesque was satirized in William Combe’s poem “The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque,” illustrated by Thomas Rowlandson. I wouldn’t have cared; I would have gone anyway.

Here are some of my favorites among the picturesque spots I visited while on international assignment in the UK. My own pictures are buried; these are all from www.geograph.org.uk.

First, the Lake District. There’s a famous incident where a visitor, after boring Beau Brummell with stories of a tour in Scotland, asked him which were his favorite lakes. To depress the bore’s pretensions, Brummell consulted with his valet before replying “Windermere, will that do for you?”

My own real favorite in the Lake District is Ullswater, of Wordsworth’s “Daffodils” fame. My husband and I rented a canoe there one breezy afternoon. We paddled against the wind both ways (it turned just as we did) and enjoyed the movement of the clouds and the play of light over the hillsides until a light drain drove us toward shore and a nice pub in Glenridding.

Tintagel: crags, ruins and Arthurian legend. Who could ask for anything more?

The Isle of Skye: more fantastic scenery and sheep with an attitude. At one point in our travels, a ram planted his feet in the middle of the road in front of us and glared at us. I had to get out to shoo him out of the way and frankly, I was a little unnerved!

The Cotswolds: pastoral countryside, churches, cottages all built of a lovely golden stone. When my husband accidentally damaged our old brick fireplace in a fit of home improvement, we decided to rebuild it with stone that reminded us of the Cotswolds.

Do you enjoy the picturesque? What are some of your favorite destinations, in Britain or elsewhere?


About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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11 years ago

Oh, Elena! You make my heart long to go to all these beautiful places! I so hope you enjoy your vacation (even though it’s Florida and not the Cotswolds, although visiting family is always sometimes a good thing. 🙂


11 years ago

How lovely! Thank you so much for sharing, Elena! On one of my walks in the Lake District, I was blessed with the opportunity to watch a dog herd his sheep through a gate. Amazing. Growing up in Arizona, I was family with the Wordsworth’s “Daffodils” but was baffled by it. Then I visited Kent, where the daffodils grow wild, everywhere! It was stunning. For… “All at once I saw a crowd, a host of golden daffodils.” The wilds of Scotland. The Cliffs of Dover…

In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, he speaks of going into The West, “the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.” When I crossed on the ferry from Calais to Dover, I realized that Tolkien was talking about coming home to England, for that is exactly what happened. It was raining softly, a grey mist surrounding the ferry, then the rain stopped, and the water was as silver glass, until you could see the white cliffs of Dover. And taking the train from Dover to London, you passes green, rolling hills. It was breathtaking.

Jane George
11 years ago

That pic of the Cotswolds makes me tear up it’s so gorgeous. I’ve long wanted to live for at least a year in London and venture out from there on mini-breaks. You have strengthened my resolve to do just that. 🙂

Have fun in Florida. I’ve never been. Now that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is there I’m sure I’ll find myself there too sooner or later. If you go, have a butterbeer for me.

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

judy, how magical to see what Tolkien saw and realize it as you were viewing it.

Jane George, it is my dream to spend a year in England, too, just existing there and seeing whatever I can. I’d settle for a month. Heck. I’d settle for a week!!

Elena, I can imagine that the summers of upstate New York do spoil a place like Florida for you. It is so beautiful there.

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

Wow! You really know how to make a girl want to quit the job, sell everything and move back to England! I want to go back so badly I can taste it!

I was in my 20’s when I returned to England the first time and I remember the moment we crossed into Wales. We came to the top of a steep rise and then looked out over this rocky, verdant landscape and the sky was so incredibly blue! My father’s family came to this country from Wales in 1892 and my visit there felt very much like going home to me.

I loved visiting Longleat as a child as well. What history loving child wouldn’t love that magnificent home AND a safari park?

One of my favorite places to visit in Germany is Konigsee. There is a mountain lake there with electric boats that move in complete silence on the water. And the views are absolutely incredible.

11 years ago

I love the picturesque. I want to pack my bags and head for England a hit every spot you mentioned.

How far Upstate are you? North of Albany? The Adirondacks and the Lake Champlain area are beautiful and my old stomping grounds. The small towns in Vermont and Norther NY are picturesque in their own way.

My husband’s family moved to Orlando pre-Disney. It certainly isn’t anything like the small city it was. We still go to visit and have been to ‘see’ Harry Potter. Hogwarts and the ride through it are extremely well done. Universal still has a lot to learn from Disney about traffic flow and moving people. It is also crammed into such a small area. Make sure you go off season. We have found that the week right after Thanksgiving is a pretty good time. Not too crowded and not too hot.

We now live in the Smokey Mountains. It is a lovely area, but unfortunately almost as hot and humid as Florida. This Northern mountain girl has a problem with that.

Elena Greene
11 years ago

Glad people enjoyed this!

Alyssia, you have it right when you say visiting family is “always sometimes” a good thing! But I will spare you the details…

We did have some fun visiting the Clearwater Marine Aquarium where they do dolphin rescue work. There’s a dolphin there named Winter who lost her tail and they fitted her with a prosthetic. There’s going to be a movie about it, coming out next September. My kids and I are looking forward to it! We also did the Orlando Science Center, always fun.

We decided to pass on Harry Potter because of concerns about the combination of crowds and my husband’s mobility issues. We plan to go next time, though.

What a cool experience, Judy. I agree about Tolkien’s inspiration. In fact I have always felt the Shire is like the Cotswolds.

Library Pat, I live closer to the Finger Lakes so that is the local scenery and nature fix, along with the wine tasting. Nice Rieslings and Chardonnays. 🙂