3 weeks in England
01.10.2008 - 23.10.2008 11 °C
Mike and I spent the last 3 weeks in England, the mother land. I was very excited to have the opportunity to learn to speak English, as opposed to American English, and to have cream teas. I think I learned more English slang than ‘proper’ English, but that was fun too! If you aren’t privy, cream tea consists of 2 warm scones, a pot of jam, a pot of clotted cream, and of course tea. My initial reaction: “clotted” cream? …my only association to the word clot is through science courses – as in blood clot. Eeeek! Clotted cream has nothing to do with blood, thankfully. It’s a sticky and slightly sweet, thick cream. Put that on your warm scone along with the jam and voila, a very tasty snack! Wash down with hot tea (with milk) and repeat as often as possible for maximum weight gain! I’ve packed on a few lbs in this fashion – but I think the fish & chips, sausages and real ale have something to do with that, too. No bother, a waist is a terrible thing to mind, especially when faced with 5 weeks of Vietnam’s nauseating culinary offerings.
We were hosted most graciously by Mike’s family – the first week with Jim and Sandra, his parents, the second week with Melanie and Paul, his sister and brother-in-law, and a few days at Grandma Jean’s followed by a few days in London. I think benevolence and hospitality are in the water in the UK – I felt so at home everywhere we went! Mike’s mom hand-made a bag for my yoga mat during the week we were yachting and touring ancient sites (and ancient PUBS!) with Mel and Paul.
Everyone cooked for us, which was really fantastic, and they even put up with my egg-eating. =) …for those who don’t know, I eat eggs probably 5 breakfasts per week. Especially since traveling over the last 5 months – seems you can always find eggs for breakie, though you may not want to eat them (see Koh Samet entry!). I thought a Christmas Cracker was something you eat, or maybe slang for Santa Claus, but Mike’s mom put me wise to the English custom over Christmas dinner, which we ate on October 18th. A cracker looks like a huge piece of taffy, twisted paper at both ends, except it’s wrapped in foil papers of all different Christmas-y colors. Everyone at the table has a cracker in front of their dinner plate. You hold one end in your right hand like you’re passing a baton to the person at your left, and they grab the other end with their left hand. You grab the other end of the person’s to your right, and so on around the table. Then everyone pulls them apart at the same time and they explode. Not like with dynamite or C4, just a little pop and you open it up. Inside, you get a paper crown, which everyone instantly dons, a joke on a little piece of paper, and a small trinket or toy – mine was a fingernail brush! That’ll come in handy for sand removal (the war on sand continues!). It was so much fun! I hear the previous year was a bit more fun – the fire department came and everything…someone lit the dining room carpet and hallway on fire with an out-of-control candle. Our families are going to get along great, I have a feeling!
It was, of course raining a bit during our stay. Seems like every time we tried to leave whatever house we were in, it would rain. Insert standard response here: Cuppa tea then? Seriously, I love all the tea drinking that goes on. ….and all the ale drinking for that matter (thanks Mel and Paul!). If taking the browns to the superbowl is a challenge for you, HAVE ANOTHER PINT OF ALE! It really, really, reallyreallyreallyreally works! I never knew it was possible to ‘let one fly’ with a man on deck…the human is a multitalented beast. Poop spelled backwards is poop! Anyway, we ate like kings, drank like sailors, and slept like it was going out of style.
While in London, we saw all the sights, and for Mike’s birthday, his parents treated us to a show. We saw Wicked last Wednesday night, and it was superb. If you like the story of the Wizard of Oz, you’ll probably like this. The production was incredible as was the singing, dancing and costumes.
There’s so much to tell, I’m sure I’ve left out many details…..and the jet lag is squashing my little brain into a ball and hurling it repeatedly at the inside of my skull. …..thud…….thud…thud……. Why does jet lag erase my memory? I packed my bag this morning to go from Saigon to Mui Ne Beach (we’re now in Vietnam), and I don’t remember doing it. I open my mouth to talk, and the words don’t go together…can’t complete…..sentence! I’m tired but I can’t sleep, I’m poor but I’m kind, I’m short but I’m healthy, yeah….shit, channeling Alanis Morissette again.
Last night as we sat talking with my friend Candy in our room on the 921st floor of Madam Cuc’s Guesthouse and Guiness Book of World Records’ title holder for the world’s longest and most treacherous spiral staircase, I remembered walking into the oldest cathedral in England, which is in Chester. Chester is also birthplace to a most handsome, kind, bright, graceful and tall guy we all know and love – Mike! The cathedral has quite a few stained glass windows, my favorite being the section of mostly blue glass just inside the entryway. It was exquisite with daylight – ok, cloud cover – illuminating the panes. The stone work in that building is incredible – quite cold (temperature) inside as are most Catholic and/or old churches I’ve been into, but with a feeling that you can only get from a place that’s been standing for 1000 years, and has been filled with those carrying in their hearts a similar feeling of reverence and a corresponding want for peace and harmony. After my liberation from the organized religion of my distant past, my spiritual views are now inclusive rather than exclusive, which has made for an abundant experience of all spiritually-rich places, be they cathedral, temple, shrine or pagoda.