Hola! Hope you're smiling :)
I had never heard of this place until a Wiki article on the Lake District told me about it. I couldn’t get much out of Google either – it’s no Birmingham or Manchester or Liverpool or Bristol. It’s Carlisle, way up north – so much into Scotland that its Englishness is sometimes questioned.
The Carlisle railway station is beautiful, has a certain character to it with an interesting foot over bridge that must be pretty old. If only only saw the bridge out of the context of the station, one would imagine a river running under it, but under it run railway lines. Just outside the railway station is Carlisle’s town centre – the heart of the city in true sense. I had little time or inclination to explore around Carlisle the day I arrived as I was curious about The Fauld and need to feed it and also because it was almost impossible to do any pleasurable sight seeing with my heavy backpack. However, I got an idea of how cool the city is.
Artur and I decided to visit Carlisle on a Saturday – when Artur does his grocery shopping from Tesco. We were both hungry after the 30 minute bus ride from Longtown to Carlisle and decided to go into a coffee shop that’s not a chain – no Costa, no Starbucks. We walked past several impressive statues of John Steel and we were mighty pleased when we spotted the delightful John Watt & Sons. If you ever find yourself in Carlisle, do not miss this warm little tea shop, they have been around for a while, a 100 years maybe?
Here we ordered some chicken sandwiches and tea that was served to us in this sweet yellow tea pot and lemonade too
With a happy tummy on each, both Artur and I walked around the city centre which is very vibrant on a Saturday. If you only have a day in Carlisle, pick a Saturday!
At the Tourist Information Centre which also doubles as a souvenir shop, I realized that Winderemere and Hawkshead are too far away for me to take Artur and Hadrian’s Wall isn’t that far away, “there’s a bus in 10 minutes,” said the lady at the Information Centre. I had half a mind to take it, it was a lovely, sunny afternoon – perfect for a Hadrian’s Wall walk but that would mean leaving Artur in the City. Artur had to be back on the farm by 3 pm and the return bus from Hadrian’s wouldn’t reach Longtown until 4 pm, hence Artur couldn’t come and I couldn’t leave my kind host on his own in the city.
So we kept walking further into the city and found an antique bookstore – the Bookcase which is a wonderful little bookshop, the kinds I miss in Hyderabad. It had the best Cumbrian stock, second to none I am sure.
Right beside the bookstore is the Carlisle Cathedral, the Carlisle Castle and a photo gallery and a music store. We walked around the Cathedral, gave the castle and gallery a miss and went shopping in the music store.
With the time nearing 2 pm, we decided to go into Tesco so we don’t miss the chore we came into Carlisle for! As Artur was shopping in Tesco, I got my smokes. I told him I would wait outside until he is done when Artur said ‘shop with me.’ I didn’t quite know then what a terrific idea that was. Thanks to Artur, I shopped groceries in Carlisle like a local. I put a box of muffins in the cart for us and Artur picked up his regular stuff in addition to chicken! He said he would make chicken for me that evening.
Walking around the centre, we found a fun band performing – they were cool!
With the groceries bought, we were on our way to the bus stop but not quite yet. Artur’s favourite busker was performing. I could see that Artur loved him. We sat on a bench and listened to him for sometime, Artur seemed happy.
After watching the performance for a bit, we made our way to the bus stop but not quite yet! For on our way out, I spotted Waterstone! My quest for Charles Lamb’s biography by EV Lucas was still on – Waterstone didn’t have it but what they did have Georgina’s ‘Painter of Silence’ – I got my copy and I was such a happy girl!
The Carlisle on Saturday was so different from the Carlisle on Sunday, about which I will tell you in a bit.