choco_frosh: (Default)
As P. and I approach the end of our stay in England, assorted thanks and apologies:

First (chronologically) to the staff of Virgin Atlantic, who checked us in when we showed up flustered and an hour later than we should have been. (G. had forgotten P's passport, and retrieving it took rather a lot of time. Good thing I built an hour of "something goes hideously wrong" time into the schedule.)

Second (though most importantly) to my Mom and her husband, who put up with a frequently hyper nine-y-o and his father (moody, broody, inclined to leave them with the kid in favour of doing tourist stuff) for nine days, AND totally drove us around and paid for tickets and bankrolled us all the way.

Third, to the waitress at the Lindesfarne Inn, near Berwick and the aforesaid Isle, for helping keep up with all of our orders, supplying me with cider, and lending me her pen to write postcards and things. I repaid the favour by inadvertently walking off with the pen.

Finally (well, I hope): to the change ringers of York, who not only enthusiastically welcomed a questionably competent ringer to Sunday ringing,* but then invited me back for practice.
At which point I promptly fumbled the sally and consequently broke the stay on the #4.
They did not have a spare stay.
And then they STILL were all understanding*** and supportive and mostly concerned about whether I'd injured myself (ans: not beyond mild rope burn), AND let me keep ringing, which was good 'cause that's traditionally the moment when learners totally freeze up and have to relearn like a zillion things before they recover their confidence, and then invited me out to the pub and bought me a pint. Ladies and Gents, if you're ever in Boston, I totally owe you Thai food.
And now I'm gonna go home and neurotically check every stay in the tower at CotA for signs of damage.

-----

Also, mad thanks (though I hope no apologies!) to [personal profile] tree_and_leaf and husband, who invited me to Wakefield and put me up, so that I actually got a chance to hang out in person with Tree for more than half an hour.

FULLER REPORT LATER. HOPEFULLY.

* I mean, at home I'm at least vaguely competent, but they're intimidatingly good. Y'know, perfect striking, the fourteen-year-old who's learning to ring two bells at one, the twelve-year-old who's learning Bristol...and the fact that several of them can ring a bell with no stay.

** Once again, then stay is the chunk of wood attached to the bell that prevents it from swinging past the point where the mouth is pointing up.

*** Admittedly, they tell me this happens a lot at St. Wilfrid's, and the #4 is traditionally (both there and elsewhere) one of the bells that gets abused by novice ringers the most.
choco_frosh: (Default)
Pt. 1: The practical stuff

OK! I'm returning from England with critter socks (fox, hedgehog, squirrel) and marmalade. Everyone on here gets dibs before I offer the Random British Stuff to fb.

([personal profile] sovay, the obligatory Weird Crisps are for you. Which segues to...)

Pt. 2: Impractical Wishes
Being an open letter to Sovay.
I'm glad you're excited about Weird Crisps! You said to find something you'd like, and that's what I could actually bring you in my luggage. But there's so many other things that you'd've liked, but that I probably can't get through customs. Kippered herring, for example, is (insofar as I'm aware) unavailable in the US, and it was on the menu at our hotel in Northumberland, but I can't imagine I can bring one back in my suitcase. I thought about bringing you a stone from Lindisfarne, since while you're not interested in the religious side, tidal islands--especially the doubly-tidal, seal-haunted St. Cuthbert's Isle--would seem to me to be right up your alley. (Seriously, the seals were like twenty yards away from Peter and me, tops.) Sadly, its stones aren't terribly distinctive, and I don't want to bring you some random piece of rock that you'll be wondering, six months from now, what the sam hill it was. Your ungodson ran around the rocks and sands and mudflats barefoot, as you would have; and we nearly made it out to the sandpit that seals had been swimming over an hour earlier. The sky was blue, the wind was chill, the view of the fields of Berenicia stretching up toward The Cheviot was breathtaking. It was your sort of morning. All I can bring home for you is the memory.
choco_frosh: (Default)
(Mostly scribbled down at about 8am this morning.)

On the fells, pastures slope up to heather--but some part of my mind expects forest. And I don't know whether that's a medievalist who's read Nicola Griffith one time too many, or the New Englander who's used to a landscape that's pine trees by default, or whether it's some other cause that accounts for the fact that my gut-level expectation of a landscape is the fields slope up to the forest.
We're going through Elmet, but the wood is long gone.
The heather's in bloom; the decaying/ex- mill towns look almost exactly their counterparts in New England.

There's something, I muse as we roll toward (or maybe out of) Caer Loidis, past what's probably about to be a mall, there's something especially ugly about Development in Britain. Maybe it's just the fact that I know there's so much /less/ land here, and so every bit that's actually still woods or fields is that much more precious; or maybe it's the knowledge that any given chunk of land once belonged to someone, may have two thousand years of history and owners beneath it, and now the topsoil that contains whatever minimal traces that left--if nothing else, the plough furrow, the soil chemistry because /this/ was sheep pasture and /this/ was in barley when Robert Aske's Pilgrims marched on York, or Fairfax passed by on the way to Marston Moor--being untidily bulldozed.
Or maybe it's just that development usually makes me disgusted, and I'm just less used to seeing it here.

I ramble: then and now. Then on the Trans-Pennine Express with Peter, who still finds the view out the window utterly too boring to bother with; or now in my Mum's library, the books all packed in boxes for a move that hasn't come yet, Mum reading Country Life of all things, Peter having utterly crashed after a day of constant energy. Both times utterly sleep-deprived, so much so that five hours of jet lag is a secondary factor at best: our plane caught a tail wind and arrived an hour early, and that in itself is great--but it means I slept for maybe an hour on the plane, then another hour uneasily napping in a real bed when I realised I just couldn't any more. Either way, safe across the Atlantic.

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