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An English Rose in Georgia: Loving ‘lake life’
Lesley Francis new 2019.jpg

Every summer we take our granddaughters (now 9 and 5), as well as their parents, on a fun summer trip. We have explored beaches, mountains and Disney cruises and were supposed to be introducing them to England this year, until the pandemic made all of us change our plans.

Instead, we travelled to beautiful Lake Lanier in Northern Georgia last week for some much needed rest, relaxation and family time, and at a fabulous lakeside cabin that allowed us to keep socially distant from the rest of the world.

My stepson brought his speedboat for the house’s private dock, so boating, kayaking, jet skiing, swimming, floating around the lake, and grilling out filled a sunny and happy week together. Did you know that Lake Lanier is a manmade lake that was created in 1956? It was designed to manage navigation and flood control of the Chattahoochee River, provide hydroelectricity and supply water for the city of Atlanta.

Buford Dam was built on the south end of the lake and turned the Chattahoochee and Chestatee Rivers into Lake Lanier. It is the largest lake in Georgia, with nearly 700 miles of shoreline spread over 38,000 acres. There is much more information at www.lakelanier.com.

I love our coastal life and waterways but there is something about a lake that soothes my soul and restores my spirits – something we all need during these challenging times.

I have spent many happy days in the British Lake District, situated in the far north-west of England about 300 miles away from London where we lived. I enjoyed childhood holidays (what the British call vacations) with my extended family, and my best friend, who I call my “sister by another mother,” got married in the Lake District.

My beloved great aunt also loved to visit “The Lakes” and I took her there for a short vacation every year for a decade after my great uncle died.

I also remember a fantastic week with my husband and our two much loved and missed British Labrador retrievers, during which they swam in every one of the 16 area lakes there.

One thing that will not be in most of the travel brochures for the British Lake District is the weather. It has some of the worst weather in the U.K., which is really saying something.

Even the best month, July, has average high temperatures of just 62 degrees, lows of 45 degrees, and rain on average for 11 days. It is beautiful but it is also very cold and wet, so you will understand why we chose to leave the swimming to our hardy Labradors.

So, in spite of the weather, I do love the British Lake District, the largest national park in the U.K. with 885 square miles. Although only established as a park in 1951, it is an area rich in history and the glaciated mountains and lakes are spectacular.

It is believed that early humans settled there 5,000 years ago, attracted by the strong stone of the mountains that was used to make axes.

Celts, Romans and Vikings all settled in the Lake District before the canals and railways facilitated the transportation of coal mined in the area to fuel the Industrial Revolution, which in turn took over from traditional fishing and sheep farming as key economic drivers.

Visitors began to notice the area in the 19th century, and wealthy Victorians built homes around the lakes as workers took the railway there for day trips to get a rest from the industrial northern cities.

Today, nearly 16 million people visit the Lake District each year and it is popular with ramblers, climbers and outdoor enthusiasts. There is more information at www.visitlakedistrict. com.

I will leave you with this quote by William Wordsworth, the famous 19th century English poet who spent many years living in and writing poems about England’s Lake District: “A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable.”

God bless America. Stay safe, stay well and stay positive.

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