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By Ahmad, Borhan, Hibo, Kwestan, Marzia, Micheline, Mazra, Mohammed, Paul, Rebwar, Rose, Shano, Shatw, Vivian

We travelled as a group to the Quaker-run Guesthouse at Grasmere in the Lake District for a weekend break sponsored by Glenthorne’s Welcome Project, which opens its doors to asylum seekers at regular times during the year.  Despite the long journey (made more difficult by frequent roadworks and other obstructions), and the constant drizzle, it became a very special weekend.  The weather did not prevent us from walking.

For us all, the boat trip on Lake Windermere was a highlight.  A beautiful ship by the lakeside on Windermere, and an enjoyable sail from Ambleside to Bowness, stopping at Brockhole on the return journey.  It felt like you were starting a new life on the boat.  The views around the lake, and the green hills surrounding the towns, were beautiful, even when the mist came down.  The beautiful village of Bowness, with the houses made of stone.  We were greeted by very friendly swans!

The autumnal colours of the trees everywhere, and the vegetation, including the bracken in the fields and the leaves blown by the wind.  The height of the trees, different from Doncaster.  The trees, holly with its prickly leaves and bright red berries, the plants in the garden at Brockhole and especially at Rydal Hall in the quiet garden, including its sculpture trail.

Another highlight was the lovely waterfall, with its specially built viewing room ‘The Grot’ constructed in 1668, visited by Wordsworth among others, and now a grade II listed building.  The Grot provides a window to frame and enjoy the lower Rydal Beck waterfall.  It became popular with the Picturesque Movement, an example of a wild and rugged scene to inspire dramatic landscape painting.  The waters among the green hills were calm and beautiful.  The total effect was calming, so that when we feel stressed and down and helpless, we could close our eyes and put ourselves a green, waterfall place.  It took away stress and loneliness and made us feel like a different person, forgetting the anxieties of daily life.

In the same grounds there is the oldest sweet chestnut tree in the Lake District, more than 400 years old.  We joined hands in a circle around it.

We saw a red squirrel.

On Sunday morning, instead of walking in the heavy rain, we stayed in the village.  We visited Wordsworth’s grave, Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum.  While living there from 1799 to 1808, Wordsworth composed the most famous and best-loved of his poems, and his sister Dorothy wrote her fascinating Grasmere journal.  The tour of the house offered something to everyone – the family rooms, the darkness, the 250 year old bed, the absence of running water, the kitchen, the cold.  We found it interesting to see how people live in the past and their culture, which helped to give us a better understanding of life today, and also to understand how life in the country is very different from life in the towns

Thank you for the hospitality of Glenthorne, the good organisation and the knowledgeable guide.  The beds were comfortable, the rooms tidy, the food delicious, the breakfasts substantial, the villages peaceful.  People looked after us.  They rang a bell for quiet before the evening meal.  We remembered the lives left behind, so much given up.  The spirit of the house provided a contrast to a world which often seems bad and without hope, which encourages suspicion towards other people and takes away trust.  Here it was the opposite.  The smile of people and their welcome gives you hope, for you are not being treated as a statistic.  They want to help you and to know you as a person, apart from your case.  That is respect.