Day Out – White Scar Caves

There couldn’t be a better proclamation of Spring, than the weather last weekend. Gloriously sunny, warm, perfect!

We always wanted to book a B&B and go away on a spur-of-the-moment trip – but alas, we couldn’t, this week. Daughter had a Kumon award ceremony on Sunday, so we couldn’t really go away. We still wanted to make the most of the time that we did have, so off we went to the White Scar Caves in Yorkshire Dales. We had been to a show cave in Wales a few years back, and had really enjoyed the experience.

Just a 1.5 hr drive away, the caves are Britain’s longest show cave.  We only started at around 1:30, after daughter’s swimming lessons and lunch. On a side note, Husband will never be happy with the fact that the swimming lessons are on a Saturday- it kind of cramps the day, you know. But then, swimming is a life skill, and I did not want to compromise on that, when we have nothing available on any of the other days.

The route was scenic, as always. Yorkshire Dales have a distinctive look, and it feels amazingly calm and peaceful. All you want to is stop the car, and lie down on the grass.. with sheep grazing nearby, and streams gurgling away.. The only thing I don’t like is that it is difficult to park the car and reach some of the most gorgeous places..

You can catch a glimpse while driving through, but not much more.. I so wish we could find a B&B near these most scenic places, and then find a walking trail – that would be just great! We had once been to a place like this. We keep planning to go back there- but funnily enough, have never managed to.

We reached the caves just after 3. After that glorious sunny weather, we were shocked to be greeted by cold winds. Thankfully we had our jackets with us(you never know, when the weather changes, in this country!). The next tour was at 4:00, and we had a long long wait – in chilly, windy weather. There was a cafe, thankfully, we sat there, nursing coffees while daughter inhaled a doughnut – I’ve never seen her eat something so fast. Sitting there, we noticed that there were some ponies and ducks, so we decided to go and say hello to them, for a change.

Only here, do we get all excited when we see goats, and hens 🙂 Daughter, was too chicken to touch, she was happy enough to just see them. I’m not complaining, I was happy to not have to run to the washroom to wash our hands again.

Finally the tour began. Just to give you an idea of how old these caves are..

These caves were first discovered by Christopher Long, a student from Cambridge. Apparently he stumbled across these caves, and entered it with just a few candles balanced on his hat. A model of his is placed there to give us an idea of what Christopher Long did back in 1923.

He had wanted to open it up as a show cave, but he died in 1924 before that was possible. In 1925, miners were brought in, to create an entrance so that visitors could view the show caves so thankfully, we did not need to crawl through to get into the caves.

The first stop – the water fall..

Then on, we followed the water trail to go further up. The only way to see these caves are by by tours. Each tour takes about 80 minutes, passing through two low height tunnels -we had to crouch low to go through, a squeeze(not too bad, to be honest 🙂 ), and 97 steps. We covered about a mile underground. We had been given hard hats, and we had assumed that they were just general health and safety procedures – but most of us did bump our heads – especially in the low height areas – even short people like me!

Can you see the gushing waters? We walked over it on a metal grid pathway.

Dark and spooky…..  ….it would have been, if we were not accompanied by a group of chattering tourists 🙂

And we saw formations – stalactites and stalagmites.. of all sorts.. If this had been in India, at least one of them would have been worshipped as a ‘natural’ Shiva Lingam 🙂

And now, I am too tired to upload any more pics!

Okay, just a few more. We also got to see the fossil of a sea snail, much to daughter’s delight. She has been fascinated by fossils ever since she started learning about dinosaurs.

And finally reached the Battlefield Cavern(climbing up 97 steps -not so easy, as we realized). It was so named because it looks like some giants had a battle there, throwing boulders at each other. It also had the most delicate, beautiful stalactites ever! They were gorgeous! Photography was not allowed in this cavern.

Check out these natural pavings – don’t they look man-made?

And can you see the witch of the cave?

That was the end of the tour -all we needed to do was make our way back. And that was much faster. Most people seemed to run back. Of course, all that speed went off as soon as we reached the Gorilla Walks, where we had to crouch and get our heads bumped – all over again. Coming back into the open, felt so different. The sunlight never felt more welcoming.

That was one wonderful Saturday afternoon. Even if we ended up underground on a gorgeous sunny day. We did make the most of Sunday’s good weather – but I feel too lazy to to write about it now.

So what did you do this weekend? Who else is celebrating Spring?

The art of queuing

Apparently, Britain plans to make ‘art of queuing part of the citizenship test for immigrants’. It is no joke either. Apparently they feel that ‘lot of tension is caused by immigrants not understanding that they must wait in line for services rather than barging to the front’.

Not really surprising, isn’t it? How many times have we wished that people queued properly in India, instead of barging in, or trying to nudge their way to the front. Any way of getting ahead.  People on two-wheelers trying to wedge into that tiny bit of space between two cars in an effort to reach their destination one second earlier. But does all this really work? I have been stuck in traffic so many times, because at traffic lights, people try to get ahead in so many ways that it takes a while for the traffic to start flowing and just as it starts, the lights change again.  Even people getting into trains just barge in, without waiting for those trying to get off the train. Instead of poking and nudging their way ahead, if all of us just queued and waited, life would be so much more peaceful for all of us, wouldn’t it?

I remember the first time I saw the railway reservation queue in Bangalore – nice and orderly. After Jamshedpur, it was a nice change. And just because it was orderly, there were no raised tempers, fights or irritated tellers. And I do think it was much faster even though the number of people queuing was much more. I have no idea how it is now – but 8 or 9 years back – it was wonderful!

In Britain, I have seen people queuing up nicely for so many things. I wonder what makes people behave differently? Is it the attitude that is different or just that when a system gets put in place – people tend to follow it? Is it simply the lack of awareness that makes people behave in this way? What do you think?

The Right to Die.

There has been a controversy raging here in Britain about the Right to die.

A mother was cleared, last week, of charges of attempted murder of  her daughter who was suffering from the neurological condition ME.  Kathleen(Kay) Gilderdale had earlier admitted aiding and abetting the suicide of her 31 year old daughter who had battled ME for 17 years. She insists that she only acted in the best interests of her daughter.

Lynn Gilderdale’s moving account if her life and why she desperately wanted to end it, is enough to move amyone to tears. From an active, healthy girl, she becomes a bedridden woman, with multiple complications. When she did finally take her life, her mother helped her in it and ended up having charges of attempted murder on her. Luckily for her, the jury decided that she acted in the interests of and by the wishes of her daughter in helping her die. The judge even said that she should never have been prosecuted in the first place. Here is Kay’s account of why she helped her daughter die.

In another similar case, a mother was found guilty of murdering her son. Francis Inglis maintains that she acted out of love and compassion when she injected her brain-damaged son with a lethal dose of heroin. Her family and everybody who mattered to Tom, her son, is in full support of her action and were dismayed to hear the jury’s verdict.

These two contradicting verdicts, indicate the debate  and conflicting opinion that surrounds the delicate topic of Euthanasia. In Britain, apparently 75% people support the demand for change in euthanasia laws that would prevent carers of terminally ill patients from being prosecuted for assisted suicide.

Despite the huge public support for cases like this, the change in law would not be so easy. There is a lot of criticism from various quarters that are objecting to glorifying ‘mercy killing’. A GP talks about why he feels that legalizing assisted suicide, in his opinion is not right.The Archbishop of York has come of strongly against celebrity endorsements of euthanasia. At the end of the day, legalizing assisted suicides would be a very difficult task, mainly, because of the difficulty in categorizing which situations actually require it. And how would the law be framed such that it is not misused.

Any way, reading about the accounts of Kay Gilderdale’s situation of losing her daughter, of outliving her daughter( one of the most painful things for a parent)  and then being forced to defend her actions in court, being called a murderer of her own daughter, the daughter she was so devoted was very, very moving. It is sad that because of the law, the way it is, such people face prosecution. But is legalizing assisted suicides the solution? Where do you stand on it? What about in our country, India, do you think it makes sense or is it more than likely to be misused? Or do you think it is already happening but does not get reported because of the way things are?