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    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?

    Elena
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